Route Planning

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Wandering Daisy
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Re: Route Planning

Post by Wandering Daisy » Sun Mar 18, 2012 9:08 am

Rogue- your route plan is long; my eyes glaze over. I just looked at it in more detail. Regarding the Bearpaw-Kern Hot Springs section, Hamilton Lake and Precipice Lake are really spectacular. If you want good photos of Hamilton Lake, the afternoon to evening lighting is best. Your plan has you doing this stretch in morning to mid-day. Moraine Lake to the Hot Springs will only take you a few hours and it goes through an old burned area that is not very pretty. This, plus the layover day gives you plenty of time to go slower through the Hamilton Lake area. I went from camping just below Keweah Gap on the east side to Kern Hot Springs in about 8 hours. It is a good trail and you can make good time. Moraine Lake is pretty and I regret not camping there. But I think from Moraine Lake to the Hots Springs is short enough that an additional layover day may not be needed. Now, if you have to walk through snow, that is a different story, but I doubt that will be the case this year. I really had trouble getting good photos in Kern Canyon. The canyon is tight and between the lighting problems and being so close that everything is foreshortened, I failed to get a photo that did it justice. You are a pretty good photographer so you may want to think about this and figure out how to overcome these problems. I am looking forward to seeing your photos. I assume you are spending two days at Guitar Lake to climb Whitney. If you get back early and have energy remaining, Arctic Lake is a nice place to get good photos of Mt.Russell. It is about 500 feet gain to get there but it is fairly easy walking and you would not have a pack on. Just a suggestion. As for Tamarak Lake, I camped on the bench just above Tamarak Lake- it has sandy flat spots and gets a nice breeze, as well as has a good view down-valley. You get water from the stream just before it goes over the falls into Tamarak. Tamarak Lake has more comfortable sites (in the trees on the west side) but less of a panoramic view. When I was there, the mosquitoes were thick in the trees so I continued up to the bench. There is a big meadow above Tamarak Lake too, so you want to stay far enough from that too. There are some limited grassy spots up at Lion Lake too and east along the outlet (after the snow melts). Here is Lion Lake early season and it shows the pass that goes over into Cloud Canyon.

This is the view down-valley from just west of Lion Lake. Tamarak Lake is the little blue puddle down there. As you can see from the photos, Lion Lake collects snow but it becomes clear of snow shortly once you start down the valley towards Tamarak Lake.

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Re: Route Planning

Post by quentinc » Sun Mar 18, 2012 9:40 am

oleander wrote:Ha, interesting to get quentinc's impression of Cliff Creek. We thought it was the very best part of our whole trip, better even than Columbine Lake, Little Five Lakes or Lost Canyon. Pinto Lake, yes, is uninteresting (although the camping nearby is good), and Timber Gap is awful. But going uphill along lower Cliff Creek to Black Rock Pass was spectacular the whole way, starting maybe a mile above that campground at the junction.
Oleander, I think I would have enjoyed that part a lot more if I had been going uphill. Black Rock Pass and about the first mile of the way down were truly spectacular, but then that trail started to meander and meander and meander, continually torturing me with the promise of dropping down to the gorgeous meadow and creek, but always veering away at the last minute. And then the ceaseless gravel covering that trail probably took a few years off my ankles and knees. Going up it wouldn't have been an issue. Then, past Pinto Lake, Cliff Creek just takes you down down down into a hole, from which you have to climb back up 3500 feet to get to boring Timber Gap. I was exhausted on that last stretch. I'd still be there if it weren't for my iPod. ;)

The most interesting thing about Pinto Lake was a ranger who was trying to put out an imaginary underground fire (seriously). And in true theater of the absurd, she managed to convince about a dozen people to set up a bucket brigade to ferry water from the creek to the "fire." I guess it's easy to share feelings out in the wilderness -- including madness.

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Re: Route Planning

Post by Mike M. » Sun Mar 18, 2012 3:38 pm

Rogue, just a thought -- I don't like camping at Guitar Lake -- it's too crowded for my taste. Instead, I move up the trail to a series of tarns just before where the switchbacks start their way up to Trail Crest. Here you will find benches and sandy spots that provide excellent campsites and terrific views.


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Re: Route Planning

Post by RoguePhotonic » Sun Mar 18, 2012 6:27 pm

I should have noted that I have done the whole High Sierra Trail twice and once from Junction Meadow to Lone Pine Creek and then another trip to Hamilton Lake and back so I do know about the great places. The reason I planned to do it again instead of something new is Traumahead is going to join me and he had been wanting to do that trail for awhile now so I thought i'd do it again. The plan is based mostly on miles and trying not to make it very hard. We will be carrying 14 days of food which will be a load. His longest trip was 3 days and now it will be 14 days.

The burn area section should be rerouted now. A trail crew told me they were moving that trail in 2011. I'm not sure what the route is now exactly but it avoids it all. I personally liked that section because it was always covered in a large meadow of ferns.

8 hours from below Kaweah to the Kern Hot Springs is good time. I went from Hamilton Lake to the Kern Hotsprings and it took me about 15 hours.

The layover for the springs was mostly based on it's a nice place to stay. Springs, pit toilet, fire pits. I wasn't sure where would be a good place to spend an extra day so I picked there.

I know what you mean though with photos in the Kern Canyon. I take very few when I hike it and none of them are really good photos.

As for Tamarack Lake I went with the idea of not going down to it. We will just stay at Lion Lake and continue for Lion Lake Pass and then Copper Mine to Horn Col and off to the Tablelands.
I move up the trail
Yep I have done the same and probably will again.

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Re: Route Planning

Post by RoguePhotonic » Sun May 06, 2012 9:15 pm

Well we are narrowing down with only 26 days left before I make the plunge back into the wilderness once again.

It's never too late for some last ideas on where I should go.

Some changes I have made here are when leaving Columbine Lake why not just jump over Bilko Pass instead of taking the trail around? If I do this I could probably jump over the next ridge to Little Five Lakes and find myself one day ahead of schedule which is why I left it blank. I would burn it some where in this section. I was considering that maybe when I go back out of Kaweah Basin to spend a day at the lake below Lawson Peak at about 11,650.

I changed the Kaweah Basin stuff to go to the lake north of Red Spur and then over to the lake at the top of Picket Creek and then back to the higher lakes in the basin before going back over Pyra Queen.

It's looking less like Traumahead is going to join me for the two weeks out on the High Sierra Trail. If that is the case I am going to stay at Wales Lake and make an ascent of Mt. Russell instead of Whitney.

I'm still not sure if I will take the Muro Blanco or Arrow Pass back to Cedar Grove at the very end. I'll probably bring a couple extra days of food and make that choice while I am out there. If you can avoid the bush whacking by following the river when it is low then this might be the ideal year to travel it.

So unless somone has a good idea this will probably be my final plan for this summer:

And of course like always if everything goes well and I actually make it for 135 days no matter what route changes might happen on the go. If I still have money and the weather still looks good I will keep hiking.

June 1 - 1 - Mineral King
June 2 - 2 - Franklin Lakes
June 3 - 3 - Forester Lake
June 4 - 4 - Amphitheater Lake
June 5 - 5 - Climb Mineral Peak - Monarch Lake
June 6 - 6 - Climb Sawtooth Peak - Columbine Lake
June 7 - 7 -
June 8 - 8 - Lake 10,410
June 9 - 9 - Layover
June 10 - 10 - Lake 11,720
June 11 - 11 - Lake 11,600
June 12 - 12 - Lake 11,560
June 13 - 13 - Lake 11.520
June 14 - 14 - Hamilton Lake
June 15 - 15 - Mehrten Creek
June 16 - 16 - Lodgepole
June 17 - 17 - Bear Paw Meadow
June 18 - 18 - Big Arroyo
June 19 - 19 - Moraine Lake
June 20 - 20 - Kern Hotspring
June 21 - 21 - Layover
June 22 - 22 - Wallace Creek
June 23 - 23 - Wales Lake
June 24 - 24 - Wales Lake
June 25 - 25 - Junction Meadow
June 26 - 26 - Lake 11,400
June 27 - 27 - Lion Lake
June 28 - 28 - Lonely Lake
June 29 - 29 - Pear Lake
June 30 - 30 - Lodgepole
July 1 - 31 - Layover
July 2 - 32 - Bear Paw Meadow
July 3 - 33 - Below Copper Mine Pass
July 4 - 34 - Roaring River
July 5 - 35 - Talus Lake
July 6 - 36 - South Guard Lake
July 7 - 37 - climb brewer
July 8 - 38 - Layover
July 9 - 39 - Lake Reflection
July 10 - 40 - Roads End
July 11 - 41 - Cedar Grove
July 12 - 42 - Bubbs Creek
July 13 - 43 - Lake 9,500
July 14 - 44 - Lake 10,500
July 15 - 45 - Above Woods Creek
July 16 - 46 - Lake 11,120
July 17 - 47 - Layover
July 18 - 48 - Climb Mt. Ickes - Bench Lake
July 19 - 49 - Lakes Basin
July 20 - 50 - Marion Lake
July 21 - 51 - Lake 10,590
July 22 - 52 - climb Mt. Shakespere - Palisade Creek
July 23 - 53 - Lake 11,600
July 24 - 54 - Climb Mt. Sill
July 25 - 55 - 11,420
July 26 - 56 - Parchers Resort
July 27 - 57 - Layover
July 28 - 58 - Leconte Canyon
July 29 - 59 - Hester Lake
July 30 - 60 - climb Langille Peak
July 31 - 61 - Ladder Lake
August 1 - 62 - Climb Citadel
August 2 - 63 - 11,840
August 3 - 64 - climb charbydis
August 4 - 65 - Layover
August 5 - 66 - Lake 12,320
August 6 - 67 - Climb Goddard
August 7 - 68 - Climb Scylla camp at Lake 12,080
August 8 - 69 - Mcgee Lake
August 9 - 70 - Evolution Valley
August 10 - 71 - Muir Trail Ranch
August 11 - 72 - Lower Desolation Lake
August 12 - 73 - Desolation Lake
August 13 - 74 - French Canyon
August 14 - 75 - Black Bear Lake
August 15 - 76 - Toe Lake
August 16 - 77 - Second Recess
August 17 - 78 - VVR
August 18 - 79 - Layover
August 19 - 80 - Third Recess Lake
August 20 - 81 - Dade Lake
August 21 - 82 - Pine Creek Mine
August 22 - 83 - Extra Day
August 23 - 84 - Brownstone Mine
August 24 - 85 - Granite Park
August 25 - 86 - Bear Creek
August 26 - 87 - VVR
August 27 - 88 - Layover
August 28 - 89 - Graveyard Lakes
August 29 - 90 - Beetlebug Lake
August 30 - 91 - Iva Bell Hotsprings
August 31 - 92 - Reds Meadow
September 1 - 93 - Beck Lakes
September 2 - 94 - Cecille Lake
September 3 - 95 - Climb Clyde Minaret
September 4 - 96 - Lake 10,680
September 5 - 97 - Layover
September 6 - 98 - Lake 11,520
September 7 - 99 - Upper Lyell Fork
September 8 - 100 - Tuolumne Meadows
September 9 - 101 - Great Sierra Mine
September 10 - 102 - Cascade Lakes
September 11 - 103 - Soldier Lake
September 12 - 104 - Horse Creek
September 13 - 105 - Peeler Lake
September 14 - 106 - Benson Lake
September 15 - 107 - Layover
September 16 - 108 - Wilson Creek
September 17 - 109 - Glen Aulin
September 18 - 110 - Tuolumne Meadows
September 19 - 111 - Nelson Lake
September 20 - 112 - Echo Valley
September 21 - 113 - Triple Peak Fork
September 22 - 114 - Sadler Lake
September 23 - 115 - Layover
September 24 - 116 - Dike Creek
September 25 - 117 - Lake 11,360
September 26 - 118 - Reds Meadow
September 27 - 119 - Mammoth
September 28 - 120 - Deer Lakes
September 29 - 121 - Franklin Lakes
September 30 - 122 - Red and White Lake
October 1 - 123 - Mono Creek
October 2 - 124 - VVR
October 3 - 125 - Layover
October 4 - 126 - Blayney Hotsprings
October 5 - 127 - South Fork
October 6 - 128 - Lake 12,080
October 7 - 129 - Disappearing Creek
October 8 - 130 - Goddard Creek
October 9 - 131 - Cartridge Creek
October 10 - 132 - Marion Lake
October 11 - 133 - Muro Blanco
October 12 - 134 - Upper Paradise Valley
October 13 - 135 - Cedar Grove

This route has me cross about 65 passes. :eek:

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Re: Route Planning

Post by oldranger » Mon May 07, 2012 5:44 am


Another great trip and a much better year for lots of miles compared to last year. I do have one thought but you may not have the flexibility to do it and that is to consider starting a week earlier. Little snow down south and that may give you extra days in Sept/Oct. if an early snowstorm causes you to hole up for a couple of days. Of course I have experienced significant storms around Memorial day as well that kept me near camp for a day.


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: Route Planning

Post by Wandering Daisy » Mon May 07, 2012 7:56 am

Your start is brutal! 15 days food and a unknown likely difficult pass (Amplitheater to Monarch) with a lot of weight. I have a great deal of difficulty safely getting over steep difficult passes while carrying a heavy pack. If I were doing this, I would bit the bullet and do a little more travel and break it into two parts by leaving tent and stuff at Monarch Lake and day-hike back to trailhead to pick up food, and then continue. You would then have a much lighter pack the first few days as you get back into the swing of it. There is a food storage shed next to the visitor center/ranger station. You are a lot bigger than me, so the extra 5 days food on your back may not be as much a factor. If I carry that much, the pack is enough to really knock me off balance. And if it were near the end of your trip, no big deal - you will be so tough by then you would not even notice the weight! It is just more than I would want to do at the beginning.

As for "jump over" to Cliff Creek dranaige instead of trail route: The trail through Lost Valley is really pretty and you can walk quickly. You may want to calculate the estimated time of your "short cut". Compare 2mph on trail vs 1 mph off-trail and extra time required for route finding, snow on the north side and the extra elevation gain going over a second pass. You may not save as much time as you think. I would not do it to "save time" but decide based on what areas you want to see and what kind of route challenges you prefer. I find that after I do a lot of trail travel, I want to get off and do cross country travel, whereas, after a few days of hard off-trail travel, I am ready for brainless travel down a nice trail. Weather may be a factor- the trail route being safer if the weather is bad.

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Re: Route Planning

Post by RoguePhotonic » Mon May 07, 2012 11:54 am

I could start a week earlier but it would probably be better not to just for that extra week of snow melt. Also if I can work another week it will always help the funding better.

I agree that the beginning is going to be very hard. I have never carried 15 days worth of food but I am at least taking comfort in the fact I have dropped several pounds of base weight this year so that would account for a few extra days right there.

I finally tracked down a photo of the unknown pass from Amphitheater Lake and it looks like I have some decent options for crossing it. My biggest worry about these long stretches with no resupply is bears. I'll probably be able to get 8 days of the food at best in my barrel and then the rest will sleep with me in my tent. Oh well I say. I'd rather at least try to defend my food from a curious bear then let them snatch it up at will.

The biggest resupply I am worried about is when I get to Cedar Grove. That is also 15 days with mostly cross country travel and Parchers Resort has no fuel. Leaving Parchers I have another 14 days so I am picking up enough fuel to last for 1 month on top of all the other food there!

When it comes to jumping over Bilko Pass I think it would save time although I do agree it could be difficult on the North side. It's supposed to be class 3 at the top but when I run the numbers of trail vs that route it still seems better. Taking the trail is 7.2 miles with about 1500 feet of gain. Taking the pass to the same location is 1.4 miles with about 430 gain. It's a safe bet to assume the north side will be mostly snow covered all the way down which could make for some quick glissading to the bottom.

If I do take the trail I will take one night at Big Five Lakes for sure but if I take Bilko Pass then there is a good chance I will keep going. It's a toss up for sure. I do want to see the nicest areas and maybe taking the trail would be a better way to go. I probably should find some photos.

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Re: Route Planning

Post by RoguePhotonic » Mon May 07, 2012 12:04 pm

Here is that unknown pass crossing although the High Sierra map does have this spot listed as Crystal Pass now.

Taken from Sawtooth Peak. The crossing is to the right of Amphitheater Lake: ... otostream/" onclick=";return false;

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Re: Route Planning

Post by maverick » Mon May 07, 2012 12:40 pm

Of the 3 passes (Crystal, Cyclamen, and Bilko) Cyclamen Pass is the most involved.
With snow Bilko will be easier, the slabs on Cyclamen make snow travel precarious
especially with a heavy pack, if you break through the snow with a heavy
pack, well we know what could happen. Crystal is steep on its eastern side, but
still not as involved as CLP.
Little Five Lakes is much more scenic than BFL or Lost Canyon so you won't be missing
anything." onclick=";return false;

Edit: 22 June -Tulainyo Lake in Wallace Lakes area is very nice, though it probably still
be frozen this early.
16 Aug - Don't miss Upper/Lower Mills Creek Lakes in Second Recess
1 Sept - Ashely Lake instead of Beck Lakes
13 Sept - What route are you taking to get to Benson from Peeler? Big Slide?
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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, an HST member:

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