long Sierra hike suggestions?
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Dave T
(DaveT) - F
long Sierra hike suggestions? on 12/12/2007 10:32:47 MST Print View

Hi all,

Since it's wintertime, it's time to start dreaming about a long hike for next summer in the High Sierra in California. So I'm coming to y'all for ideas...

I've done the PCT through there, the Sierra High Route in early season (200+ miles from Kings Canyon to Twin Lakes), the Miter Basin area, and not much else.

Ideally it would be a loop back to the car, or a point-to-point based from Bishop (have a friend there) including hitchiking back there. I'd like it to include some trail miles but mostly above-timberline cross-country, including Class 2 passes here and there. Maybe a few options for Class 2 and (very) easy Class 3 peakbagging. Either a chance to resupply and make it 10-14 days, or a no resupply 7-8 day trip perhaps? It might be solo, or with one other person.

Mostly just scenic, lovely, untrammeled, and all that. So, do you have any suggestions of favorite places, great trips, cool cross-country routes, etc.?

Edited by DaveT on 12/12/2007 22:51:12 MST.

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
long Sierra hike suggestions on 12/12/2007 13:10:16 MST Print View

Try the Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT)
165 mile loop around the lake
Elevation from 5000 to 10,300 feet
Includes 40 miles of the PCT

or a variant of same, the Tahoe yosemite Trail (TYT).

Dave T
(DaveT) - F
trt, etc. on 12/12/2007 13:40:12 MST Print View

hi bob.

i forgot to mention that i also have done the Tahoe Rim Trail a coupla years ago. great fun and a great trail, but i don't consider it High Sierra (more like Medium Sierra!). and it's all very, very easy trail. i'm thinking more along the lines of above timberline, (mostly) cross country High Sierra hiking.


Douglas Johnson
(Sponge) - M

Locale: PNW
JMT on 12/12/2007 21:15:58 MST Print View

How about the John Muir Trail? I'm hiking it late August next year. Planning on 15 days to complete the 211+ miles.

Dave T
(DaveT) - F
JMT = PCT on 12/12/2007 22:23:26 MST Print View

hi douglas...

well, i did the pct in 2004, which is the same trail as the JMT for almost all the way (just the bit at yosemite valley and up to whitney are different). and i went up whitney too (to see the sunrise from up there). so the JMT is out. but have a great time. it's a beautiful trail, and you'll love it! 15 days sounds like a great pace to do it in. in 2004, we slowed our PCT pace down to 16 or 17 miles a day since rushing through the High Sierra just doesn't make sense!

i'm think more along the lines of some choose-yer-own-adventure combo of above timberline hiking, some trail and mostly off-trail, and whatnot. i'm sure someone has some ideas out there! how about kevin davidson? mark verber? who else? :)

p.s. after you do the jmt, think about doing the Sierra High Route. i consider it the next logical step after the JMT. more adventure, stays up high instead of all those drops down into canyons, and no people. it's fantastic. we did it in early season 2006 in LOTS of snow, and had an amazing time. it's mostly cross-country, but even if there had been a trail, it was likely under snow. it looked a lot like this much of the time...

near Seven Gables

Edited by DaveT on 12/12/2007 22:29:17 MST.

Aaron Sorensen
(awsorensen) - MLife

Locale: South of Forester Pass
Re: long Sierra hike suggestions? on 12/12/2007 22:56:32 MST Print View

Hey Dave,
How far would you plan on going in those 12-14 days?
16-17 miles X 14 days = around 225+ miles.
I guess the below could work

If I had a map in front of me I would be more help so I'll have to get back to this one.

I can say that my favorite areas out there would have you working South on the East side of the PCT, cutting back to the PCT over Forester. Hit Lake South America and head West over Colby Pass.
Down Colby and over Avalanche Pass. Head North up Paradise and back on the West side through what ever Class 2-3 Peaking you can hit.

This may seem far???, but what do I know. I'm a little nutty considering that I starting the JMT without a sleeping bag and used a 1200 cu pack for the trip without resuppply.

Edited by awsorensen on 12/12/2007 23:00:09 MST.

Dave T
(DaveT) - F
mileage on 12/12/2007 23:46:25 MST Print View

hey there...

i do like to do long days, but the possible mileages can be so variable when you are off trail and making your own way. the first 8 days of the sierra high route were the hardest hiking i've ever done. it was hiking ALL day long, mostly in snow and suncups, to do 8-10 miles. that's hard to take when you're used to doing 25 easy in a day! so i'll have to come up with a realistic plan and then see what happens on the ground.

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
long Sierra hike suggestions on 12/13/2007 07:43:06 MST Print View

While it sounds like it might be less rugged than what you're looking for, another option to the JMT is the Theodore Solomons Trail, a 271 mile lower elevation trail from Cottonwood Pass to Glacier Point in Yosemite Valley.

Or, if you really want to rough it big time, try the 1200 miles of Idaho's Centennial Trail from the Nevada border to Canada. Lots of cross-country on a jumble of diffrent trails, challenging resupply "opportunities", especially in the northern end. Probably best attempted by those who have already done the CDT. Definitely not for your average hiker.

Wandering Bob

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: long Sierra hike suggestions? on 12/13/2007 17:59:45 MST Print View

Hi Dave,
Sounds like you've done a bunch of stuff farther north(with the exception of Mitre Basin), so I'll throw a South Sierra ramble into the mix. Starting at Horseshoe Meadow: Go over either Cottonwood or New Army Pass; Head up toward Mitre Basin, but then go west past Sky Blue Lake over Crabtree Pass and drop into Crabtree Lakes Basin; Continue past Crabtree Lakes and follow Whitney Creek all the way down to the Kern River and head north to Junction Meadow(Whitney Creek is a beautiful, seldom done route that bypasses the JMT north to Wallace Creek and then down to Junction Meadow via Wallace Creek Trail); From Junction Meadow, head west up the Colby Pass trail; ~1/4 mile past Rockslide Lake turn south, cross the Kern Kaweah River, and ascend Pickett Creek(bushwhack initially and then a beautiful streamside scramble). Be sure and follow the east fork of the stream. It will take you into Kaweah Basin, easily one of the most beautiful places in the Sierra IMO. Cross into the west side of the basin and exit via the southernmost saddle on the western rim of the basin into the upper Kern Kaweah River drainage, or drop down the chain of lakes to the north and scramble steeply back down to the Kern Kaweah River and the Colby Pass Trail. Follow the Colby Pass Trail up to ~1 mile below Colby Pass and turn north into Milestone Bowl, a beautiful, wild lonely place. Cross Milestone Pass and drop down into Milestone Basin. From there head east to pick up the trail that goes south into the Kern Canyon or north to Lake South America. Go north to Lake South America. From there you have a couple of options: 1) go north over Harrison Pass and then over Deerhorn pass down past Vidette Lake to pick up the JMT and out either over Kearsarge Pass or Shepherd Pass(hitch back to Horseshoe Mdws or arrange a shuttle pickup); 2) Go by trail from Lake South America directly out over Shepherd Pass. If you have the time and energy, returning via Shepherd Pass would offer short side excursions to Wright Lakes Basin and Wallace Lake Basin, and Williamson Bowl(all worth a visit if you haven't seen them). And Shepherd Pass is a real kick in the butt, not to mention gorgeous, especially if you're coming down well acclimatized. It's my favorite entry into the South Sierra. I have done all of this except Deerhorn Pass-Vidette Lake in slightly shorter sections and can vouch that the route will go. Based on what you have said about your previous experience, you should be able to finish this in around 10 days, but if you decide to do it, I'd suggest you plan for a couple of extra days to just hang out along the way, because you'll be passing through some spectacular country. Whatever you decide to do, best of luck! Lots of class 2 and 3 peaks along the way. Check Secor's book for details.

Edited by ouzel on 12/13/2007 18:01:33 MST.

Aaron Sorensen
(awsorensen) - MLife

Locale: South of Forester Pass
Re: Re: long Sierra hike suggestions? on 12/13/2007 22:41:24 MST Print View

Dang you Tom,

I was actually going to go for the starting at Horseshoe Meadows as well and follow the same loop I mentioned above up to the top of paradise.

The only thing was he wanted to start from Bishop.

I think starting down at Horseshoe has the best High Sierra views as well.
While doing the PCT, you also don't really get to enjoy much of the view through there anyway.

I'm changing my vote...

Dave T
(DaveT) - F
tom... on 12/14/2007 00:44:04 MST Print View

... you rock.

now that's what i'm talking about. i wanna hear backpacking passes in secor, untrammeled granite good times, and whatnot. i'll check your suggestions out...

much appreciated...

who else has some ideas? thanks, in advance, for the non-horse-packing, non-summer-horsepoo way through the High country...

Graeme Finley
(gfinley001) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
Re: Re: long Sierra hike suggestions? on 12/14/2007 10:20:08 MST Print View

Another possibility you might consider is the 100 mile loop I did a couple of years ago. Start from Wishon Reservoir, hike through SNF to the western end of Tehipite Valley (a 3000ft drop into a rarely visited but quite spectacular valley) then hike up the valley to hit the PCT at the east end of Le Conte valley. Go west on the PCT/JMT over Muir Pass and through Evolution Valley to the San Jaoquim river, then take the unmaintained trail up the river and over Hell-For-Sure Pass. Then you can complete the loop back to Wishon Reservoir by several different routes. Except for the JMT section and the last day or two heading back through SNF you're unlikely to run into many people. When I did this hike in late September I didn't see anyone for the first 4 days, but I did run into 5 bears (plus cubs) as they started their migration to lower elevations.

The picture attached to my profile is a photo of Tehipte Dome taken from the western end of Tehipite Valley.

Edited by gfinley001 on 12/14/2007 10:20:59 MST.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: long Sierra hike suggestions? on 12/14/2007 14:34:23 MST Print View

Hey Aaron,
I thought about the Bishop angle, too, but figured Dave could either hitch hike up from Independence or Lone pine, or use one of the shuttle services or the bus. I agree about the views, but then I'm an unabashed Kern bigot from way back. And yeah, you can definitely do better than the PCT if you're down that way. For my money, the country up along the Great Western Divide is pretty special-high, remote, no people, and drop dead beautiful; AAAAND you can drink the water right from the lakes and streams when you get off trail!
I just had another idea. If Dave felt like it, it would be easy to take a left(west) on the Colby Pass trail and follow your route from then on. It would add a few miles, but what the hey, definitely a change of scenery. Where would he exit if he did that?

Aaron Sorensen
(awsorensen) - MLife

Locale: South of Forester Pass
Re: Re: Re: Re: long Sierra hike suggestions? on 12/21/2007 17:50:12 MST Print View

I've only been living back in California for 2 1/2 years but have actually been to 95% of everything mentioned here.

You can't go wrong with any of the places mentioned.
Just make sure you bring a GPS as for some of these trails have 5-10 people on them a year so almost 100% of the traffic is from animals.
This means that you will have some trails branch off in some locations that are about the same size as the main trail.
I had a tough time getting over Colby Pass and actually went to the right of the pass, (where a few animals had gone that way) instead of the left and had a nice 60 degree but slide down a very steep slope.

Dave T
(DaveT) - F
thanks! on 12/21/2007 23:07:40 MST Print View

thanks for all the ideas... sounds like i've got to get my maps and my secor out and do some thinking and dreaming. if you have any more ideas, keep 'em coming. i'll let ya know what i am thinking about as i develop some ideas... looking forward to some high granite!

Dave T
(DaveT) - F
russell-carillon pass? on 06/10/2008 11:51:53 MDT Print View

anyone ever go out from tulainyo lake over russell-carillon pass, and down to whitney portal? and did you climb carillon?

seems like a good possbile way out from the kirchner route above. from what i've seen on the internet, it wouldn't be bad heading down it (sand/talus).