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Trip Advice: versatile 7 days between mid-July and mid-Sept

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Re: Trip Advice: versatile 7 days between mid-July and mid-Sept

Postby Ikan Mas » Mon Apr 08, 2013 9:29 pm

Here's North Lake to South Lake and back to North: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=8374&p=61234#p61234

We went in the first week of August. The John Muir stretches were the busiest.



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Re: Trip Advice: versatile 7 days between mid-July and mid-Sept

Postby oleander » Mon Apr 08, 2013 10:14 pm

So you have around 7 days to play with. Would you consider doing two trips, each 3-4 days? A few that come to mind:

1. Sabrina Basin. This area is about half trailed, half untrailed. So you can test your group's x-country abilities, but in a gentle way (setting up base camps).

2. North Fork Big Pine Creek to Palisade Glacier

3. Duck Pass to McGee Pass. Shuttle trip (hitchhike). You will see some crowds in the first half as you travel the JMT for a few miles. But the whole McGee Pass trail is lightly traveled, won't see many people.

For 6-7 days, North Lake to South Lake is the best suggestion I've seen so far even though it does not meet your criteria for avoiding crowds. If you can indeed do the big miles, just get off the trail every day and/or do layovers and go exploring up different basins - Darwin, Ionian, Palisade, etc. In many ways this is The Classic Sierra Trip. The one I would list if you could only do one in a lifetime, and wanted it to be outstanding.

Another good 6-7 day trip with a lot of x-country/layover possibilities is Kearsarge Pass - Glen Pass - Rae Lakes - Baxter Pass. Short shuttle required.

I disagree that Mineral King would be a good place to go if you don't know your group's reaction to altitude, especially lots of altitude on Day 1. I find it all very vertical. It is one of my favorite Sierra places, but I never make it my first trip of the season. A 10-mile day from Mineral King trailhead to Pinto Lake, Columbine Lake or beyond, or over Franklin Pass to one of the lakes on the other side: Each of these is a +4000-foot day.

Then again: You could manage to see Mineral King but save it for end of trip. Start at Crescent Meadow, see Hamilton Lakes, 9 Lakes Basin, Little 5 Lakes Basin, Big 5 Lakes Basin, Lost Valley, Columbine Lake, Mineral King Trailhead. Would require a shuttle. Plenty of crowds (except in the lakes basins you would be exploring), but classic gorgeous Sierra scenery. And that first day from Crescent Meadow is just a day of hiking rolling terrain - good for acclimating. This trip is also a nice combo of forest vs. above-treeline (compared to North Lake - South Lake loop which has a higher % of above-treeline).

- Elizabeth
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Re: Trip Advice: versatile 7 days between mid-July and mid-Sept

Postby oldranger » Mon Apr 08, 2013 10:47 pm

Ok I'll give you a route that has lots of cross country but easy ways out if it doesn't work out. My suggestion would be to start at the Sunset Meadow TH. You could drive from LA pick up your permit at Grant Grove then camp at Big Meadow. One night there should be enough acclimation for your first day of hiking. Next AM drive to the Sunset Meadow TH and hike to Rowell Meadow then to the Belle Canyon Entrance. About 100 yards after crossing into the park there is a collection of 4 or so really large trees on the right. A user trail used to lead off to the right and it is roughly displayed on the HST USA TOPO if you get to the correct scale. That trail was never maintained it may have been somewhat obliterated by a fire a few years back. there may also be some new deadfall because of that fire. But this is a good place to test your navigation skills just bear in the general direction of Seville lake and you will either hit the lake or the maintained trail to the lake. This is checkpoint one of your trip. If everyone is good to go cross the outlet stream and walk along the east shore to the inlet stream (which will probably be dry by early July this year. Then work your way up the slope parallel to the stream, keeping to the right until you pass the really large talus blocks and scramble up the steep dirt channel worn by cross country travelers before you. After this scramble you want to cross the creek and get out of the trench then parallel the creek to Upper Sheep Camp lake (a possible relatively private campsite) if you are still good to go top the low ridge to the s. work your way e. a little and then down to Lost Lake. This lake is very pretty with an imposing rock cliff with a huge crack in it to the w. This is another potential campsite but is a popular destination. If your crew is unhappy with the cross country thus far then you can develop a plan B here by taking the trail to Sugarloaf Valley and up Roaring River and ???? But if they are happy with what you have done so far then if you want to travel some more this day cross the outlet stream and follow it down a couple hundred yards then turn to the right and drop down into the small meadow then work your way up the slope and over the small ridge to Ranger Lake (lots of campsites and pretty popular). If I was going to camp in the area I would camp near the se corner of Beville Lake. I would bet that at least some of your group, if you get this far the first day will be willing to call it a day. Might consider this as a layover day if anyone is feeling bushed. The Silliman divide has lots of options to explore and provides some great view of the Great Western Divide. This is also the point at which you need to decide to stick to trails for the remainder of the trip or to go "all in on some serious cross country." Navigation skills and careful microroute decisions are required at places on the remainder of the cross country portions of the trip and you will be several miles from a maintained trail. You also will have a lot of decisions to make in your travels.

Assuming you make it this far on your first day your next hiking day would be to work your way to
Crescent Lake (limited sites for camping) then up se toward the saddle that opens to the Tablelands just north of Tarn 10410 then work your way to Tablelands Pass and down either to Big Bird or work your way around the ridge to the lake basin above Big Bird (Big Bird does get visitors) most cross country traveler just pass by the lakes. Big Bird does have some trees for a respite from the sun the lake basin and most of the Tablelands are pretty much treeless. There are scattered places in the Tablelands where you can camp but water will pretty much be limited to tarns. Tired of cross country? Follow the outlet stream from Big Bird until it gets steep, cross the creek then work your way down the slabs to the bottom of Deadman Canyon, cross copper Creek and take the trail down canyon and work your way back to your car via trail. One caveat is the trail through Sugarloaf valley can be really, really dusty. Ready for more cross country? head to the saddle e of lake 10402 into the upper reaches of Long Meadow (erroneously labeled Ferguson Meadow on the HST USA Topo). This is a magical valley that is one of my favorites in the Sierra. You can linger here or if your group is good to go continue w. over the saddle to the lakes at the head of the w. fork of Ferguson Creek. Good camping is available just below the upper lake. If you need to bail head down to the lower lake and at the outlet work your way down through the avalanche debris and when things level out you should find an old cowboy trail that will lead to Ellis Meadow then w. and eventually down to the mouth of the e. fork of Sugarloaf Creek at Sugarloaf Creek. There are campsites here, at Sugarloaf Meadow (heavily used by stock) and at Commanche Meadow. If you are good to go for one more interesting location off trail head w. from a couple hundred yards n. Upper W. Ferguson Lake and look for a grassey diagonal slot that leads down into the Upper Box Canyon. Few people go into this area but there is a great natural campsite here. I once left the tweezers from my swiss army knife at this site, hiked back in the next year and found them right where I left them. From here just work your way down canyon and keep your eyes open for the old cowboy trail and remains of an old fence, remnants of the pre NPS days. Eventually you will come out at Sugarloaf Creek, cross the creek and hit the trail home.

The beauty of this trip is that it gives your party a taste of cross country travel before they have to be totally committed to it and you have plenty of options to opt out. From Big Bird it is 21-22 miles by trail to the Sunset Meadow TH so know that you are talking at least two days out from there. Plan on 3 days if you take the cross country option.

Note also that on what I assume would be your 2nd hiking day rather than hiking into and across the tablelands you could also work your way down to Upper Box Canyon and have the option of continuing to the Fergusons without going as far as Big Bird.

The important thing as a group leader is to pay attention to your group and do not overextend them either physically or mentally. The point is to have fun and this is a great location that is largely ignored and I should be ashamed of sharing it with you! I once traveled with my son in late july from Cement Table Meadow, over Glacier Ridge, up to Big Bird and across the fergusons and down to Comanche without seeing anybody else for 7 days!

There are no bad destinations in the Sierra but there is always the potential for bad experience.

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: Trip Advice: versatile 7 days between mid-July and mid-Sept

Postby maverick » Tue Apr 09, 2013 11:17 am

Oleander wrote:
A 10-mile day from Mineral King trailhead to Pinto Lake, Columbine Lake or
beyond, or over Franklin Pass to one of the lakes on the other side: Each of
these is a +4000-foot day.


Who said they had to go beyond Sawtooth or Franklin the first day?

Chandler325i wrote:
maverick: I've gotten an impression that the North Lake/South lake trek is pretty
heavily travelled. Is that true? If we're only going point to point and not doing a
return loop, is there a route in particular you'd suggest?


Yes some sections get heavy usage especially along the JMT but like most
places in the Sierra one can avoid the crowds by going to a creek or lake for the
evening that is located away from the trail enjoying all the solitude they want.
Point to point? Do you mean an out and back trip?

Would also highly recommend the Minarets area, this place has fantastic
mountain scenery and some of the prettiest lakes in the Sierra that is easily
accessible, though this also means more people like the North Lake to South
Lake trip, unless you plan your visit for sometime after Labor Day.
Thousand Is Lake, Garnet Lake, Lake Ediza, Iceberg Lake, Minaret Lake, Nydiver
Lakes, and Ashley Lake are all gorgeous. There is a shuttle bus that one has to
take if you cannot get in the gates before 7 am. There are plenty of trip reports
here and else where on the web.
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Re: Trip Advice: versatile 7 days between mid-July and mid-Sept

Postby chandler325i » Mon Apr 29, 2013 2:20 pm

Thank you for all the responses. I used gmap4 to roughly map out all of the suggestions that were made and sent links off to the other group members so they could research the areas and vote (hence the slow response turnaround).

We've locked down a Mineral King trip and have been permitted to enter on Franklin Pass on 7/24 and exit via Sawtooth on 7/31. Sorry, couldn't get the hyperlink to the route map to work. The long URL is at the bottom of this post if anyone wants to check it out (you have to copy the whole think, don't just click the first part that is hyperlinked). It may change slightly as I read more about points of interest and things to check out. If anyone has suggestions for side hikes or layovers, let me know

Thanks again to all who chimed in. I'll do a TR with photos when we get back. I'm keeping this bookmarked, as well as the maps I plotted out, to use for future trip planning. Now I can focus on trying to lighten my base weight down below the present 14 lbs...

http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4.p ... 20line=off
Last edited by chandler325i on Mon Apr 29, 2013 2:53 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Trip Advice: versatile 7 days between mid-July and mid-Sept

Postby maverick » Mon Apr 29, 2013 2:46 pm

When copying and pasting that link all that come up is 404 Error File Not Found.
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Re: Trip Advice: versatile 7 days between mid-July and mid-Sept

Postby chandler325i » Mon Apr 29, 2013 2:54 pm

ok I think I fixed it, and now it's clickable. I have no idea how/why. thanks for the heads-up
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Re: Trip Advice: versatile 7 days between mid-July and mid-Sept

Postby maverick » Mon Apr 29, 2013 3:28 pm

PM sent.
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Re: Trip Advice: versatile 7 days between mid-July and mid-Sept

Postby sparky » Mon Apr 29, 2013 3:41 pm

I just want to put a warning out that if you intend to get to cyclamen lake, those slabs where you traverse over to cyclamen lake are SKETCHY! Even if heading up from spring lake like your intended route, you will need to ascend toward cyclamen lake pass, then traverse right toward cyclamen lake.

If I were planning your route, I would give it a shot though. Except I would not do black rock pass, I would go from the upper lake in little 5 over the ridge to above big 5 lakes, then up to cyclamen lake pass. Descend to the traverse over the friction slabs to cyclamen and decide how ballsy you are feeling :eek:

Those slabs angle, then roll to a death drop. Is there a better way I don't know about? Just go with complete route info for glacier pass in case you aren't feeling like hitting those slabs.
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True happiness is the absence of striving for happiness.
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Re: Trip Advice: versatile 7 days between mid-July and mid-Sept

Postby maverick » Mon Apr 29, 2013 4:18 pm

Sparky,

Have been over Cyclamen Lake Pass and yes there is some steep slabs, but if one
stays low enough there should be no issues. The OP refers back to a TR from
Adornowest to whom this route was recommended, and when reporting back they
had not mentioned any issues going through that section. You may have just traverse
up to high.
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: Trip Advice: versatile 7 days between mid-July and mid-Sept

Postby chandler325i » Wed Jun 12, 2013 1:12 am

In case anyone reads this looking for trip ideas, here's a suggested amendment that maverick made to my loosely charted gmap link. He recommended:

"instead of doing an out and back to Nine Lakes Basin, go Kaweah Gap>Hamilton Lakes>Redwood Grove
and either exit using Timber Gap or climb up to Spring Lake (2400ft + approx 22 miles from Nine Lakes Basin to Spring Lake) and exit over Sawtooth Pass."

We aren't going to take this route, but do think it could be a cool option especially for someone like me who has yet to see a redwood forrest. We're already permitted for a trail entry via Franklin Pass on 7/24, and exit via Sawtooth on 7/31. We'll be camping in the MK vicinity (exact site TBD) on the 23rd as well.
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Re: Trip Advice: versatile 7 days between mid-July and mid-Sept

Postby chandler325i » Wed Jun 12, 2013 1:16 am

Sparky--

Good to know. We're still batting around a number of route changes within our permitted start/end points. Taking the CL pass could be an option if we're ending up down in Big Five the night before. It's listed as a class 3, though, so I need to do more research and check out some reports and photos to get an idea. The nice thing about taking Black Rock is that, if we start our xc voyage up to Spring Lake>Cyclamen Lake and the weather takes an evil turn on us or we decide we aren't comfortable with it, we can bail and go back down to Pinto Lake and exit via Timber Gap (and hopefully not get in trouble permit-wise).
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