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The Sierra's Best Campsites

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The Sierra's Best Campsites

Postby tim » Fri Apr 20, 2012 8:37 pm

I was interested to read in my copy of Backpacker magazine this week that none of the 12 places that they claim are "America's Best Campsites" are in the Sierra. Their criteria is 12 "epic hikes to huge views with zero crowds" so my guess is that they think they can't meet the "zero crowds" criterion in the Sierra within a reasonable hiking distance (the furthest they go from the trailhead is 7 miles).

I'm sure that we can disprove this so I'd be interested in what you think would fit their selection criteria without any distance limitation, and if there are any campsites you'd suggest for this within a reasonable day's walk of the trailhead (say 10 miles?) - note that several of their selections are off trail.

I'll cheat a little on timing and suggest Pear Lake and/or the Tablelands in November, like my last trip (viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7169)



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Re: The Sierra's Best Campsites

Postby rlown » Fri Apr 20, 2012 8:44 pm

do you really want more people to know where you like to go?
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Re: The Sierra's Best Campsites

Postby quentinc » Fri Apr 20, 2012 8:58 pm

There is a spot above the PCT, somewhere between Chicken Spring Lake and the entrance to Kings Canyon, and that's all I'm going to say about it. :)
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Re: The Sierra's Best Campsites

Postby dave54 » Fri Apr 20, 2012 9:01 pm

Many people think the Sierra end at Lake Tahoe. If you want easy short hikes with no crowds the north part is where to go. Lakes Basin, Middle Forks Feather, Bucks Wilderness, et al will be mostly empty even on summer 3 day weekends. Off trail is even better.

Of course, if you want real solitude go even farther north. I have hiked the Warner Wilderness on the July 4 weekend without seeing footprints on the trail. Wife and I were the first ones since snow melt. :)
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Re: The Sierra's Best Campsites

Postby TehipiteTom » Fri Apr 20, 2012 9:02 pm

Just off the top: there's a nameless lake at 10,200', in a watershed named for a saint and just southeast of a mountain with the same name as a sitcom dad, probably less than 7 miles (off-trail) from the trailhead, with a fantastic 180 degree view, and I've never run into anyone there.

I could come up with more, but that's one example.

do you really want more people to know where you like to go?

Years ago someone at Wilderness Press came up with this (tongue in cheek, but not unserious) formula: the number of people in any given place is inversely proportional to a) the square of the trail miles, b) the cube of the elevation gain, and c) the fourth power of the distance from the trail. As rule of thumbs go, it's not a bad one.

Point being: touting an off-trail lake on a message board might result in a marginal increase in visitation, but the reality is that the vast majority of backpackers will still never even consider going there.
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Re: The Sierra's Best Campsites

Postby TehipiteTom » Fri Apr 20, 2012 9:04 pm

dave54 wrote:Many people think the Sierra end at Lake Tahoe.

Not me. I think it ends just south of Tahoe.
</antiTahoeSnob>
;)
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Re: The Sierra's Best Campsites

Postby rlown » Fri Apr 20, 2012 9:09 pm

TehipiteTom wrote:Point being: touting an off-trail lake on a message board might result in a marginal increase in visitation, but the reality is that the vast majority of backpackers will still never even consider going there


That might be true, but why do they always show up when i'm there?
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Re: The Sierra's Best Campsites

Postby sparky » Fri Apr 20, 2012 9:54 pm

The sierra is crowded....but it isn't that difficult to camp with solitude....I do it all the time! I don't know the best campsites in the Sierra, but thats half the fun is finding them out!
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Re: The Sierra's Best Campsites

Postby SSSdave » Fri Apr 20, 2012 10:22 pm

Outdoor magazines have unending articles like that they can plaster on their monthly covers. Sells mags off of racks. And their target audience for the most part are not experienced regional locals. My guess is their criteria is also close to or on top of some sort of trail. Places they can easily direct their readers to. In the Sierra I know of lots of very scenic places with zero crowds. But most are not right on trails. At some point one needs to leave trails and often just a quarter mile is enough to get places where one will not see footprints all summer or be able to hear or see anyone. So a best of article like that is really not very serious.

As an example was the trip we did a couple years back in 2010 to the Beck Lakes area of the Ritter Range that I posted a thread about and we discussed here both pre and post trip. Of course many areas of the range are crawling with people all summer. But I know LOTS of places there where I won't be seeing others. At Beck Lakes one can easily hike to the east end of the lower lake where the trail ends. Getting to the backside of the lake is going to prune away 95% of even day hikers much less backpackers because it requires slogging through steep talus along the lake edge. Although the west end of those lakes are scenicly nice, they are not epic. But epic scenery can be found in that zone not far away and one can readily hike and camp there. This view of the Minarets. Be sure to mouse click the image.

http://www.summitpost.org/minarets-from ... 3/c-170866

Some day I'll get that same frame after a late spring snow storm moves in during June dusting all the peaks. in Last year in 2011 we went up McGee Creek. Lots of groups on the trail that goes up that canyon. But we found several places with spectacular views and terrific possible camping where there were no signs of footprints. Such canyons are huge while areas near trails or around the lakes visitors tend to stay near like a magnet are but puny percentages of total areas. How'd you like to be tented in front of this view. Again mouse click it to enlarge:

http://www.summitpost.org/-red-and-whit ... 0/c-324762
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Re: The Sierra's Best Campsites

Postby RoguePhotonic » Sat Apr 21, 2012 11:09 am

There is a spot above the PCT, somewhere between Chicken Spring Lake and the entrance to Kings Canyon, and that's all I'm going to say about it.


Hmm above Palisade Lakes perhaps? :-k :p
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Re: The Sierra's Best Campsites

Postby cgundersen » Sat Apr 21, 2012 11:49 am

Fun thread......
Tom, I initially misinterpreted your comment (when I first read it, I thought you were starting N and ending the Sierra just below Tahoe; but, then I read antiTahoe snob):
Not me. I think it ends just south of Tahoe.
</antiTahoeSnob
And, since Q is being very forthright in narrowing down the location of his epic campsite, I'd be more inclined to guess that it's somewhere in the vicinity of Lake South America from which the views of the Great Western Divide are magnificent. But, with easy access, LSA does get people. Views off Bighorn Plateau ain't too bad either, but again, you need to work a little to get away from folks.
Personally, aside from the fact it's on the high route, I'm a huge fan of the views of the Minarets one gets from Blue Lakes, and it's hard enough to reach that I've only run into another person there once (in 4 visits).
cg
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Re: The Sierra's Best Campsites

Postby giantbrookie » Sat Apr 21, 2012 1:39 pm

Yes, like many, I don't publicly post my favorite campsites. I'm even more guarded about these than fishing spots. I have a lot of "favorite" spots with great views and no crowds. All of them are off trail except one. The one exception sits exactly upon the Sierran crest and no doubt gets a lot of traffic during the peak season and it appears to have endured its share of abuse over the years as I could see by all of the sawn-off limbs of trees in the area. My other favorite spots are all off trail and range from the northernmost Sierra (northernmost one is in Bucks Lake Wilderness) to high parts of Sequoia NP. Some require a whole mess of hiking, whereas other ones, including my family's favorite spot, require little hiking (family favorite spot is about 1.3 mi, 850'gain all off trail).
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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