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Kearsarge to Cedar Grove and Beyond

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Kearsarge to Cedar Grove and Beyond

Postby Matilda » Fri Jun 23, 2006 3:30 pm

Hi everyone--I'm an eastern Sierra-based hiker/writer with just a couple posts under my belt (although Snow Nymph might remember me from the MMSA forum as "Snowgoddess"--SN also helped me out with some stories and marketing photos--I owe her several huge glasses of wine at Nevados).

I'm doing a story this summer about the soon-to-open, fancy schmancy Sequoia High Sierra Camp, which is in Sequoia NF 11 miles north of Lodgepole and about 7 miles south of Cedar Grove, just west of the park boundary...somewhere near Marvin Pass...I think. I'm eastside-centric, never been that far south and west, and I could use some advice on the best way to get there (I'm talking trans-Sierra walking, of course).

I figured the easiest way is Kearsarge to Zumwalt Meadow. But then the actual trailhead I would need to get to the camp is at Cedar Grove. Do you think it would be easy to hitch a ride? I kind of hate the idea of losing all that altitude, too.

A longer option would be take the Sphinx Creek trail over Avalanche Pass to Roaring River to Comanche Meadow, then to the camp. Is that a good detour? Any other ideas?

Oh, and what do you all think of this new high sierra camp? Historical camps/lodges are one thing...but a new "luxury" outpost in the wilderness?
Thanks for your help--apologies for the long post. I hope I haven't lost too much respect in a forum I just joined with this chi-chi subject!

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Postby Take-a-Hike » Fri Jun 23, 2006 5:01 pm

HI There:
I'm not going to hazard guesses on how to get there trans-Sierra wise. I've been to the area around there doing day hikes from Waksuchi Lodge in Sequoia and via Jenny Lakes trail. I stumbled across an ad for the place in the LA Times a few months ago, looked it up on the internet to get more info. After doing some browsing and looking at the map to see exactly where it is, I got to forming some opinions about it. So that's what I'm offering. I first noticed it was outside the Nat. Park, proper, probably for a reason. The more I got to thinking about it, the more I disliked such a venture. I suppose things like that have a purpose, but I'm also against packers packing people in where they couldn't get to otherwise. I"m all for driving to scenic areas, staying in a lodge where your car can take you, walking in forests/nature, taking in, taking out, but there needs to be a limit on how much exposure back country places will be subjected to. These high dollar, get-me-there-to-be-pampered places shouldn't be allowed to develop and invite people to get there who may not otherwise be inclined, or they just flat Can't, get there in the first place, and support themselves when they do. The sorest spot I have when it comes to hiking in NPs is trails that are dusted, rutted, pooped on due to high horse traffic. Dang it, and I don't mind being considered a bit insensitive, but if your two feet can't get you there, then so be it. You werent' meant to see it. In most cases it's mostly a case of physically inept and desire which money and technology shouldn't be allowed to compensate for at the risk of ruining natural resources. I've seen a high sierra camp in Yosemite, I've seen a packer camp with about 20 horses, hugh tents, and people who couldn't walk on their own 1/4 mile uphill staying there back 15 miles from civilization, and I wonder where is it all going to stop? I'm ok with this generations fixation on zippy toys, bikes, snowmobiles, watercraft, off road vehicles, heck someone or another in my family has em all...and theres space for all to be used around our country, but when it comes to organizations infringing on relatively unspoiled natural areas for profit, then at some point in time someone is going to have to draw the line. And my feeling on this camp in Sequoia NF is that it's another venture to get folks there, either by a long walk or horse or whatever, (once the place is there, who knows what creativity will come along to get folks there easier) and then where will the next such camp pop up?
You asked...
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Postby Snow Nymph » Fri Jun 23, 2006 6:46 pm

Hi SnowGoddess! (love the name!) I'm on my way out the door, but just wanted to say hi!

I printed this out, maybe I can help. :D
Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free . . . . Jim Morrison
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Postby Rosabella » Fri Jun 23, 2006 7:48 pm

Well... I guess I'm pretty much in agreement with Take-A-Hike when it comes to "bringing the forest to the people" if they can't or won't make it there themselves. I don't know what the percent of the people that use packing services to get to a remote area that are actually physically handicapped (is that term politically correct anymore? :confused: ) but I'd be willing to bet my barikade that it's a pretty small percent. Look at how many able-bodied people still ride the mules down the Grand Canyon.

I know I'm generalizing here, but from my observation, the people that come in via packers, quads, or whatever, don't seem to have the same responsibility towards the outdoors or understand the "leave no trace" mentality. I am horrified at the amount of litter on the trails that allow horses and especially quad-type of vehicles.

Sorry, Matilda, I got a little off-subject. Anyway, good luck with your trip and story!
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Postby Shawn » Fri Jun 23, 2006 8:31 pm

Well I was curious and took a look at Topo for the mileage and el gain from the bridge crossing Bubbs Creek up to Avalanche Pass and down to Marvin Pass. Indeed the trail will get you right there, but it's 21 miles with 4800 feet of gain (ugh). It would be a great hike in itself, but after coming across from the east it'll be quite the trip.
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Postby giantbrookie » Sat Jun 24, 2006 1:02 pm

First off, regarding the route, if it is 100% hiked (ie via Avalanche Pass), then the last part (ie after Avalanche Pass) may be a bit of a long hike without a lot of fine scenery, although the wildflowers may be nice. The first part of the trail up to Avalance Pass along Sphinx Creek is spectacular; from a distance you'd never think they'd thread a trail through there.

Regarding these luxury camps etc. I am of the same opinion as Take-a-Hike. I agree that the rationale that a packup set up "allows those that cannot otherwise get there to visit" is a hollow one because wilderness should come with some degree of ruggedness. In other words, where do we draw the line? A helicopter can also drop off one off at places one could otherwise not get to. Most of us (this certainly includes me) are not physically capable of ascending K2, so does that mean that we should be entitled to be flown there at a price?

I believe that pack trains and such have their place in the tradition of mountain travel, but there should be greater limitations placed on where they can go than exist at present. In other words, I would really like to see some "hikers only" (ie no stock) areas within both the Wilderness areas and the NPs. I remember when they proposed to make the Mokelumne "hikers only" but did not. I do not like the idea of gasping for air when traveling over trails covered in poop (by the way, those that haven't should read Roper's rant in his climber's guide if you want to find a similar view), nor do I enjoy busting my hump for miles to find folks 20 miles from the trailhead with portable generators, boom boxes, ice chests, etc (no lie, this has happened more than once). While there are many responsible pack outfits, many clients may not be and there does seem to be an awful lot of litter brought in by many of these folks, including stuff that most of us would never dream of carrying in ourselves. I suppose some may say that hikers should simply head off trail (which I do frequently) to avoid this type of intrusion into the wilderness, but I don't think it's too much to ask to have some trails and trail segments designated as hiker-only.
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Postby copeg » Mon Jun 26, 2006 8:16 am

Not sure how much time you have on your hands and how much you'd like to detour from your main objective, but I'll throw out a very scenic loop suggestion. Leaving kearsarge, meat the JMT/PCT and head south over forester, then head westerly over colby pass, down cloud canyon to roaring river and the the high sierra camp. Loop back down to cedar grove and up bubbs toward kearsarge - or do this in the reverse. This is a long extended trip, but well worth it.
Your original itinerary is doable, but I agree with Shawn that its a lot of elevation to loose, and then gain again going up avalanche pass. I'd bet you can easily hitch a ride to cedar grove from road's end/zumwalt.
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Postby rightstar76 » Mon Jun 26, 2006 2:52 pm

Exclusive camps likes these make me sick. I don't have a problem with commercialized establishments next to wilderness areas and national parks. What I do have a problem with is using wilderness to make a killing. This camp is not going to help too many people enjoy the wilderness or national park. It's going to get some people rich-maybe. First of all, I don't know how many people are going to want to hike out of Lodgepole over J.O. Pass and then pay $175 dollars a night (which by the way is the initial rate-it's supposed to go up). If you're going to hike that far you're probably going to want to backpack to Ranger Lake or Roaring River. Most people who stay at this camp are probably going to drive there. How far are they going to be willing to hike each day? My guess is probably not a whole lot. Maybe Mitchell Peak, possibly Seville Lake-maybe. I guess what I'm saying is that if you're going to pay $175 a night you're not going to be too interested in hiking. You're going to be more interested in eating, drinking, and enjoying the material surroundings of the lodge. Which brings me back to my point that it's disgusting that this type of establishment is even allowed. I mean if you're going to let someone build a resort, make sure it serves the average person coming to the park, not a few people able or willing to pay exhorbitant amounts of money. Otherwise the establishment becomes a waste to society. I mean if it's going to serve some reasonable purpose it should be affordable. Also, this whole thing about hiking 11 miles from Lodgepole is ridiculous. If a guest wants to hike over J.O. pass, fine, but it shouldn't be used as a selling point to justify the existence of the lodge. The whole point of hiking 11 miles is to get away from exclusive establishments like this in the first place. Not to keep throwing money away on wasteful enterprises like this one.
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Postby AldeFarte » Mon Jun 26, 2006 8:30 pm

Matilda, you have opened a can of worms. I tend to agree w/brookie. I am by NO means an elitist in most things, but I believe there is a price to pay for enjoyment of the high country we all love. That enjoyment can only come from the proper perspective, which can only be achieved through sweat and tough gumption ,or perhaps perseverence is the word. It gauls me to run across easy living in the back country. Easy living = modern conveniences. Watermelons, Cast iron skillets, generators, etc. Unless it was hauled in on some fools back. There is too little respect for the country w/o proper payment. Money can't pay those bills. A hotel in the backcountry "ruins my buzz". Good luck on your hike. Sounds like a rugged endeavor. jls
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Postby ERIC » Tue Jun 27, 2006 6:53 am

What about Muir Trail Ranch? Resupply packers? Without such places/services, many of the wonderful trip reports posted on this site probably wouldn't have been possible. And without additional business from clientele types reviled in above posts (and where the majority of the business comes from), businesses like that could not exist soley on the resupply needs of backpackers. There simply wouldn't be enough business to keep them IN business.

Sucks, don't it? ](*,)

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