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Theodore Solomons Trail?

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Theodore Solomons Trail?

Postby Elwood » Thu Jul 18, 2013 5:01 pm

Does anyone have inputs to the best & worst of the 4-sections in the guidebook by Dennis Gagnon? Section 1 from Glacier Point to Florence Lake Road (67.5-mi.), Section 2 Florence Lake Road to Road's End (95.8-mi.), Section 3 Road's End to Mineral King Ranger Station (49.5-mi.), or Section 4 Mineral King Ranger Station to Horseshoe Meadow/Cottonwood Roadhead (58.5-mi.). Thanks! Elwood



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Re: Theodore Solomons Trail?

Postby Elwood » Thu Jul 18, 2013 7:42 pm

I'm looking for people with prior experience, either as a thru-hiker or section-hiker of the Solomons Trail, who can provide thoughts of this slighty-used trail. Thanks! Elwood
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Re: Theodore Solomons Trail?

Postby AlmostThere » Thu Jul 18, 2013 9:34 pm

It's not a trail - it's a series of shorter trails strung together, and the sections from Florence to Roads End vary from well used and plain to unmaintained, littered with leaves and fallen trees, and dangerous. Going through Tehipite has to be planned carefully as you have to cross the river at Simpson, and too early in season it'll be deep and fast and risky. The bridge in the book does not exist.

The high passes mentioned are best later in summer after snow melts unless you are good with steep snow slopes.... in a normal snow year. This year I'd be more concerned about heat exhaustion or heat stroke - I intended to go to Tehipite myself this year but went high elevation instead as the temps have been beyond my comfort zone at low elevations.

National park sections will be freeways by comparison and Yosemite will have tourists for a number of miles until you pass through the more remote parts of the southeastern trail system. You'll see bunches within 10 miles of Roads End and then fewer and fewer until you get to Mineral King, then dwindling numbers again....

I've done a lot of miles on this route, long before I knew it was a route. "best and worst" is subjective - some nice scenery, but section 2 would probably be better done with someone who can navigate reliably... the NF trail sections can be easily confused with use trails, or disappear under deadfall. Signs are often absent out there.

Look up some of the recent trip reports with attention to places like Tehipite and Elizabeth Pass - I've read a couple of reports that the south side of Elizabeth is eroded. And the ups and downs along this are significant and many. Tracing this route on topo software I would expect to find more cumulative gain than the JMT.
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Re: Theodore Solomons Trail?

Postby TehipiteTom » Fri Jul 19, 2013 9:12 am

Elwood wrote:Does anyone have inputs to the best & worst of the 4-sections in the guidebook by Dennis Gagnon? Section 1 from Glacier Point to Florence Lake Road (67.5-mi.), Section 2 Florence Lake Road to Road's End (95.8-mi.), Section 3 Road's End to Mineral King Ranger Station (49.5-mi.), or Section 4 Mineral King Ranger Station to Horseshoe Meadow/Cottonwood Roadhead (58.5-mi.). Thanks! Elwood

I've done a good chunk of Section 2 (Tehipite Valley and over the Monarch Divide) and it's spectacular (elevation snobs tend to overlook this area, but IMO Tehipite & Simpson Meadows are among the prettiest spots I know in the Sierra). There is a huge amount of up and down in this section, as AT says, and there is no bridge at Simpson Meadow (but this year that won't be a problem--cross near the upper end of the meadow), and the trail into Tehipite is very steep with lots of loose stuff...but it's all worth it for the beauty and the solitude.
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Re: Theodore Solomons Trail?

Postby Elwood » Fri Jul 19, 2013 9:52 am

Thanks for all the inputs! I keep hearing good things about Tehipite Valley, section 2 sounds tough, but also very rewarding!
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Re: Theodore Solomons Trail?

Postby Elwood » Sat Jul 20, 2013 10:41 am

Looks like Tehipite Valley is about 12-mi. long, since it sounds like a brutal decent, I think we'll camp the night before at Crown Valley, near Rodgers Creek. This will allow for a morning decent, & all day to walk thru Tehipite Valley, looking for a nice camp site near Simpson Meadow.
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Re: Theodore Solomons Trail?

Postby AlmostThere » Sat Jul 20, 2013 11:51 am

Depends on when you leave in the morning and how fast you can hike over downed trees. My plan was to camp as close to the edge as possible and descend as early as possible. The switchbacks are unmaintained, the lower ones covered in leaves and debris.

There is a book about a woman who broke her legs falling on this trail. "Angels in the Wilderness." There have also been search and rescue trips into the canyon since her experience. Highly recommend that it not be a solo trip...
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Re: Theodore Solomons Trail?

Postby Elwood » Sat Jul 20, 2013 1:01 pm

Although I do a lot of solo-backpacking, this trip will be with at least one or two other buddies. It sounds like the trail into Thipite Valley hasn't been maintained in years, & I'm surprised more people don't make trips there?
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Re: Theodore Solomons Trail?

Postby AlmostThere » Sat Jul 20, 2013 1:20 pm

I'm not. The trails in that entire area are poorly maintained. A lot of leisure (meaning not fanatical like myself and certain of my associates in the cross-country-maniac club) backpackers like nice trails so they don't have to have a map or think about where they are going... It's interesting to converse with folks on the trail and hear what their opinions of "mosquito hordes" and "impassable trail" are.... But I digress.

I'd say a handful of people I've ever mentioned the place to even know what/where it is. "Tehip-what?" I'm hoping it stays that way....

Every once in a while you see a trip report like this one: http://www.feeblemonkeybrain.com/tehipite-loop/

I'm thinking I'll stick to land routes....
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Re: Theodore Solomons Trail?

Postby lambertiana » Sat Jul 20, 2013 10:38 pm

Elwood -

If you plan to go from Rogers Creek to Simpson in one day, you're burlier than I am. When I went in 2007, I camped at one of the creeks between Rogers Creek and Gnat Meadow. The next day we went a little past the crossing of Blue Canyon Creek a little above Tehipite Valley proper. And the day after that we went a little beyond Simpson, camping at the tiny brook that comes down from the east side of Windy Peak. Those weren't terribly long trail days, but I would not classify them as short, either. Twelve miles is twelve miles, especially when you are following a trace that fades in and out.

It is best to take your time dropping into Tehipite, the "trail" is practically nonexistent and covered with leaves over loose rock. And it is easy to lose the trail and wander off, as happened with Amy Racina (see the above-referenced book Angels in the Wilderness). The trail up the middle fork is also not maintained, but there were only a few spots where we got off course because it was fading in and out.
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Re: Theodore Solomons Trail?

Postby TehipiteTom » Sun Jul 21, 2013 12:54 pm

lambertiana wrote:Elwood -

If you plan to go from Rogers Creek to Simpson in one day, you're burlier than I am. When I went in 2007, I camped at one of the creeks between Rogers Creek and Gnat Meadow. The next day we went a little past the crossing of Blue Canyon Creek a little above Tehipite Valley proper. And the day after that we went a little beyond Simpson, camping at the tiny brook that comes down from the east side of Windy Peak. Those weren't terribly long trail days, but I would not classify them as short, either. Twelve miles is twelve miles, especially when you are following a trace that fades in and out.

It is best to take your time dropping into Tehipite, the "trail" is practically nonexistent and covered with leaves over loose rock. And it is easy to lose the trail and wander off, as happened with Amy Racina (see the above-referenced book Angels in the Wilderness). The trail up the middle fork is also not maintained, but there were only a few spots where we got off course because it was fading in and out.

I agree with this--Rodgers to Simpson would be a crazy brutal day.

One thing about the creeks past Rodgers is that they do tend to dry up (or trickle at best) in late season. If you're thinking about doing this trip this year, Rodgers is your last good bet for a campsite with water. I would do Rodgers first night, Tehipite second night (really nice, spacious campsites just before and just after Crown Creek), and Simpson Meadow the third (still a pretty long day in my book).
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Re: Theodore Solomons Trail?

Postby Elwood » Sun Jul 21, 2013 8:05 pm

Thanks for the last two responses! I'm just in the planning stages of this, & my only resource thus far is the guide to the Theodore Solomons Trail. I plan on picking up quadrangle maps for section 2, or printing them from a DVD to research this 96-mi./7-day hike planned for next July. I totally agree with you guys after reading more in this guidebook. Depending on the water situation next year, we'll either camp at Rodgers Creek, or a little closer to the rim. Then do two nights in the Tehipite Valley, one at each end. In this trip from Badger Flat to Roads End, my other over nights are: Helms Meadow, Halfmoon Lake, & Granite Lake. This should give us a little time each evening for those who want to do a little casting. Thanks for all the info, Elwood
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