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Trip Suggestions for Emigrant Wilderness

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Trip Suggestions for Emigrant Wilderness

Postby eaglecreek » Fri Jun 29, 2012 5:28 pm

I am planning a backpacking trip for myself and two others in the third week of August for six camping nights. We will be flying to SFO and will have a rental car or other private transportation. This is essentially an introductory trip to the SN for three hikers of Level 2 experience. We are looking for easy to moderate trail hiking with packs on, 5 to 6 miles a day with a layover for exploring, maybe a short cross country and/or some rock scrambles. We are interested in big mountain scenery, particularly lakes and meadows. We want to avoid crowds and party campsites and prefer not to share the trail with pack animals. None of us are experienced hiking at high elevations so maybe we need to stay below 8,000 feet. Our third hiker will join us after four nights for two nights so we are probably looking at a four night, out and back or loop trip followed by a two-night out and back trip in a nearby area.
I narrowed down my search to the Emigrant Wilderness for this trip mainly because it seems like a relatively easy access from San Francisco, I liked the trip reports and images I found on it and it sounds like getting permits is not a problem. I like the Crabtree Camp to Deer Lake trip I found in Sierra North. For us it would be: hike to Lilypad Lake for one night. Hike to Deer Lake for two nights and then return. Meet up with our third hiker for two nights nearby. Pretty basic I guess and it looks good on paper and the internet; what about in reality? See any problems? Are there better places to camp? What features of interest would be nearby that could you recommend? Can anyone recommend a nearby trip for the additional two nights?
This trip is really just an example of a trip that seems like it would be good for us. I would really like to hear suggestions for other trips that might be a good fit given our trip requirements, abilities and interests. Thanks in advance for your help.



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Re: Trip Suggestions for Emigrant Wilderness

Postby Wandering Daisy » Fri Jun 29, 2012 8:09 pm

Emigrant Wilderness out of Crabtree THIS year in August, probably would not be that great. We have had a very dry winter and the first 6 miles of the trail are dusty and dry even in early season. I suspect that a lot of streams will actually be dry. Emigrant Wilderness actually has more horse use than most parts of the Sierra.

I think you are selling yourself short by limiting the elevation to such low levels, particularly in August. It will be too hot and too dry.

Here are a few trips that may be more appropriate but stay in the relatively "lower" elevations. Both are off the Kaiser Pass Road. From Fresno to Shaver Lake and upward.

Florence Lake. Take the ferry across the lake (nice boat ride) and then go up to the Piute Junction. Go up Goddard Canyon. Then either into Evolution Valley or on up to Martha Lake.
The trail is faint as you go up towards Martha Lake but the upper part is easy off-trail travel anyway. OR go up French Canyon or Piute Creek. The more spectacular upper lakes are easier reached from the east side from North Lake.

Edison Lake. Long drive to get there. Take the ferry across Edison Lake, and go up Mono Creek. You can then do several side trips. A day hike up to Larual Lake is very nice. Day hike up Second Recess. Fourth Recess and Pioneer Basin are nice too, but easier approached from the East side (Rock Lake TH over Mono Pass). OR go into Silver Divide. After you get off the ferry, at the second trial junction you go right to Mono Creek and left to Silver Divide.

If I were not from here and flying, I would instead fly to Reno and do a trip on the east side - nicer easy trips and no hastling with SF bay area traffic. Or fly into Fresno and avoid the Bay Area hassle. Be aware that getting to the Sierra from SF can take 5 hours if you hit the traffic wrong.
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Re: Trip Suggestions for Emigrant Wilderness

Postby paul » Fri Jun 29, 2012 10:10 pm

I second the motion on WD's idea of flying into Reno and starting on the east side. However, if you are set on an SF start and the Emigrant, I have a few thoughts. first, I would start at Gianelli trailhead instead of Crabtree. I would not worry too much about the elevation issues; just drink plenty of water, and take it easy and you should be fine at any elevations you will hit in the emigrant. If you can work it out so that you drive up in the evening and sleep at the trailhead, that will help you acclimatize - plus you get a nice early start in the cool of the morning.

If you start from gianelli, you could go to Y meadow lake the first night, then to Pinto Lakes ( some off-trail hiking but super easy - you just follow a creek the whole way right to the lakes), then dayhike up to the top of Granite Dome for a great viewin the morning and then to Toejam lake for the last night and then back to Gianelli. For the 2-day trip, maybe go from crabtree to Chain lakes and there's a little peak right above there ( just west of the Chain lakes and marked 8126 on the topo map) that will give you a nice view.

Fewer horses go in at Gianelli than at crabtree.
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Re: Trip Suggestions for Emigrant Wilderness

Postby balzaccom » Sun Jul 01, 2012 7:21 pm

Check out the trip we did last year out of Crabtree Cabin into Pingree, Yellowhammer, and other lakes in that area. I think this is a wonderful area, and if you avoid a few of the major destinations, you can do exactly what you have described, SPend the first night at Resasco Lake ( and watch that climb out of Louse Canyon!) and from then on you can simply have the time of your life wandering around these lakes. Nice fishing, some amazing views, and we saw no other people for three or four days...

Here's a link to our Picasa page of the photos...and you can read more about Emigrant Wilderness in the destinations section of our website.

https://picasaweb.google.com/balzaccom/ ... Lakes2010#

And if you are driving from SF, this is a LOT closer than Kaiser Pass....
Balzaccom

check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
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Re: Trip Suggestions for Emigrant Wilderness

Postby no2haven » Thu Jul 05, 2012 9:30 am

If you're set on the Emigrant and comfortable off-trail Balzacomm's suggestion is a good one. So would be a loop out of Kennedy Meadows...there was a recent report about a trip to the off-trail lakes below Granite Dome and Blackhawk Mountain that would likely work. Personally, I think the trail out of Kennedy is more scenic.

Deer Lake is very nice, but that's a popular loop area out of Crabtree...you might be sharing the lake with a few other parties, but I doubt you'd find 'party campfires' THAT deep into the wilderness. I'd think those people would tire out after 5 miles with all the beer they're carrying. Both trailheads are ~4-4.5h from SFO.

Another 'close' destination is the Desolation Wilderness east of Lake Tahoe. It's another popular/crowded area, but it has several loops that would probably fit your timeframe. Great scenery (a little more 'dramatic' than the Emigrant peaks, IMO), but also harder to get permits since you have to deal with quotas. Worth looking into.

If you're willing to expand your elevation limit, the Hoover Wilderness on the east side of the crest is a good bet. The Green Creek/Virginia Lakes area has a much more alpine feel than the Emigrant and is only ~1-1.5h further from the Bay Area. You'd need to deal with permits here as well.
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Re: Trip Suggestions for Emigrant Wilderness

Postby Kris » Thu Jul 05, 2012 9:21 pm

I think the Desolation is a good suggestion. The Meeks to Emerald Bay semi loop would be a great trip for you guys. Especially since your buddy is joining you in the backcountry. He parks and enters at the opposite trailhead as you. You guys could hang out in the middle around Phipps or Stony Ridge and then exchange keys on the way out. Meet up after the hike to return cars. It's a great way to cover a lot of trail. Fishing (large backcountry trout can be had), great views, and lots of lakes make that one of my favorites. A small x-country jaunt over to phipps is worth it. Great place to spend a night. The Emigrant will be dry but Deer lake is a great place. Buck Lakes are also a nice area to check out if you're spending some time at Deer.
~We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started... and know the place for the first time.

T.S. Eliot
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Re: Trip Suggestions for Emigrant Wilderness

Postby SSSdave » Fri Jul 06, 2012 10:15 am

Hello eaglecreek,

Your input was well described, "three hikers of Level 2 experience. We are looking for easy to moderate trail hiking with packs on, 5 to 6 miles a day", but the responses received tended to be more strenuous often a lot more than a "four night, out and back or loop trip followed by a two-night out and back trip ". What you asked for is a trip no more than two easy days from a trailhead or about 10 miles.

Emigrant Wilderness is a fine area but like all areas north of Yosemite, lacks the kind of "big mountain scenery" you asked for mainly because elevations are lower than the Southern Sierra the Sierra is famous for. Also the better destinations are at least long 2-day hikes in. Geology in Emigrant is a mix of volcanic and granite but the granite there tends to be ground down to smooth forms because a giant ice cap once was right on top of it. During this droughty year water would be an issue enroute. It is however just 180 miles from the SF airport.

I'm going to give you the same advice I've given others who have never been to the Sierra and only have a short time. The destination lake is the one which graced the cover of the original Wilderness Press "Sierra North" guide book decades ago which is the most well known among mountain enthusiasts and says something about its quality as a destination. It is further than Emigrant but not that much versus many popular areas further south. And obtaining a wilderness permit via walk up or reservation is likely without having to worry about filled quotas.

It is in Hoover Wilderness in Toyabe National Forest near Bridgeport. That is 235 miles from the SF airport. The trailhead is Green Creek, on a bumpy dusty well maintained gravel road. Your destination would be East Lake at about 4 miles and 1400 feet of uphill. The second day you move up the trail to Summit Lake. There is lots of day hiking and class 2 peak scrambling in the area. It is quite colorful metamorphic geology and granite High Sierra scenery.

http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=38.06637,-119.29595&z=15&t=T

Search on "east lake hoover wilderness" and you will get many more hits and descriptions. Also hits on Google Images.

As a second 2-night trip, you are going to want something closer on the drive back where you can meet the other person just arriving. On the east side of Sonora Pass is Leavitt Meadow. An easy backpack would be to Roosevelt and Lane Lakes and a bonus is the Walker River is also right there.

http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=38.29243,-119.54425&z=15&t=T
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Re: Trip Suggestions for Emigrant Wilderness

Postby eaglecreek » Sun Aug 05, 2012 11:00 am

Thanks to each of you who have replied and shared trip ideas in response to my request. There are so many great trip possibilities that it is difficult to choose. For this trip, non-refundable airline tickets and logistics of picking up a third hiker mid-trip will keep us in the Emigrant. Plans are to go in at Gianelli and hike east probably as far as Pinto Lakes and Granite Dome staying at the lakes along the way that fit our schedule. We will pick up our third hiker in Oakdale and head up to Kennedy Meadows for the last couple of days. We are really looking forward to experiencing the Sierra. Thanks again for sharing your expertise.
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Re: Trip Suggestions for Emigrant Wilderness

Postby paul » Sun Aug 05, 2012 1:21 pm

Pinto Lakes - very nice. The upper lake has the best campsites in my opinion, and is generally the better spot. Granite Dome is a quick jaunt from either lake. I highly recommend walking north along the ridge from the Summit of Granite Dome. Fun terrain to wander around in, and the views change as you go.
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