Jan 20, 2012 at 2:57 pm #1284428
Just realized there's a separate section for pre trip stuff so please excuse my double post under the general thread.
A few months ago my friend and I did the 46 mile Rae lakes loop and loved it. Next summer I want to do a longer trip and I'm already starting the planning process. I know there's a way to continue on the JMT trail (near the woods creek bridge) and go up, around and down middle fork to make the trip a total of 90 miles.
Does anyone have any tips on this? Are there food drop options there? Hows the terrain?
Trails well marked?
We actually met a couple out there named Dan and Karen who were doing that exact route, so if you guys are out there and happen to see this I'd LOVE to get a trip report.
-ChrisJan 20, 2012 at 3:03 pm #1827358
Ken HelwigBPL Member
@kennyhel77Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
I am assuming that you mean heading up the JMT northbound….
Food drops can be done over some of the passes that are east to west, but from what I have heard they are costly.
If you head north, you will be tackling about a pass a day if you are going on the JMT…
Really, you need to be more specific as to where you are going so that we can give you adviceJan 22, 2012 at 5:13 pm #1828259
Sorry for my previous vague details.
I would start at roads end, hike up bubbs creek, pass the Rae lakes, then at the woods creek junction head north over Pinchot Pass, Cartridge Pass, continue through Windy Canyon, down to Simpson meadow, over Granite Pass, back down to roads end.
Anyone attempted this loop and know the trail conditions and actual mileage?Jan 23, 2012 at 1:18 pm #1828560
Did you want to stay on trail the whole time?
If I could do 90 miles on trail, I'd probably do this:
Roads End – hike south down Cloud Canyon – over Colby Pass – to Lake South America – join JMT and go over Forrester Pass and Glen Pass – Rae Lakes – back to Roads End via Woods Creek. I haven't counted it but I'm guessing that's about 90.
Bubbs Creek could be your bail-out if you end up doing shorter days.
What I like about this route is that you would be passing through some incredible layover/must-explore areas, if you have the energy for that. Milestone Basin (this is by reputation, I haven't been there) and Sixty Lakes Basin are a couple that come immediately to mind.
Oh, a caveat with this particular 90-miler is that there is no logical mid-route resupply solution. Unfortunately your proposal does not have a good resupply solution either; you'd be passing through the logical drop-off location (Charlotte Lake near Glen Pass) too close to the start of your trip to make it worthwhile.
If you really want a resupply, maybe you could start your trip on the east side. Kearsarge Pass (outside the town of Independence) is the easiest, attainable with only +2700 feet uphill from the trailhead. (There are also some more remote, difficult passes – on the order of +6000 feet – from the east side: north of Kearsarge there are Taboose/Sawmill/Baxter Passes, and south is Shepherds Pass.) The Kearsarge entry spits you straight onto the loop you originally mention or onto my suggested loop. You can resupply at Roads End.
– ElizabethJan 23, 2012 at 3:41 pm #1828623
Definitely want to stay on trail. Thanks so much for the suggestions. I'll check that out on the map soon.
You can resupply at lake Charlotte? I've never actually resupplied before. How does it work?Jan 23, 2012 at 4:17 pm #1828637
"Definitely want to stay on trail."
I don't think that there is any trail through Windy Canyon. I've never seen one there, and it doesn't show up on any of my official maps. Once you get north of Granite Pass, you don't see a lot of hikers.
"You can resupply at lake Charlotte? I've never actually resupplied before. How does it work?"
There is a JMT trail junction near Charlotte Lake. I've seen backpackers hanging around the junction, so I've asked them. In one case, they were waiting for a horsepacker to come over the hill from Onion Valley, carrying their 20-pound box of food (that is very expensive). In another case, somebody was waiting for his buddy to hike over the hill from Onion Valley carrying 12 pounds of food. I do not believe that the horsepackers will bring the food over and drop it at Charlotte Lake when there is nobody around.
–B.G.–Jan 23, 2012 at 5:40 pm #1828675
I'm really liking your suggested route Elizabeth! Just to make sure I have this right:
1. From roads end head towards bubbs creek, but then take Sphinx over avalanche pass.
2. Continue over avalanche pass, at Roaring river make a left (south east) and cross colby pass.
3. Follow Kern-Kaweah river, then Wallace creek until I hit the JMT.
4. Head north on JMT, cross Forester pass
5. Continue to Rae lakes, and from there go back via middle fork or bubbs if I get lazy. ;)
1. Does Sphinx meet up with the trail that goes over Colby pass? (on my map the trail seems to break for a mile or so..typo?)
2. Are all other trails there pretty well cut like on the Rae lakes loop?
3. Is Forester pass typically passable in July? (I've never actually been past 12K ft) I know this depends on the weather, I was just curious what the chances were or if I'd have to delay till Aug.
4. Any other tips from anyone?
Sorry for all the numbered bullet points…you should see my resume :)Jan 23, 2012 at 5:43 pm #1828679
You saved me from wandering lost through windy canyon :)Jan 23, 2012 at 6:19 pm #1828701
"3. Is Forester pass typically passable in July? (I've never actually been past 12K ft) I know this depends on the weather, I was just curious what the chances were or if I'd have to delay till Aug."
Duh, the JMT goes over Forester Pass. On a normal year, there should be a muddy foot track through the snow in June, but then it is melting out by July.
This year is looking to be a very light snow year, so trails might open up a few weeks earlier than normal.
Last year, Forester was finishing the melt-out in August due to the excess snow.
–B.G.–Jan 24, 2012 at 1:42 pm #1829074
Thanks Bob. Any other details or tips about this route I should know about?Jan 24, 2012 at 5:24 pm #1829172
Anyone know where all the bear boxes are on the above mentioned route?
I'm hoping to get away with my Bearikade weekender and just bear box the rest the first 3 or 4 nights.Jan 24, 2012 at 5:50 pm #1829185
This web page was updated last July, but I cannot promise if the information is 100% up-to-date. It used to be terribly accurate. Some of us have even supplied accurate GPS positions for cases when the bear box had been moved.
–B.G.–Jan 24, 2012 at 6:02 pm #1829190
Thanks Bob!Jan 25, 2012 at 3:41 pm #1829644
"Thanks Bob. Any other details or tips about this route I should know about?"
There are no bear boxes along the Kern Kaweah River, but it is only 9 miles from Colby Pass to Junction Meadow and there is a bear box there, about 200 yards south of the junction with the Kern Canyon Trail on the west side of the trail.
Also, there is a bear box at the junction of the HST and the JMT, just south of Wallace Creek.Jan 26, 2012 at 8:22 am #1829917
Try posting your questions at the backpacking forum at highsierratopix.com, too. Great place to get all kinds of route suggestions, and details.
I think you should start by deciding whether you *must* resupply – or if you will consider going without it. This is really very remote country, so needing a resupply will dramatically alter your route selection, and generally not for the better. A resupply is going to require either: (a) Plenty of money to pay for someone to pack food in to you; (b) Two days out of your way to hike out an eastside pass and back; (c) dropping some big elevation from the high country back down to Kings Canyon Roads End @5000 feet and then turning around and hiking back to elevation; and/or (d) choosing a route that holds close to "exits to civilization," so you can resupply, but at the cost of missing the really good alpine country routes.
– ElizabethJan 26, 2012 at 8:56 am #1829929
Meh. Now that I think about it: Why do Rae Lakes at all, if you've already been there? That is a great first trip to the Kings Canyon area, but Kings Canyon National Park is the most spectacular part of the High Sierra and there is a great deal more to see that is at least on par with Rae Lakes.
The classic must-do High Sierras trip IMO is the Evolution loop, if you have not done it. Due west of Bishop, you start at North Lake, hike over Paiute Pass, hook up with the JMT/PCT southbound, exit the JMT/PCT at Dusy Basin/Bishop Pass trail, ending at South Lake. Short, easy hitchhike back to car.
The scenery in Evolution surpasses that of Rae Lakes, IMO. And you'll spend the whole time in the high country (above 9000 feet).
Another excellent loop, 95 miles according to my Trekking California book, does the first half of the High Sierra Trail and then circles the magnificent Kaweah Peaks at the Kings Canyon/Sequoia National Parks border. Starting at Bearpaw Meadow or Wolverton, hike west on the HST through Hamilton Lakes (this is another lake setting that competes with Rae Lakes) and down to the Kern River. Left/north onto the PCT/JMT for a few miles. Next, you leave the HST/PCT/JMT and turn left/northwest onto the Colby Pass Trail. This will take you down Cloud Canyon. Next, sharp left into Deadman Canyon and over Elizabeth Pass. Spits you back onto the HST and back to your trailhead. If you do this loop, you will get more reprieve from the crowds and the heavily impacted campsites of the John Muir Highway.
– ElizabethJan 26, 2012 at 3:37 pm #1830169
"but Kings Canyon National Park is the most spectacular part of the High Sierra"
Only if you've had limited exposure to Sequoia NP.
"does the first half of the High Sierra Trail and then circles the magnificent Kaweah Peaks at the Kings Canyon/Sequoia National Parks border. Starting at Bearpaw Meadow or Wolverton, hike west on the HST through Hamilton Lakes (this is another lake setting that competes with Rae Lakes) and down to the Kern River. Left/north onto the PCT/JMT for a few miles. Next, you leave the HST/PCT/JMT and turn left/northwest onto the Colby Pass Trail. This will take you down Cloud Canyon. Next, sharp left into Deadman Canyon and over Elizabeth Pass. Spits you back onto the HST and back to your trailhead. If you do this loop, you will get more reprieve from the crowds and the heavily impacted campsites of the John Muir Highway."
A much better choice than anything on trail in Kings Canyon, IMO, but the reference to PCT/JMT in Kern Canyon is incorrect. They parallel Kern Canyon about 4 miles east of the canyon in that area. The trail you would be using is the Kern Canyon Trail
An equally good choice would be Elizabeth's first suggestion, i.e. Roads End, Avalanche Pass….Colby Pass, north in Kern Canyon and on to Lake S. America…Forester Pass and back, especially if you will need a resupply(see below). You haven't stated how many miles you expect to hike per day, or I have missed it. If you can do 10 miles/day there should be no need for resupply, and THAT will enormously simplify your trip. In fact it is about the only way to make a go of it, IMO, unless you have a lot of time and energy. Both of the above routes, if resupply were necessary, would require a side trip over one of the East Side passes, most likely Shepherd. I think you would find it very difficult to hike out over Shepherd Pass, on down to Independence, then back up over Shepherd Pass and continue on over Forester Pass, assuming you choose the Roads End route. You would be looking at a minimum of 3 extra days to accomplish this. In the case of the first route, above, resupply would for all practical purposes be unfeasible due to the distance from any source of resupply. Check it out on your maps, and I think you will see what I am talking about in both cases.Jan 26, 2012 at 6:11 pm #1830246
Alrighty, due to the resupply complexity, I'm considering doing Elizabeth's first suggested route in reverse so I can use the bear boxes on woods creek and rae lakes etc until my food load lightens enough to fit into my bear can.
Please feel free to suggest changes.
day 1 Roads end up woods creek, camp in middle paradise valley.
day 2 Continue up woods creek, camp at woods creek crossing
day 3 Hike to Rae lakes, camp there.
day 4 South on JMT over Glen pass, camp somewhere near base of Forester pass
day 5 Cross Forester pass, head south on pct. Camp at bighorn plateau. (maybe too ambitious for 1 day?)
day 6 From PCT, cross Wallace Trail, and head up to upper junction meadow, camp at Gallats lake
day 7 Cross Colby pass, camp somewhere in Cloud canyon
day 8 continue on colby trail and camp near roaring river ranger station
day 9 head up and over sphinx, camp at sphinx/bubbs junction.
day 10 GTFO
As far as mileage, I usually average 8 to 12 miles a day. I did the Rae lakes loop in 5 days if that means anything. But on this trip there's a few more passes and I'll have about 10lbs extra worth of food on me.Jan 26, 2012 at 6:26 pm #1830250
When I first read your plan, I could not understand why you planned such short mileage for the first several days. But then that ten pounds extra of food may be slowing you down for those first several days.
On one trip, I had spent a night between Kern Hot Spring and Junction Meadow (Kern River). In the morning, I dashed past Gallats Lake, over Colby Pass, and down to Colby Lake, and it was about 4 p.m. There, I met some other backpackers, and they got busy trying to direct me to where I should camp. I explained that I had another eight or ten miles to go that day. I made it to a spot near Roaring River that night, and I was out to Roads End before 3 p.m. the next day.
I guess it just depends on how tough your feet are. It looks like for 9.5 days you might carry 16 pounds of food. Cut your base weight down to 6-8 pounds and it ought to be a breeze.
–B.G.–Jan 26, 2012 at 7:10 pm #1830274
"day 5 Cross Forester pass, head south on pct. Camp at bighorn plateau. (maybe too ambitious for 1 day?)"
You should be fine. You will be well acclimatized by then, your pack will be lighter by 4 day's worth of food, and the distrance is maybe 12 miles or so, depending on where you camp below Forester Pass. Except for going up over Forester, it's easy hiking.
"day 10 GTFO"
It's only another 4 miles or so of downhill/perfectly flat hiking from Bubbs/Sphinx to Roads End. Why not just keep on going on Day 9 and save yourself carrying extra food for the first 9 days?
Other than these two points, your itinerary looks just fine. I hope you have a great time. You'll be going thru some spectacular country.Jan 26, 2012 at 9:53 pm #1830327
Good idea Tom about just going the last 4 miles from sphinx to roads end on the last day. Not sure what I was thinking. And also comforting to hear that it's easy hiking after Forester pass.
And yes Bob you're correct, I was guessing the 10 extra lbs of food would slow me down. Also, for some reason my body usually likes to take 2 nights to acclimate before 10K ft. I live at sea level, and plus I think I'm just kind of a pansy when it comes to that.
Are there any "must see" sites I should alter my route for? For example am I missing out by not going to south american lake?
Thanks a bunch! Not sure what I would do without the advice of all you BPL'ers.Jan 30, 2012 at 2:56 pm #1831826
You might also want to check into closing time of the store at Road's End. At the end of a nine-day trip a while back, we spent the whole day hustling down from the other side of Longley Pass, and got to the store 10 minutes before closing. Chips and a 12-pack never tasted so good!Jan 30, 2012 at 3:14 pm #1831845
"You might also want to check into closing time of the store at Road's End."
The ranger station is at Road's End. The store is at Cedar Grove.
–B.G.–Jan 30, 2012 at 3:19 pm #1831851
… when I posted that, I knew Bob Gross would be correcting the minuatiae within several minutes.
Yes, please don't go to the store at Road's End. The beer selection there is lousy (i.e. there is none). Definitely drive away from the trailhead to that big store-shaped thing a short distance down the road, and buy beer there. Better selection.Jan 30, 2012 at 3:30 pm #1831860
Dave, I stated only the facts. I would sure hate to see somebody racing to buy beer at Road's End only to find out that there is no store. Too many people seek their facts by Google Search, and they grab up the first thing that they read here. We can all joke about lots of things, but we don't want to joke about where to get the cold beer.
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