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Trip suggestion for early June, south Sierra?

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Trip suggestion for early June, south Sierra?

Postby Talimon » Mon May 28, 2012 11:25 pm

I have recently moved to San Diego from the Bay Area, which makes every excursion to the Sierras a bit more of an operation. My go-to early season trip is usually in Yosemite, but I only have 4 days/3 nights, and the 8 hour drive seems too long to justify. My hope is to mine the wealth of knowledge on this forum for something more accessible but equally impressive coming from the south.

I'm a level 3, handy with spurts of xcountry (although I certainly don't require it). Because I'll be going solo, however, I would rather avoid any dicy river crossings. My main goal is solitude, followed by big scenery. In early season I will usually exchange a little snow for less skeeters, if such a proposition is on the table. If not I will bite the bullet and enjoy wildflower opportunities, skeeters and all.

I will be arriving late Monday the 4th, so trailhead camping is ideal. I will set out early Tuesday, but my goal is to be back to the trailhead by noon on Friday, so the last day can't be a long one. I am otherwise comfortable with 8-12 mile days. No need for layover days on this one. No preference on loop vs out and back. No dog.



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Re: Trip suggestion for early June, south Sierra?

Postby tim » Tue May 29, 2012 8:35 am

How about going out from Horseshoe Meadows (which has camping at the trailhead, though best to check it is open already)?

Day 1 over Cottonwood Pass to Soldier Lake, Day 2 a day hike in Miter Basin visiting Sky Blue Lake, Day 3 up Langley and back down over New Army Pass to camp at one of the Cottonwood Lakes, then day 4 back to the trailhead. It looks from other reports that all of this area is pretty snow free right now and Miter Basin in particular is incredibly beautiful. There are also no stream crossings of any consequence.

Miter Basin.jpg
Miter Basin
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Re: Trip suggestion for early June, south Sierra?

Postby Talimon » Tue May 29, 2012 8:56 am

That does look stunning and is certainly closer. I looked at the area before and was concerned about snow at those elevations, but if the trip reports are coming back positive that would be a great option.

I think I saw this trip listed in one of my books, but they had the loop reversed (going out over New Army, returning over Cottonwood). Anyone recommend one over the other? If reversing, to make the last day a short one it looks like maybe I could stay at Chicken Spring lake on night 3.
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Re: Trip suggestion for early June, south Sierra?

Postby tim » Tue May 29, 2012 10:16 am

Chicken Spring Lake is nice (not as nice as Soldier Lake though), but going the other way round your first day might be a bit too short (just up to Cottonwood Lakes), which then makes the other days a bit more awkward to organize if you want to do both Langley and Miter Basin. If you did Langley on Day 2, then I guess you could do the day hike to Miter Basin on Day 3 then pick up and move to Chicken Spring in the afternoon/evening.

I'd estimate getting back from Cottonwood Lakes is a 3-4 hour hike (depending on which lake you pick), getting back from Chicken Spring Lake is less than 2 hours.
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Re: Trip suggestion for early June, south Sierra?

Postby tim » Tue May 29, 2012 10:16 am

Chicken Spring Lake is nice (not as nice as Soldier Lake though), but going the other way round your first day might be a bit too short (just up to Cottonwood Lakes), which then makes the other days a bit more awkward to organize if you want to do both Langley and Miter Basin. If you did Langley on Day 2, then I guess you could do the day hike to Miter Basin on Day 3 then pick up and move to Chicken Spring in the afternoon/evening.

I'd estimate getting back from Cottonwood Lakes is a 3-4 hour hike (depending on which lake you pick), getting back from Chicken Spring Lake is less than 2 hours.
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Re: Trip suggestion for early June, south Sierra?

Postby Ska-T » Tue May 29, 2012 10:23 am

You can do the New Army Pass/Cottonwood Pass loop in either direction and be happy about it, but I'd do Cottonwood first because it is one of the easiest eastside pass (easy is nice when you are acclimatizing) and you save the more dramatic views of the two (CP vs NAP) for last. If you aren't interested in bagging Langley, then camp in Miter Basin and spend a day or two there rather than just hike in and out as a day hike.

If you are young and strong or you carry a light pack, you can get into the Miter in a day from Horseshoe Meadow, or very close to it. There is lots to explore while you are there. Lakes like Erin, Primrose, and Iridescent are up on benches above the main basin floor. Crabtree Pass is worth hiking up to and looking over. If you like to climb peaks there are a variety to choose from at various levels of difficulty. For example, Mt Pickering is class 2 from Sky Blue Lake. Mt McAdie is class 3 from Crabtree Pass, IIRC.

As for camping the last night near your car, on the east side of NAP you could camp at Long Lake or one of the South Fork Lakes. From the north side of the outlet of the lowest (eastern most) of the South Fork Lakes there is a pretty use trail that follows the South Fork of Cottonwood Creek down until you hit a trail coming out of Horseshoe Meadow.
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Re: Trip suggestion for early June, south Sierra?

Postby SPeacock » Tue May 29, 2012 12:42 pm

Bishop (US-395) Piute Pass from North Lake into the Humphrey's Basin and surrounds. You will have some snow cover on the other side of the pass. You will have plenty of opportunity to get some solitude in the basin just by walking away from the trail. Backpacker camping is about 1/2 mile back on the access road from the TH.

http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=37.22103,-11 ... ilson%20CA
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Re: Trip suggestion for early June, south Sierra?

Postby calipidder » Wed May 30, 2012 7:52 am

I did Trailmaster Peak on Sunday (the high point to the north of Cottonwood Pass, south of Cirque Pk) and it is completely dry up there. I wouldn't worry about snow. It's too far south to have been hit by the recent storms. Pics:
http://photos.calipidder.com/OutdoorAdv ... &k=66mV5ZL
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Re: Trip suggestion for early June, south Sierra?

Postby Hobbes » Wed May 30, 2012 12:48 pm

Ska-T wrote:You save the more dramatic views of the two (CP vs NAP) for last.


Not much to add, really. Hiking S->N, CP provides a beautiful view of the Sierra crest @ Siberian, with the GW divide & Kaweahs off in the distance. This view stays with you the entire way to Soldier.

Soldier is just so-so - not nearly as spectacular as the CW lakes, or of course, the lakes within Miter basin. Since you need to go up over the saddle anyway to get into MB, you might want to check out upper Soldier. It's less crowded, and provides a good base from which to leave going towards Langley or the Army passes.

Going over either Army pass provides some great views (east) as you head back to HM. Army will probably still be too gnarly this early, but lots of reports are coming back that NAP is passable.

HM is a great TH for those coming from SoCal. Even from SD, if you got on the I-15, you could probably make Lone Pine in under 5 hours. Since CP is so easy, there really isn't a need to acclimate. My usual routine is to leave around 5am, get to the permit office before 9, and on the trail by 10. Soldier is only 10 miles - and basically flat (the PCT contours along the ridge line) after CP, so it makes for a great (short) first day.

If you wanted to spend the night @ the TH, and got an early start the next am, then you could skip Soldier and just head all the way to Sky Blue.
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Re: Trip suggestion for early June, south Sierra?

Postby Talimon » Fri Jun 01, 2012 4:16 pm

Thank you to everyone for the in-depth advice! Much appreciated.

I'll post a TR when I return next weekend.
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