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suggestion for 20+ mile loop trip June 12-17

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suggestion for 20+ mile loop trip June 12-17

Postby amaxoxo » Sat May 19, 2012 10:26 pm

Looking for ideas for a 6 day trip with 3-4 days hiking and a few layover days. We're both experienced backpackers, comfortable on trails and maybe some mild cross country. Hiking 5-8 miles a day or so. Love vistas, lakes, lots of granite. Looking for something with a high alpine feel but not completely snowed in. Would love to go Bishop Pass to Dusy Basin and Palisade area but east side may be too snowy at this time of year? Thinking of Minarets.....Would love ideas!
Thanks much!
(We live in Santa Cruz, coming from sea level but used to altitude. Did Kearsarge Pass to Whitney Portal last August....)



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Re: suggestion for 20+ mile loop trip June 12-17

Postby RoguePhotonic » Sun May 20, 2012 12:57 pm

You would probably be ok in Dusy Basin with this low snow year. Maybe something like day 1 to the upper largest lake in Dusy. Day 2 cross Thunderbolt Col into Palisade Basin. Day 3 layover day 4 cross Knapsack Pass and stay in lower Dusy. Day 5 layover and then day 6 make the hike out.

I don't know if those passes would fit mild cross country though. I have not done them myself yet.

I also don't know what sort of snow they will still have at that time.

Minarets are sure to have more snow though. That area gets more snow then any where else in the high Sierra. Also that early you will still have major problems with downed trees on most trails.
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Re: suggestion for 20+ mile loop trip June 12-17

Postby amaxoxo » Sun May 20, 2012 1:04 pm

Thank you for the input. I'll try and find out what snow levels are like in Dusy and Palisades Basins. Can you recommend the best way to ascertain snow levels in the back country? I've been searching for recent trip reports and also Forest Service reports but don't think BC rangers are out there yet. Is there a good JMT site that has snow level reports that you can recommend?

I've heard that Knapsack Pass is an easy way to cross over into Palisades Basin; not sure re Thunderbolt Col. Also, I meant to say, considering Mineral King, not Minarets. Seems a little lower there and am looking at a loop around Sawtooth Pass area.

Thanks for the input. (PS, as I mentioned in another post, my apologies if I am one of the annoying people who put out a too-general request for trip suggestions. I do lots of footwork, but stumbled on this website and got excited for input for people who are out more often than I am. I do one good high alpine trip a year for the past 20 years. Favorites have been Dusy Basin, JMT from Onion Valley to Whitney, Hungry Packer Lake area on east side, etc. Am just delighted to read other people's input.
Diane
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Re: suggestion for 20+ mile loop trip June 12-17

Postby RoguePhotonic » Sun May 20, 2012 1:16 pm

None of the people are "annoying" to me but they leave me dumb founded to offer reasonable trip ideas lol. I was the same way when I first started coming on hiking forums. I don't know anyone in person that hikes the Sierra so I rambled too much being over excited. I think this forum might be more accepting to this though.

As for snow data some others on here can probably give better input. I don't monitor the websites that have the raw data. At best I look at web cams and trip reports. I'm a bit more reckless in the way I don't care how much snow there is. If I can make it I will and if I cannot I will turn back. Me starting my big hike this year on June 1st is not because it's a low snow year. I just got lucky that way. If it was 200% normal I would still leave June 1st. :evil:

You might have to dig around a bit but i'm sure there will be many trip reports over Bishop Pass before you leave.

You shouldn't count on Mineral King having less snow though. The West side gets more snow even if it is lower because of the typical West to East storm movements that take allot of the moisture before it gets to the East side. You may have noticed some trip reports from a week ago at the Cottonwood Lakes that shows almost no snow at over 11,000 feet. Mineral King "probably" has allot more then that though.
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Re: suggestion for 20+ mile loop trip June 12-17

Postby amaxoxo » Sun May 20, 2012 1:25 pm

Good point about west and east. I think of east as being snowier as I go higher there; usually I do June trips in Emigrant area which is around 9,000 feet. Have you been to both Cottonwood and Dusy areas? I've been to Dusy briefly and it was gorgeous; haven't been to Cottonwood. Prettiest place I've EVER been is the meadows just south of Forrester Pass. Would love to go back there or somewhere like it. Where are you going on June 1?
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Re: suggestion for 20+ mile loop trip June 12-17

Postby RoguePhotonic » Sun May 20, 2012 1:38 pm

Yes I have been to the Cottonwood Lakes area many times. It was the place I took my first backpacking trip. It's hard to beat in terms of easy access, tons of lakes and an easy 14,000 foot peak to climb.

As for Dusy I have only been there twice you could say. Once hiking out from Leconte Canyon and then back in once I had resupplied. I only stuck to the main trail though so I have not really seen it that much. Dusy I feel is much nicer then the Cottonwood Lakes area and in terms of what I want to do these days offers allot more possibilities. I'd love to take the West side approach to summit North Palisade.

I also love that huge open meadow area South of Forester Pass.

I will actually be starting at Mineral King Valley on June 1st. Then 140 days later I will exit at Cedar Grove. That's the hope anyway. ;)
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Re: suggestion for 20+ mile loop trip June 12-17

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sun May 20, 2012 7:43 pm

I have been over Thunderbolt Pass three times and Knapsack three times. Thunderbolt is actually easier to do when there is a lot of snow. It is most difficult when the snow is melting and you have to contend with partially covered huge boulders and trecherous post-holes. Thunderbolt takes some good route-finding. The south side is ledgy and you may have to try a few alternatives first time. Thunderbolt is the most direct route. Knapsack has a trail all the way up the north side, but you really have to pay attention to find it. It is easier to follow from the top down. Going up, the lower part is the harder part to find. The south side is also ledgy and easy as long as you find the right route. The first time I did Knapsack I missed it entirely and thought it was harder than Thunderbolt. If you find the route, it is easier than Thunderbolt. You see more of Dusy Basin if you go over Knapsack. When Thunderbolt is fully melted out it can be nasty. Pre-4th July I usually choose Thunderbolt; post-4th July I usually choose Knapsack. Caveat- I have done lots of mountaineering so Thunderbolt being a bit more technical does not bother me. Also, I have always had an ice axe when I went over Thunderbolt. There can be some steep snow on Knapsack too in a high snow year, although I have done Knapsack twice with only trekking poles. The Barrett Lakes are well worth the work to get there.
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