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Recommendations for a week-long loop in SEKI?

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Recommendations for a week-long loop in SEKI?

Postby uneaqs » Sun Aug 18, 2013 2:44 pm

First time poster here, been lurking and gleaning useful information from this site for a while though. I'm about to head out on a week-long solo trip of some sort and looking for some recommendations. I've done a few shorter solo trips in the Sierra in recent years, in addition to having done the majority of the AT "solo" in '99 (as solo as that trail gets anyway, went south late in the season and so didn't run into nearly as many folks as you would other times of the year).

Does anyone have recommendations for a 70-80ish mile loop hike, ideally in SEKI, where acquiring last minute permits would likely be possible? I had plans to do the JMT with friends starting this week, but life got in the way and I don't have enough time now. I was thinking about trying to do an elongated version of the Rae Lakes loop, but skipping Rae Lakes by hiking up Paradise Valley and continuing north on the JMT/PCT up over Pinchot and Mather passes, then turning south down the middle fork of the Kings river and exiting over Granite Pass. I fear that getting last-minute permits for that area could be tough though. Another idea was going out the High Sierra trail to the Kern River, then North to the Colby pass trail, and back south on the Elizabeth Pass trail to meet up with the HST again.

Many thanks in advance! And all you SAR types needn't worry, I'll be leaving behind a full itinerary and sticking to it! Might even pick up a SPOT if I can find one in stock somewhere.



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Re: Recommendations for a week-long loop in SEKI?

Postby balzaccom » Sun Aug 18, 2013 3:18 pm

Tough to get a permit for Paradise Valley...

But why not a version of the trip posted here recently through Deadman Canyon...? It's a great trip, a fabulous loop, and would meet most of your criteria
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Re: Recommendations for a week-long loop in SEKI?

Postby TehipiteTom » Sun Aug 18, 2013 3:45 pm

uneaqs wrote:I was thinking about trying to do an elongated version of the Rae Lakes loop, but skipping Rae Lakes by hiking up Paradise Valley and continuing north on the JMT/PCT up over Pinchot and Mather passes, then turning south down the middle fork of the Kings river and exiting over Granite Pass.

As balzaccom notes, Paradise Valley is an extremely popular entry point, and it can be hard to get a permit. But you could do this in reverse, and it likely wouldn't be a problem--the Copper Creek trail quota doesn't fill up nearly as fast or as often. Judging from the parts I've done (Monarch Divide, Middle Fork, lower Palisade Creek) it would be a spectacular trip.
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Re: Recommendations for a week-long loop in SEKI?

Postby uneaqs » Sun Aug 18, 2013 3:51 pm

Thanks folks! Just looking at the Deadman Canyon TR by Ikan Mas, looks pretty great. Any tips on the best ranger station to head to for permits? If I headed all the way in to Roads End and couldn't get a permit for a trail leaving from there, would it be a huge hassle to have to drive to Lodge Pole or elsewhere hunting for another permit? I've never been to SEKI so not too sure how they handle things with permits. Suppose I can just go do more research on the web too :)
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Re: Recommendations for a week-long loop in SEKI?

Postby TehipiteTom » Sun Aug 18, 2013 4:29 pm

Check out the permit availability page before you go. Road's End is a long ways from anywhere else in the parks (Lodgepole, etc.), but if that page says there are permits available for the date you want you're probably okay. Again, you can probably bank on a Copper Creek permit if you want to go that way (note that there are no full days for that trailhead); Woods Creek (Paradise Valley) is the toughest to get from there.

If you decide to do the Deadman route, you should head to Lodgepole for your permit.
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Re: Recommendations for a week-long loop in SEKI?

Postby uneaqs » Sun Aug 18, 2013 6:37 pm

Thanks Tom, I appreciate all the advice!
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Re: Recommendations for a week-long loop in SEKI?

Postby Ikan Mas » Sun Aug 18, 2013 7:05 pm

Thanks to those who recommended my recent Deadman Canyon trip. Here's another trip I did a few years ago in SEKI that may also of be of interest to you. viewtopic.php?f=6&t=4683
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Re: Recommendations for a week-long loop in SEKI?

Postby Cheetahwoka » Sun Aug 18, 2013 8:50 pm

uneaqs asked me some questions in a PM that I thought might be useful if I answered them here.

Permits out of Cedar Grove can often be obtained the morning of your trip, since there are always a number of walk-in permits available. Even though you can get those walk-in permits the day before (after 11am I think) for a trip starting the next morning, there are still typically some in the morning, especially if you are only 1 in your party. Woods and Bubbs go first. Of course there are no guarantees, but several options just in case.

The permit station at Roads End opens at 7:00 so get there early to get the first place in line. A couple weeks ago, I went up the Sphinx trail (which also goes to Deadman Canyon), but technically it's a Bubbs permit. I had no problem getting a permit, on a Saturday morning, and I got there at 7:00 with 4 people already in line. Even if there are no more for Woods or Bubbs, for a weekday it's rare for Copper Creek to run out.

If you do Copper Creek, be ready for a 5,000' elevation gain, and start just as early as you can, because it's south facing and gets hot. Water was low there over 4th of July, so ask the permit ranger if there is water in the usual places along the Copper Creek trail.

The Deadman loop described from Lodgepole has probably 17 miles of forest/meadow, through Sugarloaf Valley and through Roaring River RS area.

You asked if the High Sierra Trail into the Kern is mostly in the canyons. Not really. It's a spectacular trail especially between Bearpaw and 9 lakes Basin. Views of the impossibly steep Kaweahs. Yes there is some canyon terrain, but the deep Kern canyon with it's towering walls, especially the northern part, is wild and grand, and the upper basin magnificently high, open, and lunar. And then there's the hot spring below Chagoopa..

Hope this helps.
Last edited by Cheetahwoka on Sun Aug 18, 2013 11:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Recommendations for a week-long loop in SEKI?

Postby tomba » Sun Aug 18, 2013 9:12 pm

Cheetahwoka wrote:The permit station at Roads End opens at 7:30
The wilderness permits seki page says:
Hours listed below are tentative for the 2013 permit season.
  • Roads End Permit Station: 7:00am to 3:45pm
I don't know which is right. I am going to be there is a few days hoping to get a walk-in permit. Can't make a reservation less than 2 weeks in advance :(.
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Re: Recommendations for a week-long loop in SEKI?

Postby Cheetahwoka » Sun Aug 18, 2013 11:57 pm

Oh poop, I think you're right. How embarrassing. I'll edit. #-o
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Re: Recommendations for a week-long loop in SEKI?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Mon Aug 19, 2013 3:37 pm

If contemplating Copper Creek trail, I suggest getting a next day permit after 11AM because the only way you can really beat the heat is to be on the trail by 5:30 AM. I have never had any trouble getting a campsite the night before - there are several huge campgrounds near Cedar Grove and even a free one up the road (just as you come down the canyon).
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Re: Recommendations for a week-long loop in SEKI?

Postby MountainMinstrel » Tue Aug 20, 2013 7:27 am

Wandering Daisy wrote:If contemplating Copper Creek trail, I suggest getting a next day permit after 11AM because the only way you can really beat the heat is to be on the trail by 5:30 AM. I have never had any trouble getting a campsite the night before - there are several huge campgrounds near Cedar Grove and even a free one up the road (just as you come down the canyon).


There is also dispersed camping (boondocking) along the river outside of the national park.
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