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First post, one trip being planned, many questions

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First post, one trip being planned, many questions

Postby themappist » Wed Apr 03, 2013 7:40 pm

Hi everyone,

First time poster new to the forum. Will try to follow the posting guidelines.

Planning my third trip to the Sierras. Planning a loop out of Onion Valley from Sept 20 to 30.

The proposed itinerary is as follows:

Phase 1:
Day 1. Over Kearsage Pass and South on JMT
Day 2. Over Forester pass and south as close to Mt. Whitney as feasible ( Guitar Lake)
Day 3. Summit Whitney and back out to JMT heading north to phase 2.

Phase 2
Days 3, 4 and 5

Option 1.
Head to Bubbs Creek /Roads End via Colby Pass and Avalanche pass/Sphinx trail in 2 days ( 34.5 miles according to Secor book)

Option 2.
Head to Lake South America
Cross Harrisson Pass or easiest pass over KK divide
Visit Lake Reflection
And out via East Lake
Hike Bubbs to Roads end

Option 3.
Head to Lake South America
Cross Harrisson Pass or easiest pass over KK divide
Visit Lake Reflection
Cross Longley pass into Brewer Basin, cross Sphinx col into Sphinx creek drainage
Down to Bubbs Creek and to Roads End



Phase 3
Ressuply in Cedar Grove/ Roads End
Travel SHR northbound to Upper basin/ Mather Pass with option to skip Frozen Lake pass.
Days 6, 7, 8

Phase 4.
Travel south on JMT and out via Kearsage Pass and Onion Valley
Days 9 and 10

Total distance is approximately 145 miles if traveling via Colby (Phase 2 option 1). I Assume it will be a bit less if using either of the other two options, but likely equally time consuming if not more.

Experience Level
Both of us is fairly high. Lots of experience in alpine environment around the world ( Andes, Canadian Rockies, Interior Ranges of BC, Coast Range) both on and off trail.
Traveling light and fairly fast, avg 20 mile/days on trail sections and 10 mile/day off trail. Only one of us has backpacked in the Sierras.

Goals,
Big mileage, awesome terrain, great views. Challenging off trail terrain.

Questions

1. Resupply options at Trails End/ Cedar Grove in late September: I've seen on this forum that it is possible to mail a package ahead of time. Is there enough options for groceries/fuel at the store in Cedar grove? How late in the season is it feasible? We may have the option of dropping a food cache off on the way into the Range. Is there an option to leave food in a rodent proof canister at Roads End? Another option is to have a friend meet us there with a resupply package.

2. I can estimate how long the trail sections will take fairly well based on my last two trips to the range. I'm having a hard time estimating how long each of the phase 2 off trail options would take.
Can anyone provide some time estimate for these routes? We will not be stopping to fish or to explore off route, essentially just connecting points along the route.

3. Is this an unrealistic itinerary for 10 days? Any suggestions for tweaks, improvements, shortcuts.

Thanks for your time and respectfully yours

Martin



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Re: First post, one trip being planned, many questions

Postby fishmonger » Thu Apr 04, 2013 10:40 am

I'm not very familiar with the places you have in phase 2 and 3, but your first three days are pretty big. Will you be well acclimated? I have done Vidette to Whitney summit in a day, but that was 7am to 3am (20 hours) and it was at the end of almost 3 weeks of high altitude hiking. Even going just to Guitar lake from the north of Forester is a long haul and it is al lbetween 11,000 and 14,000 feet. If you're not fully acclimated, Forester Pass will kick your butt and you won't make it to Guitar Lake that day.

Obviously, if your'e fit and travel light, have done things like this before and are marginally acclimated, you can pull it off.

Weather can be a factor - if it snows, and it can in late September, you're not going to get to Whitney in 3 days.
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Re: First post, one trip being planned, many questions

Postby themappist » Thu Apr 04, 2013 11:44 am

Thanks for your reply Fishmonger.

We will be traveling from sea level. Here is the acclimatization plan.

First night 9300 in Onion Valley before departing
Second Night below 10,000 likely at Vidette.
So by the time we hit Forester we will have two nights at altitude behind us. We will be going to the summit of Whitney after 3 nights and we feel confident this should work out. If not we can slow down and adjust accordingly . We will not be going from Vidette to the summit that's for sure. Likely Vidette to Crabtree which appears to be less than 20 miles.

Obviously the weather will be a game changer. I spent 8 days on the JMT out of a potential 10 in the first half of October 2009. Acclimatize well on that trip but I realize every time is different. That trip we left early due to incoming storms and a poorly acclimated partner. Learned some lessons there. Have scheduled this trip earlier and have enough redundancy built into the itinerary to shorten or use easier routes if we are acclimatizing poorly or if weather dictates.
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Re: First post, one trip being planned, many questions

Postby schmalz » Thu Apr 04, 2013 12:05 pm

I agree with Fishmonger that the start of your trip might be a little ambitious. It is doable, but it is also likely to lead to problems unless you are in fantastic shape.

Regarding Phase 2, I have only done the avalanche pass route and I found Cloud Canyon to be definitely worth a visit. My trip report here covers that part of the route: http://calitrails.com/2013/02/03/circle ... canyon-np/

Cheers,
Brian
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Re: First post, one trip being planned, many questions

Postby maverick » Thu Apr 04, 2013 12:46 pm

Hi Martin,

Welcome to HST!

Martin wrote:\
Option 3.
Head to Lake South America
Cross Harrisson Pass or easiest pass over KK divide
Visit Lake Reflection
Cross Longley pass into Brewer Basin, cross Sphinx col into Sphinx creek drainage
Down to Bubbs Creek and to Roads End


You forgot to list Cinder Col that comes before Sphinx Col.

Questions

1. Resupply options at Trails End/Cedar Grove in late September: I've seen on this forum that it is possible to mail a package ahead of time. Is there enough options for groceries/fuel at the store in Cedar grove? How late in the season is it feasible? We may have the option of dropping a food cache off on the way into the Range. Is there an option to leave food in a rodent proof canister at Roads End? Another option is to have a friend meet us there with a resupply package.

2. I can estimate how long the trail sections will take fairly well based on my last two trips to the range. I'm having a hard time estimating how long each of the phase 2 off trail options would take.
Can anyone provide some time estimate for these routes? We will not be stopping to fish or to explore off route, essentially just connecting points along the route.

3. Is this an unrealistic itinerary for 10 days? Any suggestions for tweaks, improvements, shortcuts


1. Cedar food options are quite limited at the store. Personally the friend bringing
you a resupply package would be the best option especially with your limited
time factor, getting out of the RE area is important.
If you want to resupply by mail to Cedar Grove (Label: Hold For Thru-Hiker
XY; Name trail you are using ), c/o Cedar Grove Rangers, PO Box 926, Kings Canyon
National Park, CA 93633. Use mouse proof container. Put expected pickup date
and get rid of date on label.
Keep in mind with this option you either have 6 mile hike or hitch a ride to Cedar
Grove and then you will have to do the same to get back to Roads End. If timed
right it can be done on a day but if you get to RE to late, getting back to it will
be more difficult later in the afternoon. Also on the SEKI site it says the store closes
in the Fall so call and confirm.

2. Harrison is the easiest/quickest option from SAL over KK. One can make Roads End
from Lake Reflection in a day using the East Lake to Bubb's corridor, this is your
fastest option.
Longley is easy, Cinder and Sphinx area a little slower going but nothing
technical. I have made in to Sphinx Lakes from Roads End easily in a long day.
Onion Valley to Forester is ~16 miles, Forester to Guitar is ~18 miles, and Guitar>
Whitney Summit>LSA is ~27 miles. You will probably get near Bighorn Plateau
for the night as a very long day, maybe. Then LSA>Harrison Pass>Lake Reflection
which is about 10 miles where you can make it a night. Then over Longley Pass>Cinder
Col> Sphinx Col> Avalanche Pass trail is about a 8.5 mile crosscountry section which
after you have a long descent on a steep trail to Bubb's and then to RE which adds
another ~8 miles to the 8.5 miles from LR. This is a little long, don't forget your
sunset will be around 7 pm.


3. Your phase 1 is a little long, 4 days is a little more realistic because of the length
of the days this time of the year. Also as Fish mentioned the end of Sept can be
iffy, not like October, but an unexpected snow storm is possible, so be prepared
and be prepared with several bail options if you have to.
With your limited time factor, getting out of the RE area is important, because
of this having a friend bring your resupplies would be the most efficient option.
Guitar>Whitney Summit>Colby>Avalanche>Bubb's>RE is ~60 miles. This will be
close to 4 days, 3 is to little short with the shorter days, plus you want to time
your resupply for the morning because ascending the Copper Trail during the
mid day, especially if it is a hot day, can be draining.
Would you be descending Cartridge Pass as an alternative to FLP? It is easy, but
still some talus and bush as you get closer to the river. Vennacher Col is not
much easier than FLP.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

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Re: First post, one trip being planned, many questions

Postby sparky » Thu Apr 04, 2013 2:36 pm

My advice is to scratch Whitney unless you can add another day or two.

Whitney is great, but it will always be there, and it is a long haul from roads end. I think the rest of your itenerary is great, just Whitney is just stretching it a little thin. Maybe you could do another summit that is closer. Besides obscure summits are way cooler! :nod:

All the sections seem pretty maxxed, and every time I have tried to squeeze too much into a trip, I get burnt out and end up skipping stuff or exiting early.

So I am going to suggest you do Kearsarge to upper kern via lake reflection/harrisons, then colby pass. From colby you have the option, if you are making good time and feel good, from colby lake take the talus pass to sphinx pass route, and down to Roads End. If you are a little tired, or just want to take it easy, take the trail to avalanche pass and roads end. If you are a strong hiker, you can do colby lake to roads end in a full day with an early start. Once you pass big wet meadow there isn't much to see anyway. To add a little spice you could take milestone basin to milestone pass to colby pass....and summit Milestone! There is your summit.

How about this

day 1 Kearsarge>Lake Reflection
day 2 reflection to wallace creek
day 3 wallace creek to colby lake
day 4 colby lake to Sphinx Lakes
day 5 Sphinx Lakes to Roads end
day 6 resupply/rest
day 7 early start at roads end to glacier lakes
day 8 glacier lakes to Lake Basin
day 9 Lake basin to JMT south
day 10 JMT south to Onion Valley

Plenty of room for doing what you feel on the fly, you can make more miles and gain a day perhaps, plenty of summits along the way, or beautiful places to relax.

After you are done with this hike, go dayhike whitney if you really need that summit :unibrow:
There is a million ways to be human, all are worthwhile.

True happiness is the absence of striving for happiness.
-Chuang Tzu.
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Re: First post, one trip being planned, many questions

Postby maverick » Thu Apr 04, 2013 3:45 pm

Hey Sparky,

Love the areas you have include and thought about including those areas, but the OP
did write "We will not be stopping to fish or to explore off route, essentially
just connecting points along the route."
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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