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Beginners Backpacking Hike?

Backpacking and camping basics and other general trip planning discussion for the uninitiated. Use this forum to learn where to look for the information you need, and to ask questions, related to the beginner basics of backpacking and camping, including technique and best practices.
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Beginners Backpacking Hike?

Postby InsaneBoost » Sat Jul 05, 2014 4:55 pm

Was trying to find a hike that would help introduce myself and the girlfriend to backpacking. We have about four days, which I'm sure isn't long enough to do some serious stuff, but I would think we could do something.

Are there any good trails or things to do? I was looking at the Hell For Sure Pass, which I've read you can hike to from Courtright Reservoir and it isn't too long? I think I read it takes roughly 4-5 days to do.

I've searched about it, but I can't seem to find a trail, just read blogs of "started at Courtright." Does anyone have information on that hike from Courtright? Is there a way to get picked up at the end? Or do you have to go back to where you started?

Any recommended trails?

Thanks



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Re: Beginners Backpacking Hike?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sat Jul 05, 2014 5:18 pm

I would not take GF on that hike. There are a lot of miles before it gets scenic. If you want GF to really like backpacking you need to take her on a trip that will knock her socks off with spectacular scenery right near the trailhead.

A hike with considerable elevation gain can still be a beginner's hike as long as you keep miles short. Must you go in the west side?

South Lake to Dusy Basin is a great beginner hike. Very scenic and fishing too. Beautiful from the beginning and not an extraordinary amount of elevation gain, as long as you camp on the east side of the pass on night 1 and go over the next day.

Sabrina Lake to Hungry Packer Lake - also very scenic. Camp along the way on the first day.

Glacier Lodge (N. Pine Cr) to First - Sixth Lakes. Nice but a bit crowded.

Cottonwood Lakes is always beautiful. Take it real easy the first day because of the altitude.

Rock Creek over Mono Pass to Fourth Lake and Pioneer Basin. Spend first night at Ruby Lake.
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Re: Beginners Backpacking Hike?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sat Jul 05, 2014 5:21 pm

Oh, forgot, that the really easiest and most spectacular backpack is in the Minarets. Agnew Meadow to Island Lake, return with visits at Shadow Lake, Ediza and day hike to Iceberg L. You can loop - River Trail and High Trail so do not have to repeat miles. Again - it can be crowded.
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Re: Beginners Backpacking Hike?

Postby sekihiker » Sat Jul 05, 2014 5:22 pm

You chose a good area. Check out these trip reports for more information.
http://sierrahiker.home.comcast.net/Red ... index.html
http://sierrahiker.home.comcast.net/Ind ... index.html
Best Wishes -
Bill
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Re: Beginners Backpacking Hike?

Postby InsaneBoost » Sat Jul 05, 2014 6:22 pm

Wandering Daisy wrote:I would not take GF on that hike. There are a lot of miles before it gets scenic. If you want GF to really like backpacking you need to take her on a trip that will knock her socks off with spectacular scenery right near the trailhead.


That's not too much of an issue for us. She's an outdoors kind of woman, which is one of the reasons I liked her :lol: I think she'd be okay with the miles to get to something. We both understand you have to work to gain the good views and what not.

Thanks for the other suggestions though, I will check those out as well. I did know the one I chose had some things to go through before getting to the main area.
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Re: Beginners Backpacking Hike?

Postby Tom_H » Sat Jul 05, 2014 7:22 pm

It's good that she already likes the outdoors; that's a plus. You still need to be conscious of the fact that if she is new to backpacking, though, there are little things that can turn something potentially great into something that's not fun. Those are things like making sure the boots and socks fit right, that she doesn't get jammed toes, blisters, etc. Also that the pack fits right and doesn't have all the weight on her shoulders or sit incorrectly on her hips. Take care of hot spots and anything that's not fitting right immediately. Then there is altitude; sometimes people who are athletic have a hard time if they suddenly have to do aerobic exercise at altitude and never have done so before. Keep checking in with her. Don't let her get into a mindset that she's going to tough it out when it's something that can be fixed (adjusting a sock or putting on moleskin is a heap better than dealing with a burst blister later on). I completely agree with WD; it's a whole lot better if you can go a short distance the first day. It's also good to take a lot of mini-breaks on the first day and verify feet, hips, shoulders are o.k., along with no signs of altitude problems. Be prepared with bug repellant, and keep her hydrated.

Another pretty place from the get go is Echo to Aoha.

Good luck.
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Re: Beginners Backpacking Hike?

Postby Jimr » Sat Jul 05, 2014 9:35 pm

From Courtright to Hell for Sure Pass, you start at Courtright, through long meadow to Post Corral Meadow. There is good camping there. From there you head farther along the trail until you hit Fleming Creek and go left following the trail to the upper lakes. I stayed at Rae lakes a couple of times, but there are many options. From there, you can day hike to the top of Hell For Sure pass and back down to base camp. I'd go for 5 days to give you a day to play and explore without pack, otherwise every day will be with pack.

On the East side, Hungry Packer lake is very nice, but campsite worthy spots are difficult to find. Moonlight lake and the surrounding area will give you many more opportunities for campsites and day hikes to Hungry Packer, Midnight, etc. are short.
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Re: Beginners Backpacking Hike?

Postby giantbrookie » Sat Jul 05, 2014 10:27 pm

I agree with others that even though your GF is athletic and likes the outdoors, conservatism is warranted for the first trip. I had a good friend who took his fiance (quite the athlete, really) on her first backpacking trip to Emigrant. He scheduled about double the amount of distance per day I would have. She had such a miserable time it is doubtful she ever felt like going up again.

Regarding wanting a west flank entry because of being in Fresno, I agree with others that west flank entries don't tend to hit the knockout scenery without much hiking. The one exception, I think, would be heading toward Pear Lake out of Wolverton. You get to the Watchtower pretty early and it's pretty stunning from there on. There are other little lakes to camp at before Pear L. (6 mi in), too. The only drawback of that scheme is that there aren't too many places to head to from there unless you do off trail stuff, which may not be the best idea on your GFs first trip (although getting up onto the Tablelands is very easy).

Of the other spectacular W. side entries, the scenery is grand going out of Crescent Meadow but it is a horribly long hike to get to any place worthwhile to camp. Road's End in Kings Canyon has similar issues: The scenery is nice, but no matter which direction you head, it is a pretty rough first day to get to a worthwhile camping spot. This is what others are noting with regards to having to really work to get to the best scenery via west side entry.

I would tend to agree with others that it is worth trading a bit more driving time (trading it, in essence, for hiking time) in exchange for getting into the really sweet scenery right away and with minimal effort. My favorite choices for nice scenery with little effort on day 1 (with room to expand your trip) are: 1. Going out of Virginia Lakes (ie going north from the 120/395 T), 2. Little Lakes Valley. That's where I went when taking my then GF on her first backpacking trip (28 years later she is in fact my wife and over those years has gone on some exceptionally adventurous backpacking trips, averaging close to 40 days a year in the backcountry from 1992-1997). Whereas I suppose Little Lakes Valley isn't all that "expandable", it is a wonderful place to wander around all the nooks and crannies. If you'd like you can go over Mono Pass, but I don't think that's really necessary for an enjoyable trip. 3. Mammoth Lakes--OK the start is crowded, but you can then go over Duck Pass and work your way as far as you'd like into the backcountry, going bit by bit. There are lakes to stop at very short intervals and the scenery is classic E. side.

Of course, not everyone's favorite scenery is the rugged E. side. Some may like somewhat open vistas that you'd get at some West Side entry points such as heading out of the Fernandez or other trailheads toward various of the Ansel Adams Wilderness spots (reached via Beasore Rd/Bass Lake). A lake such as Vandenberg or Madera etc. isn't very far in for the first day and once there, you can hop scotch with any interval you want. This east-facing set of basins has very nice open views to the east toward the Ritter Range etc. The kickoff point for these is in the 2 hr range from Fresno. I think that would be my top choice for a west side option if I was in your shoes.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Re: Beginners Backpacking Hike?

Postby alpinemike » Sat Jul 05, 2014 11:37 pm

I agree with Wandering Daisy. The Minarets region in the Ansel Adams would be a phenomenal choice. Quite honestly it is probably the most popular alpine area in the Sierra... and there's an obvious reason to that! It's absolutely gorgeous in so many ways. The starkness, the jagged rock, the beautiful cascades, the dotted 1000 Island Lake, and countless other things. I've been there several times now and the place seems to get more beautiful every time. One night you'll never forget is if you camp out at 1000 Island and get out of your tent/tarp around midnight 1 am and just look up and out at the stars. They are absolutely phenomenal! Granted there are a good deal of people in the area but you can still have privacy by getting off the trail just a ways in an area where you know you can find your way back. And hey.. people out there usually love what you love so there's always a good conversation awaiting! Here's a few photos to wet your appetite on it...
Attachments
DSC_5421.jpg
1000 Island Lake
DSC_5303.jpg
Ediza Lake
Never put off a backpacking trip for tomorrow, if you can do it today...
Alpine Mike-

http://mikhailkorotkinphotography.com/
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Re: Beginners Backpacking Hike?

Postby texan » Sun Jul 06, 2014 8:58 am

I agree with WD recommendations. I would also add Piute Pass to the list.

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Re: Beginners Backpacking Hike?

Postby texan » Sun Jul 06, 2014 9:00 am

I forgot another one. Baboon Lakes above Blue lake is also a nice spot to go too!!!!

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Re: Beginners Backpacking Hike?

Postby InsaneBoost » Sun Jul 06, 2014 12:16 pm

Great feedback everyone, I'll take your advice and start off slow and build up from there to ensure she indeed does like backpacking and isn't going to hate it the first time we do something.

I'll take a look at all the options you have given and see which one she likes best and we'll go from there.

Thanks again
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