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Places that exceeded your expectations - or disappointed you

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Re: Places that exceeded your expectations - or disappointed you

Postby quentinc » Mon Apr 09, 2012 2:41 pm

Daisy makes an interesting point about conditions affecting how nice a place seems. I often find that being on-trail vs. off-trail makes all the difference. I realize that a lot of times unpleasant trail routing is intended to protect natural features, like meadows, but there are trails that I swear were designed purely to minimize your enjoyment!

Like Humphreys Basin -- taking the trail straight through it is kind of dull, but every time I've wandered off-trail it's been magic. In lower Humphreys, I try to follow Piute Creek as much as possible and it's beautiful; the trail seems determined to keep you as far away from the creek as possible.

Same thing with the stretch from the JMT to Sawmill Pass. I found the trail absolutely dreadful, until I started going x-c along the stream and around the lakes and then it became one of my favorite spots in the Sierra.

The Upper Kern area also really exceeded expectations, except for the time I tried to cut back over to the trail, and realized it was designed to keep you away from all the sublime scenery.

The trail up into Miter Basin is just OK until you actually get there, but the cross-country route from Soldier Lake is lovely the whole way. And I'm sure I could think of many other examples if I really thought about it.



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Re: Places that exceeded your expectations - or disappointed you

Postby kpeter » Mon Apr 09, 2012 3:55 pm

Exceeded: Sabrina Basin. Obviously I must think so since I keep going back. I particularly like Dingleberry, the outlet falls below Moonlight lake, and Baboon Lakes when flowers are blooming.

Exceeded: Sapphire Lake. I had no expectations, but found it the most picturesque of all the lakes in the vicinity of Muir Pass, at the time I was there.
IMGP2100.jpg

Exceeded: Upper LeConte Canyon. I like the closed-in feel and the waterworks spewing from all directions at the time.

Exceeded: Minarets-Ediza-Garnet-Thousand Island. Because I like photography. And no photographer can fail to appreciate this region, no matter how high the expectations are raised.

Exceeded: Jack Main Canyon. I was there during a massive runoff and the water was beautiful and the rumble was awe inspiring.
IMGP1342.jpg

Exceeded: Lyell Canyon. The color of the stream through the green meadows framed by dark trees and waterfalls was picture perfect.

Exceeded: Upper Tyee Lakes/Burroughs Mountain. I was just passing through on a loop with no particular expectations, and found it very engaging. The effort/reward is sky high, given that almost no one goes there and it is four miles in. But you have to get past the lower two lakes, which are pretty ordinary.

Disappointed: Cottonwood Lakes/Army Pass area. I was there in a drought which may have reduced its scenic beauty, but I found it more open and drier than I prefer. If I fished I probably would have liked it, since I saw schools of fish congregating in the lakes.

Disappointed: Charlotte Lake. It was a good central location, but not particularly special, and much less picturesque than the whole Kearsarge chain we bypassed to get there.

Disappointed: The Beehive. I had low expectations to begin with, and the experience went lower still, when I emerged from a burn zone to enter into a swamp.

Disappointed: Desolation Lake. It seemed kind of...desolate...to me. Although I saw someone made a fabulous ice skating video there. That looked more interesting!
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Re: Places that exceeded your expectations - or disappointed you

Postby frisfraser » Mon Apr 09, 2012 4:06 pm

I was very disappointed with Yosemite trail conditions this last summer because of all the messy, careless backpackers in the area. It was my girlfriends first backpacking trip in yosemite. We went down the Lewis Creek and it was very very beautiful. Just, within the endless gardens of wildflowers there was exposed toilet paper here and there.

The Parker Pass area in Yosemite exceeds my expectations every time I visit; summer, winter, or fall. Perfect skiing slopes in spring and cross-country in the summer.

Upper Basin of the South Kings R was totally unexpected. I thought it was going to be hot and grueling. But I walked up Mather in the rain, so it was very different. Exploring the little ponds and lakes in that basin was easy and worth the cross-country.
Upper Mono Basin is a refreshing look that has kept me wanting to go back for spring flowers.

In general, I huge disappointment for me is have to scale a 11,000ft pass only to walk down to the 5,000ft Kern in under like 5 miles. (Rattlesnake, Sawtooth pass, Chagoopa, etc) Terrible.

I can say that my most difficult and worst experiences in travels have only made me appreciate more. If there weren't any challenges or disappointments, I would not be backpacking.
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Re: Places that exceeded your expectations - or disappointed you

Postby markskor » Mon Apr 09, 2012 4:21 pm

Like most here, it all depends -
IMHO, Almost every major trailhead sucks initially - those first few miles.
Somehow, one day in makes all the difference; one day in and off trail - now we are talking!

There are some specific trails though that do stand out in my mind's eye as just plain miserable for their aesthetics. Most of the trails originating out of Reds Meadow area seem to fit this bill as they are worn, dusty, and unspectacular in their bleakness - at least those at the start. That stretch of the Muir Trail, south of Reds to Virginia, just sucks in all ways.

Been through the Kaweah Basin a few times - once spectacular with a cacophony of early season wildflowers and once late fall where I couldn't wait to get out. Humphrey Basin, the same...just depends when you go.
Snow Creek trail down, while spectacular for distant scenery, disappointed me as ugly - a truly ugly trail...needs major work - will not do it again.
Always wanted to camp at the lake at Merced Pass (south Yos.)...walked on by after a brief viewing - bit of a bog.
Kennedy Meadows in the south also is not my cup of Sierra tea...always looks worn out.
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Re: Places that exceeded your expectations - or disappointed you

Postby RoguePhotonic » Mon Apr 09, 2012 4:36 pm

I agree that Deadman Canyon exceeded my expectations. Although containing some of the worst mosquitoes ever it's beauty is worth any of the troubles to get there.

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Re: Places that exceeded your expectations - or disappointed you

Postby sparky » Mon Apr 09, 2012 4:38 pm

Hmm interesting point mark.

Avalanche Pass has to be the most anti climactic...I struggled scrambling here and there to get the view that was trying its best to remain hidden. And its quite the slog on top of it. But I will do it again and again for my own secret reasons.

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Re: Places that exceeded your expectations - or disappointed you

Postby RoguePhotonic » Mon Apr 09, 2012 4:55 pm

I struggled scrambling here and there to get the view that was trying its best to remain hidden. And its quite the slog on top of it


I thought the view was easy to find. You top the hill where rocks mark KC and then turn North cross country on a mostly level stretch of terrain until it takes you to a talus field and you can over look the valley below.

I see you went South though so that view is harder to get i'm sure.

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Re: Places that exceeded your expectations - or disappointed you

Postby maverick » Mon Apr 09, 2012 5:07 pm

Like most folks here a lot depends on the conditions, mood, and other numerous
variables that can make a mediocre place look out of this world, and a usually
fantastic location less than desirable.
On a whole, anything away from the first couple of miles from the trailhead, and
then once off-trail, all is good.
My personal belief is that it is up to the individual backpacker to make his/her
experience as challenging or fun as possible, otherwise the backpacker should be
disappointed with him/herself and not the location!
I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Places that exceeded your expectations - or disappointed you

Postby Cross Country » Mon Apr 09, 2012 7:17 pm

My pleasantest surprise was the view looking up from the base of Grinnel Meadow. A light coating of snow covered the meadow and with the ridge in the background, was breathtaking.

My biggest disappointment was North Guard Lake. Because of it's relatively low elevation (10004 more or less) made me anticipate good fishing like I always got at Sphinx (higher elevation). Also, North
Guard lake is about as scenic as my foot.

Sphinx is gorgeous. This pic is only a tiny part of the Lakes and doesn't do it ANY justice.
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Re: Places that exceeded your expectations - or disappointed you

Postby TehipiteTom » Tue Apr 10, 2012 7:23 am

Exceeded expectations:
  • Kid Lakes, especially the long narrow lake below Mungoat Pass and the lowest lake (which has kind of a Japanese rock garden feel to it)
  • Lake 10554, below Emerald Peak
  • The westernmost Swamp Lake, on the Monarch Divide
  • Upper Goddard Creek valley
  • Lots of other places that are off the beaten path and not well known, so I hadn't seen tons of photos of them before actually being there.

Disappointed:
  • Woodchuck Country. Just not that attractive at all, IMO.
  • Little Yosemite Valley. Kind of pretty at the eastern end, but further down it's just nothing special...and way too crowded. The campground is kind of a pit--might as well be car-camping at that point.
  • Blayney Meadows. See above re campground.
  • Lowest Graveyard Lake. Pretty enough as far as it goes, but it's so overused that it's impossible to ignore how beaten up it is.
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