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Help a rookie plan a backpacking trip

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Help a rookie plan a backpacking trip

Postby hikerblogger » Tue Dec 06, 2005 10:59 pm

I've got all the gear I need, now I need somewhere to take it.

I've done a few overnighters around the Bay Area and now it's time to start reserving vacation time w/the employer. I'm thinking of doing a couple 5-day trips to the Sierra during the summer.

I'd sorta like to avoid the crowds/bears at Yosemite.

I'm 44, married, in pretty good shape. Not interested in major scrambling or climbing... just good hikes with good scenery.

All suggestions welcome; and if you're already planning a trip and wouldn't mind having a bearded, slow-walking white guy from Peoria in your camp, let me know.



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Postby wingding » Wed Dec 07, 2005 9:50 am

A couple of years ago we did a 6-day loop in Northern Yosemite (away from the crowds). I'd recommend it and it could easily be done in 5-days. We went from Twin Lakes near Bridgeport to Peeler Lake the first day, then on day two we went from Peeler Lake to Benson Lake with it's beautiful beach, day three we had a short day and only went as far as Smedberg Lake, Day four brought us into Matterhorn Canyon with the great view of the Sawtooth Range from our campsite, Day five we hiked out through Slide Canyon and over Mule Pass to Crown Lake. On day six we hiked out. If I did it again, I'd probably opt to camp in Slide Canyon over Crown Lake because Slide Canyon is very beautiful. Crown Lake was my least favorite campsite on the trip.

Pictures:

http://community.webshots.com/album/81299625iyBDFG

http://community.webshots.com/album/85893896dnTjeF
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Postby Hikin Mike » Wed Dec 07, 2005 11:07 am

Although I haven't done the hike wingding suggested, I have been to some of those locations and I can tell you they are a must-see!

Barney/Peeler Lake
Sawtooth Range
Crown Lake
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Postby hikerblogger » Wed Dec 07, 2005 11:23 am

That looks like a great trip... thanks for the suggestion.
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Postby markskor » Wed Dec 07, 2005 11:43 am

If going to Smedberg, Do not forget the fishing pole - world class right after the snow melts!
Benson is great, especially in the early season. It is a giant lake, and there are River Otters there, but the shoreline- away from the beach - is steep and a real bear to get down to.
As I understand it, there are other ways besides the trail up to Barney, to get to Peeler. This stretch of trail - Twin Lakes to Barney - is probably the worst design of any Sierra trail I have been on - somebody should be shot! It doubles back - through a marsh - goes out a 1/2 mile - comes back again back through the same marsh, and picks up only 30 feet elev.
BTW, while you are up there, above Peeler, don't forget to bag Matterhorn Peak - (by the famous sand hill route) - the views are killer.
Mountainman who swims with trout
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Postby BSquared » Wed Dec 07, 2005 12:15 pm

Do you have copies of "Sierra North" and "Sierra South?" Those were virtually my Bibles when I lived in California and could do casual Sierra trips. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0899973965/qid=1133982826/sr=8-1/ref=pd_bbs_1/103-7260970-9819028?n=507846&s=books&v=glance They've got trips of all lengths, from virtually all the major trailheads.
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Postby wingding » Wed Dec 07, 2005 8:50 pm

BSquared - I agree those are great books - full of wonderful trip ideas.
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Postby hikerduane » Wed Dec 07, 2005 9:40 pm

From what I have seen so far, you can't go wrong. Ansel Adams and the John Muir Wildernesses are great. Pick out a spot and go for it. If you are like me, you can spend months pouring over maps. Beyond the Sierra, consider the Trinity Alps or Marble Mt. Wilderness, although they would be better before it gets too hot. You still have a little time left, I'm 53 now.
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Postby JM21760 » Wed Dec 07, 2005 10:49 pm

Do be prepared for the Ursine visitors that will most likely make an appearance. And, you might watch the weather forecast. I'm just speaking for some very early pack trips I was on. Teenage "Let's go now!" and then 3 days of rain. (Man, if only I was 30 years younger.) But, I digress.
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Postby copeg » Thu Dec 08, 2005 8:34 am

As hikerduane said, you really can't go wrong. Starting from just about any trailhead will lead you to places you can spend months exploring. I'll throw out a few suggestions:
1) Never done this in its entirety, but you start at Crescent Meadow in Sequoia, to Bearpaw meadow, over Kaweah Gap, up to Little Five Lakes, Black Rock Pass, and back to Bearpaw.
2) This trip may be too long for 5 days, but the Evolution Loop is amazing. South Lake to North lake. Takes you through Dusy Basin, Leconte Canyon, Evolution Basin, Evolution Canyon, Humphries Basin.
3) The Rae Lakes loop - but if your looking to get away from people, I wouldn't strongly recommend this one (you could visit Rae Lakes from the east over Kearsarge Pass which is another great trip).
4) Agnew Meadow, along the PCT to 1000 island lake, then follow the JMT to Garnet lake, side trip to Ediza, than back down the Shadow lake trail to Agnew Meadow.
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Postby hikerblogger » Thu Dec 08, 2005 9:02 am

Wow, it's like being at a smorgasboard where everything seems good. Guess I'll have to avoid the eyes-bigger-than-appetite syndrome.

Long as we're on the topic, any suggestions for an overnighter where I can drive out from the Bay area early Saturday and leave Sunday and still avoid bears/crowds? I realize this may be nigh onto impossible and that if you knew of such a trail you'd keep it a secret. It'd be like a favorite fishing hole.
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Postby sierranomad » Thu Dec 08, 2005 9:55 am

hikerblogger:

An excellent overnighter is to start at the Happy Isles Trailhead in Yosemite Valley and to spend the night at Little Yosemite Valley. Take the Mist Trail up and you will get "up close and personal" with some of the most spectacular falls in the world. If you start early enough on Saturday, you could make camp then hike to Half Dome. During peak season this trail can be a nightmare (think Disneyland). But in April and May it is really not bad - in fact I've done the hike early in the morning and been the only one on the trail. And this is when the falls are at their best!

Little Yosemite Valley is the least secluded spot you will find to camp (backpack) in all the park - but it is (in my opinion) not that bad in spring. As an alternative, you could hike a couple miles further up LYV to Quarter Dome and would likely be by yourself in April or May. A benefit to LYV though, is that they have bear-proof storage boxes, so if you're just going for an overnighter, you don't have to worry about lugging up a bear box.

For your hike back to the Valley, skip the Mist Trail and return via the John Muir Trail (still exit via the Happy Isles Trailhead), or if you have a little more energy, take the Panorama Trail at Nevada Falls to Glacier Point, then the 4 mile trail down the the Valley. At this point you will be 2 - 3 miles from your car. If you don't have the time/energy to walk to your car, you can take a free shuttle at Swinging Bridge (@ 1/2 mile) to Curry Village, at which point you will be about 1/2 mile from the backpacker parking area.

The crowds/bears problem with Yosemite is overstated. I have some friends that refuse to go to Yosemite because they were there once and it was very crowded. I went with them on a bp trip to one of their favorite spots and actually found less solitude than I am accustomed to having in Yosemite. It's all in timing. And while bears are an issue to be dealt with, I have never had one get my food.

Just be sure to get your permit. If you can't reserve one in advance, pick one up at the Wilderness Center. Arrive about 30 minutes before it opens. If you have a small group and go off-season you are very likely to be able to get one.

.....and regarding the 5 day backpack. I know that you specified the Sierra, but the Lost Coast Trail in Northern CA is spectacular
Jon

"When one tugs on a single thing in nature, he finds it's attached to the rest of the world". - John Muir
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