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East Lake to Lake South America

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East Lake to Lake South America

Postby tucsoncop » Fri Jul 13, 2012 10:11 am

Hello,
I'm new here and have been doing some reading, but I'm looking for some advise. A group of my friends and I (5 of us) will be hiking through King's Canyon / Sequoia next week (July 21st - 27th, 2012.) We are hiking from Onion Valley down through Bullfrog lake, over Forester Pass to Lake South America. We are then coming back around and taking the same route back. Not too fond of coming back around again. Looking at my GPS and doing some research online, I saw that there is a way to get from Bullfrog to East Lake, over Harrison Pass and down to Lake South America. I've also read that the trail is sketchy, but passable. My concern is whether the path from East Lake to Lake South America is safe? We are not advanced backpackers by any means, but we have all been backpacking for 5 - 10 years. I have GPS and a map, and would prefer to take this path over Mt. Harrison so we don't have to hike in and back, but want to know a little more about the difficulty of crossing over Mt. Harrison. Can it be done in a day? Any help anyone can provide would be very much appreciated.

Dan



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Re: East Lake to Lake South America

Postby windknot » Fri Jul 13, 2012 10:18 am

Hi Dan,

Welcome to the board, and great timing! I just posted a similar request for information regarding that same crux move over Harrison Pass.

From the reading I've done, Harrison Pass is a difficult Class 2/3 off-trail pass (no trail, even though my map does show one) that should only be attempted by experienced backpackers. Have you done any other off-trail passes in the Sierra? I've gone over a handful and am seriously considering rerouting my planning trip to avoid any of the trans-Kings/Kern Divide passes.

Keeping in mind that you say you are not advanced backpackers, I would strongly recommend that you avoid Harrison. Going over the same pass twice is a bit boring, but in this case I believe it would be the most prudent option unless you and your friends are looking for (and capable of surmounting) a very challenging off-trail pass.

Best,
Matt
A few backcountry fishing pictures: http://wanderswithtrout.wordpress.com/
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Re: East Lake to Lake South America

Postby maverick » Fri Jul 13, 2012 10:21 am

Hi Tucsoncop,

Welcome to HST! Please read: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=4205
Thanks
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Re: East Lake to Lake South America

Postby tucsoncop » Fri Jul 13, 2012 10:29 am

Thanks for some of the advise already posted. To comply with Maverick's request... Most of us would probably be level 2 backpackers, comfortable with class 1 and 2 terrain. We will be out for 7 days, 6 nights, average of 6 to 8 miles a day.
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Re: East Lake to Lake South America

Postby maverick » Fri Jul 13, 2012 11:36 am

I agree 100% with Windknot! Harrison Pass nor for that matter any of the passes of
the Kern Divide should be attempted as someone's first try at a crosscountry pass.
Even with several under your belt it can be a little no much.
Here is Quentinc's TR which has some photo's in which you can see some of the
steepness and the loose rock that makes this a solid class 2.
http://www.highsierratopix.com/communit ... rison+pass
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Re: East Lake to Lake South America

Postby tucsoncop » Fri Jul 13, 2012 5:59 pm

Are there any other suggestions for getting to to Lake South America from Bullfrog lake other thank going over Forester Pass, then coming back over the pass the same way we just came. We also would prefer not to add that many days to our trip. Thank you.
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Re: East Lake to Lake South America

Postby quentinc » Fri Jul 13, 2012 6:45 pm

I don't think it would take any longer to return via Forester Pass than to go the Harrison route. In fact, given the x-country travel, Harrison might take longer. I can understand your not wanting to retrace your steps, but I don't think there are any loops within your comfort zone. I've never been over Junction Pass, but I suspect that would be a bit much for your group too.
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Re: East Lake to Lake South America

Postby maverick » Fri Jul 13, 2012 7:00 pm

As you can see on the map link the JMT is the only easy way over. There are several
crosscountry passes over the Divide but neither are recommended. Ski Mountaineers
Pass which is next to Forester Pass is a class 1-2, but has a lot of scree and talus and
would not be a good alternative route. HST Map
The only alternative is to park one car at the Shepherd Pass Traihead and then drive
up to Onion Valley. Since there are 5 of you this option is doable and would be much
better than retracing your steps over Forester Pass, and with this low snow year
this would be the year to use Shepherd Pass, which otherwise is difficult with snow.
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Re: East Lake to Lake South America

Postby cgundersen » Sat Jul 14, 2012 1:28 pm

tucsoncop,
As you'll see on the way in, the route you're planning is pretty stunning and going out and back won't be horrible. The only reason I'm chiming in is to point out that it's a very pleasant stroll from Lake South America to the Harrison pass ridge. If you do it with just a day pack, you can peek over and see what you were missing. I'd even recommend descending part way down just to get a feeling for what a solid class 2 route is like. Without 20-40 lbs on your back, it won't be as intimidating. And, you can add some photos to the great shots Q posted of Harrison!

Then, if you really do want to get in a partial loop, I'll second Quentin's suggestion to think about Junction Pass. There is a remnant trail all the way over Junction (well, there was when I last went over ~10 years ago). The one thing that is not very clear is where to break off the Shepherd's trail. In my experience, the first segment of the Junction trail that is shown on the 7.5' map is not reliable. Instead, it is best to cut off a bit above the Pothole (I recommend breaking off almost exactly at the 3400 m contour line on the 7.5' map) and stay high and contour into the "marshy" area. From there on out, you should be able to find the trail. The fun part of the Junction route is when it heads down the ridge on the north side and you can see the Forester trail a bit to the west.

But, you could also go with Maverick's suggestion to exit via Shepherd's, if you have 2 vehicles or hire a shuttle. Any way you cut it, it should be great!
cg
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Re: East Lake to Lake South America

Postby tucsoncop » Sat Jul 14, 2012 10:07 pm

Thanks for all the suggestions...
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