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Upper Kern Basin from east or west? [6-day solo trip]

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Upper Kern Basin from east or west? [6-day solo trip]

Postby windknot » Fri Jul 13, 2012 10:14 am

Hello all,

I'm in the early planning stages for a 6-day solo trip in late September, and a couple of my top choices intersect in the Upper Kern Basin. The first option is a semi-loop trip from Road's End that I figure might look something like this:

D1/Road's End to East Lake
D2/over Harrison Pass/Ericsson Pass to Lake South America
D3/layover in Upper Kern Basin
D4/back over Harrison Pass/Ericsson Pass to Lake Reflection
D5/over Longley Pass, past South Guard Lake to Big Brewer Lake, then over Sphinx Pass to the Sphinx Lakes
D6/out to Road's End

The second option is a semi-loop trip from Shepherd Pass:

D1/up Shepherd Pass to Anvil Camp or Shepherd Pass Lake
D2/to Wallace Lake
D3/back around to Upper Wright Lakes Basin
D4/to Lake South America
D5/layover in Upper Kern Basin
D6/back out over Shepherd Pass

The goals of this trip will be big mountain scenery, fishing, interesting (but not life-threatening) off-trail travel, and seeing country that I haven't visited before. I'm a pretty strong hiker, but have only done a handful of low to medium Class 2 passes (Thunderbolt, Knapsack, Puppet, Crabtree, Royce Pass Option, Carol Column, Graveyard, unnamed pass due E of Peak 11,347 on the Silver Divide), but only Carol Column and Royce Pass Option were solo.

Because of this, the dual crossings of Harrison Pass are the crux moves for the first trip option. I've read that Harrison is diciest when there's a lot of snow, and I don't anticipate this being as much of a problem by late September. With this being said, I have a healthy respect for the difficulty of all of the passes crossing the Kern-Kings Divide, and so this may be enough to force my hand toward the second trip option even though I'll be coming from the Bay Area and so a west-side entry will shave a couple of hours off my driving time.

Just fishing for any input that the more experienced board members can offer as to variables that I've overlooked, first-hand experience with the respective areas (i.e. sections of these loops that you really liked or didn't care for), and an honest assessment of whether or not you think I'll be capable of doing this trip solo. I have a 5-day solo trip in KCNP planned for late August and an 8-day backpack in the JMW planned for early September, as well as a few other shorter conditioning runs before those trips, so I should be at the peak of my physical condition by late September.

Any other suggestions for a different 6-day solo trip of similar scope and opportunities would be welcomed! For reference, I'm also considering the Clark Range (southern Yosemite) and the Northern Yosemite/Hoover/Emigrant triangle area.

Thanks in advance,
Matt
A few backcountry fishing pictures: http://wanderswithtrout.wordpress.com/



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Re: Upper Kern Basin from east or west? [6-day solo trip]

Postby maverick » Fri Jul 13, 2012 12:05 pm

If the Upper Kern Basin is really your true destination, than why add in these
other beautiful destination that will not get there fair share of time spent in them
and neither will the Upper Kern Basin?
The whole area from Sphinx to Brewer is great, Mt. Brewer is a fun climb, Lake
Reflection is Lake Reflection, East Lake is pretty too though for variation one can
go over Deerhorn Pass and visit pretty Vidette Lakes.
Going over Harrison Pass twice seems a waste of time, and energy, especially when
your only spending one day in the Upper Kern Basin at an okay lake that is also
the most visited. There are numerous lakes that are much prettier and offer splendid
views, area's south and east of Mt Genevra, and then you still have all of the beautiful
area's near Milestone Creek to explore.
Personally my recommendation would be if the Upper Kern is you interest than do
your option 2 hike dropping Wallace & Wright (again these basins deserve much
more than a run through) and spend 4 days really exploring the Upper Kern giving
this beautiful area the due justice it deserves.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Upper Kern Basin from east or west? [6-day solo trip]

Postby windknot » Fri Jul 13, 2012 2:21 pm

Thanks Maverick, I appreciate it. I guess putting Upper Kern Basin in the title may be a little misleading; these are two trips that I'm interested in taking on their own merit, and it was just a coincidence that they both happen to include an Upper Kern segment. For what it's worth, that okay lake that is also the most visited was my main reason for crossing over for reasons not pertaining to beauty or solitude. Well, at least a different kind of beauty of the piscine variety. :)

The option from Road's End started out as a Circle of Solitude loop, but I have six days free instead of four so I was playing around with options to tack on a few days to the trip and figured that taking a peek into the Upper Kern might be interesting.

Perhaps a better question would be: which area is (in your opinion) better worth visiting, Sphinx/Brewer/Reflection or Wallace/Wright/LSA/Williamson? Again, taking into account scenery, solitude, challenging but not extremely difficult off-trail travel, and fishing. My own gut instinct is that it's not worth making the trek over Harrison (twice!) just for LSA, so if I do choose the Road's End option I may look into expanding the trip further north instead of south.
A few backcountry fishing pictures: http://wanderswithtrout.wordpress.com/
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Re: Upper Kern Basin from east or west? [6-day solo trip]

Postby maverick » Fri Jul 13, 2012 3:26 pm

The Shepherd Pass option would be less work since you would be coming over on
(trailed) pass, on your other option you have Sphinx Col (Class 2), Cinder Col (Class 2)
and Longley Pass (class 1) for sure just to get to Lake Reflection.
Fishing is supposed to be good in both places though maybe with an edge to the SP
option.
Would go with the Shepherd Pass option, it just has just so many great places to visit
like LSA, Wright, Wallace, Wales, Tulainyo Lakes, Bighorn Plateau, and a lot of trout. :unibrow:
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Upper Kern Basin from east or west? [6-day solo trip]

Postby windknot » Fri Jul 13, 2012 3:43 pm

Thanks Mav. Seems like it's certainly worth the extra hours of driving time to get around the horn. :)
A few backcountry fishing pictures: http://wanderswithtrout.wordpress.com/
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Re: Upper Kern Basin from east or west? [6-day solo trip]

Postby Ikan Mas » Fri Jul 13, 2012 3:48 pm

I count Wallace and Lake South America as some of my best fishing adventures!
Image
While the fish are not purebred goldens (they are hybrids) the quality and quantity is awesome! I would pick that second hike.
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Re: Upper Kern Basin from east or west? [6-day solo trip]

Postby windknot » Fri Jul 13, 2012 4:26 pm

Thanks Ikan Mas. That golden is a beauty, hybrid or not!
A few backcountry fishing pictures: http://wanderswithtrout.wordpress.com/
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Re: Upper Kern Basin from east or west? [6-day solo trip]

Postby maverick » Fri Jul 13, 2012 4:50 pm

Hey Windknot,

This should wet you appetite even with the pictures missing, and you did have one
post in the thread: http://www.highsierratopix.com/communit ... llace+lake
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Upper Kern Basin from east or west? [6-day solo trip]

Postby windknot » Fri Jul 13, 2012 5:41 pm

Thanks for the link. Not to seem like I spend TOO much time on here, but I'm reasonably certain I've read every single thread in the fishing forum over the past several years! Heard many good things about these lakes, which is one of the major reasons why I want to visit this area.
A few backcountry fishing pictures: http://wanderswithtrout.wordpress.com/
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Re: Upper Kern Basin from east or west? [6-day solo trip]

Postby maverick » Fri Jul 13, 2012 5:53 pm

Windknot wrote:
Not to seem like I spend TOO much time on here, but I'm reasonably certain I've read
every single thread
in the fishing forum over the past several years!


What, only once. :lol:
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Upper Kern Basin from east or west? [6-day solo trip]

Postby quentinc » Fri Jul 13, 2012 6:53 pm

I'd also vote for the Shepherd/Williamson/Wright/Wallace option. That's one of my favorite areas in the Sierra. If you do it, be sure to visit Wales Lake, which is Wallace's even lovelier sister.
Here's my TR from that area.

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Re: Upper Kern Basin from east or west? [6-day solo trip]

Postby rlowgren » Fri Jul 13, 2012 8:10 pm

I'm new to the forum but I thought I'd chime in since your trip sounds very similar to one I'm considering for later this year. My route goes over McLeod pass which is an alternative to Langley and would avoid the double Harrison move.

Day 1 - roads end to sphinx lakes
Day 2- over sphinx pass to south guard lake ( although I believe I've read on this form there's no fish in this lake so I may modify this stop)
Day 3-over McLeod pass (between thunder and table mtn to the lake s. America
Day 4- over forester pass to center basin and golden bear lake
Day 5 - long hike back to roads end

If you wanted to go to lake reflection you could take Harrison or milly's foot pass from the upper kern and then back to roads end from there.

Never been to Wallace but it sounds awesome and is on my short list.
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