Maybe this should be in the Pre-trip planning forum, but since I don't actually have a plan yet, I'm starting here first.
For those familiar with winter hiking and the Mammoth Lakes areas of the Sierras, what would be the best plan for getting to 1000 Island Lake in the winter? I've seen winter photos of people cross country skiing at the lake and other nearby lakes like Waugh, etc.
I don't have good winter skills, so this is a trip I would work up towards, even if it takes years to make it happen. It's sort of on my bucket list for backpacking. I'm basically looking for direction on what the best way to go about it would be.
Here are some of my questions...would a start from Mammoth Lakes (Minaret Vista) be best, or from June Lake, past Agnew, Gem Lakes? How many days would you suggest for the trip, planning at least one full day at 1,000 Island? Mode of transportation...snowshoes or cross country skis?
On the ski vs snowshoe topic, I tried snowshoing once in deep powder and had a horrible experience and swore off them for life (hahaha). If they are more effective for this type of terrain, I could reconsider, and learn to use them appropriately. I have cross country skied about 10 times, for half day trips, about 20 years ago. I took to it pretty quickly, and had an absolute blast, but that was on flat terrain, and groomed paths. I'm definitely not under the illusions that I'm now an xcountry ski expert.
Having hiked the High Trail to 1000 Island to River/ JMT loop in summer, I'm a little familiar with the route. I recall some fairly steep terrain on both routes, that might be difficult in snow.
Obviously I would get better prepared and trained before ever attempting this, but one question I have is a noob question about avalanches. For those familiar with this area, are the sides of the valley avalanche prone areas? They almost seemed to gently slanted to me to be in danger of that, but I really know nothing about avalanches.
For either snowshoes or skis, I'm thinking a pulk would be best? Anyways, I'd love to hear some thoughts to get me started...keeping in mind I'll take all the time necessary to improve my winter skills before setting out.