Forum Index » Pre-Trip Planning » Big SEKI Loop (as an alternative to the JMT)


Display Avatars Sort By:
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.--