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Suggestions on 8-9 day backpack trip

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Suggestions on 8-9 day backpack trip

Postby Alpine high » Thu Feb 07, 2013 4:21 pm

Hi, I'm planning a backpack trip this coming late July or early August with my 21 year old daughter. Our plan is an 8-9 day trip, 6-7 hiking days and 2 layover days. We would like to hike 6-8 mi/day. We have not backpacked in several years but my daughter really wants to explore the sierras. My daughter has spent all of our backpacking in the Trinity Alps and Marble Mountains, I have backpacked a lot in the sierras. We'll probably stay on trail unless the cross country is pretty straight forward. I am not a youngster anymore but I'm active and up for the challenge. We were thinking of a trans sierra route from east to west but that involves a lot of traveling for my wife, the shuttle driver, so we are more than likely looking at a west side trailhead within 4 hours of Visalia and maybe making it to the crest and back. Of course a loop trip would be ideal. Our priorities are scenery, solitude and fishing, in that order. We are looking for suggestions from the people who know best, ALL OF YOU. We are flexible with travel time if the trip warrants it based on our priorities. We appreciate any and all suggestions that you may have, thanks a lot. :wink:



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Re: Suggestions on 8-9 day backpack trip

Postby schmalz » Thu Feb 07, 2013 4:39 pm

Based on your criteria, the North-South lake loop out of Bishop sounds perfect.
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Re: Suggestions on 8-9 day backpack trip

Postby maverick » Thu Feb 07, 2013 5:10 pm

Hi Alpine high,

Welcome to HST!
Yes the North-South Lake trip would be great but since you asked for a west side
trail head I would recommend either:

1. Mineral King Loop: Franklin Pass-Soda Creek-Big & Little Five Lakes-Black Rock
Pass-Timber Gap- Mineral King (approx 40.1 miles)
2. Mineral King Loop Long Variation: Mineral King-Soda Creek-Little Five Lakes-Big
Arroyo-Kaweah Gap-Hamilton Lakes-Bearpaw Meadow-Redwood Meadow Grove-Timber
Gap-Mineral King (approx 51 miles)
Both offer outstanding scenery, some solitude, especially is one stays at a lake off
trail (but no JMT like crowds for sure), and good fishing.

3. Rae Lakes Loop with side trips: Roads End-Paradise Valley-Woods Creek-Rae
Lakes (2 days)- Day hike into Sixty Lakes Basin and Dragon Lake-Junction Meadow-East
Lake-Roads End (approx 50 miles) Great scenery, good fishing, but a lot of people.
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Re: Suggestions on 8-9 day backpack trip

Postby sparky » Thu Feb 07, 2013 5:45 pm

One alternative to Mavericks suggestion if you have a shuttle driver is to start on the high sierra trail through hamilton, kaweah gap, down big arroyo, and then take black rock or sawtooth passes back to mineral king. 9 lakes and 5 lakes are both worthy of side trip wanderings. Crystal lake is worth a visit if you are in the sawtooth/monarch lakes area.
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Re: Suggestions on 8-9 day backpack trip

Postby tim » Thu Feb 07, 2013 5:52 pm

How about Florence Lake to Muir Trail Ranch to Evolution Valley, layover in Evolution Basin (side trip to Muir Pass), then through Davis Lakes Basin to Goddard Canyon (possible layover day at Martha Lake), and back down to Florence.

Second option would be in Sequoia: Lodgepole to Twin Lakes to Ranger Lake. Down Sugarloaf Valley to Roaring River. Up Deadman Canyon (possible layover day/side trip to Cloud Canyon?) and over Elizabeth Pass to the High Sierra Trail (layover day at Lone Pine Creek?) and out to Crescent Meadow to catch the shuttle bus. That one you could do without needing to take a car at all, given the public transport available to Lodgepole.

We're probably going to do one of those two this summer, though probably not with the layover days (we'll only have 6 days).
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Re: Suggestions on 8-9 day backpack trip

Postby DavePloessel » Thu Feb 07, 2013 5:53 pm

what kind of shape are your daughter and (more importantly) you in?

Given 8 or 9 days, there are some really great options available.. but it really depends on if you're in 5-6 miles per day, 10-12 miles per day, or 20-30 miles per day type shape.. Young'uns can handle pretty much aything, but us... um... more... um.. mature (?) folk need to work within our physical limitations...

Next question would be how comfy you are with off trail travel, as well as map knowledge, etc...
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Re: Suggestions on 8-9 day backpack trip

Postby Alpine high » Thu Feb 07, 2013 8:36 pm

Wow, some wonderful starting points to check out.Thanks for all the great replies. We are definitely in the exploratory mode right now. To answer some of the questions, I'll give you some background info. I used to be a backcountry ranger out of the High Sierra ranger station and I did quite a lot of cross country traveling with map and compass. I can do the map work but the boulder hopping on steep scree slopes with my daughter doesn't make me feel safe. I'll do cross country if it's fairly straight forward but I don't want to push the envelope. I have seen better days as far as my fitness is concerned but I have already started a pretty rigorous workout routine and my daughter knows that backpacking takes a lot of work, she's been backpacking since she was 5 and did a few short trips this past year. Like I said we are open to all ideas and the ones I've seen so far are great. Keep the ideas coming we sure do appreciate them. :wink:
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Re: Suggestions on 8-9 day backpack trip

Postby kpeter » Thu Feb 07, 2013 10:09 pm

The North Lake-South Lake loop would be ideal and it can be done as a complete loop starting from the west side.

Most people, of course, start on the East side at North Lake and hike on the loop to South, and get a short ride back to North--or vice versa. It is possible (and even pleasant) however to hike from North Lake to South lake via Tyee lakes and Sabrina, thus making it a complete circle trip.

What that means is you can start on the West side at Lake Florence, hike a couple of extra miles to reach the loop at the Piute/JMT junction, do the whole circle, and exit at Florence.

There are many write ups of the North-Lake/South Lake hike, and a few of the complete loop. Here is mine:

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=6758&hilit=kpeter

You would need to adapt this to the Florence entrance, of course. I did it in 7 days with one of those days very short. I would have liked to have an extra day or two for layovers.

I have hiked a little in the Trinity Alps and found them lovely. Your daughter will need to learn about the extra elevation in the Sierra, however, since you will be nearly 5000 feet higher. You might camp fairly near Florence Lake for a day or two to acclimate, or at least take it easy. One advantage of starting at Florence is that it will be the lowest point on the trip at about 7300, so the first night should not be too bad.
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Re: Suggestions on 8-9 day backpack trip

Postby Troutdog 59 » Thu Feb 07, 2013 10:35 pm

Welcome Alpine. Some great suggestions so far and I'll add some west side suggestions since were neighbors :p . A week trek into the Red Mountain Basin out of Courtright Res would meet your specs. Two days to get in, 4 days exploring the Basin. Layover day 3, short hike day 4, then another layover to explore, 2 days back out. It can get some use, but I've found if you check out the smaller lakes just off trail can have the lake all to yourselves.

Another good choice would the Silver Divide or up the Mono Creek Canyon out of Lake Edison. You could cross Goodale Pass and explore the Minnow Creek/Fish Creek area then loop back out over Silver Pass on the JMT. Access Mono Creek by going across the ferry and the hike up canyon. Lots of lakes on both sides of the canyon to explore and the stream is a great fishery as well. Similar approach as described above. 2 or 3 days in followed by some layovers and day hikes.

IMO, hard to go wrong no matter where you go in the Sierra as you well know. Good luck on your trek and let us know how it went.
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Re: Suggestions on 8-9 day backpack trip

Postby Alpine high » Fri Feb 08, 2013 6:54 pm

I'll tell you where I've already been (not that I wouldn't go back to these places in a heartbeat).
Courtright to McGuire then cross country into Bench Valley ( Guest,Six Shooter, Schoolmarm, Crabtree Holster, Waa Hoo & Twin Bucks lake, our honeymoon trip)
Pine Creek up over Italy pass,cross country down thru the Bear and Vee lakes,Rose and Rosebud, Marie & Sally Keyes then out Florence, (My only trans sierra trip)
Edison up the recesses (but not as far as the Pioneer basin or Grinnell or Rosy Finch Lakes)
Edison to Graveyard lakes, cross country to Wilbur May, then Grassy, Peter Pande, Anne & Olive
Edison over Silver pass, to Virginia & Purple lake
Edison over Silver pass then to Grassy & Lost Keyes, all the way out to Sharktooth Lake then down, down down to Fish Cr. hot springs
Edison out to Devils Bathtub
Edison out Onion Springs to Margaret Lakes area
Kings Canyon up, up, up Granite basin to State & Horseshoe lakes

Anyway, keep up the suggestions, I'm writing them all down and charting how many times people say they really like a particular spot. I really want to highlight the sierras for my daughter. Thanks so much for everything so far.
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Re: Suggestions on 8-9 day backpack trip

Postby lambertiana » Fri Feb 08, 2013 8:46 pm

I'm in Visalia, too, so I like to use west side trailheads too.

If you do the Rae Lakes loop (crowded), take a side trip up East Creek to East Lake and Lake Reflection and spend a layover day there. It is well worth it.

I've done a number of loops from the west side, but they are all a little more than you want, averaging 8-10 miles per day with no layover days. The best ones involve some significant off trail (not very difficult route finding, but a fair distance and a lot of talus/boulders). That would include loops I have done to Kaweah Basin and Lake Basin. Both of those can be done in your time frame, but may be beyond your comfort level for off trail.

The North Lake - South Lake loop is very nice, but has a lot of people on it.

If you would be willing to forgo the layover days, you could do a loop out of Rancheria to Tehipite, then up the Middle Fork to the JMT, south to Woods Creek, and exit at Roads end. About 84 miles, but a lot of that has good solitude. You would need to be dropped off and picked up at different locations, but those trailheads are a lot closer to Visalia.

The loops out of Mineral King are also good. I am planning on an eight day loop late July/early August that you might be interested in, but it also has no layover days and will average 8-10 miles/day. It will also have some off trail. But if you're interested and think you're up to it, let me know.
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Re: Suggestions on 8-9 day backpack trip

Postby Alpine high » Sun Feb 10, 2013 10:57 am

Hey, I'm wondering if anybody has done the cross country between Devils Punchbowl and Schoolmarm Lake (Red Mtn. Basin and Bench Valley)? We're thinking about heading into the Red Mtn. basin but would also love to see Bench Valley. The write ups I have are very out of date. If you've done it is it easier north to south or vise versa? Are there any guidebooks that specifically talk about this area? What are some good guidebooks that I can check out. I love this site, thanks. :thumbsup:
BTW -We're not from Visalia, my wife has family there, we're way up north, 10 hours from Visalia. I just love the high sierra. :)
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