Jun 10, 2008 at 8:33 am #1229468
Hi guys –
I am looking for ideas for a one week backpacking trip late this Summer/ early fall (i.e. mid-September to end of October) IN THE MOUNTAINS! Ideally it would be a loop (or an easy shuttle to organize), above the tree line and lots of ups and downs. Approx. six nights and seven days of hiking. Strenuous but feasible for a fit human being would be great. Thanks for your input!
SvenJun 10, 2008 at 8:34 am #1437554Jun 10, 2008 at 8:56 am #1437562
OK – my bad. North America.
:-)Jun 10, 2008 at 8:59 am #1437563Jun 10, 2008 at 5:30 pm #1437672
First, a thought on timing. I think you would be well advised to plan your trip for mid September to early October, at the latest, if you are heading into the higher sections of the Sierra. Early winter storms can come without much warning and dump enough snow to make getting out over 11-12000 foot passes extremely difficult. That said, if you are fit here are a couple of suggestions: 1) starting at the Shepherd Pass TH, go over the pass(12050') and follow the trail across the JMT and on to Milestone Basin. This is a beautiful high basin with numerous lakes, nestled up against the Great Western Divide. From excellent campsites there, you can dayhike and explore the entire Upper Kern Basin if you wish and return the way you came; Or, from there, follow the trail south down into the Kern Canyon to Junction Meadow and take the trail east up Wallace Creek to the JMT. Cross the JMT and follow a boot track about 4 miles further east up to Wallace Lake. This is another beautiful lake basin worth exploring. From there it is an easy cross country hike over to Wright Lakes Basin, yet another beautiful lake basin worth exploring. It is an easy hike north from there over a saddle on the Tawny point ridge to intersect the trail you came in on, about 2 miles west of Shepherd Pass. If you are in good shape, this would be a perfect 7 day trip, with exceptional scenery and very few people that time of year. But be warned, Shepherd Pass is a long, strenuous, but beautiful hike. I call it the "price of admission". Another worthwhile hike in the Kern Basin starts at Horseshoe Meadows(10000') and proceeds over either Cottonwood Pass(11140') or New Army Pass(12310'), past Spider Lakes(bear box located there) and cross country through Miter Basin to Sky Blue Lake. From there head west over Crabtree Pass(cross country) to Crabtree Lakes. From Crabtree Lakes you can follow a way trail down to the PCT and then head north to the Shepherd Pass trail and out as described in the route described above. There are many places to camp along the way and the scenery is some of the finest in the entire Sierra, IMO. An option with this route is to obtain a Mt Whitney zone permit and ascend Mt Whitney from either upper Crabtree Lake via a fine scree slope that pops you out on the normal Whitney trail just east of Trail Crest Pass, or ascend via Guitar Lake from the PCT. This is also an escape route if the weather suddenly turns foul, but only if you are well on the way up Whitney(your best escape route if things really turn bad in the Kern Basin is to descend down into Kern Canyon where there is shelter, wood, water, and a way out by hiking south out of the canyon). If you do this route, arrange a shuttle pickup to get you back to Horseshoe Meadow. There are several shuttle options in the area(call the Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce for their phone numbers). For an all purpose map of this area, consider the Tom Harrison "Mt Whitney High Country Trail Map", published, oddly enough, by Tom Harrison. His URL is http://www.tomharrisonmaps.com, his phone number is 1-800-265-9090. The only missing section is the beginning of the second route(about 2 miles) from the Horseshoe Meadows TH. It covers everything else.
Well, this should get the ball rolling. Best of luck.
TomJun 10, 2008 at 7:50 pm #1437701Jun 11, 2008 at 3:47 pm #1437863
Beautiful pic. Brings back a lot of memories. It's been several years, but is Sky Blue Lake just up and to the left a few hundred yards? That scraggly patch of pines looks an awful lot like a place I bivvied once upon a time.
TomJun 11, 2008 at 3:50 pm #1437864Jun 11, 2008 at 4:02 pm #1437867
If you went in over Cottonwood Pass or New Army Pass, this picture is about where you'd be either late the first day out or early on the second day. Dave's a great salesman, ain't he?Jun 11, 2008 at 5:05 pm #1437876
@halfturboLocale: Northernish California
That sounds like a terrific trip, certainly worthy of consideration.
I agree with the sentiment that September is safer from a planning standpoint than October, since we never know from year-to-year when the first real storm will hit.
Not that October can't be wonderful.
Another consideration for high-milers is the shortened days, which can make long-distance days more of an extended sprint.Jun 11, 2008 at 7:02 pm #1437911
@kennyhel77Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Taking my wife to this very area this August. Tried to do Whitney over Crabtree into Miter and then over Cottonwood Pass a few years ago but had to turn back due to injury. Nice photo by the wayJun 11, 2008 at 7:26 pm #1437915Jun 12, 2008 at 6:45 am #1437975
This was much more than I expected! I hipe you don't mind if I bug you with futher questions should any come up.
SvenJun 12, 2008 at 7:18 am #1437979
@scottalanpLocale: Northern California
Sven – Not to beat a dead horse but definitely Sept. vs. Oct. for someone using plane tickets.
Every year I spend time in the Sierra's always on the first weekend of Oct. and it has always been very comfortable/beautiful. Last year, at about 9000 feet, it dumped 6 inches of snow and dropped into the teens. Thankfully it relented and the sun came back…but at higher elevations with lightweight gear, it would get ugly.Jun 12, 2008 at 9:03 pm #1438100
Any time. That's part of why we're all here.
TomJun 13, 2008 at 5:53 am #1438138
Hope that the last week of September will still be OK …
:-)Jun 13, 2008 at 3:22 pm #1438244
If you're going to be flying in from afar in late Sept/early Oct with the Kern Basin in mind, the prudent thing to do would be to have a backup hike in mind. In the Kern area approaching from the east, i,e. the Owens Valley, there are some very nice hikes about 60 miles further north, in the Bishop area, that would keep you on the east side of the high eastern crest of the Sierra. Unless the storm was a real animal, these hikes would probably still go, and if conditions worsened, you could retreat to safety in a matter of 3-4 hours. I had to bail in the first week of Oct last year when a storm dumped 3 feet of snow on Shepherd Pass. I opted to hike in from a TH 17 miles due west of Bishop to a close in set of lakes and had a glorious time, including a full moon on the East face of Mt Haekel. It was awesome. If you are interested, let me know and I'll give you the details.
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