Hobbes wrote:Question for Kathy, Mav and others: which of the big 3 (Baxter, Sawmill & Taboose) would you prefer to exit if you went in via Kearsarge?
My thoughts are with reference not only to scenery (ie isn't Baxter burned out?), but also ease of shuttling between THs.
I've never gone all the way over Baxter. I've been up to just under the pass a couple of times in the spring/early summer to base camp and climb Mary Austin and Diamond Peak. It's a really beautiful area when there's still snow on the ground. I'm sure in the middle of the summer it's probably dry and dusty due to the fire damage once you get down to under 10,000'. Someday I might go over Baxter Pass if I decide to go that route to climb Mount Baxter. I don't think I'd choose Baxter Pass to come out from the JMT.
Sawmill Pass: This one has to be timed correctly. The trailhead is at about 4500'; so if you're coming out via that route you want to hit the bottom section either at the end of the day when it is in the shade or in the dark. Also, unless you get a really cool day, if you decide to go up that trail you'll need to start either before dawn in the dark or at the end of the day/at night. Otherwise, the heat will just be terrible. The Sawmill Pass Trail fades in and out between the JMT and Sawmill Pass; so you have to keep your eyes open to find it again when you lose it.
Taboose Pass: This one is better to go up than down. Once again, a low elevation trailhead but not as low as Sawmill. Timing is important on this one too - try not to be at the trailhead at the hottest part of the day. The trail has a lot of rubble on it and it's a tough coming down in that crap - a lot of the rubble has been placed there by trail maintenance people and it's likely to do with making it easier for stock, not humans. At the same time, it's probably faster to come out via Taboose than Sawmill or Baxter. It's only 8 miles from Taboose Pass to the trailhead.