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HST Cross country suggestions

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HST Cross country suggestions

Postby blipstream » Wed Feb 13, 2013 2:49 pm

I'm planning a trip in early August across HST with a set of older boy scouts (all 17). They have all done multiple 7 - 10 day long trips, with short cross country sections. They would like to do a cross country portion to the trip. After some review our thought was to head up to nine lakes area cross over Prya-Queen and back across to junction meadows and on HST normally.

Would appreciate thought and recommendations on this idea or other options for a cross country trip that ends with a Whitney summit.

Thanks
Ron



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Re: HST Cross country suggestions

Postby maverick » Wed Feb 13, 2013 5:22 pm

Hi Ron,

Welcome to HST!
Even though QPC in the easiest of the three passes from the west it is still not
any easy pass to do. You mention they have done some short cross country
sections, like what? I do not feel recommending any particular areas before
some understanding of there skill levels, especially when it comes to difficult
class 2 passes/cols.
Wallace Lakes Basin is a beautiful area with relatively easy cross country travel
that should be considered, 9 Lakes Basin should stay on you list to check out also.
By the way, what numbers are we talking about? What is a set, two?
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: HST Cross country suggestions

Postby Wandering Daisy » Wed Feb 13, 2013 7:46 pm

You have to consider more than Pyra Queen Pass at the top. There is a lot of talus, some very steep and unstable. On the west side, getting around the lake below the pass is very tedious. When I came down there was a line of icy snow all across the path downwards and had to lower my pack on a string, then chop steps with a rock. I cannot think of 17-year olds I know, even if they are competent outdoorsmen, who have the patience to slog through several hours of difficult talus. There is a big potential for injury. I personally would not take young people for whom I was responsible, over Pyra Queen Pass. You can however do a lot of fun day-hike exploring around Nine Lake Basin.

I second Wallace and Wales Lake - nice travel, spectacular scenery, and quite safe.

You may consider from the bridge (above Bearpaw Meadow) turn up the Elizabeth Pass trail, leave the trail and go to Lonely Lake, then off trail down to Pear Lake and out to Wolverton.
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Re: HST Cross country suggestions

Postby oldranger » Wed Feb 13, 2013 8:43 pm

WD wrote:
You may consider from the bridge (above Bearpaw Meadow) turn up the Elizabeth Pass trail, leave the trail and go to Lonely Lake, then off trail down to Pear Lake and out to Wolverton.

Nice suggestion! But ... Ron, if any of the kids want to fish this is not the place.

Mike
Mike

Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!
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Re: HST Cross country suggestions

Postby RoguePhotonic » Wed Feb 13, 2013 8:58 pm

How many days can you spend on the trail for this hike? And how many miles are you and your boys able to hike? Also is the idea of this hike to actually do allot of the High Sierra Trail or are you open to bigger tours off the trail?

It's hard for me to suggest cross country routes when so many factors come into play with other people. I have always been the risk taker and take the attitude that if a pass is crossable without ropes then I can cross it but I have never had a line of young boys in tow that I am responsible for.
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Re: HST Cross country suggestions

Postby LMBSGV » Wed Feb 13, 2013 9:44 pm

I second 9 Lakes Basin and Wallace/Wales Lakes. Cross-country is relatively easy and both areas are spectacular. The view of the Great Western Divide from Wallace is especially wondrous.
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Re: HST Cross country suggestions

Postby lambertiana » Wed Feb 13, 2013 10:30 pm

If you do Pyra-Queen Col be ready for a LOT of talus. And you will be doing it the hard direction. I went up the east side and down the west side; the talus is larger and more stable on the east side. On the west side it is smaller and much looser. And the chute at the top of the west side would be a challenge, it's really steep and loose. Much easier to descend on the west side.

If you are up for it, it will get you to spectacular country. Cross Kaweah Basin, go over the divide to Picket Creek (beautiful area!) and drop down the slabs to the Colby Pass trail below Gallats Lake.

It it turns into another dry year, you probably won't have the icy band that Wandering Daisy encountered. I certainly didn't see it last year, and I went the third week of July.

As WD said, going past the large lake on the west side of Pyra-Queen can be tedious if you're not good on large talus. It is nothing but a half mile of desk-sized rocks. I have been blessed with very good balance and good ankles, and I enjoy boulder hopping, so it was actually fun for me. But when I got to the end of the lake I had to wait for close to an hour for my hiking companion, who is more cautious on talus and rocks than I am. There is plenty of opportunity for sprained ankles or worse for people inexperienced with large talus and boulder hopping.

Like Rogue Photonic, I don't have a problem recommending such a route to experienced adults, but, as a former scout leader, I become much more cautious when recommending it for scouts. I have seen scouts do things on backpacking trips that would make their parents cringe, and they don't need a risky environment to add to the mix. I am much more conservative when I am responsible for scouts under 18.
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Re: HST Cross country suggestions

Postby SSSdave » Thu Feb 14, 2013 10:15 am

Be ye scouts men? Then thou must climb Eagle Scout Peak instead! Tis just southwest of Kaweah Gap. Grand views indeed in every direction with bergs in famous deep blue Precipice Lake directly below.

http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=36.54161,-118.55098&z=15&t=T

Instead of climbing up directly from the noname pond at 10,000, which has more steep sections, continue south dropping until 9600, then take the route west up between the two streams draining the deep blue lake 11061 (my name: Blue Sky Lake) and the noname roundish lake at 11320+. The two streams become remarkably luke warm in summer by midday as waters flow over wonderful sun heated smooth granite slabs directly oriented east into the warming morning sunshine. And at peak season there is all manner of hanging wildflower gardens with little slab pools. Sitting in the pools one has birds-eye views of magnificent Kaweak Peaks Ridge. Cross the saddle northeast of lake 11061 where the only short steep section has ho hum talus.
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Re: HST Cross country suggestions

Postby blipstream » Thu Feb 14, 2013 11:01 pm

Thanks for all the responses.. Here are are a couple of answers to questions folks had...
- Maverick: In the Sierras, the only x-country we have had done is a exploration and overnight from Deadman's Canyon to Big Bird Lake, and over to the lake about Big Bird. Most of our x-country is in local SoCal mtns San Gorgonio and San Jacinto.

- WD: Big thing the guys want to do is climb Whitney, last summer that they will all be going out. They had wanted to do JMT but logistics to get adults didn't work out.

- OldRanger: Only fishermen in the group is me... I was amazed were I caught fish last trip in Deadman's canyon

- Rogue: Looking 7days on trial. Strange as it is, I'm normally more concerned about the adults (we require at least 3 per trip). They tend to think they are in better shape and more capable than they are.

- SSSDave: If we end up following HST then we will definitely grab Eagle Scout

We took another look and might look into coming down from Kersarge Pass, seems like a lot of places to wander. First day doesn't like a lot of fun with a full pack.

Thanks again...
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Re: HST Cross country suggestions

Postby RoguePhotonic » Fri Feb 15, 2013 9:31 am

Although starting at Kearsarge puts you onto switch backs the second you hit the trail it's a beautiful way to go to Whitney and it gives you allot of good places to jump off the trail and explore or climb peaks.
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Re: HST Cross country suggestions

Postby tim » Fri Feb 15, 2013 10:39 am

If the key objective is climbing Whitney, then Kearsage Pass to Whitney Portal is great (we did it last summer: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=8265), but doesn't have too many options for doing a substantial portion off trail, other than day hikes to nearby peaks or basins like Wright/Wales Lakes. The first day to Kearsage Lakes isn't too bad if you acclimatize by camping at altitude the night before.

For a longer off trail portion, without a really hard pass, you might instead consider a loop from Horseshoe Meadows going through Miter Basin to Sky Blue Lake (viewtopic.php?f=1&t=6526) and over the pass to Crabtree Lakes on the way to Whitney. Then head back via the trail and go out out Cottonwood Pass. That's really only a six day trip, but you could take an extra day to add a climb of Langley.

If you want a more ambitious trip taking the full 7 days (or preferably 8 days), then you could also loop down Wallace Creek to Kern Canyon and the hot springs, rather than going the short way back on the PCT.
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Re: HST Cross country suggestions

Postby sparky » Fri Feb 15, 2013 5:44 pm

The Lakes Trail -> Tablelands -> Pterodactyl Pass is a great way to start a trip. I like it because you get to my favorite type of scenery on day one, but you don't get beat down by the altitude. Off trail slabby meadows bursting with wildflowers green grass and bubbling creeks....good stuff.

From Pterodactyl the HST is right there if your group wants to get back on trail (with multiple options for joining up with it)....OR there are many many off trail routes to eventually get you to whitney. Expect to get to Pterodactyl by noon on day 2 for a relaxed, enjoyable, but consistent pace. If you get an early start, feel good, and are strong hikers, you could camp at lonely lake on day 1.
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