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Blow some East Coast Minds!

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Blow some East Coast Minds!

Postby sammermpc » Thu Jul 06, 2006 12:17 pm

I'm planning a four night trip with a couple of friends who have never been out to the west coast. Havn't even been out WEST at all for that matter, so I am looking to show them some of the most glorious high-mountain territory we have to offer.

None of us are experienced, but we're (hopefully) fit enough for most. I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions for a ridicously jaw-dropping four-night/five-day trip. I think a loop would be fun, something that takes us around to alpine lakes or ridgelines would be great. We can go pretty much anywhere, though the Inyo area seems appealing (and I have not acquired a permit yet, don't know if that will be an issue).

We're planning on going in late August (26th - 1st). Thanks for the advice!

Sam



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Postby Trekker » Thu Jul 06, 2006 12:39 pm

Depending on how many people are in your group, you may have difficulty in getting the trailhead you want on the more popular trails. I would add an extra day just in case you have to wait a day to get into the trailhead you choose. Also, have alternate plans just in case.

There are people on this board who can give you better advice on trips than I can, but I would also recommend you pick up "Sierra South" by Winnett, et al, what I consider the Bible of trip planning for the Southern Sierra. Or you could just throw a dart at the map....! Hard to go wrong out here! :D
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Postby sammermpc » Thu Jul 06, 2006 12:47 pm

Maybe I should provide more specifics. There will be four of us--we possibly could squeeze one more night in, but that'd be doubtful. I'd be glad to avoid the more popular trails, though chances are, considering the kind of scenery we are looking for and our experience levels (some for me, nil for the others), we can't be too picky.

About permits, excepting some of the very popular trails (mt. whitney, ect), aren't there permits available on a walk-on basis, or are they often gone or unreliably available? Also, what would be a good mileage for a crew of untested walkers?

By the way trekker, I just checked Sierra South out from the library. Havn't had a chance to go through it yet, I've been too engrossed in Fletcher's Complete Walker. Too in detail to be of much use to me, but a great read all the same.
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Postby The Other Tom » Thu Jul 06, 2006 7:00 pm

Lots of possibilities. One thing to remember about the high country...altitude can affect you more than you think. My experience has been that it's worse for us old geezers, less so for younger folks. So you might need to allow a day or so for acclimation depending on your age/conditioning.
Here's my suggestion for a first timer....start at Tenya lake and hike to Yosemite valley, taking in Clouds Rest and Half Dome. While in the valley, you can enjoy Yosemite falls, and a side trip to see the giant sequoias would be in order. That way, you get a taste of it all.
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Postby rightstar76 » Fri Jul 07, 2006 12:32 am

Hello Sam. This trip will definitely blow away your minds. The only challenge will be to get a permit. The roundtrip distance for this trip is about 28 miles. Enjoy.

Rightstar

Onion Valley to Rae Lakes and Sixty Lake Basin
5 Days/4 Nights

Day 1: Onion Valley to Kearsarge Lakes via Kearsarge Pass
Day 2: Kearsarge Lakes to Rae Lakes via Bullfrog Lake and Glen Pass
Day 3: Rae Lakes to Sixty Lake Basin (go as far as you like and choose any lake to camp)
Day 4: Sixty Lake Basin to Charlotte Lake via Rae Lakes and Glen Pass
Day 5: Charlotte Lake to Onion Valley via Kearsarge Pass (Bypassing
Bullfrog and Kearsarge Lakes)
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Postby sammermpc » Fri Jul 07, 2006 8:02 am

Thanks rightstar--I'll look into that. I did a bit of checking around and it does seem like glorious territory, if a bit trafficed, but so be it. Anyhow, I'm heading up to Kennedy Meadows this weekend and hopefully a bolt of trail-planning brilliance will strike me.
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Postby SSSdave » Fri Jul 07, 2006 8:57 am

Have all of you backpacked before and are familliar with your equipment? Is your gear light or traditional? Do you prefer to hike all day or just a few hours to a good location and then have time to explore and enjoy those areas? Many on web forums will recommend their favorite places from a perspective of their own fitness level, carrying weights, and trip orientation type. Especially those that like to hike all day on trails. I would tend to be conservative with newer people especially if they have not hiked or backpacked in the big western mountains. Otherwise they may end up being beaten up on the trail by too much vert, too much distance, for too long during hiking days. There are plenty of choices for pleasant easier trips as well as more challenging trips both with terrific scenery. ...David
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Postby sammermpc » Fri Jul 07, 2006 9:07 am

Well said David--

Our equipment will probably range--we will have up-to-date cookware, stove, but this is definitely at least one of the groups first trip, so the equipment could be iffy. Though we are looking for a challenge, really any backpacking trip is--is the Onion Valley->Kearsarge pass trip too strenuous for amataurs looking to spend some time in the wilderness, learn the ropes, and have a good time without killing themselves?
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Postby doug395 » Fri Jul 07, 2006 2:24 pm

Here’s a link to the Inyo permit schedule, showing what’s still available for advance reservation.

http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/inyo/recreation ... vail.shtml
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Postby SSSdave » Fri Jul 07, 2006 3:40 pm

So traditional and modest efforts. As I wrote there is wisdom in being conservative. With four nights you could reach the fine destinations rightstar noted though you would be hiking most of the day.

The Onion Valley trailhead is still a terrific place to start for a more relaxed four night backpack and it will still get you to some of the most impressive scenery along our Sierra Crest. I would not worry about the short distances between campspots below either as that frees you for time during the day to explore the lakes, peaks, and surrounding areas which are always immensely rugged and guaranteed to leave anyone tired by the end of a day. Most backpackers do go over Kearsarge Pass in one day but at 2800 feet and 6 miles to the Kearsarge Lakes it is moderately strenuous packing a load. So instead spend the first night east of the crest as that area is one of the ranges most scenic basins. On the first map link below, you might camp in the area of the red mark at center near Matlock Lake. You will have a small challenge upon reaching Flower Lake's outlet stream and that will be to locate the un-signed trail that traverses southeast up the small ridge between the two lakes. Even if you don't find the trail which ought not to be a problem, you could easily cross the ridge crosscountry. The reason it is better at Matlock than at the other trailside basin, though a beauty too, is it will have a lot of day hikers visiting except midweek. The lakes have fish and University Peak just south is quite an impressive sight.

http://www.topozone.com/map.asp?z=11&n= ... atum=nad83

Next day go over the pass and down to the spectacular Kearsarge Lakes. For a more remote campspot explore the area on this map at the red mark at center:

http://www.topozone.com/map.asp?z=11&n= ... atum=nad83

For a campspot right among other groups try where the area of the K in Kearsarge. The third day you could backpack over Glen Pass to the Rae Lakes. I'd recommend camping about the north shore of the southernmost lake where you have two lakes close by. The fourth day you would return to some different camp spot on a different Kearsarge Lake and on the fifth day return over the pass to the trailhead. If on the third day your group decided to take it easy you could alternatively just backpack to Charlotte Lake though I find that relatively uninteresting or this spot marked in red with a birds eye view south towards impressive East Vidette: ...David

http://www.topozone.com/map.asp?z=11&n= ... atum=nad83
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Postby rightstar76 » Sat Jul 08, 2006 11:37 am

Hi David. Hi Sam. We want you to have a great experience on your trip. David, I'm concerned that it would be too much for Sam and his party to hike over Glen Pass and camp only one night in the Rae Lakes area before returning the next day. You don't think it's that difficult for Sam to hike over Kearsarge Pass the first day? He could start early in the morning and take his time. He and his party could take frequent breaks and enjoy the scenery. By the middle of the afternoon he'd be at Kearsarge Lakes ready for the next day.
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Postby SSSdave » Sat Jul 08, 2006 1:00 pm

Between our worthy suggestions he has options now depending on how their group feels and can cope. Most backpackers especially those with some preparation and fitness will be able to go over Kearsarge the first day while others upon reaching Gilbert Lake will not be too enthusiastic knowing they've got twice that vertical yet to climb. A pack on a newbie is always an unknown because it stresses one's body in ways that are hard to know beforehand. And such high altitudes can make even a fit person unnaturally gasp for air if their body has not yet acclimated. At that point if those less in shape keep pushing up the trail, they may end up getting their muscels or joints overstressed that might hinder their trip on following days. So at that point they might decide on what they want to do knowing there are good options for switching gears to a more relaxed plan and not have to worry that they are going to end up with half a cup. Or if just tired, they might take a two or three hour break at Flower Lake, refresh, and continue on towards Kearsarge Pass. After reaching that they are in good position to do anything you suggested. Many of us get our legs after acclimating to altitude a couple days and hiking about. If they so decide to stay by Matlock the first day and reach Kearsarge Lakes on day 2, by the third morning they might go big for Rae Lakes or enjoy one of the the easier options. ...David
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