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Suggestions for Kearsarge to Sheppard's
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Scott Smith
(mrmuddy) - MLife

Locale: No Cal
Suggestions for Kearsarge to Sheppard's on 08/01/2011 16:24:00 MDT Print View

My wife and I ar taking her best friend and her husband on a Sept trip. They are new to Sierra Hiking, however, we've taken a number of 6 day Boundry Waters ( canoeing ) trips with them . and, hiked to Everest base camp with them ( Yaks carried the big stuff . we had just day packs on) .. So, a bit different in that you're not carrying 50lbs on your pack.

This looks like a great introductory hike to the Sierra's.... Start Sunday a.m. at Onion Valley ... going up the Kearsarge Pass trail.. . Go out Friday ..probably from Anvil Camp on the East side of Sheppard's.

So, looking for suggestions on the itinerary..e.g. destination camp site / locations for each night. Note: any cross country stuff would have to be minimal..My wife gets nervous . once we get off of a trail..

Thanks !

Thomas R. Conroy
( - MLife

Locale: Sierra
Kearsarge to Shepherds Pass on 08/01/2011 16:44:18 MDT Print View

We did this trip in September 2008. Here's a thumbnail sketch of our itinerary:
DAY ONE: Kearsarge Pass Trailhead to Kearsarge Lakes [6.0 miles with 1,600' net elev. gain]
DAY TWO: Kearsarge Lakes to Golden Bear Lake [8.4 miles with 427' net elevation gain]
DAY THREE: Layover Day @ Golden Bear Lake. Dayhike into Center Basin via Use Trail [no bushwhacking and nothing that would make anyone nervous about "off-trail"]
DAY FOUR: Golden Bear Lake to Tyndall Creek [11.0 miles]
DAY FIVE: Layover Day @ Tyndall Creek. Dayhike to Lake South America.
DAY SIX: Tyndall Creek to Symes Creek Trailhead [14.0 miles] -- yes, a longer day distance-wise than optimal however very do-able. You could break this day up by staying @ Anvil Camp rather then the previous day's layover day. As we passed Anvil Camp on our way out we were glad we had the layover day dayhike to Lake South America rather than camp @ Anvil.

The dirt road up to Symmes Creek trailhead will test a passenger car's limits -- some deep erosion. High clearance of an SUV-type vehicle should be fine. It's slow going on that road.

You have all the makings of a great trip.

Scott Smith
(mrmuddy) - MLife

Locale: No Cal
Suggestions for Kearsarge to Sheppard's on 08/02/2011 13:46:08 MDT Print View

Thanks for sharing..

So.. I'm looking at my topo and don't see a trail from Golden Bear Lake to Tyndall...

How did you go ??


Hobbes W
(Hobbesatronic) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Suggestions for Kearsarge to Sheppard's on 08/02/2011 16:09:29 MDT Print View

>>How did you go ??

With GB lake as a base camp & Center basin as a day-hike, I think he's implying you'd just jump back on the PCT and go over Forester.

Not to derail your plans, but Shepherd is usually taken (when taken at all, that is) to get **immediately** into the Wright lakes basin, and/or Wallace, and/or Whitney zones. It's the pain vs pleasure trade-off. Not to generalize, but it's sort of a local's route into the high Sierra when they don't want to deal with the crowds/permits @ Kearsarge/Whitney.

By going over Kearsarge/Forester and then out via Shepherd, you'll end up doing a lot of backtracking through some pretty dry terrain. After all the effort of Forester, it's just as easy, and possibly more fun, to throw Whitney into the mix, rather than backtrack via Shepherd.

Not only is the shuttle situation easier, but you get to see more high Sierra. The trick with the permits is that the forest service keeps 40% of the Trail crest exit permits as walk-in (ie non-reserved). What happens is they'll check your entry date @ Kearsarge and then jot down the exit date via Whitney portal.

If for some reason you can't get a WP exit permit, then you can always fall back to the Shepherd plan.

Scott Smith
(mrmuddy) - MLife

Locale: No Cal
Suggestions for Kearsarge to Sheppard's on 08/02/2011 16:25:40 MDT Print View

Thanks for the comments ! .. As I look at the map, that's about the only way I could figure; i.e. do the back track.. However, that's quite a bit of a back track . .in this case.. over ground that you've already covered..

At least, with the Sheppard's pass exit, you maybe heading back NE, however, at least it's on new terrain..

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Suggestions for Kearsarge to Sheppard's on 08/02/2011 17:17:55 MDT Print View

"At least, with the Sheppard's pass exit, you maybe heading back NE, however, at least it's on new terrain.."

Shepherd Pass is a whole lot easier descending, and it is very scenic if you like high desert mountain terrain. An excellent, not often used, alternative to unappealing Anvil Camp is to camp either at the Pothole or at the bivy site about 300-400' above it just after you cross Shepherd Creek coming off the pass. They are both considerably less buggy, with less likelihood of bear problems. Bears seldom an issue on the Shepherd Pass trail, but occasionally they wander up from below and if they do, they usually show up at either Anvil Camp or Mahogany Flats.

Thomas R. Conroy
( - MLife

Locale: Sierra
Kearsarge Pass to Shepherds Pass on 08/02/2011 17:29:37 MDT Print View


"Hobbes W" is correct -- we took the Use Trail from Golden Bear Lake back to the PCT and then went over Forester Pass. An easy [actually "easier" for you] alternative would be to camp at the well-used area just off the PCT about 100 meters south of the Use Trail to Golden Bear Lake/Center Basin. Then there's no backtracking and you could still visit Golden Bear Lake & Center Basin as a day trip.

From Tyndall Creek we took the Shepherd Pass Trail due east -- no backtrack needed. We camped at the established campsites there, in the near vicinity to a bear box. The USGS "Mt. Brewer" topo shows the trail junction there. The Shepherd Pass is a lovely trail to EXIT the Sierra -- we were all very glad we were descending that trail rather than ascending!

BTW: there is a "use trail" [actually the original PCT route through this area] that goes through Center Basin, past Golden Bear Lake, and crosses the crest between Forester Pass and Junction Pass. It's shown on the USGS "Mt. Williamson" topo. However, this does qualify as "cross country stuff" and should best be left for another time.

Final note: by omitting one of the two Layover Days in our itinerary @ Tyndell, you could follow "Hobbes W's" suggestion and exit the Sierra via Mt. Whitney. Rather than spend two nights @ Tyndall Creek, consider one night there and then one night at either Crabtree or Guitar Lake. From either of these camps you are up to the summit of Mt. Whitney and then exit @ Whitney Portal trailhead. A much easier vehicle shuttle + the summit of Mt. Whitney = terrific all around. It's a l-o-n-g day from either of these camps, but it's your last & lightest pack weight day, plus you'll be well acclimatized by then.

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Side topic on 08/02/2011 19:26:25 MDT Print View

I'm headed out on Wed. after work. If I get my permit Thursday AM over Kearsarge, where can I camp the first night beyond Vidette Meadow, headed towards Golden Bear, that would be close to VM? Or should I just stay at VM? A few years ago when I went this route, I stayed at VM then on to the Lower Paradise Valley CG my second night. I may or may not bag Forrester Pass, headed to Kaweah Basin and whatever. If I am close enough to Golden Bear, may also just do a quick visit and then head back to the PCT and over Forrester for a nine day trip. Thank you.