Oct 4, 2010 at 2:52 pm #1264001
I have next week off and am thinking about going to Sequoia NP for a backpacking trip. Was thinking something like Crescent Meadow > Bearpaw Meadow > Tamarack Lake > Hamilton Lake > Little Five Lakes > Redwood Grove Meadow > 9 Mile Creek > Crescent Meadow. Would love to hear your thoughts. All worthwhile destinations? Any places I should try to add? Does the trip seem feasible….I don't have my topo map with me now, just looking at a basic map online. Will the weather be a concern in mid October?Oct 4, 2010 at 4:07 pm #1651442
@andrew-fLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
I was just there this last week. I did Crescent Meadow -> Hamilton Lakes -> Moraine Lake -> Lost Canyon via Kern River -> Cliff Creek via Mineral King -> Crescent Meadow. The weather was hot last week (80F/40F) but there is a big storm blowing through right now, who knows what it will do next week. There were lots of black flies that had just hatched, but they were gone by the time I passed Bearpaw and was above 7000'. Permits are free and self-issued at Lodgepole ranger station this time of year.
The water spigot is shut off at Bearpaw Meadow, so carry enough water up the hill from Buck Creek. Or stay at Buck Creek instead, though there is lots of bear activity there. There is a big pile of firewood at Bearpaw left over from a big wind storm a few years ago. Hamilton Lakes and Little Five Lakes are gorgeous and both have good swimming. I haven't been to Tamarack Lake but I'm sure it's nice. It's hard to go wrong anywhere in that area, it's really beautiful. My favorites were Big Arroyo and Moraine Lake.
I made sure to stay at places that had bear boxes, so I didn't have to carry a bear can. If you are willing to modify your itinerary a bit you can save yourself the hassle and 2+ lbs hauling one around. You would have to not stay at Tamarack Lake (day hike it from Bearpaw instead perhaps?) and stay at Cliff Creek instead of Redwood Meadow. The rest of the places you listed have bear boxes in place. GPS locations for all the bear boxes in the park can be found at http://climber.org/data/BearBoxes/map.html.
Hope this helps. I had a great time, you will too.
AndrewOct 4, 2010 at 5:05 pm #1651464
Thanks for all the info! I think I might swap Tamarack Lake for Moraine Lake. How was the campsite at Cliff Creek? If Redwood Meadow had bear boxes do you think it would be more desirable than Cliff Creek?Oct 4, 2010 at 5:31 pm #1651478
@scottbentzLocale: Southern California
This is a beautiful place to hike. We did a week leaving from Wolverton trailhead (Crescent quota was full) on to the High Sierra Trail. We hiked over the Kaweah Gap, which is a tough slog but well worth it, and then down to the 5 Lake cut off. Our trip included the Kern Hot Springs, Colby Pass, Deadman Canyon over Elizabeth Pass and back out Wolverton. If you go over the Kaweah Gap there are a lot of great places on the other side.
The weather is getting iffy. It's raining today in Los Angeles. Last year that early October storm cut off the higher passes real early. Keep an eye on the weather and go for it. I also agree about the canisters. You can go from locker to locker in that area. Some of my family hiked the first 3 days with us and I wanted to keep their weight down so we just made sure they made it to lockers.Oct 4, 2010 at 5:43 pm #1651484
I was in the area with friends last year when that October storm came…The day after we got out.
(EDIT: that was 2 years ago)
It would've been big trouble as the first night we were camping at Moose Lake (~12,000 ft) reached by a good day of mostly cross-country travel. I hear it dropped many feet the first night.
Here's the trip report from awhile back…more pictures as you scroll down the thread.Oct 4, 2010 at 6:31 pm #1651500
@drongobirdLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
I tend to be conservative, but personally, I would backpack above 8000 feet in the Sierra in October only with a good clear weather forecast and only for 3 days max – greater duration and your weather forecast starts to get dicey. If you get an early storm, and you don't have the skills to cope, you could be in trouble in the back-country. Chance are the weather will be fine, but you're pushing it. It's not random that Yosemite NP prohibits overnight parking on Tioga Pass Road starting on October 15.
Alternately, if you're heart is set on the high country in October, hike in for one day, and then do day-hikes to other locations, returning to a camp that you could high-tail it out in <10 hours if the weather gets unsettled. For example, camp at Taboos Pass and take day hikes to Lakes Basin, Arrow Peak, etc.
There was the Oct19-22 2004 "freak" storm that killed the Japanese Climbers on El Cap and resulted in multiple SAR backpacker rescues. Jim and I were on the wrong side of a class-2 pass when that freak storm hit, and it was hard work and quite stressful to extract ourselves. And there was the early October storm in 2009 that would have caused problems at altitude.Oct 4, 2010 at 7:31 pm #1651520
@andrew-fLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
Cliff Creek was nice, I thought it was a better spot to camp than Redwood Meadow. You could also stay at Pinto Lake which is in a beautiful valley but that sets you up for a longer hike back to Bearpaw.
I agree on the weather. Make sure the forecast is clear right before you leave. When you're out there, if you start seeing high-level clouds, head back to Bearpaw where you'd have an easy exit if it snowed. If you head over to Big Arroyo you're never more than a half a day away from escape to lower elevations. Make sure to bring a synthetic insulation layer of some sort and a little extra warm clothing.
October can do anything in the Sierras, but you can generally trust the 3-day forecast. If it's clear you could get out to Moraine Lake and back over the divide to Cliff Creek without much risk of getting snowed on.
AndrewOct 4, 2010 at 8:15 pm #1651531
@ouzelLocale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
"I tend to be conservative, but personally, I would backpack above 8000 feet in the Sierra in October only with a good clear weather forecast and only for 3 days max – greater duration and your weather forecast starts to get dicey. If you get an early storm, and you don't have the skills to cope, you could be in trouble in the back-country. Chance are the weather will be fine, but you're pushing it. It's not random that Yosemite NP prohibits overnight parking on Tioga Pass Road starting on October 15."
"Alternately, if you're heart is set on the high country in October, hike in for one day, and then do day-hikes to other locations, returning to a camp that you could high-tail it out in <10 hours if the weather gets unsettled."
Good advice. +1Oct 5, 2010 at 8:49 am #1651623
@drongobirdLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
The first storm in the Sierra seems to be underway as we speak. Depending on the location, the weather stations are reporting between 0.5 (Sequoia sites) and 4 inches; (Yosemite sites) of precipitation, with snow level at about 8000 feet.
It's fun to see the Mediterranean climate in action. At White Wolf (in Yosemite NP), precipitation monthly totals for 2010 are:
4.38" Oct, and it's only the morning of October 5th.
How variable are September and October? For White Wolf:
2008: 0.06" in Sept; 3.28" in Oct
2009: 0.08" in Sept; 8.03" in Oct
2010: 0.00" in Sept; already 4.38" in Oct
I think of June-September as being pretty darn reliable, although I carry clothes and shelter in case I'm wrong. October, however, is a different game.
Winter Storm Warning
Statement as of 10:15 PM PDT on October 04, 2010
… Winter Storm Warning remains in effect until 11 am PDT Tuesday
above 8000 feet…
A Winter Storm Warning above 8000 feet remains in effect until
11 am PDT Tuesday for the higher elevations of the southern
* Snow accumulations: 6 to 10 inches of snow is likely from the
8500 to 9000 foot elevations and above… with heavier snow
confined to the highest peaks and ridges above 10000 feet.
* Timing: snow will continue through Tuesday morning.
* winds: gusty winds to 45 mph are possible along the crest.
* Impacts: campers and hikers in the High Sierra should move to
lower elevations… or prepare for winter weather. Road
closures including the Tioga Pass have occurred across the
A Winter Storm Warning means significant amounts of snow are
expected or occurring. This will make travel very hazardous or
impossible.Oct 5, 2010 at 12:18 pm #1651681
Thanks for all of your input. I think this trip will be a little bit more ideal earlier in the year, so I suppose I can be patient and wait until next year.Oct 5, 2010 at 12:25 pm #1651687
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
In late October, a bunch of us are supposed to do a Trans-Sierra dayhike in the area between Yosemite and Kings Canyon. If there is a bit of snow on the ground at 12,000', that won't stop us. If there is more, it may slow us down, and that could be a problem, since it takes almost twelve hours to hike the route.
Therefore, we are watching the weather forecasts closely.
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