Big SEKI Loop (as an alternative to the JMT)
Apr 29, 2015 at 4:05 pm #2195647
I'm a little confused about the bear canister. I thought I read somewhere in this thread that it is only needed for the rae lakes portion and found this :
but this page shows one required for bubbs creek trail as well: http://www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/bear_box.htm
I would be going counterclockwise so would most likely not camp in that area, but I'm not exactly sure if I still need all my food in a canister. Will the rangers want to see that all my food is packed in a bear canister?
The parks that I have visited that required a canister required it for the whole park and wanted to see it. Of course they don't search your pack but I would like to respect the rules of the park.
I was going to try to pack 7-8 days of food in a BV500 and bring 2-3 days of food in a bag. Can someone confirm that I should just worry about the rock creek area?
Thanks.Apr 29, 2015 at 4:11 pm #2195649Lori PBPL Member
@lori999Locale: Central Valley
The entire Rae Lakes loop canisters are needed. I would not do any section of the JMT without one, either. The two most popular trails and not coincidentally they have more problems than anywhere save Yosemite.
Some years, the Roads End ranger tells people to stash Bear Vaults in lockers while in Paradise Valley. A bear has learned to flip them on their sides and bounce on them to distort the threads and pop off the lid.Apr 29, 2015 at 5:32 pm #2195663
Thanks Lori, I understand that rae lakes loop requires one but does the western side of the big seki loop require one? I don't think I can get 9-10 days of food in a bear canister.Apr 29, 2015 at 5:40 pm #2195664Kenneth KuanSpectator
From what I checked, the western side does not need one. Only from Forrester Pass to Pinchot Pass. But you still need some way to keep your food secure at the other locations.Apr 29, 2015 at 5:47 pm #2195666
Ok thanks, I can fill up the BV500 and take extra food with me it seems. I won't have to worry until about 4-5 days in depending on how fast I'm going.Apr 29, 2015 at 6:21 pm #2195670
"The rangers will happily change your exit TH or trip duration when you pick up the permit; it won't affect your reservation."
You can even change your destination on the spot to exiting Whitney Portal, via High Sierra Trail, without being subject to any Whitney / Inyo quotas.
The Sequoia ranger also told me that they are comfortable with a plan that might include a couple of extra days of food overflow going into the bear boxes. But of course, you have to stick with the plan, and the boxes are few and far between.Apr 29, 2015 at 7:36 pm #2195691
I'd rather not exit there because then to get back on I assume I would need another permit. Quick question on that subject though, can I actually go up mount Whitney with a permit from bubbs creek? I was thinking of camping at guitar lake, summitting mount Whitney and heading back to guitar lake. Is this possible with a permit from road's end?Apr 29, 2015 at 7:41 pm #2195694
I was told that so long as you come in from a Sequoia originating trail, what you are proposing should be OK. Neither Sequoia nor Inyo post this, and perhaps on purpose.Apr 29, 2015 at 7:46 pm #2195696
I did read that a "visiting permit" is required: http://www.recreation.gov/marketing.do?goto=%2Fpermitgeneralrules_72201.html
I found the cross country visiting permit page but have no idea which entry point to pick:
I'll take my chances when I get to crabtree meadows I guess.Apr 30, 2015 at 5:15 pm #2195911AnonymousInactive
" I was thinking of camping at guitar lake, summitting mount Whitney and heading back to guitar lake. Is this possible with a permit from road's end?"
If I were you, I'd call the folks at the Eastern Sierra Interagency Visitor Center (760) 876-6222 to sort it out. They will know the rules. My understanding is that you can access Mt Whitney from any TH, but that you need a "Whitney Zone stamp" on your permit. I'm not certain enough to know for sure, since I have not visited the area in many years and the rules have changed a lot in the interim.Apr 30, 2015 at 5:26 pm #2195917
Thanks for the number I'll give them a ring tomorrow.May 1, 2015 at 3:57 pm #2196163
OK, this got me interested, and so I called Sequoia a second time, and the Eastern Sierra office. Both have confirmed, if you originate from Sequoia or any other trailhead not under the jurisdiction of the Eastern Sierra, you can pass through Whitney Portal and also summit Whitney at will. You do not need to transact with anyone other than Sequoia.May 1, 2015 at 4:04 pm #2196166
"Both have confirmed, if you originate from Sequoia or any other trailhead not under the jurisdiction of the Eastern Sierra, you can pass through Whitney Portal and also summit Whitney at will."
That may be true, but the permit that is issued to you must reflect your exit intentions on the Mount Whitney Trail.
–B.G.–May 1, 2015 at 5:34 pm #2196191
I don't really plan on exiting there but this is all great info. This loop seems pretty tough for this flatlander adding whitney would be great but probably not realistic. I bet it will be the last thing on my mind when I get to the JMT.May 1, 2015 at 6:30 pm #2196200
"This loop seems pretty tough for this flatlander adding whitney would be great but probably not realistic."
For the first time that I did Mount Whitney, I was a flatlander. It kicked my butt, but I made it. It has gotten easier with time.
I think it is a lot easier to do Mount Whitney from the west side as compared to the east side.
–B.G.–May 1, 2015 at 6:48 pm #2196203Sam BuchtaBPL Member
It probably vastly depends on how altitude affects you and how quickly you acclimate, but after 3-4 days it might not be that bad doing Whitney from the west side. The trail up Whitney from Guitar Lake is nicely done with well graded switch backs. I'd expect the initial passes of this route would be tougher than Whitney by the time you get to it, but again, really depends on how you personally are affected by the altitude.May 1, 2015 at 7:21 pm #2196210
"I'd expect the initial passes of this route would be tougher than Whitney by the time you get to it, but again, really depends on how you personally are affected by the altitude."
I agree. The initial passes are lower than Mount Whitney, but you are carrying your whole backpack load. By the time you go up Mount Whitney, you'll probably have only a tiny daypack.
Part of the secret is in knowing the altitude where you are, and adjusting your pace to be appropriate for that. In contrast, some people go blasting up Mount Whitney until they suddenly hit the wall at 14,000' or whatever. Then, with a splitting headache (or worse symptoms), they are forced to turn around.
On the other hand, once you get within spitting distance of the Mount Whitney summit, and assuming that it is still early enough in the day, then wild horses can't hold you back.
–B.G.–May 3, 2015 at 10:41 am #2196462
I'm chiming in late on a couple of questions that came up while we were out hiking.
Bugs in August — our general guideline is that the mosquitoe season ends sometime in August. Following a dry winter early August is safe. Following a wet winter late August is safe. Following a very wet winter we wait until early September. We have NO tolerance for mosquitoes, so we play it safe. As everybody knows, the snowpack this year is record low. I'd be quite confident in saying that August 2015 will not be a problem for bugs at high elevation. There may be places with a few, but I'd be very surprised if there are any swarms anywhere remaining in August.
Weather in August — historically (my recollection, not actual data analysis), 80-90% of August one week trips in the southern Sierra trips will have no meaningful precipitation. 10% will have bothersome precipitation. 5% will have a serious storm. We play it safe and carry a shelter that is worthy of a serious extended storm. In dozens of trips we've had only two very significant storms. Not many, but we would have been in deep doo-doo without storm worthy shelter. It's not like the Pyrenees (where we had a couple significant storms per week), but when it happens it's the real deal.
I'll also go out on a limb to say that with the changing jet stream pattern we are just as likely to get unusually strong monsoon summer storms coming from the south as we are to get Ridiculously Resilient Ridges that prevent winter storms from reaching us. Past performance is no guarantee of future returns, and all that.May 11, 2015 at 6:58 pm #2198734
Just want to let people know that I updated the original post.
The linked kml file and CalTopo map now include some waypoints. And they are clockwise instead of counter-clockwise, since I think that's how most people will end up hiking. That means that if you create a profile from the tracks they will run left to right if hiking in the clockwise direction.
There's a link to a printable Word document that shows the profile in fair detail.
There are a few more notes in the "Which direction" section.
There's a new section called "Peaks", which refers to a few of the new waypoints in the map/kml mentioned above.
I clarify that the BSL-with-Colby-Shortcut option is 23 miles shorter (131 vs 154), which might make a viable option for those that don't want to tackle 154 miles without resupply.
And I clarify that the loop is best (by a good margin) from Roads-End, but there's no public transit and hitching is tough.Jul 29, 2015 at 9:24 am #2217815Hikin’ JimBPL Member
@hikin_jimLocale: Orange County, CA, USAJan 23, 2016 at 11:26 am #3377495
Hi All! I have taken up backpacking of late, have become addicted, and I am lucky enough to live close to Shendandoah National Park so I have a great place to practice, including climbs of up to 2900′. My JMT permit has been turned down for days (not surprising) so I was THRILLED to find this great site and posts since I plan on taking most of July to now explore SEKI and connected areas. Even though I have read everything, I would appreciate your feedback on some of my specific SEKI questions.
I backpack at what I would consider a slow to moderate rate. I am always pretty happy with the miles I cover in my allotted time (1.5 plus per hour uphill), but I know the elevation change will kick my ass for a few days regardless of my practice. Are there frequent camping opportunities, off trail, so that if I want to take it slow the first few days to acclimate I will find spots fairly easily? I don’t care for campgrounds so anywhere I can pitch a small tent is fine.
I have the BV 500 and can get 10 days worth of food inside, but I want to take my time, tackle Whitney, etc. Is the Onion Valley $125 resupply still an option, and where would I pick up the package? I am not finding a ranger station or similar on my map.
My pack is at about 40lbs, complete. I have read 35-50 is “average”, and I have been hiking with 50 to improve my stamina. Forty is a comfortable weight for me, as I do a lot of crossfit lifting, but again I know the elevation is my wildcard. If I had to drop some weight I could reconsider, but I like to be fairly comfortable and I am very happy with my bag, tent, and sleeping pad as it stands. Still, I would really appreciate the experts weighing in, no pun intended!
Is there a place to park and leave my rental car at Road’s End trailhead?
Inyo seems to be the issuing NPS Whitney permit site, and the lottery submissions begin Feb. 1, but from this forum it sounds like SEKI permits begin March 1? I am not sure of the date I will reach Whitney, but would like to confirm that my SEKI pass will include a trip up Whitney?
Thanks so much for any information you are able to provide. I am flying cross country and so excited to take on this loop, but humble enough to want to hear from the experts so I am ready to go!Jan 23, 2016 at 3:51 pm #3377528Dave AyersSpectator
@djayersLocale: SF Bay Area
Yes, generally there are various campable spots along trails in the high Sierra Nevada, often near where you see lakes or streams on the Topo maps. Usually there is no more than a couple miles or so between spots, often less. For the JMT, the Eliz. Wenk book has a list of campsites. Those can also be found online in the Files section of the JMT Yahoo Group (but you’ll want get the book too).
For Onion Valley resupply, see this recent thread in the JMT Yahoo group: https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/johnmuirtrail/conversations/topics/56682
For average pack weight, John Ladd has some survey data of JMT hikers including a graph of pack weight at http://colinrcummings.github.io/jmt_vis/2014_survey_results . The most common group in the histogram is 35-40 lbs. But also look a the pack % of bodyweight results.
Yes, there is parking at Road’s End. If you zoom in on it in Google Earth or Google Maps you can clearly see several parking lots. Search for Roads End Permit Station.
From the SEKI 2016 Trip Planner at http://www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/upload/2016-Wilderness-Trip-Planner-Final.pdf , page 12: “Permits obtained for the western trailheads from Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are valid to climb Mount Whitney and exit via the Mount Whitney Trail – no extra permits are required.”Jan 23, 2016 at 7:52 pm #3377564
Thanks, David! It looks like I am in pretty good shape and I appreciate your help with the parking and links info!Jan 27, 2016 at 9:50 pm #3378582
Kim asked about camping opportunities. Here are some thoughts.
It sounds like this is your first long walk in the southern Sierra Nevada. Therefore I recommend you hike clockwise. The first section will be a long climb from 5000 feet at Roads End to 10000 feet at Granite Basin. If I remember correctly the only decent place to camp in that section is at upper tent meadow at 8800 feet. If you have not already spent time acclimating to the altitude and if you really are planning a pack weight of 40 pounds, It might be a tough day for you. Best advice is to start very early in the morning and avoid the afternoon heat on that south facing slope.
The only other portion of the big Seki loop where camping is not frequently available is between Simpson Meadow and the junction with palisade creek. The trail is on a steep slope adjacent to the Kings River. There is a level camping area at the base of Cartridge Creek where the USGS map shows a footbridge.
Other than those two stretches, finding suitable places to put up your tent will not be a problem if you know how to read a topo map.
Other advice you didn’t request but I’ll share anyway …
You’ll probably be happier with a 30 pound pack instead of 40. You’ll find lots of advice and people willing to help in the gear section of this forum.Jan 28, 2016 at 7:18 am #3378626
Thanks so much for this great site and your reply. When I realized the JMT was not going to grant my permit wish I turned to the Google and entered the search term that was almost exactly the title of your forum! You are a lifesaver!
I had read one post by another hiker who was also worried about the elevation shock said he that he had spent a couple of days acclimating and stopped at the Bubb’s Creek Junction the first day and then did short sections for the next few days as well. After five days he had his legs and lungs ready to go. I am planning on the same, and lucky to have a very flexible schedule!
Thanks for pointing out where the camping bare spots are!
After posting and going through the advice from David I revisited my pack. I have been practicing about 2900 ft relatively steep climbs on rocky paths throughout the Shenandoah and APT with 45-50 lb packs, with my goal for SEKI being 40 as I mentioned. Still, I am fortunate that I could replace some things that are fairly light with even lighter. My pack fully loaded for SEKI is now around 34lbs, and each of my practice treks gives me a better idea of the needs/wants balance! I am short, stocky, and pretty strong, and carrying the 50 lbs is in not hard as a physical endeavor, but it certainly kicks my butt by the end of the day. Fortunately no pain/no brain during the hike, but recovery reminds me how tough it was.
Thanks again for your initial post. I was a little despairing over the new JMT Donahue Pass rules, and I am so happy I found another place to go that sounds even better, and is logistically so much more user friendly for my needs!
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