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TR: Onion Valley - Kearsarge to Sawmill

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Re: TR: Onion Valley - Kearsarge to Sawmill

Postby KathyW » Thu Jul 12, 2012 7:00 am

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.



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Re: TR: Onion Valley - Kearsarge to Sawmill

Postby LMBSGV » Thu Jul 12, 2012 9:58 am

cgunderson:

The trail crew was rerouting the west side of the trail down from Kearsarge when I went over in 2007. The switchbacks are now much longer and more gradual and it seems rather obvious it was done for stock not to erode the trail as much. I suspect it adds about a quarter mile of additional hiking from the old route. Also, the trail off to Kearsarge Lakes was rerouted sometime after that and takes a less direct route down to the lakes.

I went over Taboose both directions once - yes it's a gorgeous trail, especially near the top. At my age (61) I doubt I'll do it again since 6,000 feet of climbing is not something I want to do anymore. Also, I don't think I want to take my Prius V up that road.
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Re: TR: Onion Valley - Kearsarge to Sawmill

Postby jackie_s » Sat Jul 14, 2012 7:09 pm

KathyW wrote:If anyone is looking to do a solo shuttle trip, I want to let you know that Paul at East Side Sierra Shuttle gave me my ride from Sawmill Pass Trailhead to Onion Valley - it worked out great. His contact info is: http://eastsidesierrashuttle.com/


Kathy, he gave us a ride from Baxter to Kearsarge on 7/5/12. He was a really cool guy and most interesting. He has a lot of knowledge of the area and good advice that helped us out. I'll definitely use his services next time.
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Re: TR: Onion Valley - Kearsarge to Sawmill

Postby jackie_s » Sat Jul 14, 2012 7:16 pm

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.


Hobbes,

I just got back from going up Kearsarge and out Baxter 7/5-7/7. I thought Baxter was beautiful (although I can't compare them to Taboose or Sawmill as I haven't visited either, yet). Some say it's not very interesting but I thought it was magnificent! The trail is hard to find at times but there are plenty of cairns to help you out with that. I think only the campground area by the parking lot and trailhead was affected by the fire. And we were lucky enough to see the Bighorns!! I vote for Baxter...

-Jackie
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