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The Ultimate Sierra Backpacking Trip (past and future.....)

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The Ultimate Sierra Backpacking Trip (past and future.....)

Postby mshields » Sun Dec 16, 2012 3:22 pm

Someone or another usually pops the question around this time of the year; so here we go.......

Two questions:

1) Your absolute all time favorite backpacking trip!! (yes you only get one choice)

2) The itinerary that you have been dreaming about embarking on; the ultimate sierra backpacking trip. (yup only one choice)


No particular criteria to go by, just interested in hearing some stories and dream destinations; those places which call out to your adventurous spirit!!



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Re: The Ultimate Sierra Backpacking Trip (past and future.....)

Postby AlmostThere » Sun Dec 16, 2012 6:36 pm

1) The next one I take.

2) I have too many of those to even begin ranking them. I just go with what I have time to do.
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Re: The Ultimate Sierra Backpacking Trip (past and future.....)

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sun Dec 16, 2012 7:46 pm

Simply out of pure greed, Roper's High Route would be the route I would repeat if I could only choose one trip to repeat in the Sierra. I like long trips, I like to achieve goals, I like great scenery, high altitude and challenging off-trail travel. I also like the planning phase, and this route gave me plenty of fun planning. I cannot say that the route had the all-time best single scene, or single day, but it was an adventure filled 30+ days. Overall, it comes out #1 because of sheer scope. If the question were instead my alll-time favorite 5-7 day section of any route, it would not be on the High Route.

Future trip? I would extend the High Route to the south and do side trips into areas like the Ionian Basin. So a 90-day High Route, with tons of climbs, side trips, and extended north and south miles would be my future "dream trip". A "plus" would be if I could do such an extended trip with a very good friend or hiking partner instead of solo.

Since the question was limited to the Sierra, it does not cover my all-time favorite backpack trip which was in the Wind Rivers.
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Re: The Ultimate Sierra Backpacking Trip (past and future.....)

Postby LMBSGV » Sun Dec 16, 2012 10:00 pm

1. The 38 day trip for my book, Tuolumne Meadows to Kings Canyon and back. It was (and remains) a life changing experience. For a shorter trip, the one I took the next year for the book’s Epilogue from Cedar Grove over Colby Pass to Wallace Lake and the Upper Kern, also a life changing experience. Every wilderness trip I’ve taken since, from the Sierra to overnight at Point Reyes is an affirmation and confirmation of the lessons the wilderness taught me on those trips.

2. For an ultimate trip, I agree with Almost There. The candidates range from doing the JMT with my wife when we semi-retire in about three years, a solo trip variation of Roper’s High Route (the variations being there are at least 3 passes on that trip I wouldn’t dare attempt at my age) to a 12-15 day solo trip out of Mineral King into Kaweah Basin.
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Re: The Ultimate Sierra Backpacking Trip (past and future.....)

Postby RoguePhotonic » Mon Dec 17, 2012 5:41 pm

My best trip was the last one of 111 days. Saw so many awesome places. It may not have ended well but that doesn't take away from the fact it was all awesome.

At this point I wouldn't say I have any areas left that I dream of getting to. Almost everything now is a curiosity. I actually am having a really hard time thinking about where I would want to go this coming season and where I should start or not.
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Re: The Ultimate Sierra Backpacking Trip (past and future.....)

Postby mshields » Mon Dec 17, 2012 8:14 pm

Thanks for the responses so far; it is fascinating to get the different takes.

AlmostThere wrote:1) The next one I take.

Wandering Daisy wrote: I like long trips, I like to achieve goals, I like great scenery, high altitude and challenging off-trail travel. I also like the planning phase, and this route gave me plenty of fun planning.

LMBSGV wrote: The 38 day trip for my book, Tuolumne Meadows to Kings Canyon and back. It was (and remains) a life changing experience.

RoguePhotonic wrote:At this point I wouldn't say I have any areas left that I dream of getting to. Almost everything now is a curiosity.


Perhaps in the overall picture, it is difficult to try to narrow things down to a solitary dream trip, or the one trip that capped them all. The Sierra's have such a vast amount of terrain (especially off trail) that any one person could never visit it all regardless of the amount of free time they have in a lifetime; this is one of the main reasons they are so enticing! In the end I think that a trip of a lifetime is not something that you plan, but rather something that you experience.

Thanks again for sharing; I look forward to hearing some more.......
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Re: The Ultimate Sierra Backpacking Trip (past and future.....)

Postby paul » Mon Dec 17, 2012 8:18 pm

1) I can't narrow it down to one, I'll have to go with two: one was the JMT in 1993, and the other was a ski backpacking trip, crossing the sierra in 2011.

2) The ultimate would be a lot like what Rogue has done the past couple years - not the same route, but the same idea of a whole summer on the trail, roaming all over the Sierra.
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Re: The Ultimate Sierra Backpacking Trip (past and future.....)

Postby giantbrookie » Mon Dec 17, 2012 8:42 pm

My all time favorite trip was (7 days) Dumbbell Lakes via Bishop Pass, Knapsack Pass, Barrett Creek, Cataract Creek, Amphitheater L., including a side trip to the unnamed lake NW of Observation Peak. There are several others that come close such as "Ring Around the Goddard" (8 days): Lamarck Col-Evolution-Ionian-Goddard 10232-Blue Canyon-Martha-Davis-McGees-Evolution and out.

That having been said, my No. 1 daydream trip I'd like to do someday has been in my sights since the late 90's (a few years after the two top trips listed above). I'd like to do a Bishop Pass-Taboose Pass shuttle that does includes Dusy, Barrett Lakes, Amphitheather, Dumbbells, Lakes Basin, and a bunch of stuff near Taboose Pass. The first part would more or less repeat (in a more leisurely way) the Dumbbell Lakes trip of my wife and I did 1993, whereas the latter part would take in parts of a Sawmill-Taboose shuttle we did in 1997, with Lakes Basin being the connecting segment. I have each day figured to go on a far more leisurely pace than we did on our 1993 and 1997 trips (10 days total).
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Re: The Ultimate Sierra Backpacking Trip (past and future.....)

Postby Cross Country » Tue Dec 18, 2012 12:12 pm

My all time favorite was the favorite of giantbrookie. I went there with Mike and Jim when they were 10yu and 16yo. We went later, the same year as gb's trip.

My all time daydream trip would be to go to the lake close to Windy Ridge and Horseshoe Lakes. It's the only place in the Sierra I regretted not visiting.

Only one person writing on HST claims to have been there. Neither he nor a man I met at Upper Paradise Valley in 1991 would tell me about the fishing at that lake. The fishing must be really spectacular there.

On my dream trip I would also do State, Horseshoe and perhaps Volcanic and stay the last night to fish at Granite Basin.

Thats Jim and Mike on that trip with Marion Lake in the background.
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Re: The Ultimate Sierra Backpacking Trip (past and future.....)

Postby overheadx2 » Tue Dec 18, 2012 5:57 pm

As a newby, I can say that Colby meadow is probably the most beautiful place I have ever been. Throw in the Muir hut and lake 11,132 (?), and it was a great adventure. We did it late enough that the valley was pretty much empty except for some Muir ghosts ( Muir trail guys on the trail, but they never seem to camp or stop anywhere). I know that many here would consider this area over used and common but for anyone that hasn't been, it is a must. Hopefully at some point I will be jaded enough by more beautiful spots that I won't look back at that trip with the same wonderment.

As far as dream trips, it seems that every time I read a report by markskor, cross country, giant brookie and the other top dogs, I have another dream trip to put on the list. Phil
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Re: The Ultimate Sierra Backpacking Trip (past and future.....)

Postby markskor » Wed Dec 19, 2012 10:38 am

Ultimate trip you ask…been pondering…good winter thread this…depends.

Like many here, have been backpacking for, what it seems like, forever…easily over 2500 Sierra bag nights.
Starting out as a teen-age, dirt-bag, clueless wanderer – religiously pre-planning everything and always keeping to the trails (mostly). Under a half-dozen squeaky Kelty Tioga externals, my old high school art teacher (@Flintstone Tech in the SFV), introduced a few of us students to the Muir and the rest is history. BTW, my first real backpacking adventure was the entire JMT broken down into 5 one-week “student” sections, and I did it all. That particular trip could stand out a definite candidate on anyone’s ultimate trip list.

Got into big wall-climbing for a spell… (Valley walls mostly)…Camp 4 denizen…a real PB – Park Bum…spent many a summer month those years hiding out in the Valley. That first overnight climb of the HD face – (30 + pitches and the thrill of Porta ledge living) - made this particular 2-day trip (one night on the wall and one night atop the Dome) stand out as another ultimate.

A few years later, after having another hiking buddy drop out last minute, again…(always had hiked with the company of others), I discovered the serenity that comes with hiking solo. My third trip of the Muir (could have been the fourth) marked this prodigious milestone. As the planning part, always so meticulously structured before, was thrown out the window…having already seen the trail, I ad-libbed it. Somehow my reserved, 2-person, 21-day, wilderness permit turned into a circuitous, solo, 32-day, fishing adventure. No schedules – no pre-arranged white buckets of food sent, no hard plans…serendipity…the Ultimate JMT.

Took up fishing seriously and dropped the big walls soon after my son was born… (Wife’s orders) and subsequently trod the TYT, Fallen Leaf to Yosemite Valley. Having the good fortune to tag along with a master “chronic” angler that trip, we spent a glorious 2 weeks – him teaching and catching, me fumbling and swearing…another notable Ultimate Sierra adventure.

As the angling side of backpacking became more obsessive, rather than the long miles and peak-bagging days of a previous life, now getting off trail became more important. Why…That is where the great fishing lies – off trail. Plus, I was getting older and realizing that the masses could be easily avoided with but a little effort and crowded trails were just a conduit to places more remote. Now instead of structured trips of yore, all pre-arranged and highly mapped out before the hike…I just load up my pack with 10 days of provisions, pack some plastic, and go. Plans always change anyway…accept this; chose some place like Tuolumne to start out, pick a general target destination, and go with the flow.

Last year, Mike, OldRanger, invited me to join him… (Who knows why, but am truly thankful)… for 34 days or so, all in the Yosemite area. Where we were going was probably brought up beforehand but who ever listens to Mike? He picked me up in front of the Curry Arch and my latest ultimate trip was on. We spend countless days fishing, half off-trail; hardly saw a soul, and culminating with our successful 19-day, 95 mile, Yosemite 5-slam. FYI, being solo does have its merits but hiking with someone else, even if it was Mike, made this trip special.

Concluding this rambling diatribe, my 107 Sierra days last season; all in the Yosemite back-country were probably my ultimate backpacking adventure to date. I know my 400+ miles hardly compare to our own Rogue’s pre-planned itinerary, but fairly substantial nonetheless. However, just got another invitation letter from Mike and again he won’t say where we are going this upcoming year…sigh…no matter, probably just another ultimate adventure to come.

Mark
Mountainman who swims with trout
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Re: The Ultimate Sierra Backpacking Trip (past and future.....)

Postby oldranger » Wed Dec 19, 2012 10:50 am

Markskor wrote:

Starting out as a teen-age, dirt-bag, clueless wanderer
Having the good fortune to tag along with a master “chronic” angler that trip, we spent a glorious 2 weeks – him teaching and catching, me fumbling and swearing…another notable Ultimate Sierra adventure.
probably just another ultimate adventure to come.


Well Mark, except for the fact that you are now an old fart everything seems pretty much the same. ;)

Mike
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Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!
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