Route Questions: Roads End > Arrow Pass > Lakes Basin > Roads End via SHR

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seamusperry
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Route Questions: Roads End > Arrow Pass > Lakes Basin > Roads End via SHR

Post by seamusperry » Sat Nov 24, 2018 2:50 pm

Hi all - I'm interested in the collective knowledge of you all on the following possible route for next summer (late July/early Aug) with a group of 4 others.

Day 1 - Start from Roads End, work up Bubbs, then follow Woods Creek to the intersection with Arrow or Window Creek
Day 2 - X-country up Arrow Creek drainage, over Arrow Pass, camp at Bench Lake
Day 3 - Mostly x-country: Bench Lake down to South Fork of the Kings, up and over Cartridge Pass, camp in Lakes Basin
Day 4 - Follow the SHR backwards from Lakes Basin (Over Red Pass, Grey Pass) and camp at State Lakes
Day 5 - State Lakes to Granite Pass, camp at Grouse Lake. Possible variation to follow SHR from State Lakes to Grouse.
Day 6 - Grouse Lake down to Roads End

For context, we are 4-5 teachers between 25 and 45, all in pretty good shape. I have the most experience in the group and classify myself as a solid level 3, though the average from the group is probably between 2 & 3. Last summer, we did the following 5 day loop: Lodgepole > Ranger Lake > Roaring River > Big Bird Lake > Pear Lake via Tablelands > Lodgepole. Everyone did relatively well, though we had some mild altitude sickness on the first day. I usually avoid any Class 3 passes unless absolutely necessary but am comfortable on Class 2 terrain. I have not had to deal with major river crossings and understand that could be an issue on the South Fork.

I considered North Lake/South Lake, but am a little put off by the crowds on the JMT as well as the drive from San Luis Obispo. Another possibility could be something out of Mineral King though I've been interested in the Lakes Basin for a couple of years now. We really enjoyed last summer's trip and this seemed comparable, though it features more x-country and more difficult terrain than we encountered. The most difficult section of last summer's trip was the climb out of Big Bird up to the Kings-Kaweah Divide which we all felt was quite manageable.

I'm curious of your general impression as well as a few specifics. Arguably the route could be reversed, but I thought for a first day, the ascent up Woods Creek would be better than the slog up Copper Creek trail.

First, the ascent from Woods up to Arrow Pass - most things I've seen have suggested ascending Window Creek instead of Arrow, then crossing over the west ridgeline to drop into the Arrow Creek drainage. Is this a good idea vs. the steepness of going directly up Arrow Creek? In addition, any intel on approaching Arrow Pass from the west would be helpful.

Second, I haven't done tons of talus x-country, particularly steep stuff, though I've had some experience with it. My impression is the most demanding section of the route would be the ascent from Marion Lake to Red Pass. Any insight into how difficult/technical it is, particularly heading uphill?

Finally, would you all suggest following the SHR from State Lakes to Grouse Lake or taking the Dougherty Creek trail over Granite Pass? We might be ready for a trail after 2 days of x-country, but it seems quite a bit farther and equally difficult.

Thanks for all your help!








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Re: Route Questions: Roads End > Arrow Pass > Lakes Basin > Roads End via SHR

Post by Wandering Daisy » Sat Nov 24, 2018 6:26 pm

Sounds a bit ambitions to me. First, measure the daily miles and elevation gains/losses on a 7.5 minute topo map. Then compare that with the other trips you have done, trail portions and off-trail portions. You probably have a good idea of the mph you can do on the trail as a combination of miles plus elevation gain. Off-trail is much more variable and you have to take time to navigate. Add at least half an hour for major creek crossings.

Your first day just seems like a killer to me, although I have not sat down and calculated the miles and elevation gains. Why not just go up Woods Creek to shave off some miles? Three days from Lakes Basin to Copper Creek TH is reasonable. Days 2 and 3 have some serious off-trail work, so hard to say how long each day would be because I do not know your groups abilities. I would say you will run into pretty close to class 3 in places.

Marion Lake to Red Peak Pass is not what I would consider your most difficult part. That would be going from Window Creek (or Arrow Creek) down to Bench Lake. Cartridge Pass was washed out pretty bad the last time I did it. The trail is hard to follow. You can also get into some bad bushwhacking going up the initial climb into Window Creek and down SF of Kings River.

Definitely stay on the SHR unless you are totally running out of time or you had a lot of difficulty with the off-trail travel and simply need to do some brainless hiking down a trail. I would not want to miss the section from States Lake to Grouse Lake.

The good thing is that you can always bail out to the JMT if the Window Creek or Arrow Creek routes do not work. That would put you behind a day or more though. I would add a contingency day to your schedule. That way you would not have to abandon the trip if you go slower than expected. The route is a lot harder than what you did the previous year.

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Re: Route Questions: Roads End > Arrow Pass > Lakes Basin > Roads End via SHR

Post by TehipiteTom » Wed Nov 28, 2018 1:20 pm

I assume you mean the South Fork (Paradise Valley) rather than Bubbs Creek, right?

I went on a Sierra Club trip a few years ago that was planned to follow exactly that route. We wound up rerouting to the JMT as far as Bench Lake because of weather, and then an injury kept us at the South Fork for half a day (the trip member was hiked out). But from there we followed the route as planned. The north/west side of Cartridge Pass was steep and loose, and IMO the toughest stretch of our trip. Red Pass has some steep stuff on the way up, but IIRC it's pretty solid.

I agree with WD that your plan sounds overly ambitious. If you add two days to your trip, you can split the Woods Creek to Bench Lake and Lakes Basin to State (or Glacier) Lakes segments into two days apiece, and spend more time in the most enjoyable parts of your trip.

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Re: Route Questions: Roads End > Arrow Pass > Lakes Basin > Roads End via SHR

Post by cgundersen » Wed Nov 28, 2018 2:31 pm

I'm in with Tom and Daisy on this being in the death march zone. There are plenty of places on that loop where you'll spend more time than expected getting to where you want to go and depending on how the mosquito season develops this year, I've run into some of the finest blooms ever in Marion Lake basin. One of the best ways to spoil a trip in the Sierra is to get repeatedly stymied looking for a route over a ridge whilst being chased by a swarm of bugs. Adding a day (or, preferably 2) would definitely relieve some of the pressure and give you a chance to enjoy the solitude and scenery. It's definitely a cool loop, but unless you're planning on 12 hour days in the saddle, stretch it out a bit. For what it's worth, I really like Window Lake (and the ascent from Woods Creek to the lake is pretty smooth), and the shot to Grouse Lake from State Lakes via Glacier Lakes is a robust alternative to the trail over Granite Pass. Nothing complicated route-finding, either. Cameron

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Re: Route Questions: Roads End > Arrow Pass > Lakes Basin > Roads End via SHR

Post by maverick » Wed Nov 28, 2018 2:40 pm

Welcome to HST! :)

Would also recommend adding 2 more days, delays due to navigation, bushwacking, and weather need to be factored in, things don't always go the way we plan.
You will be going thru some beautiful parts of the Sierra, maybe restructuring your plans, so you can spend more time soaking in, exploring these sections, could be consideration.
You could do Woods Creek>Arrow Creek Drainage>Arrow Pass>Bench Lake>White Fork Pass>White Fork Saddle>Window Lake>Woods Creek this trip and leave Lakes Basin, Dumbbell Lakes Basin, Amphitheater Lakes Basin circuit for another trip. :)
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Re: Route Questions: Roads End > Arrow Pass > Lakes Basin > Roads End via SHR

Post by TehipiteTom » Wed Nov 28, 2018 7:12 pm

By the way, SHR really is a much better route from State Lakes to Grouse Lake--shorter and more direct, and a lot prettier. Glacier Lakes are too pretty to be missed.

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Re: Route Questions: Roads End > Arrow Pass > Lakes Basin > Roads End via SHR

Post by BobWF » Sat Dec 08, 2018 4:57 pm

I was part of a group of 60+ year olds that did the classic Lakes Basin route this past summer very early August. Bishop, Cataract Creek, Dumbbell Pass, Cartridge Pass, Taboose Pass. So I can give some small route beta .........

Cartridge Pass on the north side from Lakes Basin was simple going up. It took about 20-25 minutes from the bottom and I was carrying just under 50 lbs. Your a lot younger and will not have any problems. The trail was easy to follow and there are some loose rocks but nothing scary. It was completely free of snow. You will be going down to the north so if free of snow just watch your footing. If there is snow, you might like an ice ax.

The drop into the South Fork (on our trip) ... you will be going up .... is easy also. The hardest part is to watch your gabbing and looking at the scenery and missing where the trail switchbacks. I kept getting off trail from talking, looking at the gps, or staring at Bench Lake.

We ran across some young men who were travelling fast and light. They were going your planned direction. They mentioned a wonderful place to cross the S. Fork where it was shallow with smooth slabs on the Skurka route down from Arrow Pass. Again this will depend on snowpack and water levels. You can always go upstream and keep hunting for a place to cross or you could go over to Bench Lake, JMT, cross the S. Fork, old Cartridge Pass Trail, three talus fields and then your at the base of Cartridge Pass. You would lose a half day to 3/4 of a day or so vs going straight down from Arrow Pass.

Window Creek vs Arrow Creek. Have not done either. Have done a lot of research on going down Window Creek. Want to do it next summer. People who have done Arrow lowered their packs with a rope at the crux. Said it was scarier than Window. Maybe easier going up Arrow. Window Creek may have some brush, watch for Western Rattlesnakes, hot sun, lots of swearing. There was a fire that burned on the lower part of the route. So it may be brushier. But people do it. One guy said when he realized he had it made (going down) he said "Thank you Jesus." Not sure if that means class 2, 3 or 4,ha ha.

Factor in some off days to recover and sightsee.

Have a great trip!

Bob

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Re: Route Questions: Roads End > Arrow Pass > Lakes Basin > Roads End via SHR

Post by sashe » Mon Dec 10, 2018 4:29 pm

I'm also looking at doing a similar loop next summer. I've done it clockwise a couple years ago but skipped the Arrow Pass/Arrow Creek segment and exited over Pinchot Pass. There was a Sierra Club trip that was scheduled for August 2018 called "Circling the Cirque" that went counter clockwise and made the segment up Arrow Creek doable. I've tried to contact the leader to get some info, but no luck. I have done some research on the Arrow Creek section in years past, and there is some stuff out there. As I remember, it's doable but a grind.

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