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Trip Advice South Lake Trailhead

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Trip Advice South Lake Trailhead

Postby jessegooddog » Fri Jul 12, 2013 2:01 pm

I am finally planning my first backpack in over 30 years, and first ever solo, altho Freddog will be with me. I am 65 and really stiff in the mornings, and have serious neck issues that can cause migraines, so I am looking to set up camp fairly early in the hike and spend the rest of the time dayhiking. I am thinking Chocolate Lakes loop the first day, and Treasure Lakes the second if I can still move. My number one priority is nighttime solitude - will I be able to find an out of the way campsite where I can feel like the only person on the planet??



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Re: Trip Advice South Lake Trailhead

Postby HikeSierraNevada » Fri Jul 12, 2013 7:10 pm

jessegooddog wrote:I am finally planning my first backpack in over 30 years, and first ever solo, altho Freddog will be with me. I am 65 and really stiff in the mornings, and have serious neck issues that can cause migraines, so I am looking to set up camp fairly early in the hike and spend the rest of the time dayhiking. I am thinking Chocolate Lakes loop the first day, and Treasure Lakes the second if I can still move. My number one priority is nighttime solitude - will I be able to find an out of the way campsite where I can feel like the only person on the planet??

You might be able to find a campsite with remote ambiance off the beaten track during midweek, but be advised you're going into a popular area there. Based on your post, you might want to focus on other things to make your trip enjoyable. Most importantly, are you familiar with the latest lightweight equipment? Things have evolved a lot in 30 years and you can now be quite comfortable with a fully loaded pack with a few days of food and water weighing under 20-25 lbs. Based on your self-assessment of your personal physical condition, I would focus more on acquiring the latest lightweight gear more than anything else to get back into backpacking. There's been a revolution in materials, fabrics, packs, tarptents, sleeping pads, titanium cookware, canister stoves, water purification drops, trail running shoes etc etc. Prepare to invest a considerable sum for the premium gear, but if you really want to get back to the wilderness, going lightweight or ultra-lightweight will change everything for you. You just might be able to get over that pass and into some really remote areas where you really can feel like you're on another planet and still have all the comforts you're used to in the wilderness. I'm not a gear salesman, but I've done it both ways and nobody goes back to the old style once they realize the freedom of traveling light. Best of luck. Feel free to ask for links and info if you decide to pursue this approach.
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Re: Trip Advice South Lake Trailhead

Postby kpeter » Fri Jul 12, 2013 9:46 pm

Congratulations on coming back to the backpacking fold! HikeSierra gives some good advice. I don't have the money or the inclination for ultralight hiking, but my pack weights have dropped from the mid 60s to no more than 40--and if they had not I might not be backpacking at age 54.

If it turns out you are feeling good and are able to get to Bishop Lake early enough in the day, I would head over the pass to upper Dusy Basin. It is quite the trail up to the pass, and coming down the other side there are some very nice campsites just before and around the first lake you will come to in Dusy Basin. Dusy Basin is much less heavily used than north of the pass, and there are many interesting places to explore on dayhikes.

But if making it over the pass is too much for your first trip back, then I would camp no further in than Saddlerock. Bishop Lake just seems somewhat barren for my own taste. I have talked to people who were camping west of the trail at a number of points between Long Lake and Saddlerock, though precisely where I don't know. But this area is popular with dayhikers and families with kids, so be prepared to share the scenery a little.
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Re: Trip Advice South Lake Trailhead

Postby jessegooddog » Sat Jul 13, 2013 5:08 am

I have invested in the lightest equipment I can afford, and the almost fully loaded pack is comfortable. No more 10 pound tents! For my first few trips, I need to be in only a short distance in case of migraine. Saddlebag would be a good experimental trip but so far, I cannot get my otherwise perfect shepherd mix on a wobbly boat ramp.
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Re: Trip Advice South Lake Trailhead

Postby oleander » Wed Jul 17, 2013 4:42 pm

The trail into Chocolate Lakes is really pretty. Have not been to Treasure Lakes but have heard that is very nice as well. Chocolate Lakes appeared to get less use, just by virtue of being off the main trail. Ruwau Lake, too, is off the main trail and is gorgeous, but as far as I could tell there was only one good campsite there, and it will probably be taken.

If you get further in along the main trail, there are some out-of-the-way campsites west of Saddlerock Lake. When you reach the northeast shore of that lake, at an outlet, leave the trail and follow use trails around Saddlerock's north side. The further (west) you go, the more solitude you'll find. There is another lake back there (forgot its name) and some ponds.

- Elizabeth
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