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Trip Advice for 4 nights(ish) backpacking?

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Trip Advice for 4 nights(ish) backpacking?

Postby funkworthy » Thu Jun 13, 2013 2:38 pm

Hey everyone, I'm looking for advice for a trip in the High Sierra, 4nights, three 30yo guys in good shape. I hiked the PCT from Kennedy Meadows to Donner Pass some years ago.

I'd be happy to revisit that spectacular trail, and also open to new, non PCT trails. We're planning on meeting Sunday in Bishop, car camping Sunday night and starting the trip on Monday. We all have the week and following weekend off but need most of the weekend for travel back to utah and LA, respectively.

I live at 7,000 feet, my friends don't but we've done elevation trips like this in WA before and been fine. Thinking 12-15 per day. High alpine preferred.

We're planning to meet in Bishop, but could be flexible there. Just seems like the most convenient access and starting point.

We're totally happy to hitch hike. We also will have two cars.

Grateful in advance for your advice!

Trip report promised!



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Re: Trip Advice for 4 nights(ish) backpacking?

Postby balzaccom » Thu Jun 13, 2013 5:56 pm

Why not try the loop out of Twin Lakes to Peeler Lake, Snow Lake, and Crown Lake? That's easy access from where you are, and it shouldn't be too snowy.

Or you could head up from Leavitt Meadows to Fremont Lake, Cinko Lake, The Girls (Lakes Helen, Stella, Dorothy etc)
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Re: Trip Advice for 4 nights(ish) backpacking?

Postby funkworthy » Thu Jun 13, 2013 6:30 pm

Thanks! I'll look into those.

edit: Twin Lakes, as in Northern Yosemite, I see! I've been there, I was actually on an NPS trail crew based out of matterhorn canyon and we'd cross country to Twin Lakes for days off. I would love to explore terrain up there that I didn't get a chance to then, but I was thinking N Yosemite would still be rather snowy, thus the focus on Kings Canyon/ Sequoia, etc... YNP website indicates snow above 9500...
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Re: Trip Advice for 4 nights(ish) backpacking?

Postby tim » Thu Jun 13, 2013 7:41 pm

You didnt say anything about experience/preference for on/off trail or timing (are you talking about this coming week? If so note you'll hit the peak of this year's mosquito season). One of my top choices would be Cottonwood Lakes to Soldier Lake to Miter Basin and then if you're OK with some off trail hiking go over Crabtree Pass to Crabtree Meadows and either out to Whitney Portal or loop back to Horseshoe Meadows. Our Miter Basin photos from July 2011 (a very snowy year) are here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=6526

A slightly longer, but on trail trip is Onion Valley to Whitney Portal which is a good 5 day hike, though you'll have seen a lot of it before. Rae Lakes loop is also doable from Onion Valley in 5 days. Further north you could go over Duck Pass to the Silver Divide from Mammoth (but its likely buggy right now) and come out at Devils Postpile.
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Re: Trip Advice for 4 nights(ish) backpacking?

Postby Tom_H » Thu Jun 13, 2013 8:40 pm

funkworthy wrote: Twin Lakes, as in Northern Yosemite,


NO, NO, NO That's not the Twin Lakes he's talking about. Read the following post I made yesterday in another thread and look at the attached map. Find Twin Lakes on the east side of the map and Peeler Lake to the west. You can see some loops in here. You could also start at Leavitt Meadows and go to Twin Lakes. Here's the post and the map is attached to it.

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=9129&start=24#p70287

In that you want more alpine terrain and to cover more miles than the folks I addressed in that post, if you have a 4wd, you could start at Leavitt Lake and hike to Dorothy Lake. You are starting above the tree line. From Dorothy, take the XC route I described in the other post and come out at Twin Lakes (those close to Bridgeport). This may suit you better than the route in the other post. I made you a quick map:

http://caltopo.com/map?id=427C

Another possibility. Enter at Kennedy Meadow, Relief Reservoir, Summit Creek, Lunch Meadow, Emigrant Lake, Buck Lakes, Deer Lake, Starvation Lake, Salt Lick Meadow, Upper Relief Valley, back to Relief Reservoir and Kennedy Mdw. There are plenty of ways to extend the loop south and west of Emigrant Lake.

Map: http://caltopo.com/map?id=094E

BTW, this map shows the Twin Lakes that really is in N. Yos.
Last edited by Tom_H on Thu Jun 13, 2013 9:51 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Trip Advice for 4 nights(ish) backpacking?

Postby TehipiteTom » Thu Jun 13, 2013 8:57 pm

Tom_H wrote:
funkworthy wrote: Twin Lakes, as in Northern Yosemite,


NO, NO, NO That's not the Twin Lakes he's talking about.

Um...yeah, I'm pretty sure he's got the right Twin Lakes (cross-country from Matterhorn Canyon on days off? definitely not the other Twin Lakes).
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Re: Trip Advice for 4 nights(ish) backpacking?

Postby Tom_H » Thu Jun 13, 2013 9:25 pm

O.K., he said "in northern Yosemite", but you're right. This one is not in Yosemite at all, and the other one actually is just inside the northern boundary. I picked up on "in northern Yosemite" and was concerned he would be searching for a loop near the other one . Those minarets are awesome.
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Re: Trip Advice for 4 nights(ish) backpacking?

Postby funkworthy » Fri Jun 14, 2013 6:50 am

tim wrote:You didnt say anything about experience/preference for on/off trail or timing (are you talking about this coming week? If so note you'll hit the peak of this year's mosquito season). One of my top choices would be Cottonwood Lakes to Soldier Lake to Miter Basin and then if you're OK with some off trail hiking go over Crabtree Pass to Crabtree Meadows and either out to Whitney Portal or loop back to Horseshoe Meadows. Our Miter Basin photos from July 2011 (a very snowy year) are here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=6526

A slightly longer, but on trail trip is Onion Valley to Whitney Portal which is a good 5 day hike, though you'll have seen a lot of it before. Rae Lakes loop is also doable from Onion Valley in 5 days. Further north you could go over Duck Pass to the Silver Divide from Mammoth (but its likely buggy right now) and come out at Devils Postpile.


Thanks! These look great. I'm pretty comfortable with cross country and reading maps. When it gets thickly forested, less so, but in the alpine where I can see the topography I'm comfortable. I've done a good amount in the sierra before.

I also don't have a great memory, my PCT hike was 10 years ago. So I'd be fine going back the Onion Valley to Whitney Portal route.

My biggest concern is mosquitos! Of the suggestions so far in the thread, including the emigrant wilderness, Rae Lakes, PCT south from Onion Valley, a couple others (that I can't see right now), which would offer the most sanity? We have warm bags and when possible will aim to camp high. We can cook and camel up near a water source then hike an hour or two after dinner so we're not camping in bear-frequented and mosquito infested sites.
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Re: Trip Advice for 4 nights(ish) backpacking?

Postby funkworthy » Fri Jun 14, 2013 7:00 am

Tom_H wrote:
In that you want more alpine terrain and to cover more miles than the folks I addressed in that post, if you have a 4wd, you could start at Leavitt Lake and hike to Dorothy Lake. You are starting above the tree line. From Dorothy, take the XC route I described in the other post and come out at Twin Lakes (those close to Bridgeport). This may suit you better than the route in the other post. I made you a quick map:

http://caltopo.com/map?id=427C

Another possibility. Enter at Kennedy Meadow, Relief Reservoir, Summit Creek, Lunch Meadow, Emigrant Lake, Buck Lakes, Deer Lake, Starvation Lake, Salt Lick Meadow, Upper Relief Valley, back to Relief Reservoir and Kennedy Mdw. There are plenty of ways to extend the loop south and west of Emigrant Lake.

Map: http://caltopo.com/map?id=094E

BTW, this map shows the Twin Lakes that really is in N. Yos.


WOW. Thank you for the great info, and maps! The purple cross country route in the first looks a little long! I trust myself to bop over a ridge or two or follow a drainage a while, but longer than that I'm not sure.

The second loop looks fantastic but a little low elevation. I'd like to get up to high passes, which as I understand are still snowy in N. Yos, whereas down by onion valley the trails are snow free for the most part. That seem like a fair assessment to you?
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Trip Advice for 4 nights(ish) backpacking?

Postby Bluewater » Fri Jun 14, 2013 9:01 am

funkworthy, there are several good loop hikes that are mostly above tree line starting near Bishop. 4 nights @ 12 - 15 miles/day would allow plenty of time for a start from the North Lake trailhead then over Lamarck Col and into Darwin Canyon. From there Evolution Basin leads to some beautiful cross country passes back into Sabrina Basin. With two cars you could leave one at each t/h (North Lake & Sabrina, only 1.5 miles apart).

Haeckel Col or Echo Col are fun scrambles from Evo back to Sabrina. Along the way Mt. Lamarck, Mt Solomons or Black Giant are all day hikes (assuming the 30 something in-shape description). Camping at Darwin Bench might be bad due to the bugs, but the basin above and to the east of Sapphire Lake is more remote and would probably be fine due to the windy conditions in the area. There are some amazing waterfalls in that basin, great close up views of Mt Huxley and Mt Fiske and I've never seen anyone else there. Wanda Lake, Helen Lake and Davis Lake are also easily reachable within the 4 night window.

The higher lakes in Sabrina Basin might provide some peace from the bugs. Blue Heaven Lake and Echo Lake would probably be ok, and the creek that runs out of Echo Lake runs through a beautiful area with plenty of good camping spots. It's a quick 2 hour hike downhill from Hungry Packer Lake to the t/h.

If your group is ok with more cross country travel Darwin Col leads from Darwin Canyon over to the lakes/tarns just above Blue Heaven Lake in Sabrina Basin. The close up views of Mt Darwin and Darwin Glacier are worth the effort if you don't mind some boulder scrambling.

I realize the North Lake to South Lake loop is usually over populated, but it is all on trail and easily done within the 5 days/4 nights. Having two cars would make for easy transportation logistics between trailheads.

Or, there is a good loop over Bishop Pass into Dusy Basin, over Knapsack Pass into Palisades Basin, then down to Palisades Lakes to Deer Meadow via Palisade Creek. From there Grouse Meadow leads back up to Dusy Basin and over Bishop Pass. The views from Palisades Basin are very good and there would probably be time for a day hike up Mt Sill. I did this route last July and the bugs were bad at dusk and in the morning, but nothing really during the day.

The options are almost endless out of the Bishop area. . .
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Re: Trip Advice for 4 nights(ish) backpacking?

Postby SPeacock » Fri Jun 14, 2013 12:12 pm

Very light snow year makes end of June an almost snow free trip anywhere except for a few birms across the trail and not so deep snow at approaches and top of passes.

Could be a minor water problem if above 10,500 a lot if crossing streams that would normally go dry in late season.

Five days would do Onion Valey, Vidette Meadows, Forester Pass. Then time off to explore the upper Kern drainage, perhaps a stroll along the western side with a good view north and west from Harrison Pass. Could check out Wallace and Wright Basins as well. Not very many people up there Just too close to the end of the JMT to do anything but let the horses run for the barn.

Exit would be over Shepherd Pass down to Symmes Creek. I prefer the clockwise route for the slow strip tease of Williamson and Tyndall. It is the express trail to the high Sierra. If only one car it is a loop with a 3mile hike to the road back to Onion Valley for a hitch up the hill. You have option to take on Tyndall and Williamson as well. The summer/fall season restriction for Williamson Bowl has been removed.

Need to be the early bird for Wilderness permits for Shepherd Pass trail.

This is a bit on the strenuous side but well worth the gallon of sweat.
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Re: Trip Advice for 4 nights(ish) backpacking?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Fri Jun 14, 2013 1:33 pm

The mosquitoes are just now beginning to get bad in the northern Sierra. A lot of the suggestions for northern Yosemite/Hoover Wilderness/Emigrant Wilderness are good, but the country is mostly sub-alpine (not "alpine" in the same sense as the Whitney area) and have a nasty 2-3 week mosquito season, which this year, starts soon. I personally like to do this area later in the year after mosquitoes are gone. I would guess that by mid July this area would be essentially mosquito free.

If you are limited in time, then do not waste it on a lot of car travel. Shuttling cars takes up a lot of time, even though you have 2 cars. The one case that WOULD work well is South Lake - to - North Lake since the car shuttling then is very easy (20 minutes max).
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