I wanna run this route by some experts

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I wanna run this route by some experts

Post by manbartz » Thu May 05, 2011 12:20 am

Hello fellow backpackers,

I am 22 years old and I consider myself to be an experienced backpacker. However, I have found a route through the Sierra that seems a bit awkward(many significant direction changes, many high passes, many trail changes), yet it hits the area(s) of the high sierra that I find most interesting, almost like a route out of my dreams.

Okayyyy, so let me get to the point. Me and a few buddies are thinking about starting at June Lake, climbing up to Thousand Island lake for our first day, then head north west via the JMT over Donohue and down into Lyell canyon.... setting up camp somewhere in Lyell Canyon, half way into Lyell canyon we would head in a westward direction towards Vogelsang(Wondering if supplies were available here???). From Vogelsang we would head south towards Cony crags, and eventually towards Triple Peak Fork. At the fork we would take the high pass through the Clark Range, and back down into the forest(upper merced pass area). Then we would head towards Yosemite Valley and end the trip here(probably my least favorite leg of the trek, but nonetheless very beautiful).

What are your opinions? We were thinking about going in late july. I have tallied it up on the maps that I have and it comes out to around 70 miles, so this would be a 5-7 day trek for my group. Can you buy snacks/supplies at Vogelsang?

Does this sound like fun to you?

Let me know if you find any holes in my route.

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Re: I wanna run this route by some experts

Post by The Other Tom » Thu May 05, 2011 3:52 am

Hello, and welcome to Highsierratopix !

Your route sounds like you're doing some X-country, which is ok if you're comfortable with that. I can't comment on your specific route. One thing about Vogelsang...yes, you can buy a few snacks there (or meals if they have openings), but only if the camp is open. This is a heavy snow year and the camps did not open during the last heavy snow year. So check before you go. And...you didn't mention when you are going. Heavy snow means "the season" will be later in the year.

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Re: I wanna run this route by some experts

Post by oldranger » Thu May 05, 2011 6:24 am


Welcome aboard. I wouldn't be surprised if you hit significant snow on the north side of Red Peak Pass. Otherwise a great trip. I would plan on 7 days (actually more like 12-14 days as I would include a bunch of layover days for fishing some of my favorite lakes). Mosquitos will be nasty. At only 7 days I you shouldn't need to resupply but if Vogelsang is open they do have some stuff but nothing to really count as a resupply. With your schedule you will probably want to get beyond Vogelsang for your 3rd night.

Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!

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Re: I wanna run this route by some experts

Post by markskor » Thu May 05, 2011 6:40 am

Done all this route suggested and if not mistaken - all trail, provided what you mean by "take the high pass through the Clark Range" is Red Peak Pass. Last year crossed this pass late July and it was completely blanketed - and that was not a big snow year. Be warned. Also, in your indicated direction, it is a lot harder going up than coming down, as I have always done...expect much postholing here.
While appreciate that you are a 22-year-old, hiking stud, but even this might be a bit ambitious to do in 5 - 7 days. Might be better to stretch it out to 10 and not spend every waking hour hiking, a lot over the sun cups too, which makes the miles longer.
Additionally, (agree highly with OldRanger - again) you will be walking past some prime fishing lakes and your hurried itinerary will not allow much time to wet a line.
You might consider not going over Red Peak Pass and instead, after Cony Craig stopover - (nice overlook BTW), if not snowed in, see the Harriets and just follow the Merced down afterwards. Perhaps a stop at Merced HSC and possibly bag another meal there too.
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Re: I wanna run this route by some experts

Post by Electra » Thu May 05, 2011 7:24 am

You should have a memorable and very scenic trip in late july with just enough modest 'challenges' (snow at passes, bugs, stream crossings) to keep things interesting. You might want to linger/layover in the Triple Fork area and/or take the high trail and camp higher in the merced drainage before continuing over red peak pass. Those looking for a very demanding yet shorter route into the merced drainage can cross over the maclure glacier/col northwest of lyell peak and descend into the triple fork via hutchings creek....Also worthy of exploration is the area above ottoway lakes south of red peak.
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Re: I wanna run this route by some experts

Post by AlmostThere » Thu May 05, 2011 7:36 am

Careful where you camp in Lyell. You are supposed to be 4 miles out from the trailhead at Tuolumne Meadows. There's an avalanche chute most people use as the marker for the four mile limit.

Speaking of which, Tuolumne Meadows could be your resupply - the store has good provisions, and a hiker box where thrus drop and swap items.

You don't mention where you are from or where your experience is. If said experience was not at high elevation, you will want to plan extra time for acclimation. Since high elevation can cause serious and occasionally, rarely, fatal symptoms in some people, better safe than sorry.

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Re: I wanna run this route by some experts

Post by maverick » Thu May 05, 2011 11:44 am

Welcome aboard Manbartz!
Your trip takes you through some beautiful areas, but your trying to run through it
instead of savoring the experience!
The 1000 Island Lakes area is one of the prime locations in the Sierra, where
you could spend several days exploring, like climbing Banner Peak, visiting Catherine
Lake, Ritter Lakes, Davis Lakes, Lost Lake just to name a few places, and this is just
the northern part of the Minarets!
You still have Lake Ediza, Minaret Lake, Garnet Lake, Iceberg Lake, High Trail, Ashley
Lake, and so much more in mid to southern end of the Minarets.
Then in Yosemite you have Lyell Fork, Florence Creek, Hutching Creek, Foerster Creek
Red Devil Lake, all these place that offer solitude, and big mountain views, though
these areas will probably be blanketed in snow, but I just wanted to show that there is
an abundance of places one could explore, and not just run through.
If you do not want to deal with snow than I would push your trip back into August, which
will allow you to visit some of these unique places, and not be restricted to the
Also, if you still intend to do the whole trip in July than you should extend your trip
to a minimum of 7 days, more is better, especially if you have to deal with snow.
Also be prepared for skeeterz!
Professional Sierra Landscape Photographer

I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org

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Re: I wanna run this route by some experts

Post by Ikan Mas » Thu May 05, 2011 12:38 pm

Question: You may be up to it, but are your buddies? Will they bail? Serious questions to consider. Also, have you ever hiked the Sierras? Much different from the AT.

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Re: I wanna run this route by some experts

Post by Wandering Daisy » Thu May 05, 2011 12:56 pm

A fair "rule of thumb" for estimating the time it will take to travel is:

2 mph flat trail travel, no snow
1 mph flat trail travel, with snow, or off-trail travel
20 min-30 min per major stream crossing (if you wade)
add 1 extra hour for every 1,000 feet of elevation gain (once totally acclimated you can probably cut that down to 30 minutes for every 1,000 feet of elevation gain -- but it takes almost 2 weeks or more to become totally acclimated)

This rate of travel accounts for 5-10 minutes rest stops per hour and assumes that you do not take more time to read maps or time it takes if you get temporarily lost. Realize that groups travel slower on the average than solo hikers, simply because getting everyone up and going after a rest stop or river crossing takes longer. The larger the group, the more pit stops, pebble in shoe stops, etc. The rate above, is a good estimate for small groups of 6 or less.

Good condition Example- your day's travel has 3,000 feet elevation gain, 10 miles distance, all on dry trails, one major river crossing. 3 hrs (elevation) + 5 hours (mileage) + 1/2 (stream crossing) = 8.5 hours. Leave at 8AM and you get to camp at 4:30 - a very reasonable time leaving plenty of time to look around or fish.

Snow condition example - same as above, 3 hr (elevation) 10 hours (miles over snow) + 1/2 (streams) = 13.5 hours. An altogether different day!

My humble opinion- 5 days (a killer pace), 7 days (reasonable if conditions are good), 8-9 days (reasonable days plus some contingency, layover and exploring time).

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Re: I wanna run this route by some experts

Post by manbartz » Thu May 05, 2011 5:24 pm

Hey wow, thanks for all the replies!

I should have said I am experienced but I am no expert.

Speaking of my experience, when I was 18 my parents took me to Yosemite with one of REI's guided trips(Honestly, even though this is what got me hooked on backpacking, I didn't learn too much), it started at Yosemite Creek Trail trailhead by the highway, Camped at Blue Jay Creek then trekked back up to the Highway. And every summer since, I've been back to the Sierra backpacking. I have probably averaged 100-150 miles/year since 2007.

Snow experience: Last year, I made a mistake and ventured into the high sierra on the 1st of June, started in Yosemite Valley(Our aspirations included climbing Mt. Lyell and finishing at Agnew/Mammoth), started on the JMT and then took the Clouds Rest route, half way up the clouds rest route we encountered a lot of snow, at first I was fine with it, because Clouds Rest was a popular location and people had left their prints so we could find the way to the top. Here is the picture from last year of our view on top of Clouds Rest looking north......Image

This is when I started having some doubts. But instead of turning back and trusting my instincts, my stupidly ambitious friend and I(also stupidly ambitious) decided to proceed to Camp Sunrise. This trail had not been trampled like the other side of the Clouds Rest trail..... actually I believe no one had yet taken the Clouds Rest/Sunrise trail that year. Long story short, after many hours of trudging through very deep snow, we decided to call it a day and set up camp in one of the only dry places we could find on the eastern side of the Sunrise mountains. The next morning we ventured out to find Sunrise.... locating sunrise took us 10 hours(with the help of ice axes and gators), barely making it there before sundown. Word was, that no one had yet made it from sunrise, over Cathedral pass to Tuolumne. So sadly, we turned back towards the valley :(

Later in August of last summer, a few friends and I hiked up the Yosemite Falls trail, and continued up the Yosemite creek trail, then towards White Wolf, then dropped into Pate Valley and up through the Muir Gorge... then to Glen Aulin, then Toulumne, then up to Cathedral, blah blah blah.... eventually made our way back to Yosemite Valley.

That was one my one of my favorite treks. Yes, I know. Too much of Yosemite for some.

So I guess I could have just said, YES I HAVE BACKPACKED THROUGH THE SIERRA BEFORE. Sorry to bore you with my stories. We plan on going late July. You think there will be too much snow in the passes at this time?

Thank you for all the input.

Edit: oh im from san diego.

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