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Need help on first trip to High Sierras

Posted: Wed May 01, 2013 2:23 pm
by RichardNixon06
My friends and i are trying to plan a 4 day 3 night backpacking trip to the Mammoth Lakes area in the last weekend of June. This will be our first trip to the area but we have been on several trips before including a 3 day trip along the PCT last year up to San Jacinto peak(10k feet). I would rate our experience at a level 2 and I'm looking for some class 2 trails. I Would prefer to do aloop and looking to do around 6-8 miles a day. If anyone has any suggestions for a good trail to take near Mammoth lakes as well as any Do's and Don'ts for the area i would appreciate it. Also any information on mesquito predictions for the year and gear we should take would be helpful. I've done a good amount of research on the area but it's always good to hear from people with experience. Thanks in advance.

Re: Need help on first trip to High Sierras

Posted: Wed May 01, 2013 2:55 pm
by Vaca Russ

Who are your friends? John Ehrlichman and H. R. Haldeman? :)

Sorry, I can't help myself.:lol:


Re: Need help on first trip to High Sierras

Posted: Wed May 01, 2013 3:53 pm
by maverick
Hi Richard,

Welcome to HST!
Please read: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=4205" onclick=";return false;

Re: Need help on first trip to High Sierras

Posted: Wed May 01, 2013 6:49 pm
by RichardNixon06
Thanks maverick and sorry about that. Ill update my post.

Re: Need help on first trip to High Sierras

Posted: Wed May 01, 2013 7:47 pm
by tim
There are many trip reports on the Ediza/Garnet/Thousand Island areas which are spectacular and a good option (eg one night at each lake). The other 4 day loop trip in the area is Iva Bell Hot Speings (our trip report: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=5344" onclick=";return false;).

Either way you will likely be at the peak of the skeeter season this year.

Re: Need help on first trip to High Sierras

Posted: Thu May 02, 2013 12:01 am
by cahiker
The 1000 Island / Garnet / Ediza area is beautiful and you should be able to find a route of the right length there. Be prepared for mosquitoes though. I took a 5 day trip in that area at the end of June 2010. We didn't see any bloodsuckers until we got to the top of the climb out of the Rush Creek trailhead. We hit them half a mile past Agnew Lake and didn't have any daytime respite until we got back to Agnew 4 days later.

We had a great trip and managed to not let the mosquitoes bug us (mostly). Bring a headnet to wear over your brimmed hat, DEET, loose fitting long sleeve shirt and lightweight gloves to wear while eating. Try to find a breezy campsite up on a ridge, and enjoy the sunset from your tent with a lot of mesh.

Re: Need help on first trip to High Sierras

Posted: Thu May 02, 2013 8:32 am
by Scouter9
I have a couple of suggestion routes, as I take Scouts in that area at least once a year. I will take your 3 nights to mean "3 on trail" and I'll use Mammoth lodge as the place you stash your vehicles and hop on the bus. There's a Tom Harrison map entitled "Devils Postpile Minarets" that covers all this, very nicely and these routes are all "on trail":

A) Day 1:Agnew Meadows to Thousand Island Lake, via High Trail (PCT) past Badger Lakes. Camp at least half a mile in from the JMT/PCT junction at TI lake, mileage day one: 8.5; Day 2: TI Lake depart via JMT past Emerald and Ruby Lake to Garnet Lake, camp northwest shore, mileage day 2: 4; Day 3: depart Garnet by backtracking east to JMT, then to Nydiver/Ediza lakes for camp, mileage: 6.25; Day 4, depart Nydiver/Ediza to Shadow Lake, descend to river and then climb back to Agnew Meadows for the bus back to Mammoth, mileage: 7.5

This one has a beast of a first day, but with epic views and a major pay-off in your camp at TI Lake for sunset. Take a slow morning/sunrise at TI and then Day Two will have plenty of time for fishing TI, Ruby, Emerald and Garnet, and you'll cross the 10k' mark just as you prepare to cut west to camp at Garnet. Day 3 gives you another 10 pass and then a choice (based on crowds) for which lakes you camp at and Day 4 has more mileage but is primarily descent (other than the stairs to Agnew, marked as "no horses" on the map). It's a big, broad loop that will give you a lot of area to see and plan revisitation to.

B. Day 1: Agnew Meadow to Thousand Island Lake, via River Trail, camp 3/4 mile west of JMT junction (past where "everyone" is), first day mileage: 8.5; Day 2,3,4, see above.

This trip gives you an option to hike along the San Joaquin (which emanates from Thousand Island) and concentrates your real climbing to the latter half of the day.

C. Reverse either A or B.

D. Day 1: Agnew Meadows to Clark Lakes, via High Trail, mileage: 6.5; Day 2: depart Clark Lakes for Thousand Island Lake via north side connector to PCT, then onto TI lake. Mileage: 3.5; Day 3,4, see A, above.

This one reduces the first day's mileage and takes you to small lakes with excellent campsites for your first night. It sets you up for a really fun second day with plenty of time to camp well west at TI Lake and to really enjoy the place.

E. Day 1: High Trail to Badger Lakes, hike down to the big one, mileage 6.5; Day 2: ascent to Thousand Island lake, punch way west for camp, mileage: 3.5; Day 3: dayhike to Emerald, Ruby and Garnet with camp left at TI lake, mileage: 6.5; Day 4: TI Lake to Agnew Meadows via River Trail, primarily descent with only the real ascent just before Agnew Meadows, mileage 8.5.

This one is set up as a great fishing expedition and gives you two sunsets and sunrises at Thousand Island Lake. This will underscore why that place is so popular and, if you camp as far west as I suggest (look for the cove just east of the tributary marked on the north side of TI), it will make you feel like a genius when you hike out and folks tell you Yogi Bear was in their camps. You'll see a lot and have a lot of free time.

Re: Need help on first trip to High Sierras

Posted: Thu May 02, 2013 8:47 am
by RichardNixon06
Thanks scouter this is exactly what i was looking for. Ill pick up that Tom Harrison map so i can see the trails your suggesting. D and E look really good to me though.

Re: Need help on first trip to High Sierras

Posted: Thu May 02, 2013 1:19 pm
by Scouter9
Stoked to help out, Nixon!

Just typing those out got me thinking, and it's likely the "Route D" that we'll use this August with a batch of mixed Scouts, experienced and first-timers in the Sierra. Depending on our assessment of fitness during our shakedown hikes, I have a variation that camps on the High Trail for the first night after only 3 and some miles, in order to ensure everyone acclimates well (I always have one night in Mammoth beforehand, too.) without too much exertion the first day on trail (when packs are heaviest). I'm all excited today, just thinking about it and the shakedown hikes we have pending! There's a certain thrill to taking friends on their first trip to the High Sierra.

Some other notes: the advice above about mosquito measures is good. At a minimum, get light-colored longsleeve shirts and the Coughlan's head nets, and then soak'em good with pyrethrin, along with your hiking pants. Consider doing the same for your tents and flys, too. When Sierra skeeters are heavy, it can be gnarly and you will want more than skin treatments.

If you need a place to stay in town, cheap, on your shoulder days, use the Mammoth RV park that's right there on the main drag from 395. Their camping area is simple and clean, albeit surrounded by RV's and car campers, and they've got good, hot showers, a pool and a hot tub. Especially important to give you that night of rest before you drive back to SoCal, the hot shower and walking distance to town is excellent.

You probably know the deal with bears and canisters, so let me just say that the "further west" locations I suggest at TI and Garnet tend to be light on Yogi, because he and Boo-boo go where the crowds are. Target-rich environment and all that. The westerly locations are past where most folks camp, so you wind up with unmolested canisters. At Clark and Badger lakes,Yogi will probably find your canister and knock it over, maybe even play a little soccer, but no problem.

The fishing knowledge and advice on this website is incredible.

Re: Need help on first trip to High Sierras

Posted: Thu May 02, 2013 3:26 pm
by RichardNixon06
Lol I know What you mean I've been getting myself all worked up all week planning this out and now i cant wait for it to be June. I'm definitely gunna get a light colored long sleeve shirt and i got my mosquito net and bear canister already. I like the idea of staying the night before in mammoth but unfortunately were on a time limit so not gunna be able to stay the later shoulder day. Just gunna have to tough it out and head home off the trail. I'm only about 4 hours away though so not to bad.

How long before the trip should I spray everything with the pyrethin?