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Clockwise vs counterclockwise loops?

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Clockwise vs counterclockwise loops?

Postby cgundersen » Tue Sep 06, 2011 3:42 pm

Several recent posts got me to thinking that there are routes in the Sierra where I tend always to go clockwise (C) and others where counterclockwise (CC) seems natural and has been the preferred route. And, as I thought more about some (Rae Lakes loop (CC); the Bubbs-Reflection-Longley-Sphinx (C); the Wolverton-Moose-Tablelands-Pear (CC); South-North Lake loops (C)), I realized that I had ONLY done them in one direction. I think familiarity breeds comfort, and that's probably why.
Or, is there something else going on here? Is there anyone who almost always goes just C or just CC? Or, does it just depend on the trip and the terrain?
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Re: Clockwise vs counterclockwise loops?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Tue Sep 06, 2011 7:12 pm

I do the easier part of a loop going in when packs are heavy and save the harder parts for last, when packs are lighter. So my loops vary counter clockwise sometimes, and clockwise others. My favorite method is to go in on trails and come back out all cross-country. Also, as my knees age, I now rather go up steep terrain than go down. When I plan a trip I always figure both directions. Sometimes one way just makes a lot more sense with my goals of daily travel miles and elevatin gains.
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Re: Clockwise vs counterclockwise loops?

Postby Hetchy » Tue Sep 06, 2011 8:05 pm

What am interesting thread!
My favorite loop hikes have always involved clockwise loops.
I really don't know why.
I went from Hetch Hetchy to Matterhorn peak via Jack Main, Tilden, Stubblefield, Kerrick, and Slide canyons. Then down Matterhorn canyon and back over Benson pass exiting out Rodgers canyon, Pleasant Valley, Rancheria mountain and back to the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne and Hetch Hetchy.
Even the trips where i started by going up Rancheria mountain I would go over into Kerrick canyon via Bear Valley Lake and continue in a clockwise loop.
Trips where i cut across at Benson lake and up to Smedburg and Volunteer peak were similarly clockwise.
Heck even my Lake Vernon loop hikes were clockwise!
This is kinda freaky that i naturally planned them this way.
This reminds me of a carpenter friend of mine. One day a few of us plumbers were sitting around at lunch watching this guy work at his table saw. Someone noticed the fellow would make a cut, turn to his right to set the board down, turn right again to grab the next piece, and a third right turn to make the next cut. He was sort of spinning in place while he worked. That fella got just as much a kick out of it as we did when we made him aware of it.
What was it Catus Ed wrote in one of his books.. "Clockwise around the lake.. let's all be safe together."
I am glad you brought this up. Now i feel the need to plan a counter clockwise loop hike someplace!
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Re: Clockwise vs counterclockwise loops?

Postby Cross Country » Tue Sep 06, 2011 8:33 pm

Wow this is hard to believe. Every one of those loops you (cgundersen) mentioned I did the reverse of how you did them. This might indicate that it's just a matter of preference on a given trip.

I did 2 loops out of Mineral King, one CC, one C. I did a loop from Kings Canyon through Kid Lakes CC. I did a loop from KC through Swamp Lakes C. I did a loop through Big Bird Lake C (oops a shuttle). I did a loop from KC over Colby CC. I did a loop over Kersearge and out over Baxter Passes C (basically a shuttle trip). I did a loop from Hetch Hechy through Jack Main C. I did a loop through Peeler Lake CC. I did another loop through Peeler also CC. I did a loop from HH through Bearup and Edith CC. I did a loop out of Cherry through Edith C. I did a loop over Shepard Pass CC. I probably did more. I also did plenty of trips where I started one place and ended at another, but those are shuttle trips and probably don't count (like 2 I mentioned).

My point is that each time I just took what looked like the best route and wound up with a real mix.
Last edited by Cross Country on Tue Sep 06, 2011 8:59 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Clockwise vs counterclockwise loops?

Postby markskor » Tue Sep 06, 2011 8:37 pm

Wandering Daisy wrote:When I plan a trip I always figure both directions. Sometimes one way just makes a lot more sense with my goals of daily travel miles and elevation gains.


Pretty much the same as Daisy says above. After all the hours spent deciding what lake or lakes should be visited, then finding the best route to link things up, finally decide what way/route works best. Bit surprised by the Clockwise/Counter - clockwise question though...Never even considered it as important. The easiest way always take precedence not what direction.

Route direction is influenced by many factors as stated above: Hardest/highest sections hopefully later when packs are lighter, steepest when legs are stronger...usually uphill first days (That is how the east side Sierra generally works) but truth be told, rather prefer not a long steep uphill first day, and generally downhill last days. Snow passes can also figure in here. Sometimes much easier to go up the dry side and down the snow, rather than vice-versa - Red Peak Pass for example.
Occasionally trailhead logistics and where you put the car will determine direction. IE, easier to start/get a ride to Horseshoe Meadows and hike to the car left at the Portal.

As a rule though, always try to start a hike high and end low if possible. IE, The many routes from Tuolumne Meadows to Yosemite Valley.
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Re: Clockwise vs counterclockwise loops?

Postby cgundersen » Wed Sep 07, 2011 9:00 am

hi all,
I certainly agree with daisy and others that a lot of factors go into planning a trip, but it was just the realization that for the many times I'd started a backpacking trip from Wolverton/Crescent Meadow, I had never gone in the direction of Pear, but instead went toward Alta/Bearpaw/Hamilton (day hikes, yes, but with a load, no). Then, I realized this was true for other loops. Even loops that are pretty neutral at the start (certainly Piute is no harder than Bishop Pass and going via Pear is no big deal to reach Moose). Anyway, being right handed, I probably tend naturally to the right, and indeed, when I screw up on route finding, I almost always compensate right. But, then, some loops I tend to do C, so there goes the notion that I'm permanently CC biased. Regardless, I'm delighted to learn that CC goes the opposite direction to me. Maybe that's evidence of some deeper force at work.
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Re: Clockwise vs counterclockwise loops?

Postby balzaccom » Wed Sep 07, 2011 8:20 pm

Yeah--each trip is a different set of variables for us. We certainly consider how hard we want to work the first day with full packs...but we also think about the last day. If it's a long drive home, we'll go whichever direction gives us the shortest hike out that day...

But of the last four loops, three have been CC and one was C.
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Re: Clockwise vs counterclockwise loops?

Postby Cross Country » Wed Sep 07, 2011 10:12 pm

All of my trips were dominated with the goal of cross country lake destinations. I think I planned most of my loops to get to the primary target ASAP.

Woods Lake.

Mike (8yo) and I hiked to it in two days from Kings Canyon.
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Re: Clockwise vs counterclockwise loops?

Postby ManOfTooManySports » Tue Sep 13, 2011 5:49 pm

This year we did the Rae Lakes Loop clockwise, and we thought it was the better way to do it. Except that we started from Kearsarge Pass. I still think I'd rather do the longer climb to Glen Pass from Roads End clockwise rather than go counterclockwise.

For North Lake - South Lake, we did counterclockwise and thought the way the scenery revealed itself was great. But next time (2012, conditions permitting) we are deliberately doing it clockwise to see things differently.
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Re: Clockwise vs counterclockwise loops?

Postby giantbrookie » Sat Sep 17, 2011 2:53 am

I know I've done all manner of loops with lots of different trajectories, some cw some acw, and I'm sure if there is any statistical leaning one way or another it is simply coincidence. Like many of the other posters I'm trying to link up the most sensible route in terms of the placement of various destinations and possibly which passages go better on ascent or descent in one direction.
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