Jun 21, 2023 at 12:03 am #3783723
I had a permit out of Roads End for September and while it hasn’t been cancelled yet I assume it will be considering the road is closed for the season. I was looking for some other alternatives to get in that area and figured the best bet would be to do so on the eastern side.
I was debating either Taboose or Sawmill but settled on Taboose as I would prefer to be a bit more north in order to get to Palisade Lakes however I would take some opinions on the two or others.
Although, my main question is the dirt road to get to Taboose. I’ve heard it is a fairly rough ride and takes 45 minutes to travel the 6 miles. Although, since the fire in that area and early last season I was hearing some rumors that they have since graded the road so I was seeing if anybody had any experience with the road in the past year. I do not have a 4×4 and drive a sedan so inquiring to see if I could make the trip.
Any help would be appreciated, thanks.Jun 21, 2023 at 8:06 am #3783738Axel JBPL Member
I drove the that road last year (September) and recommend a high clearance vehicle only. Years ago I did it in a Corolla but would not attempt it now.Jun 25, 2023 at 9:26 pm #3784066
First of all, you are probably aware that Taboose starts out at about 4000′ and the pass is something like 11,300′ and my first time on that trail I got lost in the rocky trail along the creek. I didn’t get lost the second time. However, I have never done Sawmill, but those who I know who have would not recommend it. Unless the road has been severely damaged, most vehicles should be fine. But be sure to leave your windows cracked open. I have seen windows crack due to heat in the car from the sun at Shepherd’s Pass, which also starts out at about 4000′. The advantage of Taboose over Shepherd’s is that you are reasonably near a creek most of the way up the trail. While Shepherd’s Pass can be without water until about 10,000′ as I remember. And Shepherd’s Pass trail blew out a big section a few years ago and the snow crossing near the top can be a bit treacherous. Good luck and God bless.Jun 28, 2023 at 10:46 am #3784268
A few details need to be corrected:
1) Taboose Pass trail head is at ~5500 feet.
2) Shepherd Pass trail head is at ~6250 feet.
3) There is reliable water on the Shepherd Pass trail at ~8600′, at the second stream bed-low point in the 500 foot elevation loss section of the trail, and also at Mahogany Flats at ~9000′
4) The washed out section of the Shepherd Pass trail has a well worn trail now, and does not present any problems.
5) Sawmill Pass is a long, somewhat arduous hike, but if you get an early start offers direct access to a lot of beautiful country, as well as a direct connection to the JMT heading north to Pinchot Pass and south to Glen Pass. It all depends on where you are trying to get. The same holds true for the remaining “Big Four” East Side Passes. It all depends on where you are trying to go. All four are also much less crowded than the easier passes.Jun 28, 2023 at 5:21 pm #3784297
Thanks for correcting my faulty memory.
BlessingsJul 2, 2023 at 12:46 pm #3784517
My memory is probably not any better than yours in general, Keith. I just happen to be very familiar with that particular part of the Sierra, and so it will probably be the last part of my memory to fade. In any case, I want you to know it was done for the community’s benefit, and not intended as a put down.
TomJul 2, 2023 at 5:30 pm #3784526
Nicely put, guys!
I often find myself going over all the trails and landscapes I’ve traversed in the Sierra as I lay down waiting for sleep. It’s really amazing, the details available to my memory. But then, I tended to re-traverse beloved country many times. And also, country that was reachable within 3-6 hours of driving.
My old trail crew collective went by the moniker Happy Trails.Jul 2, 2023 at 9:47 pm #3784536
That’s the way it is for me, too, JS. I think that if you retraverse beloved country enough times it gradually becomes part of who you are and leaves you with many very clear memories to sustain you when you are no longer able to return to favorite haunts. So it is for me, now that I have come to the point where I am no longer physically capable of making those journeys. But no regrets here. It’s been one helluva ride. :0)Jul 5, 2023 at 8:38 pm #3784727
Thanks for being sensitive. I didn’t take it as a put down. I was in a hurry and didn’t take the time to check the details and trusted in old memories. Taboose Trail has not been my most happier experiences.
I had to exit it not once but twice in JMT attempts. The first time, my hiking buddy developed huge blisters. I had discouraged him from trying the JMT with me, because I knew that he was inexperienced and had the wrong size shoes. The second time, I got called out of the mountains due to 3 deaths at home. Fortunately, I eventually succeeded in completing the JMT in 2014 at hte age of 64.
When you don’t plan on hiking out of Taboose Pass trail and you get to the bottom and have to hike in the heat all the way to 395, it is a bit challenging. Fortunately I was able to hitch rides to the road about 1/2 and 2/3 of the way. Thanks for the positivity and the sensitivity. BlessingsJul 5, 2023 at 9:47 pm #3784734W I S N E R !Spectator
It makes me smile to see that picture Tom. I can retrace the steps it would take to get to that exact spot without fail. One of the best in the Sierra for sure. Whether or not you make it back there for another ramble, know that the love of this exact place is carried on by another that you shared it with.Jul 6, 2023 at 7:09 am #3784738Jerry AdamsBPL Member
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
I haven’t done many Sierras trips, but there are a lot of favorite places in the Cascades that I can easily envision. I enjoy each time I go back. Hmmm… the snow is finally melting, must be time for another trip.Jul 7, 2023 at 9:59 pm #3784849
Those are comforting words from one who understands my feelings about that location, and what it means to me. Next time you’re up there, remember what we experienced together, and toast me with a fresh caught fish in the pan, hopefully accompanied by a raw egg sac appetizer. ;0)Jul 8, 2023 at 12:34 pm #3784897Axel JBPL Member
Another thought on this road. Take into account the time of day traveling it. In the summer the temperature will be in the upper 90s all day. That, combined with the altitude and the poor road conditions, will easily tax the vehicle’s cooling system especially driving uphill to the trailhead. Four wheel drive isn’t a requirement but I think high clearance is now.Jul 8, 2023 at 12:55 pm #3784901
Given the unpleasant experiences you’ve had on Taboose, I can understand your feelings about Taboose, Keith. Even when things go well, Taboose is a first class grind, but under better circumstances it offers a stark beauty of its own and direct access to a lot of prime backpacking. The Muro Blanco, Lake Basin via Cartridge Pass, Bench Lake (with off trail routes up into Arrow Peak Basin and on over to Woods Creek), and also the JMT come to mind.
Congratulations on completing the JMT at the ripe old age of 64. That’s a memory well worth hanging onto, to savor in less active days ahead.Jul 10, 2023 at 12:05 am #3785008
Thanks, first of all, I am one of those guys who think the worse the story is, the better the trip was.
However, the beauty of Taboose did not escape me.
I am only 73 and I hope those less active days are far off yet.
You don’t quit hiking because you get old. You get old because you quit hiking.
Hope to do a 45 mile trip in northern Yosemite with my grandson the first week of August.
He is now of an age and physical strength that he can carry some of my stuff.
BlessingsJul 11, 2023 at 1:39 pm #3785089
“You don’t quit hiking because you get old. You get old because you quit hiking.”
I agree…….up to a point. Said point is inevitable, but when it comes is infintely variable by individual. In the meantime, take it a hike at a time and I hope you are still out there a decade from now; there really is nothing that can replace it, and when that time comes it will leave a hole in your soul too large to fill with any other activity.Jul 11, 2023 at 5:36 pm #3785102DWR DBPL Member
I came down Taboose Pass Trail when I was young and strong… I don’t think I saw anyone… and few places to camp as I recall. But one very strong thought when coming down: Sure glad I am not hiking up this sucker…. ! (it’s a loooooonnnnnngg grind)Jul 12, 2023 at 12:13 pm #3785137
It’s possible to find new passions if one is forced to give up the most strenuous backpacking, or even backpacking entirely. I took up classical guitar and have as much passion for that as I did for backpacking in my heyday, that lasted 40 years. I might say that one grows old when they’re unable to grow into new and unexpected versions of themselves. aging is an opportunity to develop!
Here’s a print by Goya to illustrate the point:Jul 12, 2023 at 5:33 pm #3785153
Your point is well taken, JS. Backpacking may have slipped beyond my capabilities, but I am not done with the mountains quite yet. I am still out there once a week up here in the North Cascades, and savoring it with an intensity that can come only from knowing that these precious moments will also be consigned to memory all too soon. In the meantime I am already considering my options for what comes after. I am yet in the early stages of that exercise and I have to say that at present I still don’t expect to find anything that inspires the passion that the Sierra and, to a lesser extent, the North Cascades have fueled in me for the last 49 years and counting. That is not to say I will not continue to find good reasons to get up in the morning, but the mountains are just too much a part of who I am to expect to find something on the same level. It has to end sometime and I’m well into that zone now, with zero regrets other than my Peter Pannish wish that it could have gone on forever. ;0)
@DWR D – Your perceptions are on the money. I’ve been up Taboose 3 times and down it 4, and I can tell you with confidence that it is indeed a slog going up. The only advantange to going up more than once is that at least you know what to expect and have no one to blame but yourself. ;-)Jul 12, 2023 at 6:37 pm #3785157
Tom, I’ll be staying for four days with my brother near Kirkland with a friend. Scott plays music and we’ll all be caught up in that, with a little performance on Friday. Still, we’ll spend a day hiking up to Cascade Pass and Sahale arm. Cascade Pass was the first trail I worked on just out of high school. And my bro, Scott and I have tons of memories from Stehekin and environs. Easy stuff and I’m looking forward to it. The North Cascades are great!Jul 14, 2023 at 10:04 pm #3785238
A day hike up the Sahale Arm is a Cascades Classic for sure. I also have fond memories of that area from my climbing days, but haven’t been back there in awhile. I’m operating out of Bellingham these days, mostly in the Mt Baker area, but it’s all good up here. I hope you have a great hike. The views will be worth the effort if you get a clear day.Jul 19, 2023 at 8:19 pm #3785497
Thanks for the feedback — I guess its off the list then. I don’t have a high clearance vehicle so it’s best I don’t even attempt it since its a several hour drive for me just to get to the turn off.
Off to look for other alternate hikes, thanks as always.Jul 19, 2023 at 9:32 pm #3785502
If you’re willing to consider other hikes, Sawmill offers entry into some beautiful country. The upper Woods Creek basin is well worth a couple of days poking around. Another longish day of hiking north from there over Pinchot Pass would put you at Bench Lake, which has excellent fishing if you’re into that, and also offers a gentle off trail hike into the beautiful, seldom visited basin below Arrow Peak. I don’t know how much time you have, but it’s also an easy hike from Bench over Mather Pass to Palisade Lakes. But be advised, Sawmill Pass is a strenuous hike that requires a very early start to avoid hiking up an exposed east facing slope to get into Sawmill Canyon. If you get caught out on that slope much after sunrise the hike will become a real slog, instead of just a strenuous, but enjoyable(IMO) hike. Getting to the TH does not require a high clearance vehicle. Similarly, Shepherd Pass offers access to some of the most gorgeous country in the entire Sierra. It is another tough hike, but once over the pass you will find yourself with several options well worth your time, to include Wright Lakes And/or Wallace Lake Basins, the Upper Kern Basin, and Milestone Basin, to mention a few. The last mile of access road after you leave Onion Valley Road(paved) and Foothill Rd(gravel) is a bit rough but doable with a low clearance vehicle. You shouldn’t have much difficulty getting a permit on either trail.Jul 19, 2023 at 11:33 pm #3785503
I appreciate the feedback and suggestions. I have time, 6 days, and have been trying to complete a section of the JMT around Pallisade Lakes for the past 4 years. Two of the years due to fire a year due to injury and this year due to flooding and road closures leading up to the Roads End TH.
Its initially why I thought of doing Taboose as it got me closer to that area once over the pass, not to mention it had some potential camping sites along the way as I wouldn’t be getting an early start unless I lost a day and camped at the TH.
I’ll take a look at the others you mentioned but I may just scrap the idea all together and find something else on the west side I can do, only trouble is now finding permit availability since its already so late.
Thanks again, take care.Jul 30, 2023 at 8:24 am #3785957RICHARD LBPL Member
As far as I know, the road into the Taboose trailhead is still in horrible shape. I have wanted to go out of that trailhead again for quite some time, and still have seen no info that it has been graded. I did Sawmill Pass about a month ago. I started about 2 in the morning, walking up under almost a full moon to do the hot desert section. Then I slept at the first creek crossing for awhile before continuing, about 4 miles into the hike. There was still lots of snow, but with the weeks of hot weather, the snowpack is slowly melting, and access is improving everywhere in the Sierras. I am 68, and I have done all the east side “monsters”: Shepherd, Baxter, Sawmill, and Taboose. This last trip felt harder than ever, and almost convinced me that I am going to avoid the hardest passes in the future. Do them while you are still able!
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