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Big SEKI Loop (as an alternative to the JMT)
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Amy Lauterbach
(drongobird) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Big SEKI Loop (as an alternative to the JMT) on 02/18/2013 15:06:32 MST Print View

Big SEKI Loop (aka BSL), 154 Miles


Jim and I have hiked most of the trails (both maintained and now-abandoned) from Yosemite south through Sequoia National Park, including most of the east and west side trailheads. We've been over many class-2/3 passes, explored many off-trail basins, climbed quite a few class-2/3 peaks. We think this range of mountains is a superb place to hike.

Over the years, we've seen the John Muir Trail (aka JMT) get more and more crowded, and nearly all of the other trails get less and less use. In this post, I am describing a trail hike for people to consider as an alternative to hiking the JMT. The BSL is not famous, but it has some advantages when compared to the JMT.

The entire BSL is on maintained trails, just like the JMT. There are innumerable fantastic itineraries for people with off-trail skills and a copy of R.J. Secor's The High Sierra Peaks, Passes and Trails (including but not limited to Steve Roper's Sierra High Route), but there are many reasons people plan hikes on maintained trails. Our design point for this loop is to provide an alternative to the JMT that is suitable to hikers who prefer to stay on maintained trails.

BSL Route Summary


We propose this loop after considering lots of factors, and it really is best (by a fair bit) to start it at Roads End. The reason is that the least interesting pieces of the route are the 5-8 miles on either side of Roads End, and by making those pieces be the first half day and the final half day you have one very long intact continuous piece of fantastic walking, uninterrupted anything that is less than five-star. There are MANY other options for hiking in the Southern Sierra, and if you can't get to Roads End (there is no public transit and hitching is hard), or you can't complete the loop without exiting for resupply, we would not choose this particular loop. Obviously other people with lots of hiking experience in the Southern Sierra would have different perspectives.

Download the kml file and open it in Google Earth. Note that the tracks in this file are adequate for planning purposes, but are NOT intended to show exact trail tread. The quality of the track data varies, and the NPS reroutes trails occasionally. The entire route is on official NPS trails, and hikers should follow the trail rather than following this track.

View the route on a USGS map. You can change the map type (Satellite, USGS, Google, NPS, etc) in the upper right corner. You can create a printable USGS mapset from CalTopo.

The route is shown here in red, with a shorter alternate route from Kern River to Roaring River Ranger station shown in blue.
bsl overview map

The loop starts and ends at Road's End in Kings Canyon. This description runs counter-clockwise, but the hike is equally suited to either direction.

Part 1. From Roads End to Roaring River Ranger Station (15.3 miles). Via Bubbs Creek Trail -> Sphinx Creek Trail -> Avalanche Pass Trail.

Part 2. From Roaring River to the High Sierra Trail (14.7 miles), through Deadman Canyon and over Elizabeth Pass.

Part 3. On the High Sierra Trail (36 miles) all the way to the junction with the John Muir Trail at Wallace Creek.

Part 4. On the John Muir Trail (57.4 miles) all the way to the Middle Fork Kings River in LeConte canyon.

Part 5. From LeConte Canyon to Roads End (31 miles) via Simpson Meadow and Granite Pass.

BSL Distances V2

Elevation Chart, counter-clockwise. Total miles doesn't align (137 vs 154) because the tracks I used to create the elevation chart are not detailed enough to take in all the twists and turns. Even so, the chart gives a reasonable representation of the profile.
BSL Elevation

You can download a document with a more detailed profile which you can print on legal size paper. This detailed profile runs clockwise.

Colby Pass vs Elizabeth Pass


There are two ways to go from Junction Meadow on the Kern River to the Roaring River Ranger Station. The 154 mile BSL crosses Elizabeth Pass. The shorter alternative ("BSL With Colby Shortcut") reduces the length of the loop to about 131 miles and crosses Colby Pass. Both options are very beautiful, and there is no obvious reason to choose one over the other in terms of scenery. There will be many hikers on the High Sierra Trail portion of the Elizabeth Pass routing, since the HST is a popular trail, whereas the Colby Pass option is relatively lightly used.

Advantages of Big SEKI Loop compared to JMT


The BSL starts and ends at the same place, so if you drive to the trailhead there is no need for a shuttle.

The BSL does not require any resupply. Many lightweight hikers travel somewhere in the 13-22 miles per day range, which is 7-12 days for this route. Assume a base pack weight of 12 pounds, plus 1.5 pounds of food per person per day, starting pack weight would vary from 22.5 pounds (7 days) to 30 pounds (12 days).

Getting a permit for the BSL is not likely to be a challenge. Although permits may not be available last moment, they should be easily available with a bit of advance planning, unlike the JMT permits. To hike clockwise, get a permit for Copper Creek. To hike counter-clockwise, get a permit for Bubbs Creek (or Woods Creek if Bubbs is not available).
Permit Information.
Permit Availablity.

The BSL is all good. Everybody's taste varies, but for us, the JMT includes a long stretch that is not the best the Sierra has to offer. The stretch of the JMT from Happy Isles to Garnet Lake is beautiful, but in our opinion is easily explored via day hikes or weekend hikes, using the ESTA and Yosemite buses for shuttling if necessary. The stretch from Garnet Lake to approximately Silver Pass (through the Mammoth region) is not as scenic as the areas further north or further south. And the JMT from Silver Pass to Evolution Valley runs far to the west (down-slope) of very fine High Sierra terrain, but unfortunately skirts the good stuff. On the other hand, the entire BLS is routed through the backcountry of Sequoia Kings Canyon National Park (aka SEKI), and it's all first class.

53 miles of the BSL is concurrent with the JMT and associated crowds. I believe this concurrent section covers most of the best of the JMT (excepting Muir Pass and adjacent valleys). But the other half of the BSL is on lesser used trails where it's possible to hike for many hours without seeing anybody.

The BSL avoids the Mount Whitney scene. There are several fairly easy Class-2 peaks (albeit without trail) that are accessible from the BSL, peaks that are climbed by just a few people, or a few dozen people, each year. Mount Whitney is 1) the tallest and 2) has a trail; but it also has a level of congestion and commotion that doesn't suit everybody.

As of 2012, bear canisters are required only for the middle section of the BSL (28 miles from Forrester Pass to Pinchot Pass).

When to go


All of the info describing when to hike the JMT applies to this route as well. There is one river crossing without a bridge (across Palisade Creek where it meets the Middle Fork Kings). That crossing could be difficult in high water early in the season, although with adequate scouting people in prior years have been able to find a log.

Which direction?


Clockwise or Counter-Clockwise both work, and there is no natural direction in terms of scenery or logistics. In either direction, you start at 5,000' and immediately climb to about 10,000 feet, so there is no option that eases you into altitude or effort. This initial climb is likely to be exhausting for the TMS'ers (Too Much Stuff'ers).

Hiking clockwise puts you on the JMT in a south-bound direction, which is the way most of the JMT crowds are travelling, so it will seem less crowded than if you are walking north-bound against the flow of traffic.

Hiking clockwise also puts the Colby Pass shortcut at the end of the trip, so if you fall behind your intended schedule you will have a way to shorten the trip. If you hike counter-clockwise, there is no reasonable way to shorten the trip and get back to your car after you pass the Woods Creek Trail junction. In an emergency you could exit via LeConte Canyon and Bishop Pass, but that puts you a very long way from your car. For this reason, hikers who are unsure of their pace or want to have the option of ending early would do better to hike clockwise.

Finally, there is one river that does not have a bridge, and might pose problems during high water. At the junction of the JMT and the Simpson Meadow Trail one must cross Palisade Creek. At low water one can wade. During higher water (early season), hikers in previous years have been able to scout around and find a suitable log. On the off-chance that there is no way to cross, it would be better to learn this early in the trip. If hiking clockwise, retracing steps back to Roads End is the only reasonable trail option to get back to the car if Palisade is not crossable. If hiking counter-clockwise there are two options: hike out via Bishop Pass to South Lake (east side, far from car); or retrace south on the JMT to Woods Creek Trail.

There are two bailout-early trails that return to Roads End: Woods Creek Trail and Bubbs Creek Trail. These are located mid-trip whether hiking clockwise or counter-clockwise.

Maps


Navigation via a simple map is sufficient. GPS is overkill. Compass and/or altimeter would also be useful in case you find yourself in a significant snow storm, or if you are navigationally challenged. The Trails Illustrated Map #205 of Sequoia King Canyon National Parks covers the entire route and all variations, including all emergency exit routes should they become necessary. This map is 1:80,000 which is marginal for significant off-trail travel, but is perfectly adequate for this route and minor side-trips off route. It weighs 3.3 oz.

The Tom Harrison 1:125,000 Sequoia & Kings National Parks Recreation Map also covers the entire route.

Peaks


The JMT includes the summit of Mt Whitney. The BSL does not cross any summits, but there are several class-2 peaks close to the route. The CalTopo map and the kml file show locations of some SPS peaks, but none of these peaks can be reached by trail. The information about routing is from RJ Secor. Anybody who is planning any significant off-trail travel is advised to get a copy of RJ Secor's comprehensive book: The High Sierra: Peaks, Passes, and Trails.

Some off-trail alternatives that might look tempting


There are some variations that, on the map, look like they might be good options. The following are variations that could be used, but all of these require off-trail navigation and are not appropriate for those wishing to stay on well-defined trails.

Crossing the Great Western Divide via Shepherd Pass ->Junction Pass ->Cener Basin. Secor describes Junction Pass: "Class 2. This is the original route of the John Muir Trail. It has not been maintained since 1932, but traces of the old trail are still visible..." Old maps show a trail over Junction Pass; indication of a trail has been removed from modern maps.

Crossing the Great Western Divide via Harrison Pass -> East Creek. Secor describes Harrison Pass: "Class 2. Some maps show a trail over Harrison Pass. Be forewarned: This trail has not been maintained for many years, and the especially critical section of it leading up the north side of the pass has all but disappeared...." Indication of a trail has been removed from modern maps.

Sixty Lakes Basin instead of Rae Lakes -> Arrowhead Lake ->Dollar Lake. There is a trail into and through part of the basin, but the off-trail route from the northern Sixty Lakes down to the JMT north of Baxter Creek requires picking a good line in order to avoid steep drainages and some cliffs.

Cartridge Pass -> Lake Basin -> abandoned Cartridge Creek Trail down to the Middle Fork Kings River. This trail is shown on old maps, but has been removed from modern maps.. Secor says "This trail has not been maintained for more than fifty years - if it was ever maintained at all. This is an old sheep route which was once the route for the JMT, until the trail was constructed up Palisade Creek and oer Mather Pass in 1938. The Cartridge Pass "Trail" is for all intents and purposes a difficult cross-country route." The route from the South Fork Kings River into Lake Basin is not difficult for somebody with basic cross-country skills. However, the descent from Lake Basin to the Kings River requires careful choice of routes and is choked with vegetation in the lower reaches -- not fun.

From Simpson Meadow to Roads End via Kennedy Pass instead of via Granite Pass. This is still an official trail and is shown on current maps. The stretch from Pine Ridge to upper Kennedy Canyon has not been maintained recently (as of 2012 when we last hiked it) and the tread is often obscure or obliterated. It is not a thrash, but it does require care and a good off-trail navigation sense in order to relocate a lost trail.

SEKI maintains an description of the condition of official park trails. Some of the routes listed above are not included, since they are no longer official trails.

You know, from the CalTopo view of the route, you can switch to different map layers (control in upper right) and view historic USGS maps, dating back to the early 20th century! It's fun. Gaia GPS on the iPhone offers access to these same cool historic USGS maps, as well as some historic UK OS maps!

Edited by drongobird on 05/11/2015 20:04:39 MDT.

David W.
(Davidpcvsamoa) - MLife

Locale: East Bay, CA
Re: Big SEKI Loop (as an alternative to the JMT) on 02/18/2013 15:20:35 MST Print View

Amy,

This looks like a great route to see a good portion SEKI that is logistically manageable for those of us coming from the west side. I have tabbed this page for future reference. Thank you for sharing the detailed trail description.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Big SEKI Loop (as an alternative to the JMT) on 02/18/2013 17:19:22 MST Print View

"In this post, I am describing a trail hike for people to consider as an alternative to hiking the JMT. The BSL is not famous, but it has some advantages when compared to the JMT."

A truly excellent route! I hope this attracts the interest and appreciation it deserves. For those who want to experience the best the Sierra has to offer on trail, you need look no further. I also hope it never becomes as famous as the JMT,
for purely selfish reasons.

Thank you, Amy, for sharing your years of experience.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Very timely on 02/18/2013 17:31:34 MST Print View

As I was walking to work this morning I was thinking about if it would be possible to string together a Sierra route between Tahoe and Kennedy Meadow that would be on par with a thru hike. It would be incredibly cool to spend a summer in the Sierra. One alternative that I would add to this route would be to replace the JMT over Forester section with Junction and Sheperds passes to the east.

Amy Lauterbach
(drongobird) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Big SEKI Loop (as an alternative to the JMT) on 02/18/2013 18:25:19 MST Print View

"One alternative that I would add to this route would be to replace the JMT over Forester section with Junction and Sheperds passes to the east."

That is one good way to vary the Big SEKI Loop for people who are prepared to deal with cross-country travel and/or abandoned trails. It has been many years since we crossed Junction Pass, but IIRC there are a few stretches that are no longer recognizable as trail. I don't recall it being difficult, but somebody expecting a trail might be surprised. Same holds for Harrison Pass.

Secor describes Junction Pass: Class 2. This is the original route of the John Muir Trail. It has not been maintained since 1932, but traces of the old trail are still visible...

Secor describes Harrison Pass: Class 2. Some maps show a trail over Harrison Pass. Be forewarned: This trail has not been maintained for many years, and the especially critical section of it leading up the north side of the pass has all but disappeared..."

For folks unfamiliar with the history, both Harrison and Junction Passes were at one point crossed by well constructed trails, but they were abandoned in favor of Forrester Pass. Rock slides have obliterated pieces of those trails, and neither trail has been maintained for decades.

My goal for the BSL is to provide an alternative to the JMT for people who want to hike on maintained trails. Folks with off-trail skills and interests can grab a copy of Secor's book and do all sorts of creative things :)

Thanks for mentioning this - I updated the original post with info about some of the abandoned-trail variations.

Edited by drongobird on 02/19/2013 09:55:53 MST.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Big SEKI Loop (as an alternative to the JMT) on 02/18/2013 18:36:11 MST Print View

"For folks unfamiliar with the history, both Harrison and Junction Passes were at one point crossed by well constructed trails, but they were abandoned in favor of Forrester Pass. Rock slides have obliterated pieces of those trails, and neither trail has been maintained for decades."

I can attest to Harrison Pass, since I was there last August. Going up from the Kings side (the north side), there was zero trail visible or even imaginable. Once on top, I could see a few tiny pieces of trail, but they were constantly being messed up by the rock slides. Let's just say that it was 'interesting' for a solo traveler, and it was sure the place to put those ultralightweight priciples into use.

--B.G.--

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Junction Pass on 02/18/2013 19:17:15 MST Print View

I can't speak for the quality of the trail. I went over on snowshoes. :) Trail looked good from what I could see (under ten ft of snow). My avatar is taken from junction pass looking north.

James Castleberry
(Winterland76)
Big SEKI Loop on 02/18/2013 19:25:35 MST Print View

Great route Amy! Thanks for putting it together and sharing. Soon to be classic and on my to-do list for this year. Love the many possible alternatives.

David Lutz
(davidlutz)

Locale: Bay Area
BSL on 02/18/2013 21:51:05 MST Print View

Looks like a very cool loop. I was trying to decide what to do this summer and this might just do the trick.

Thanks for putting that together.

One small suggestion to top it off - a map list or recommendation would be great.

Amy Lauterbach
(drongobird) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Big SEKI Loop (as an alternative to the JMT) on 02/18/2013 22:19:36 MST Print View

One small suggestion to top it off - a map list or recommendation would be great.

Good idea. I added a paragraph at the end of the original post.

Next steps when I get some time -- I'll add locations for the back-country ranger stations, and maybe for bear boxes, into the kml file.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: Big SEKI Loop (as an alternative to the JMT) on 02/18/2013 22:29:14 MST Print View

Awesome. You and Jim are awesome. Looks like a fantastic trip.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Big SEKI Loop (as an alternative to the JMT) on 02/19/2013 07:56:10 MST Print View

Thanks - maybe some day I'll do that but it's a couple days just to drive down there

I noticed that there are several river canyons in between that could shorten it, even more than your cut-off. 154 miles is a bit much for me, especially with bear canister and the high altitude - I get splitting headache above 10,000 feet but maybe after a few days I'de get over that.

Amy Lauterbach
(drongobird) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Updated Info in Big SEKI Loop (as an alternative to the JMT) on 02/19/2013 10:00:07 MST Print View

I made changes to the original post:
I replaced the map in the original post with a map that's much easier to read/interpret.
I added info about abandoned-trail alternates (that I don't recommend for people seeking a trail hike).
I added links to SEKI permit info.
I added an elevation profile image.
I also updated the kml file, so if you download it via the original post you'll get a couple additional minor trail alternates.

Chris S
(csteutterman) - F

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Big SEKI Loop (as an alternative to the JMT) on 02/19/2013 10:40:55 MST Print View

Nice looking route and quite the climb that first day! I was hoping to do something similar this summer, but other things already came up and I'll likely do shorter version -- likely parts 2 and 3 plus the Colby Pass shortcut of your route, but starting/ending at Crescent Meadow instead of Roads End.

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: Big SEKI Loop (as an alternative to the JMT) on 02/19/2013 10:55:15 MST Print View

Excellent information.
Thank you for taking the time and effort to share !

Nico .
(NickB) - MLife

Locale: Los Padres National Forest
Big SEKI Loop on 02/19/2013 12:44:16 MST Print View

Looks like a fun walk that could be used in a pinch for a week+ long trip when there isn't time (or motivation) to cook up an elaborate route of my own.

Will definitely keep this in mind.

Thank you for coming up with this and sharing it with the community here.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Big SEKI Loop (as an alternative to the JMT) on 02/19/2013 17:20:51 MST Print View

" I get splitting headache above 10,000 feet but maybe after a few days I'de get over that."

You might consider having a chat with your doctor about Diamox. It is widely used and quite effective for preventing altitude sickness, and might be just the ticket for you. It's a shame to miss all the Sierra beauty above 10,000' due to something that can probably be dealt with.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Re: Re: Big SEKI Loop (as an alternative to the JMT) on 02/19/2013 17:59:38 MST Print View

But, I've always gone above 10,000 feet with a day at most of aclimatization climbing Cascade volcanoes

Maybe I'd be okay after a few days

Can you take Diamox if you get altitude sickness, or do you have to take it before as a preventative?

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Big SEKI Loop (as an alternative to the JMT) on 02/19/2013 18:08:07 MST Print View

"Can you take Diamox if you get altitude sickness, or do you have to take it before as a preventative?"

Previously, the thinking was that Diamox needed to be working in system for a day or two before you ever go up to high elevation. Now the thinking is that it still works best that way, but that if you wait until onset of symptoms and start Diamox, it is better than nothing.

One problem is that you tend to be thirsty for the first day or two on Diamox, and if you don't have sufficient water to keep up with that, then you will feel even worse. I've seen people take Diamox when they were dehydrated, and they feel like crap.

I've carried Diamox on three peaks, but I actually consumed it on only one. On two, I had been monitoring my vital signs very closely, and I never got into any stress, so I never bothered to take any pills.

--B.G.--

Randall Spratt
(genreviam)

Locale: Minnesota
Big SEKI Loop (as an alternative to the JMT) on 02/19/2013 18:34:56 MST Print View

Thanks Amy!
I did the JMT in 2011 and the HST in 2012. I loved the trails, but agree, it was not a solitary experience!!! I have been looking for "less traveled" options, and your route is perfect for adding to my "must do" list. Looks like a winner. I'll track this thread for updates!!!
Randy

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Big SEKI Loop (as an alternative to the JMT) on 02/19/2013 20:03:33 MST Print View

"Can you take Diamox if you get altitude sickness, or do you have to take it before as a preventative?"

You can take it either way, but for those prone to AMS, prophylaxis saves some initial discomfort.

Edited: I just read Bob's post. His advice about staying hydrated is on the mark, but that is good mountain policy in general. Diamox has a diuretic effect, and what goes out needs to be replaced.

Edited by ouzel on 02/19/2013 20:06:58 MST.

Elizabeth Tracy
(mariposa) - M

Locale: Outside
resupply on 02/21/2013 11:29:53 MST Print View

This is fantastic. You have put a lot of hard work into describing it for people.

While many people could do this without resupply, there are others who can't or won't want to walk 15+ mile days, and WILL want a resupply. It might be helpful to list Kearsarge Pass/Onion Valley as the easiest resupply exit.

- Elizabeth

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Big SEKI Loop (as an alternative to the JMT) on 02/22/2013 17:07:06 MST Print View

Question about permits

If I go clockwise, I'de get a permit for Copper Creek. I bet that's lower use. That would entitle me to do the entire loop?

Would I be able to get a permit a few days after Labor Day or should I make a reservation?

Is there any place near Roads End where I could camp out over night?

Then I could just get up the next morning and pick up my permit? They open at 7 AM.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Big SEKI Loop (as an alternative to the JMT) on 02/22/2013 17:36:49 MST Print View

I'm pretty familiar with Sequoia and Kings Canyon. They are administered as a single park.

"If I go clockwise, I'de get a permit for Copper Creek. I bet that's lower use. That would entitle me to do the entire loop?"

Lots of backpackers want to go up Copper Creek simply because it is right there at Roads End. Unfortunately, it is quite an uphill march, so I would not recommend it to the faint of heart. Of course, if you try to start out over Avalanche Pass, it is even worse.

"Would I be able to get a permit a few days after Labor Day or should I make a reservation?"

It's hard to say. Reservations are almost always more reliable.

"Is there any place near Roads End where I could camp out over night?"

Yes, Cedar Grove is about six miles back down the road, and there are some big car campgrounds there.

"Then I could just get up the next morning and pick up my permit? They open at 7 AM."

Yes and no. Lots of backpackers try to do it that way. They roll into one of the Cedar Grove campgrounds, spend the night, then drive up to Roads End at the crack of dawn. Then they discover a waiting line that has been forming at the permit station. Often the people waiting are striving to get into the walkup permit quota for the most popular trails, like the Rae Lakes Loop one way or the other.

I have gotten excellent results by reserving my permit, and then picking it up in the afternoon the day before I actually start out. That also allows me to hit the trail at 6:00 a.m. while it is cool and not wait until 7:30 or 8:00 like the waiting line people do.

Yes, one permit will allow you to travel the entire loop. Technically, if you leave the loop and go to town for resupply, you will need a new permit to re-start there. Some people have devised good methods for legally working around that.

--B.G.--

Edited by --B.G.-- on 02/22/2013 17:39:04 MST.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Re: Big SEKI Loop (as an alternative to the JMT) on 02/22/2013 17:56:21 MST Print View

Thanks Bob (and Amy and...)

They close at like 2:45PM so I'de almost have to leave a day earlier because it takes two days to drive there (14 hours) oh well, maybe I could go further the first day and get up early the second day to get to the permit station well before 2:45PM.

Are there vacancies in Cedar Grove campgrounds?

Another thing, do you really have to carry out your toilet paper? Not that big a deal - two zip bags - I've become acustomed to draining the poop tank in my RV which has to be way worse - but sort of weird.

Maybe I should wait a week after Labor Day and start on the next Sunday or something.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Re: Big SEKI Loop (as an alternative to the JMT) on 02/22/2013 18:16:06 MST Print View

"Are there vacancies in Cedar Grove campgrounds?"

Yes and no, as you would expect. I generally make a point of arriving on some weekday away from the holidays. I try to arrive there early, about the time that others are leaving, 9-11 a.m., so I always score a site. If you are picky or have an RV, then there might not be so many perfect spots. There are black bears that prowl around those campgrounds, and they will steal your dinner in the blink of an eye. Then they run across the river to make your pursuit unlikely.

I generally try to arrive early like that and spend the rest of that day doing some short easy hiking. That may help with altitude adjustment.

I believe that the permit station ranger makes the same statements about toilet paper. I won't tell you what to do. Let's just say that some backpackers have gotten used to burning up their used toilet paper and then burying the remaining ashes in the hole. Besides, backpacker's toilet paper is very thin and produces very little ash when it is burned.

--B.G.--

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Big SEKI Loop (as an alternative to the JMT) on 02/22/2013 18:20:40 MST Print View

What??? You make a fire in the Sierras??? I would think that wouldn't be such a good idea.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Big SEKI Loop (as an alternative to the JMT) on 02/22/2013 18:31:18 MST Print View

"What??? You make a fire in the Sierras???"

Surely you jest. I never said that I made a fire.

There are some places where wood fires are forbidden. There are some places where all open fires are forbidden. There are places where there are legal fire rings, and you are forbidden from constructing any new fire rings. There are some times of the year when lots of stuff is forbidden. You just have to be aware of the rules in effect for the time and place you planned.

--B.G.--

Steve S
(idahosteve) - F

Locale: Idaho
eastern access on 02/23/2013 10:14:34 MST Print View

Cool info on some great hiking ideas. Coming in from the east, I really like the ability to basically find an access trail, and then make that my start/finish point on the loop. That could save a ton of time with regards to driving time. Thanks for the ideas!

Roleigh Martin
(marti124) - MLife

Locale: Moderator-JohnMuirTrail Yahoo Group
Another 150 mile alternative to the JMT -- A Lasso HST Hike on 02/23/2013 22:33:00 MST Print View

This is a great thread. A resupply near the midpoint is possible using Sequoia Kings Pack Train on the JMT at the Kearsarge Pass junction. They only require a 1/2 day to get to that point so the billing is only a one day use of packer and mule. I've used their service 4 years now. (I do the JMT annually, will be doing my 6th this summer. I've done the High Sierra Trail for 7 years prior to that.)

Another option is you can do the High Sierra Trail as a lasso-loop round trip that is around 150 miles long, nearly the same length as what you show. It enables a resupply at Lone Pine, via HorseShoe Meadow Trailhead (less costly than use of the Packers at the Kearsarge Pass junction). I've done it. Great hike.

Start in Crescent Meadows in SEKI.

At Kern River meetup on the High Sierra Trail (HST), go downriver, not upriver (as the HST states), go downriver 9 miles to Kern Canyon Ranger Station where there is a suspension bridge over the river.

Cross river, go east about 18 miles to Horseshoe Meadows TH, resupply via Lone Pine (Whitney SHuttle Service or hitchhike from TH to Lone Pine), stay overnight in Dow Villa, enjoy hot spa, and get back to Horseshoe Meadows TH before 24 hours has elapsed to avoid losing your permit. Get back onto trail but head north on the PCT up to Crabtree Meadows. From there go up to Whitney Summit and Back, then head back to Crescent Meadows via the normal HST route, and you'll get back to the Kern River junction where you originally went downriver, but now you'll stay on the HST to get back to Crescent Meadows. Great hike. You'd need two maps Tom Harrison SEKI/Whitney high country map and the Golden Trout Wilderness map from Tom Harrison.

Advantage of this hike is that you end up where you started, easier to deal with logistics. There is a shuttle bus from Crescent Meadows to Lodgepole, and from there to Visalia, CA where there is a small airport or buses to major airports.

Dirk R
(Dirk)
Re: Another 150 mile alternative to the JMT -- A Lasso HST Hike on 02/23/2013 23:03:55 MST Print View

To echo the sentiments of others, this is a fantastic thread and one of the reasons I rejoined BPL as a forum member. I would chime in here that during last year's early season hike of the JMT (when we ran into a ton of PCT thru-hikers headed north), I couldn't help but think that there had to be other spectacular routes that would provide far more solitude in the Sierra. I started researching routes this winter with the idea of returning again in a few years. Lo and behold Amy did a lot of this work for us!

I agree with Roleigh on the importance of logistics. The loop aspect of this hike is very appealing (as are the cross country opportunities) primarily because you can save a lot of time and effort at the end of the trip. Leaving via the east side of the Sierra presents logistical challenges that can extend the time it takes to return home. The ETA, for example, doesn't run buses on weekends.

Thank you for this thread, Amy. Great work!

Dirk

Rex Sanders
(Rex) - M

Locale: Central California Coast
FYI: Viewing KML in Google Maps on 11/15/2013 20:07:46 MST Print View

You don't need Google Earth to view KML (or KMZ) files, if the file is posted on a public web site like Amy's.

Just paste the address of the KML into the Google Maps Search box and press Return.

You'll get something like this:
Google Maps screen shot showing KML file

Some KML files are too complex to view this way, but most work fine.

Great loop, you've got me thinking, thanks!

-- Rex

Edited by Rex on 11/15/2013 20:09:27 MST.

Amy Lauterbach
(drongobird) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
access to Big SEKI Loop from east side trailheads on 02/07/2014 13:41:20 MST Print View

Daniel sent a PM asking about access from the east side instead of from the west side.

The loop could be done by coming in from any east side trailhead. The disadvantage is that you end up crossing the road at Cedar Grove in the middle of the hike, so it breaks up an otherwise fantastic backcountry hike. But, if it's easier to get to the east side from your home, and you don't mind a road crossing in the middle of the trip, then you could access the loop from the east side.

Any of these passes would give direct access: Bishop Pass, Taboose Pass, Sawmill Pass, Baxter Pass, Kearsarge Pass, Shepherd Pass, Whitney Portal, New Army Pass, or Cottonwood/Siberian Pass. Some are longer or harder hikes to get to the loop (Shepherd has lots of elevation gain and New Army is further distance). Some are easier to get permits. Some see less trail maintenance and might be a bit thrashy (Baxter, Sawmill, and as of a 2013 storm Shepherd).

If you go to the CalTopo view (http://caltopo.com/map?id=027E) and change the map layer (upper right) to NPS Visitor Maps all of these access points are clear, except Baxter Pass which is not labeled on the NPS map.

Edited by drongobird on 02/07/2014 16:09:59 MST.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: access to Big SEKI Loop from east side trailheads on 02/07/2014 15:11:47 MST Print View

"Some are longer or harder hikes to get to the loop (Shepherd has lots of elevation gain and New Army is further distance)."

Anyone contemplating using Shepherd Pass would do well to contact the Eastern Sierra Interagency Visitor Center (760) 876-6222 to check on the progress, if any, toward repairing the massive damage the trail sustained after heavy July, 2013, rainfall. All 4 crossings of Symmes Creek were washed out, and there are numerous washouts of the trail below Anvil Camp, including a 20-30' deep washout just below Anvil Camp. There are also several washouts on the headwall. If this damage is not repaired before your trip, it will turn an already difficult approach/resupply into a real ordeal.

dscn9714

The Sawmill Pass trail also sustained damage, but was still hikeable when we came down it last September.

Edited for content after refreshing my memory. The sign, above, is posted at the TH.

Edited by ouzel on 02/07/2014 15:50:06 MST.

Amy Lauterbach
(drongobird) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
access to Big SEKI Loop from east side trailheads on 02/07/2014 16:08:51 MST Print View

Thanks Tom for the heads-up. The 2013 damage to Shepherd Pass Trail, and also problems with Baxter Pass and Sawmill Pass trails are described on the SEKI Trail Conditions page. I added a link to the page to the original post, making it easier for people to find it.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: access to Big SEKI Loop from east side trailheads on 02/07/2014 17:49:20 MST Print View

"The 2013 damage to Shepherd Pass Trail, and also problems with Baxter Pass and Sawmill Pass trails are described on the SEKI Trail Conditions page."

Thanks for the link, Amy. The damage to the Shepherd Pass trail is even worse than the TH sign indicated. That is very bad news for me, as I use it a lot. Sawmill was pretty chewed up last fall, and I suspect it will be even worse after spring runoff, even if it is low. The Forest Service/NPS are way too short of funds to make much progress in repairing damage of that magnitude. When I talked to them last September, they were not even aware of the damage to Sawmill, 3 months after the July flash floods. They simply didn't have the personnel to regularly patrol the trails. I doubt much has changed since then. Hard times all up and down the East side. :(

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: access to Big SEKI Loop from east side trailheads on 02/07/2014 18:18:00 MST Print View

Tom, do you know of any source of updated information on these trail problems at Shepherd, Baxter, Sawmill, Taboose?

I generally find the national park service web site to be inadequate or late for these trail conditions outside the parks. Since it is all national forest, it would be neat if we could find our way to some planning or progress reports. This assumes that they will jump on it early in the season. I ask, because I had plans there for mid-season.

--B.G.--

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: access to Big SEKI Loop from east side trailheads @ B.G. on 02/07/2014 20:02:47 MST Print View

"Tom, do you know of any source of updated information on these trail problems at Shepherd, Baxter, Sawmill, Taboose?"

I'd give the East Sierra Interagency Visitors Center a call, Bob. The guy I talked with was a serious type who actually gets out in the field, and had been up Sawmill a couple of weeks before the July storms that caused the washouts. I can't remember his name now, but if you could ask around there for someone like him, you'd likely get as much information as is available. When I reported the washout(s) on Sawmill, he took it all down and immediately sent a report in while I was there, along with a request to send someone out to evaluate the damage. Apparently they did, because it's now on the website Amy linked us to. Another possibility would be to post inquiries on highsierratopix.com later this year and see if anyone who has been up there recently responds.

I share your concerns about timely information, as my plans for this year are also potentially impacted. IIRC, you are planning something to do with Baxter. As you probably know, it is not well maintained under normal circumstances and, if it has sustained any damage, will likely not be very high on the USFS priority list. My guess would be that Shepherd Pass will be first in line, as it has become increasingly popular in the last few years. Sawmill, like Baxter, doesn't see a lot of use but, if it doesn't sustain further damage this spring, will probably be hikeable, and would put you on the JMT not too far north of Dollar Lake. Sawmill Pass is a really pretty route, BTW, especially the Woods Creek drainage on the west side.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Re: access to Big SEKI Loop from east side trailheads @ B.G. on 02/07/2014 20:45:13 MST Print View

"I'd give the East Sierra Interagency Visitors Center a call"

I don't normally deal with them there except when it is time to pick up a Whitney permit, and I wasn't aware that they had much staffing except during the summer. However, it may be the only game in town.

Unfortunately, the whole permit reservation system has everything wide open for summer. That would be a bummer to be sitting on a reservation for months and then to go to pick up the permit and find out that the trail is closed.

--B.G.--

Pete Staehling
(staehpj1) - F
Resupply on 02/03/2015 06:40:06 MST Print View

I am intrigued by this route. Thanks go out to Amy and others who have added comments. It looks great in so many ways.

I do have a few questions that I should probably research myself but in case someone has done so already and can answer with minimal effort I'll ask a couple questions.

The route description says that no resupply is required, but does that mean no resupply is easily and cheaply available? I really much prefer to keep my resupply intervals to 4 days or less when possible and would like to have the option of taking it easy at times if I don't feel like pushing enough to manage 15 mile days every day. If necessary I might bite the bullet and go with no resupply and or push for longer days, but it sure would be nice to have a lighter pack and the option of not having to do super long days.

On a related topic, what are the bear canister requirements for the route? Required for the whole route? Just parts of it? If not required to use an approved canister, I'd consider either a Ursack or a counterbalance hang.

If resupply is available it becomes easier for me to deal with the caniser issue since I would then be able to use my smaller canister and smaller pack.

Lori P
(lori999) - M

Locale: Central Valley
re: Big SEKI Loop on 02/03/2015 07:24:36 MST Print View

I would not be able to take Diamox, and neither can anyone else who is allergic to Sulfa. Fortunately, I have yet to actually need it.

You SHOULD have a bear can if you are anywhere on the JMT and don't want to camp near the lockers. They are required in the Whitney Zone, which is where you are on the southern end of the loop. (I would never take an Ursack anywhere in the Sierra Nevada.) Fortunately Sequoia/Kings rents the Bearikade in the visitor centers.

There are also going to be marauding shirt/pack strap eating deer along the High Sierra Trail segment, particularly at Hamilton Lake.

The only resupply possible I can see without paying $$$ to a packer to bring you stuff would be if you had somebody leave some stuff at Bearpaw, and I'm not even sure they would let you do that.

It looks like a great loop - Deadman is one of my favorite places. I would totally pack a Bearikade Expedition for that, if I hadn't already committed my vacation to the Rubies and Gardiner Basin.

Pete Staehling
(staehpj1) - F
re: Big SEKI Loop on 02/03/2015 08:05:25 MST Print View

The problem of needing to carry that much food, for me, is that more food = bigger canister = can't take my favorite pack. I can manage 4 days pretty well with my small bear vault 450. I might even get 5 days out of it by packing super carefully and leaving all the food for the first day out of the canister. So there is the extra weight of the food, the extra weight of the bigger canister, the extra weight of the bigger pack, and the fact that I also just like my small pack better. To make matters worse the next bigger pack that I own is a lot bigger and a lot heavier, so I'd probably need to buy yet another pack.

In addition to the cost of using a packer, there is the problem of having to commit to a day and time to meet them. I really hate fixed schedules and prefer to avoid them when I can. I like being able to do an easy or a hard day depending on how I feel each day. If it wasn't for that I might be inclined to cough up the $$$ for a packer.

Lori P
(lori999) - M

Locale: Central Valley
re: Big SEKI Loop on 02/03/2015 08:12:02 MST Print View

I suppose it depends on what you eat. I've gotten a week in the Bearikade Weekender - the first 2-3 days are well off the beaten path so bear bagging plus the canister is possible. Regardless, your first day's food doesn't have to go into the can at all.

I would spend four days on the first segment anyway, just to take a day trip down Tehipite from Simpson Meadow. By the time I got to the JMT the food and trash would all fit in the canister.

Amy Lauterbach
(drongobird) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Resupply on Big SEKI Loop on 02/03/2015 08:13:30 MST Print View

Of course, HYOH. For me, the design point of this loop is to provide a way to take a long trail walk in the backcountry of the southern Sierras. It is specifically optimized to form one long wilderness trip for those who are interested in an uninterrupted backcountry hike. That said, here are three options for resupply.

1) Start the hike at Roads End as the loop is described. Exit the loop at the junction with the Kearsarge Pass Trail and hike east to Onion Valley trailhead, and hitch down to Independence. I suspect that would be a full day off the trail. That point is about mid-way.

2) If you draw a line along the Bubbs Creek Trail you'll form a figure eight out of this loop. You could just hike it as two short loops instead of one long loop. Start the hike at Roads End and hike to the eastern end of the Bubbs Creek Trail. This is very near the junction with the Kearsarge Pass Trail. Then go west down Bubbs creek to return to your car. Then proceed to take the other half of the hike.

3) if you started the hike at Onion Valley you could presumably arrange for a resupply when you pass Roads End in Kings Canyon. I'm not aware of any package-holding services in the park, but you could look into that option.

All of these options would change flow of the trip entirely. It is a long way to hike without resupply, at my pace 9 or 10 days. But for me that is the whole point! If you want to hike in 4-5 day chunks, there are plenty of other ways to visit the Sierra and I'm not sure this loop has any particular advantage over other options. Pete - I don't know you, but I'll go out on a limb and suggest an alternative to planning a resupply. Hike the loop in the clockwise direction. Bite the bullet and carry food for 9 or 10 days. Since you said you'd like to have the option of taking it easy at times, then do just that - hike at whatever pace suits you. If you end up averaging just 5 miles a day, then return to your car via Paradise Valley (Woods Creek Trail). If you make slightly faster pace, then return via Bubbs Creek Trail. If you make a little more mileage, then return Colby Pass and Cloud Canyon. And if you find that you are in the mood to walk 15 miles a day, then continue all the way south to the High Sierra Trail and return via Kaweah Gap and Roaring River route. You don't need to commit up front.

If you start at Roads End and hike counter-clockwise, then there's no straight-forward way to shorten the trip once you've passed Woods Creek Trail. By hiking in the clockwise direction you give yourself more flexibility later in the trip.

Bear information: http://www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/bear_bc.htm
That page has a link to a map that shows areas where bear cans are currently required. WRT this route, it includes the JMT section between Pinchot Pass and Forester Pass.

Pete Staehling
(staehpj1) - F
re: Big SEKI Loop on 02/03/2015 11:19:17 MST Print View

That certainly is helpful and gives me some options to consider. I have no need to rush in deciding as the trip would likely be in September.

My take on the wilderness experience aspect is that, for me at least, stopping to resupply doesn't detract substantially from the experience. Also to be honest I really don't find sharing the trail with quite a few other backpackers to detract all that much either. On my JMT hike, I enjoyed the company of almost all of the folks I met on the trail other than the first day. The only part where I minded the crowds very much on the JMT was the first day out of the Yosemite Valley and to a slightly lesser extent the evening at LYV. In 2013 I even managed to camp in beautiful places where no one else was around for a good percentage of nights. So I am not looking at this route as much for more solitude as for the fact that it is a loop and that it eases the permit hassle.

Maybe I am weird in this, but I often find the interaction with others on the trail a plus, once away from the hoards of day hikers. I have done trips where I was completely alone the whole trip and I actually enjoyed that less.

Wim Depondt
(wim_depondt) - F - MLife

Locale: The low countries
Additional resupply options on 02/03/2015 12:42:01 MST Print View

Some other ideas:

-It is possible to send a resupply package to the Onion Valley trailhead, thus preventing the need to hitch in & out of Independence. Costly though: 125 USD flat fee (thank god the €/$ was good ... back then :-)). Contact Pine Creek Pack Station and Sequoia Kings Pack Trains (pinecreekps@aol.com).
- Another option is to use the Mt Williams Motel resupply package at Independence (http://mtwilliamsonmotel.com/) . Chris Chater, one of the owners of Mt Willams Motel, is apparently also prepared to sherpa resupplies over Kearsage pass for a liberal donation to the Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep Foundation (source: Doug, the co-owner of Mt. Williams Motel).
- If travelling counter clockwise from Roads End and if your bear canister is too small for the entire journey, one might consider using the food boxes for the first couple of nights. Do your research. Also not entirely according to regulations if I remember correctly.

PS: State Lakes – Lake Basin – Cartridge pass is a viable option for the SEKI-loop (two days): superb views, easy route finding and little talus. It was one of my best days in de Sierra. There is use trail over cartridge pass.

edit:typo

Edited by wim_depondt on 02/04/2015 10:31:54 MST.

Pete Staehling
(staehpj1) - F
Food Drop on 02/03/2015 15:05:21 MST Print View

Thanks, I'll consider those options. It would be worth the fee for pack service to me to be able to travel with a lighter pack. The only part I tend to balk at is that I assume I need to be there at a set day and time and I prefer to play my schedule by ear as I go. Can't have everything though :)

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Food Drop on 02/03/2015 15:38:24 MST Print View

I reported this before. I've passed by the Kearsarge Pass/JMT/Charlotte Lake trail junction before when I saw guys just hanging out in the shade. I would go over to ask them how things were going, and they were typically waiting there for the horsepacker to arrive with the food bag. The backpackers were going southbound, and that was the last resupply on the way out over Mount Whitney. They would report that they had been waiting there an hour or whatever past the agreed meeting time, so that has to be a nervous time for the backpackers.

I've also arrived at the same spot when the food handover was happening, so it is good to see things work as they are supposed to.

I'm always coming and going over Kearsarge Pass, so I see these things a lot.

A similar scene shows up at LeConte Canyon Ranger Station.

--B.G.--

William Finch
(sekihiker) - F

Locale: Kings Canyon/Sequoia
Great sampler for SeKi on 03/02/2015 12:06:58 MST Print View

You have put together a cool, long trip that can be done without resupply. I just ran across your trip reports for the first time today and I can't imagine how I have never seen them before. Maybe you have never visited my site, either at: www.sierrahiker.com

Patrick O'Neil
(human) - F
Re: Great sampler for SeKi on 03/14/2015 14:12:22 MDT Print View

Hi everyone, I'm not from California and have been trying to get a JMT SOBO permit and I've given up. This loop looks interesting. I have a question for those experienced in the area: is there any kind of shuttle service to road's end from Fresno? I think not because google has revealed zip. Anyone hitchhike in and out before?

Edited by human on 03/14/2015 14:45:19 MDT.

Martha Bryan
(marthabryan) - M
Re: Re: Great sampler for SeKi on 03/18/2015 07:53:29 MDT Print View

I have been searching online too and came up with this option:
http://www.edisonlake.com/hikers/transportation.

Does anyone have experience with this service?
I wonder if there is a way to plan to share the ride expense?

Lori P
(lori999) - M

Locale: Central Valley
re: Big SEKI Loop on 03/18/2015 08:15:36 MDT Print View

"is there any kind of shuttle service to road's end from Fresno? I think not because google has revealed zip. Anyone hitchhike in and out before?"

No, there is not. The road opens in May, usually. People have hitchhiked but it's a tough sell - there isn't nearly the traffic there is in Yosemite.

There is a shuttle into Sequoia from Visalia, however.

Patrick O'Neil
(human) - F
Re: re: Big SEKI Loop on 03/21/2015 10:29:46 MDT Print View

Thanks for the info!

Martha Bryan
(marthabryan) - M
Re: re: Big SEKI Loop on 03/23/2015 13:34:03 MDT Print View

It seems that the shuttle from Visalia to Sequoia runs only in the summer season.
Do you know of any public transportation from Fresno to the park (ultimately to Road's End Trailhead) in September?

Lori P
(lori999) - M

Locale: Central Valley
Re: re: Big SEKI Loop on 03/23/2015 14:32:41 MDT Print View

There's no public trans into Kings at all, or Sequoia, from Fresno.

Amy Lauterbach
(drongobird) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Transit Service to SEKI west side on 03/23/2015 14:48:59 MDT Print View

Sequoia Shuttle: https://www.sequoiashuttle.com/

"Our 2015 Season will begin May 21st and run through September 27th."
$15 round trip, includes shuttle service inside the park.

There is Amtrak service to Visalia. http://www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/publictransportation.htm

That shuttle service only serves Sequoia, but I suspect it wouldn't be that tough to hitch from Sequoia to Kings Canyon - but I've never done it. Hitching from the Central Valley up to the mountains would be tough and I wouldn't count on success, but once in the mountains I'd probably take my chances.

It would be an long all day endeavor to get from Fresno all the way to Roads End. Not easy like the east side trailheads.

Martha Bryan
(marthabryan) - M
Re: Transit Service to SEKI west side on 03/23/2015 20:39:43 MDT Print View

Thank you. I called the shuttle service this am and was told that the shuttle would stop running come September. After getting your post I went back to the shuttle info site to see they had changed the info stating they would run until end of September. This is good news.
But then I still have to get from Sequoia to Cedar Grove...(without a car)
This planning for your area is new to me.I am flying from MA and thought that starting at Road's End with the proximity to Fresno made logistical sense. But maybe that is not the best planning.
Would you advise starting at a different trailhead/permit after flying in (maybe to Reno?) in order to hike your Big SEKI Loop?

Amy Lauterbach
(drongobird) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Transit Service to SEKI west side on 03/23/2015 21:08:04 MDT Print View

Martha

The Big SEKI Loop really is best from Cedar Grove (aka Roads End). It was designed with that starting point in mind. But access to that trailhead without a car is tough.

If you're coming in from MA, I'd be inclined to fly to Reno and use ESTA http://www.estransit.com to take the bus down to one of the east side trailheads instead, and hike a different hike instead of the Big SEKI Loop. Bus access up and down highway 395 is pretty good, and Reno is a major airport with lots of flights. And hitching from 395 to any of the trailheads is very easy.

If you want a trail hike that's got good bus access from an airport, then I'd fly to Reno, bus to Bishop, hitch to North Lake trailhead (west of Bishop), hike up over Piute Pass, and drop west to pick up the JMT/PCT. Stay on the PCT when it splits from the JMT near Mt Whitney (which is a crowd scene that you should avoid unless you want to say you've been to the highest point in the lower-48) and exit over New Army Pass or Cottonwood Pass. From there it's an easy hitch down to Lone Pine. Spend a night in Lone Pine and take the morning ESTA bus back to Reno.

Very rough map of this route: http://caltopo.com/m/6A6G

This has you on the JMT for most of the trip. It's the best part of the JMT, and although not isolated from other hikers it is stellar scenery. In my experience, the JMT thru-hikers rarely go more than 200 meters from the trail. So just plan to wander 30 minutes off trail at the end of each day and you're likely to have your own lake or meadow all to yourself.

If you don't have time to go from North Lake, then you could start at South Lake instead and go over Bishop Pass to reach the JMT (but then you miss Muir Pass and the associated high lakes). If you're comfortable with easy off trail hiking, then start at North Lake and go over Lamarck Col.

There are MANY great hikes in the Sierra from the east side. I'm suggesting one that is very easy to describe. The JMT is not the only trail, but it's the simplest wa

Amy Lauterbach
(drongobird) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Big SEKI Loop and transit on 03/23/2015 21:45:35 MDT Print View

Martha - or, alternately, spring for the $300-400 and rent a car at the Fresno airport. Just depends on whether your time is more valuable than your money.

Martha Bryan
(marthabryan) - M
Re: Big SEKI Loop and transit on 03/25/2015 05:57:09 MDT Print View

Thank you Amy for all the information and for taking the time to suggest some alternate options from the east.
Yes time versus money?! I am hoping to spring for the rental if all goes as planned.
Very much appreciate your knowledge and sharing your experience.

Patrick O'Neil
(human) - F
Re: Big SEKI Loop (as an alternative to the JMT) on 04/21/2015 20:08:58 MDT Print View

Stupid questions to anyone who hikes in seki often: I just got a confirmation for a reservation at Bubbs creek in August. I made it for 11 days, what exactly happens if I'm on the trail for an extra day? I also made the exit bubbs creek, technically it would be copper creek. Does this matter?

Last question: any ideas on how the drought will effect the area? Should I be worried about water?

This will be my first time visiting the sierras so not to familiar with how reservations work . . .

Thanks in advance for any info.

Andrew F
(andrew.f) - F - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Re: Big SEKI Loop (as an alternative to the JMT) on 04/21/2015 22:39:46 MDT Print View

The rangers will happily change your exit TH or trip duration when you pick up the permit; it won't affect your reservation. It's mainly used for SAR purposes if someone reports you missing.

Named creeks and rivers will still have water in August, and of course the lakes will too.

Jim Sweeney
(swimjay) - MLife

Locale: Northern California
exit date on 04/21/2015 22:59:33 MDT Print View

Just to emphasize that the rangers never check that you've exited on the day you said you would, or in fact ever exited. The system is principally concerned with trail head apportioning, allowing a certain number to depart from each trail head each day. A secondary concern is to give them some idea where to look for you if you're reported lost. Once you're underway, especially after a few days, the schedule, and route, which you initially gave them can become quite elastic.

Lori P
(lori999) - M

Locale: Central Valley
re: exit date on 04/22/2015 08:19:35 MDT Print View

What may happen, though, is if someone notices a car sitting a long time in the park parking lots, which are monitored, they'll run the plate. If they see you're quite a bit overdue they start searching. (I've been on a couple of those in Yosemite.)

Patrick O'Neil
(human) - F
Re: re: exit date on 04/22/2015 10:25:55 MDT Print View

Thanks everyone for your responses. I have the maps but havent started figuring out an itenerary. I'm planning on 15 miles per day. Are there long stretches without water, say ten miles or more?

Theo Diekmann
(Theo321) - F
Big Seki in early August on 04/22/2015 18:29:02 MDT Print View

Hi all,

I will most likely do a variation of the Big Seki Loop in early August this year. I will probably bug you guys in order to figure out possible slight variations of the trail at a later time.

Right now, I have some more basic questions:
What day/night temperatures should I expect in early August?
The tent question: What do I have to expect in terms of bugs, chance of rain availability of tent-suitable spots, exposedness of the terrain and wind (and anything else you deem important), and based on that would you recommend
- fully zipable waterpoof bivy (with optional bug headnet and optional MLD rain kilt as micro tarp)
- MLD Monk Tarp with either waterproof or water-resistant bug-net bivy
- MLD Solomid w/ water-resistant bugnet-bivy

I should say I really like bivying (also my bivi is really light around 300g) and I guess I could cope with light drizzles or occasional showers but probably not long or frequent rain. Also the bivy is most forgiving with non-optimal camping spots. The tarp is a little small for weather protection in exposed areas but the Solomid might be a little overkill. What do you think?

Of course I'd also be interested in the water situation.

Thanks everybody (especially Amy) for putting together this awesome alternative to the JMT!

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Big Seki in early August on 04/23/2015 01:07:09 MDT Print View

I'll take a crack at some of these issues.

Day temperature? You should be prepared for it to get up to 65-70F.
Night temperature? You should be prepared for it to get down to 30F, light frost on the ground.
Bugs? By August, it may have dried out somewhat, so the bugs may not be a big deal. However, they can always be around in small numbers, especially if you camp near wet areas with moderate air temperatures. You want to have some kind of bug repellent, although you may not need to use much (if you are lucky). Also, a mosquito net head bad is handy.

Most of the time, the rain showers will not appear at all. Sometimes they appear for a couple of hours in the afternoon. Once in a while it will rain at night. Once in a while the precipitation will be sleet or hail instead of rain.

A fellow told me that it hardly ever rains in the Sierra Nevada. Then he went out on his next summer trip and got rained on for nine out of eleven days. Two years ago I got rained on (for a few hours) for five days in a row.

--B.G.--

Sam Buchta
(sbuchta) - F
Re: Re: Big Seki in early August on 04/23/2015 07:17:33 MDT Print View

I'm no Sierra expert but I'd add that although the daytime temps might not get high, the bright and strong sun can make things feel hotter and it's nice to have some clothes that can cover up exposed skin on your arms or legs while not making you too hot. Sun protection is pretty handy to have.

It also might feel a lot warmer in the lower areas of the trail but that shouldn't really be an issue.

Lori P
(lori999) - M

Locale: Central Valley
Re: Big SEKI Loop on 04/23/2015 07:48:35 MDT Print View

One of the things people underestimate is the sun at higher elevations. If you plan to be in granite for more than an hour or two, a big brimmed hat, long sleeves/pants and good sunglasses are important. It's possible to temporarily go blind up there. A friend had to redneck herself some eye protection on day 4 of a trip because the intense sun was giving her a headache. Another friend crossed the Tablelands in shorts and a tank top, and ran out of sunscreen trying not to fry, without success. It was her habit to wear shorts and short/no sleeves while hiking, with just a bandana on her head, and it was the first time she stayed above treeline in granite for a day's hiking. She begged sunscreen from the rest of us on the way to the car and looked pretty red and uncomfortable. So if you will be above treeline for extended periods don't rely on natural resistance to sunburn or sunscreen that sweats off.

There is usually about a 30 degree differential between night and day temps. It can swing farther - we exited early when a friend prepped for the forecasted 30F night temps and it plummeted to 15. She prepped for forecast, I usually take enough for comfort at 20F and survivability to well below that and would have been fine if perhaps a little chilly. We passed a ranger on New Army Pass wearing a heavy jacket and one of those fur lined hats with ear flaps and it was spitting snow. That was the last week of July/first week of August. The winds were so strong on 395 that I had to stop in Mojave at a motel to wait it out. The car was being pushed off the road. None of it was forecasted.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Big SEKI Loop on 04/23/2015 14:05:42 MDT Print View

Yes, at higher elevations, the UV light in daylight is much stronger than at sea level. Therefore, you tend to sunburn a lot quicker. It depends on your actual elevation, but on the summit of Mount Whitney the UV intensity is about three times the normal sea level intensity.

--B.G.--

Theo Diekmann
(Theo321) - F
Re: Re: Big Seki in early August on 04/24/2015 11:53:00 MDT Print View

Thank you so much for your answers!

Bob's description of the bug-situation contained a lot of "mays". Is there a not negligible chance that I will find myself in serious bug-situations or can they mostly be avoided by smart choice of campsites? That's a decisive factor for my "bivy or not"-question.

As for the sun, I am prepared with long pants and pearl izumi sun sleeves (these things are amazing, the keep me nearly as cold as with just short sleeves). I will also invest in something like to OR Sun Runner, I guess. Really good sunglasses are at my disposal, too.

Temperatures sound okay, I can either bring my MLD Spirit 28 or a Brooks Range Alpini 15. I'm partial towards the MLD that I can pimp with an insulated jacket if needed.

As some of you may have noticed, I opened a different thread, in which I initially wanted to discuss dayhike opportunities before the BSL. However, the thread's focus shifted more towards creating a variation of the BSL. Since I do not want to capture this thread with a discussion about a route that is not the BSL, I will just post the link here:
http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/process#forumtop
It'd be very much appreciated if you could also share your knowledge in this thread!

Again, thank you so much!

Kenneth Kuan
(kkcy93) - F
Re: Big Seki in early August on 04/27/2015 23:24:11 MDT Print View

Also thinking of doing the loop in August with my girlfriend. Just wanted to see if anyone has done this loop, CCW, using bear boxes for the first half until past Rae Lake? I currently planned out 8 days for it, with the first 5 nights using bear boxes so that a smaller canister (BV450) or an Ursack can be used to carry the rest of the food.

Day 1 (bear box): Road's End to Roaring River (15.3 miles)
Day 2 (bear box): Roaring River to Upper Hamilton Lake (14.7+0.9-ish miles)
Day 3 (bear box): Upper Hamilton Lake to Upper Funston Meadow (22.1 miles)
Day 4 (bear box): Upper Funston Meadow to Wallace Creek (13.6 miles)
Day 5 (bear box): Wallace Creek to jct with Sixty Lakes Basin Trail (20.9 miles)
Day 6: Sixty Lakes Basin Trail to somewhere near Upper Basin (17.7 + X miles)
Day 7: Previous point to Simpson Meadow (26.3 - X miles)
Day 8: Simpson Meadow to end (22.5 miles)

The mileage kind of ramps up (except for a long day 3 but followed by a shorter day 4). Actually with this route, one can even use an Ursack since the areas that require bear canister (Rae Lakes Loop) are covered by bear boxes. Thoughts? How much can one rely on bear boxes to have space? Even if bear boxes are full, is there any issue with using an Ursack and just securing it for areas that do not require a bear canister?

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Big Seki in early August on 04/27/2015 23:57:04 MDT Print View

"Bob's description of the bug-situation contained a lot of "mays". Is there a not negligible chance that I will find myself in serious bug-situations or can they mostly be avoided by smart choice of campsites?"

If the weather tends toward being very dry, that will minimize the bug situation. If the weather tends toward being a bit cold, that will also minimize it. Many mosquitos might show up in the evening shade, so if you spend evenings in a dry, sunny spot with a little breeze, then that will help. You may not be able to control all of this. In some areas, you may not have much choice in where you camp. All of the perfect spots may be taken, so you get stuck with some flat a hundred feet from a wet stream.

--B.G.--

Lori P
(lori999) - M

Locale: Central Valley
Re: Big Seki in early August on 04/28/2015 09:01:50 MDT Print View

Kenneth, a couple of thoughts.

Have you looked at the gain on some of the legs of your journey? If you or your girlfriend are not at the top of your game, that's going to hurt. I've half killed people on parts of this route.

What Upper Basin are you talking about (between Sixty Lakes and Simpson)? One does not simply bushwhack to Simpson Meadow - Tehipite is considered one of the most remote areas of the range simply because it becomes technical climbing or a completely miserable and dangerous bushwhack, even on some of the trailed routes. The Muro Blanco is not fun, either, even tho it's not vertical like other approaches.

I do not believe the Ursack is an option where there are habituated bears. Even if they do not get into it, they will not let up until they have damaged the tree or pulled the knot so tight you need bolt cutters. Once habituated bears taste the food, it's theirs. However, some of the areas you're heading into are quite remote, and the bears who love your food tend to hang out along the JMT. In closer to Tehipite the bears are merely curious to the point they take sustained effort to drive off - a little spooky how some of them act. They don't see lines of people carelessly leaving food about, so that's not the point of interest for them.

Kenneth Kuan
(kkcy93) - F
Re: Re: Big Seki in early August on 04/28/2015 09:31:40 MDT Print View

Yea one thing I did not consider is the elevation gain, but this is still a preliminary planning stage for me. As for fitness, we should be hiking a fair bit from June until August at elevation, so if we decide to go through with this we will definitely train for it.

On the map it just says Upper Basin, but really stopping any point past Pinchot Pass for that night would work since that is where bear canisters are required (Forrester to Pinchot). No intention to bushwhack at all, following the trail all the way.

I think we will still likely get a bear canister in the end, not just for the greater safety and convenience, but also so I don't have to convince park rangers of our plan to use bear boxes all the way where canisters are required. Just wanted to see if this was feasible to leave more options open.

Thanks for the reply btw!

Patrick O'Neil
(human) - F
Re: Re: Re: Big Seki in early August on 04/29/2015 17:05:50 MDT Print View

I'm a little confused about the bear canister. I thought I read somewhere in this thread that it is only needed for the rae lakes portion and found this :

http://www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/upload/FoodStorageContainer_PageSize_20130906.pdf

but this page shows one required for bubbs creek trail as well: http://www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/bear_box.htm

I would be going counterclockwise so would most likely not camp in that area, but I'm not exactly sure if I still need all my food in a canister. Will the rangers want to see that all my food is packed in a bear canister?

The parks that I have visited that required a canister required it for the whole park and wanted to see it. Of course they don't search your pack but I would like to respect the rules of the park.

I was going to try to pack 7-8 days of food in a BV500 and bring 2-3 days of food in a bag. Can someone confirm that I should just worry about the rock creek area?

Thanks.

Lori P
(lori999) - M

Locale: Central Valley
Re: Re: Re: Re: Big Seki in early August on 04/29/2015 17:11:01 MDT Print View

The entire Rae Lakes loop canisters are needed. I would not do any section of the JMT without one, either. The two most popular trails and not coincidentally they have more problems than anywhere save Yosemite.

Some years, the Roads End ranger tells people to stash Bear Vaults in lockers while in Paradise Valley. A bear has learned to flip them on their sides and bounce on them to distort the threads and pop off the lid.

Patrick O'Neil
(human) - F
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Big Seki in early August on 04/29/2015 18:32:49 MDT Print View

Thanks Lori, I understand that rae lakes loop requires one but does the western side of the big seki loop require one? I don't think I can get 9-10 days of food in a bear canister.

Kenneth Kuan
(kkcy93) - F
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Big Seki in early August on 04/29/2015 18:40:07 MDT Print View

From what I checked, the western side does not need one. Only from Forrester Pass to Pinchot Pass. But you still need some way to keep your food secure at the other locations.

Patrick O'Neil
(human) - F
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Big Seki in early August on 04/29/2015 18:47:24 MDT Print View

Ok thanks, I can fill up the BV500 and take extra food with me it seems. I won't have to worry until about 4-5 days in depending on how fast I'm going.

Cameron M
(cameronm) - F - M

Locale: Los Angeles
Re: Re: Re: Big SEKI Loop (as an alternative to the JMT) on 04/29/2015 19:21:47 MDT Print View

"The rangers will happily change your exit TH or trip duration when you pick up the permit; it won't affect your reservation."

You can even change your destination on the spot to exiting Whitney Portal, via High Sierra Trail, without being subject to any Whitney / Inyo quotas.

The Sequoia ranger also told me that they are comfortable with a plan that might include a couple of extra days of food overflow going into the bear boxes. But of course, you have to stick with the plan, and the boxes are few and far between.

Patrick O'Neil
(human) - F
Re: Re: Re: Re: Big SEKI Loop (as an alternative to the JMT) on 04/29/2015 20:36:02 MDT Print View

I'd rather not exit there because then to get back on I assume I would need another permit. Quick question on that subject though, can I actually go up mount Whitney with a permit from bubbs creek? I was thinking of camping at guitar lake, summitting mount Whitney and heading back to guitar lake. Is this possible with a permit from road's end?

Cameron M
(cameronm) - F - M

Locale: Los Angeles
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Big SEKI Loop (as an alternative to the JMT) on 04/29/2015 20:41:21 MDT Print View

I was told that so long as you come in from a Sequoia originating trail, what you are proposing should be OK. Neither Sequoia nor Inyo post this, and perhaps on purpose.

Patrick O'Neil
(human) - F
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Big SEKI Loop (as an alternative to the JMT) on 04/29/2015 20:46:40 MDT Print View

I did read that a "visiting permit" is required: http://www.recreation.gov/marketing.do?goto=%2Fpermitgeneralrules_72201.html

I found the cross country visiting permit page but have no idea which entry point to pick:

http://www.recreation.gov/permits/Inyo_National_Forest_Wilderness_Permits/r/wildernessAreaDetails.do?page=detail&contractCode=NRSO&parkId=72203

I'll take my chances when I get to crabtree meadows I guess.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Big SEKI Loop (as an alternative to the JMT) on 04/30/2015 18:15:16 MDT Print View

" I was thinking of camping at guitar lake, summitting mount Whitney and heading back to guitar lake. Is this possible with a permit from road's end?"

If I were you, I'd call the folks at the Eastern Sierra Interagency Visitor Center (760) 876-6222 to sort it out. They will know the rules. My understanding is that you can access Mt Whitney from any TH, but that you need a "Whitney Zone stamp" on your permit. I'm not certain enough to know for sure, since I have not visited the area in many years and the rules have changed a lot in the interim.

Patrick O'Neil
(human) - F
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Big SEKI Loop (as an alternative to the JMT) on 04/30/2015 18:26:32 MDT Print View

Thanks for the number I'll give them a ring tomorrow.

Cameron M
(cameronm) - F - M

Locale: Los Angeles
Re: Big SEKI Loop (as an alternative to the JMT) on 05/01/2015 16:57:23 MDT Print View

OK, this got me interested, and so I called Sequoia a second time, and the Eastern Sierra office. Both have confirmed, if you originate from Sequoia or any other trailhead not under the jurisdiction of the Eastern Sierra, you can pass through Whitney Portal and also summit Whitney at will. You do not need to transact with anyone other than Sequoia.

Edited by cameronm on 05/01/2015 16:57:53 MDT.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Big SEKI Loop (as an alternative to the JMT) on 05/01/2015 17:04:51 MDT Print View

"Both have confirmed, if you originate from Sequoia or any other trailhead not under the jurisdiction of the Eastern Sierra, you can pass through Whitney Portal and also summit Whitney at will."

That may be true, but the permit that is issued to you must reflect your exit intentions on the Mount Whitney Trail.

--B.G.--

Patrick O'Neil
(human) - F
Re: Re: Re: Big SEKI Loop (as an alternative to the JMT) on 05/01/2015 18:34:44 MDT Print View

I don't really plan on exiting there but this is all great info. This loop seems pretty tough for this flatlander adding whitney would be great but probably not realistic. I bet it will be the last thing on my mind when I get to the JMT.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Re: Big SEKI Loop (as an alternative to the JMT) on 05/01/2015 19:30:26 MDT Print View

"This loop seems pretty tough for this flatlander adding whitney would be great but probably not realistic."

For the first time that I did Mount Whitney, I was a flatlander. It kicked my butt, but I made it. It has gotten easier with time.

I think it is a lot easier to do Mount Whitney from the west side as compared to the east side.

--B.G.--

Sam Buchta
(sbuchta) - F
Re: Re: Re: Re: Big SEKI Loop (as an alternative to the JMT) on 05/01/2015 19:48:57 MDT Print View

It probably vastly depends on how altitude affects you and how quickly you acclimate, but after 3-4 days it might not be that bad doing Whitney from the west side. The trail up Whitney from Guitar Lake is nicely done with well graded switch backs. I'd expect the initial passes of this route would be tougher than Whitney by the time you get to it, but again, really depends on how you personally are affected by the altitude.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Big SEKI Loop (as an alternative to the JMT) on 05/01/2015 20:21:48 MDT Print View

"I'd expect the initial passes of this route would be tougher than Whitney by the time you get to it, but again, really depends on how you personally are affected by the altitude."

I agree. The initial passes are lower than Mount Whitney, but you are carrying your whole backpack load. By the time you go up Mount Whitney, you'll probably have only a tiny daypack.

Part of the secret is in knowing the altitude where you are, and adjusting your pace to be appropriate for that. In contrast, some people go blasting up Mount Whitney until they suddenly hit the wall at 14,000' or whatever. Then, with a splitting headache (or worse symptoms), they are forced to turn around.

On the other hand, once you get within spitting distance of the Mount Whitney summit, and assuming that it is still early enough in the day, then wild horses can't hold you back.

--B.G.--

Amy Lauterbach
(drongobird) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Big SEKI Loop - advice for High Sierra on 05/03/2015 11:41:20 MDT Print View

I'm chiming in late on a couple of questions that came up while we were out hiking.

Bugs in August -- our general guideline is that the mosquitoe season ends sometime in August. Following a dry winter early August is safe. Following a wet winter late August is safe. Following a very wet winter we wait until early September. We have NO tolerance for mosquitoes, so we play it safe. As everybody knows, the snowpack this year is record low. I'd be quite confident in saying that August 2015 will not be a problem for bugs at high elevation. There may be places with a few, but I'd be very surprised if there are any swarms anywhere remaining in August.

Weather in August -- historically (my recollection, not actual data analysis), 80-90% of August one week trips in the southern Sierra trips will have no meaningful precipitation. 10% will have bothersome precipitation. 5% will have a serious storm. We play it safe and carry a shelter that is worthy of a serious extended storm. In dozens of trips we've had only two very significant storms. Not many, but we would have been in deep doo-doo without storm worthy shelter. It's not like the Pyrenees (where we had a couple significant storms per week), but when it happens it's the real deal.

I'll also go out on a limb to say that with the changing jet stream pattern we are just as likely to get unusually strong monsoon summer storms coming from the south as we are to get Ridiculously Resilient Ridges that prevent winter storms from reaching us. Past performance is no guarantee of future returns, and all that.

Amy Lauterbach
(drongobird) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Big SEKI Loop (as an alternative to the JMT) on 05/11/2015 19:58:09 MDT Print View

Just want to let people know that I updated the original post.

The linked kml file and CalTopo map now include some waypoints. And they are clockwise instead of counter-clockwise, since I think that's how most people will end up hiking. That means that if you create a profile from the tracks they will run left to right if hiking in the clockwise direction.

There's a link to a printable Word document that shows the profile in fair detail.

There are a few more notes in the "Which direction" section.

There's a new section called "Peaks", which refers to a few of the new waypoints in the map/kml mentioned above.

I clarify that the BSL-with-Colby-Shortcut option is 23 miles shorter (131 vs 154), which might make a viable option for those that don't want to tackle 154 miles without resupply.

And I clarify that the loop is best (by a good margin) from Roads-End, but there's no public transit and hitching is tough.

Edited by drongobird on 05/12/2015 08:09:19 MDT.