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help me! september in the sierras
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Emily Hardy
(emilyehardy) - F

help me! september in the sierras on 09/02/2008 13:05:00 MDT Print View

trying to plan a trip for September 10-15.
perhaps to the Yosemite area. any suggestions for sierra hikes this time of year. i am able to hike 20+ mile days.

80-100 miles of beautiful terrain would be perfect :)

Shawn Taylor
(staylor310) - F

Locale: Sierra
Re: help me! september in the sierras on 09/02/2008 15:40:24 MDT Print View

That kind of mileage gives you a lot of options. I would probably do the last 100 miles of the JMT. You would be starting at a trailhead in the Bishop / Rock Creek vicinity and finishing in Yosemite Valley. Other than that I would try to create a loop or semi-loop, which includes the entire Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River. Possibly incorporate the Hetch Hetchy area with the Tuolumne Meadows area , and you should be able to produce a trip of that size. Go by a bunch of Tom Harrison maps and see what you can come up with. I'll look forward to the trip report.

Amy Lauterbach
(drongobird) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: help me! september in the sierras on 09/02/2008 20:27:38 MDT Print View

I agree with the Southern JMT recommendation. If you want a trail hike in the Sierra of ~100 miles, the southern leg of the JMT is the best choice.

I just finished a solo hike of ~110 miles on that stretch in 7 days. September in the Southern Sierra is perfect timing. I'm going back next week for another 9 days!

Here are key pieces of info about this route, probably more info than you want, but you don't have much time to plan so I thought I'd do a brain dump.

1. I went south to north, but the bulk of the hikers go N to S, so S to N means you see a lot more people since you are traveling against the grain. Also, if you plan to include Whitney, you want that at the end of your trip (if you follow rules) since in the Whitney zone you are required to bag and carry your human waste (they provide bags).

2. I parked in Bishop and took Eastern Sierra Transit Authority bus to Lone Pine (3 times a day for $5). In Bishop, stop at the police station and let them know you'll leave your car behind their station and they'll look after it for you! (if parking in Lone Pine I don't know where to leave the car.) Hitching from 395 to/from the main trailheads is very easy (I've always gotten rides from the first car that drove past).

3. At the southern end, you can access the JMT from Whitney Portal, or from the less chaotic entrance at Horseshoe Meadows (Cottonwood Pass or New Army Pass). If you can get a permit to Mt Whitney and you haven't been there yet, it's worth going once (beautiful, but very crowded). If you don't want to deal with Whitney, use the Horseshoe Meadows trailhead instead. Or, Shepard Pass trailhead would work, but it doesn't get as much use and hitching there from 395 might be more time consuming.

3. At the northern end, you can access the JMT from Piute Pass, Lamarck Col (fairly easy class 1-2 off trail), or Bishop Pass. Bishop Pass has the disadvantage that you would miss Muir Pass and the truly lovely area on the N side of that pass. If you are comfortable off trail navigating and dealing with some easy class-2 stuff, then Lamarck Col is the best choice in my opinion. Read the detailed info about the Col in Secor's guide (Peaks Passes and Trails).

4. This section includes all five high passes on the JMT (Muir, Mather, Pinchot, Glen, Forester) and the entire thing is fantastic. There are no crummy sections. I think Yosemite is a better choice for a 2 or 3 day trip, but there isn't a good long hike, and it's not as nice as the Southern Sierra (IMHO).

5. If you don't include Lamarck Col, then the only map you'll need is the 2 map set from USDA called "A Guide to the John Muir Wilderness and Sequoia-Kings Canyon Wilderness. Inyo and Sierra National Forests, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks" It's a great map for trip planning in the Southern Sierra, and for trail hiking photo-copies of the appropriate sections are all you need. Here's one vendor:

Good luck, Amy

Amy Lauterbach
(drongobird) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: help me! september in the sierras on 09/03/2008 06:17:49 MDT Print View

After sleeping on it I have a few comments my last response.
I think the best variation on my suggested route is to start at South Lake (out of the town of Bishop) and take the Bishop Pass Trail (12 miles) over the pass to connect with the JMT. From the junction it is another 87.4 miles to the Whitney Portal trailhead, which includes the side trip to the top of Whitney on the last day. For a total of 99.4 miles. You'd miss Muir Pass, but include Dusy Basin and the stellar trail down from Dusy Basin into LeConte Canyon instead.
What a heck of a nice trip that would be.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: help me! september in the sierras on 09/03/2008 16:22:08 MDT Print View

A couple of comments on Amy's excellent list of possibilities: 1) I'd consider going in over Lamarck Col if you are fit and, as Amy said, comfortable on easy Class 2
terrain. The trip down Darwin Canyon is exquisite and much less travelled, and pops you out on the JMT well south of McClure Meadow, which is bear central. But be aware that you will go from ~9400' to 12800' + in ~4.5 miles to reach the Col. If you go in over Bishop Pass you will need to carry a bear canister, primarily for Dusy Basin, which you will then have to carry for the rest of the trip. You can use bear boxes at Rae Lakes, Charlotte Lake, Vidette Meadows, Wallace Creek, and Crabtree Meadow/Whitney Creek. 2) Consider getting a Whitney Zone Permit and accessing Mt Whitney via the broad scree slope between Middle and Upper Crabtree Lakes. It is an easy, if strenuous, hike that pops you out on the Mt. Whitney trail just east of Trail Crest Pass, bypassing most of the mess on the main Mt. Whitney trail. From there you can easily hike up to the summit and then down to Whitney Portal. The hike up through the Crabtree Lakes Basin is another beautiful and less frequented route, as is the route from there up to the Mt Whitney trail via the scree slope. Good luck, whatever you choose to do. The high country between Bishop and Lone Pine is the cream of the High Sierra, IMO.

Emily Hardy
(emilyehardy) - F

Thank you so much Amy, Tom and Sean. on 09/03/2008 18:20:29 MDT Print View

i will be looking into all your suggestions over the next couple days and ordering some maps.

I dont do all that much off trail hiking yet but have been looking forward to starting. perhaps this will be the trip.
i will just need to get the right topos.

i am currently training for another marathon so the terrain and mileage shouldnt be a problem. tho i train at sea level.

i will post again in a few days and let you guys know what i decide to do.

Any more thoughts are still welcome. PS.
i think i might be able to get a bit more time off. if i decided to do the JMT and finish at whitney. where is a good place to start that is around 100+ miles away that i can get transportation?

sorry and i know it is remote up there.

Emily Hardy
(emilyehardy) - F

SORRY GUYS on 09/03/2008 19:24:48 MDT Print View

that last post was written in a hurry as my great dane was "asking" for a walk. just got back and looked in the JMT book by winnet.

the maps are not very good off trail but i do see some of your suggested routes.

i think i will need to get the harrison set of maps to get a full understanding.

i will order them tonight.

Amy does that bus run north from lone pine to bishop too? if so i would park in lone pine and bus back up at the end.

if so i think i would enter via Lamarck col. tho i cant find it on my limited topos. as a backup plan your south lake route sound great too.