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Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: Ca destinations on 02/03/2012 13:21:52 MST Print View

Hi Vincent,

I'll second the suggestion of Emigrant Wilderness. It's fairly large, has a wide variety of zones to visit and isn't too challenging for kids to navigate. Permits are easy. My only caution is it's infested with commercial packers.

Desolation is nice--I hike there often--but I don't recommend it for large groups.

Lassen backcountry is reasonably uncrowded because it seems to be one of those parks most folks look at from their cars. Backcountry travel is easy and there are a lot of lakes to choose from, mostly on the east side. It borders Caribou Wilderness.

Yosemite and SEKI are gorgeous and worth considering, if you can get permits. The really high country in SEKI will be a challenge to folks accustomed to lower altitudes, so be realistic about what your party can handle. 10k+ feet elevations sometimes hammer otherwise perfectly healty folks.

Cheers,

Rick

Paul Johnson
(johncooper) - F

Locale: SoCal
Sierras with Scouts on 02/03/2012 15:14:18 MST Print View

+1 Sierras for Boy Scouts

I took a group of 8 scouts age 11-15 on the Tuolumne Meadows to Devil's Postpile route the last week of August 2011. This is an excellent trip for scouts, due to the rather mild elevation gain for 40 miles in the Sierras. We hiked 8-10 miles per day and were on the trail for 4 days. In the middle we detoured off the JMT for 1.5mi and spent the night at Davis Lakes. We had the lakes to ourselves.Davis Lakes



This summer, we are doing the Cottonwood pass trail mentioned above. We are concerned about AMS, will camp the first night at the trail head (still at 10k ft) and go over Cottonwood Pass rather than New Army. We will head over to Guitar lake, summit Whitney and depart the portal. Summiting the highest peak in NA is a nice bucket list tally for the kids to achieve. I like the suggestion to summit Whitney as a day hike from Guitar lake, since the exit out of Whitney portal is overused, a 6k knee pounder and a difficult permit.

Cheers,
John

Walter Underwood
(wunder) - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Hoover? on 02/06/2012 23:20:37 MST Print View

We had a week-long trek in the Hoover Wilderness in 2009. That is immediately north of Yosemite, and slightly lower altitude, maxes out below 10,000. Had a great time. The Emigrant Wilderness is the western slope of the Sierras, the Hoover is the eastern slope.

The bears seem less acclimatized to humans there, so bear bagging is OK. Within Yosemite, bear canisters are required.

Hoover allows groups up to 15 people.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/walter_underwood/sets/72157622083986314/

Vincent Lauricella
(1776SM) - F
Desolation Wilderness on 02/07/2012 11:45:50 MST Print View

Thanks for all the advice and trip ideas! I'm actually getting very jealous of you Californians with all of the great options that you have available.

I enjoyed the shots from Hoover Wilderness. It looks like it was cold overnight?

So with a few exceptions, it seems like the general concensus on Desolation Wilderness is not that favorable? Is that primarily due to the heavy use of that area? The photos and videos that I've seen of Desolation Wilderness look spectacular, at least for an East Coaster. If I suggest to our Scouts that we go elsewhere, I'd like to be able to explain why Desolation would not be a good option for us.

If anyone needs info on the AT in the mid-atlantic, or the Adirondacks High Peaks Region please let me know. I'd love to be able to return the favor.

Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
Re: Desolation Wilderness on 02/07/2012 13:18:06 MST Print View

Desolation is spectacular. And there are other ares that are even more spectacular, and over a larger area, and see fewer visitors. Will you have a great trip if you go to Desolation? I bet you will. Will you have a great trip if you go to any of the aras that have been mentioned in this thread so far? I bet you will. There are so many places in the Sierra that are beautiful, spectacular - any adjective you like - that it's pretty hard to go wrong.
Desolation is a fairly small wilderness are with good access from all sides. What this means is that there is a lot of it that can be seen by day-hiking, so you see quite a few day-hikers in various parts of it. This is a big part of why it has a reputation for being crowded. Overnight campers are limited by trailhead quotas, but dayhikers are not, and since it is not a large area, there is not a lot of it that is out of the reach of a reasonable dayhike. And the most beautiful parts - Desolation Valley, Pyramid Peak, Gilmore Lake, Mt. Tallac - pretty much all fall within dayhike range, and thus see quite a few dayhikers during the prime season - which is when you will be there.

So, I have a new suggestion that has just come to mind, and I think it would be great. Blackcap Basin on the west side of the range in the John Muir Wilderness.You'd start from Wishon Reservoir in the Sierra National forest, go by way of chimney Lake, Crown Pass, and Halfmoon Lake, up to Portal Lake or Lighting Corral Meadow. Now you're in Blackcap Basin, right around treeline, with a bunch of lakes to explore to, Blackcap Mountain is a walk-up with big views, and the ridge on the est side of the basin, the White Divide, offers a number of saddles and peaks you can scramble up to for truly SPECTACULAR views over into the rest of the range. You might even have time to go over the ridge or around the corner into the next valley north, Bench Valley, for more great stuff.
The more I think of this the more I think this would be ideal for you and your scouts. Grander than Desolation, less traveled, and they'll really get a feel for how big the whole area really is if you get them up to the white divide so they can see over to the east into an ocean of peaks stretching off into the distance in all directions.
If you look online, you can find many photos of the area.

It does take a little more driving than some other spots, but man, it's worth it.

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: Desolation Wilderness on 02/07/2012 16:10:06 MST Print View

Hi Vincent,

I hike more in Desolation than anywhere else, as I'm two hours away, and while I enjoy it very much I still make the effort to head farther south in the range for my long trips. I can make a pitch for any part of the Sierra I've been to, but for a grand tour I'd head south to Emigrant, Hoover, Muir, Golden Trout or Adams wildernesses, or Yosemite/SEKI.

There's always the map-and-dart method. :-)

Cheers,

Rick

Vincent Lauricella
(1776SM) - F
Re: Re: Desolation Wilderness on 02/20/2012 09:06:09 MST Print View

Based in large part to the feedback from this forum, our Scouts decided on Emigrant Wilderness as the destination for this summer's trip. We now have a few questions that will help us prepare.
1) Footwear recommendations. Would trail runners and light hikers be sufficient? I'm asuming the trails would be fairly dry in mid-August?
2) What temperature range are we likely to experience? How low could it posibly go overnight?
3) Is there any cell phone reception in Emigrant Wilderness?
4) Will we be ok in open shelters or will we need bug protection overnight?

Thanks!

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: Desolation Wilderness on 02/20/2012 11:11:37 MST Print View

Hi Vincent,

Great choice, you'll have a fine time.

Trail sneakers will be okay--Emigrant travel is relatively easy for the Sierra. I'll recommend debris gaiters, as there's a lot of commercial horse packing and the main trails leading into the interior are wide, deep and dusty so it's good to keep it out of your shoes as best you can.

Overnight lows in August are unlikely to be lower than the mid-20s and in more typical conditions will stay above freezing. Rain is possible, so plan on bringing some rain gear. Chances are it will stay stowed, but storms can slip in from the east, occasionally. It's generally in the 60s and 70s during the day.

Unless we have gobs of snow in the next month, it will be dry and pretty much bug free by August except perhaps by marshy lakes and meadows. (Famous last words--check trip reports to verify, in case there's a wet spring.) On that note, small streams will be dry by then, so consider that when planning how much water to pack for the day's hike.

Cell coverage is very unlikely once you're away from the highways. A messaging system like SPOT is a dependable way to check in and the folks at home can even check your progress. Highly recommend something like that for your group.

Cheers,

Rick

Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
Re: Re: Re: Desolation Wilderness on 02/20/2012 13:10:42 MST Print View

Vincent - for the skeeter conditions, check this site:
http://www.highsierratopix.com/community/viewforum.php?f=1

Every summer they have a skeeter reports thread, and there are usually some from the Emigrant. but usually in late August the skeeters are few and far between unless you are in a really boggy spot.

Walter Underwood
(wunder) - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Hoover Wilderness on 03/21/2012 23:26:09 MDT Print View

We had frost at the higher camps in the Hoover, though that is not that high for the Sierras. Expect frost anywhere in the western mountains in the summer.

Think about acclimating to altitude as part of your trek plan. We had to walk a Scout out after the first day in the Hoover due to AMS, so make plans for evac'ing part of your crew. It happens.

Just assume you won't be able to have a fire anywhere in the western mountains in the summer. In fact, check to make sure that the areas are still open. Sometimes they are closed due to fire danger.

Bob Summers
(SM498) - F

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
I've Done the Hike From Lassen NP to Susanville. on 04/13/2012 21:49:02 MDT Print View

I've never understood the attraction of the Sierras. Different strokes for different folks, I guess.

If this reply isn't too late. I took a couple of Scouts from Lake Helen in Lassen NP to Susanville, ~110 miles. It was a great trip! Roughly speaking the route was Lake Helen to where the Pacific Crest Trail crosses Kings Creek. The Kings Creek cataract was interesting.

Then up to the Cindercone. It was sort of ominous the way the volcanic ash increased as we went north and crossed a section of the Oregon Trail. Then down to Silver Lake for a rest day - the water at that campground was delicious! The Painted Sand Dunes were unlike anything I've ever seen. Climbing Cindercone was hard (it's a pile of volcanic ash). We didn't climb Prospect Peak as we'd originally intended. The Fantastic Lava Beds are like K1ilauea, Lava Beds National Monument, or Craters of the moon.

Then down to Westwood for Pizza

After that we took the Biz Johnson trail to Susanville.

Contact me at powermatic66 at gmail if you're interested in more details.