Jun 23, 2011 at 4:54 pm #1275867
@maireLocale: Southern California
I plan to go backpacking July 3-9. Due to snowpack, I’ve nixed my original trip plans and am now checking out other possibilities in the Eastern Sierras. Hopefully some of you who have been in the area lately can give me some updates and suggestions as to where to go (or not to go!). We (two of us) have up to 5-6 days/4-5 nights for the trip, but I’m flexible and wouldn’t mind going for a shorter great backpack trip and combine it with some day hikes/car camping the other days.
I’m a fairly experienced backpacker and am comfortable with trail and off-trail, some river crossings and snow. My partner has been backpacking for more than 30 years and is comfortable with Class 2-3 terrain as well as river and glacier crossings. Really want to get in somewhere with those great mountain views with lakes (and flowers) that make the Sierras so amazing. Like to camp at one site for a couple days and take long day trips, bag peaks, etc.
We’ve looked at McGee, but were told by the ranger yesterday that the bridge is out(?). Interested in further south perhaps—Big Pine—or maybe further north instead?
Any suggestions would be great. Thanks!Jun 23, 2011 at 5:52 pm #1752647
Don't get me wrong. I like the eastern side of the Sierra also. However, this is an abnormal year for snow, so we have to adapt. Have you considered the western side?
On the western side, the average slope is less steep, so it seems easier to find a suitable elevation to start and finish that is below the snow line. On the west, there are areas with dense forest (and the snow might be piled up high) and there are other areas that are very open and sunny, so the snow is already gone. The streams will be running pretty high for another month or more. Wildflowers will be pretty tough to predict.
–B.G.–Jun 23, 2011 at 7:51 pm #1752689
@ouzelLocale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
A couple of possibilities occur to me that might avoid the worst of the snow and still give you some great scenery: There is a trail that starts at Lake Sabrina and goes up into an area with many lakes right beneath the Sierra Crest, including Mts Haekel and Darwin. There are many places to camp, including an excellent campsite at Midnight Lake. You could easily spend 2-3 days day hiking from a base camp either there or at Blue Lake. The good thing about this area is that it is on the east side of the crest and is more likely to be melted out than the interior. In the same area, you might be able to get over Paiute Pass into Humphreys Basin. Again, there are countless possibilities for day hikes and lots of beautiful scenery. I would highly recommend a day hike down to Honeymoon Lake if you go there. It is a real gem. Check with the White Mountain RS for the latest info on snow conditions, but these are 2 good possibilities in the central section of the eastern Sierra. Further south, you might be able to go in over Cottonwood Pass and then hike north to Miter Basin. This is a beautiful area and would make an excellent 4-5 day trip with several possibilities for great day hikes. Check with the Eastern Sierra Interagency Visitor Center on snow conditions. I think most other areas further in will be pretty tough going in early July. Best of luck.Jun 23, 2011 at 7:58 pm #1752694
"I think most other areas further in will be pretty tough going in early July. "
Tom, what is Midnight Lake going to be like after July 15 or so?
On a normal year, that area is good for flowers around July 20-25. This year, who knows?
–B.G.–Jun 23, 2011 at 8:11 pm #1752705
@ouzelLocale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
"Tom, what is Midnight Lake going to be like after July 15 or so?"
Probably a bit damper and buggier, but being on the east side of the crest and more susceptible to the Owens Valley heat, my guess is that the snow won't hang around much longer than usual. I haven't been following the weather down there closely yet, as I'm not going in until August, but if it is a normal June, the snow will melt pretty fast there. The best bet would be to call the White Mountains RS. Or the guys at the permit office. They always seem to know more than the front office types at the RS, IME. Miter Basin is a bit more of a stretch, but still a possibility. Worth a call to the Interagency Visitor Center, as it's real pretty back in there and fits OP's trip requirements nicely.Jun 23, 2011 at 8:35 pm #1752716
I wish that the various Forest Service offices would operate like some of the National Park Service offices by online posting of their trail status. Like, for instance, some report that there was 95% snow cover on a certain date, and that the first trail clearing is scheduled for another certain date. Once you scan through that data, you can get a better mental image of what it is going to be like on a target date. Or, if they say that a trail is closed due to avalanche danger, that means something.
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