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Barcroft

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Barcroft

Postby NW » Wed Aug 22, 2012 7:36 pm

I had the chance to buy some cheap tickets to the west this year so am taking the kids this time. I knew I would never be able to be near the bigger mountains without venturing up one but didn't want to wear the kids out. So I looked into some and decided on Barcroft. Personally I like arduous journeys (I'll be drooling at it's neighbor the whole time) but it's close to some Joshua trees which I want to take them to see and it's a decent height for them. Plus we'll be able to show them Whitney since they have see the pics from our trip last year. The kids have never been at much altitude so I thought this one would be fine to test them out on (I know it sounds like some experiment put that way but you never know how each individual will react to altitude when they live at 66-300ft above sea level). Plus I'ld like a place that isn't super crowded before we head to Yosemite for awhile. I have taken them on some loooong days so they can take the hike no problem (we did Katahdin last year when they were 7 and 8 and are going there for round 2 for them in a few weeks). Just curious about how long anyone thinks it may take to go round trip back to the car. Just making some plans and any details would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
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Re: Barcroft

Postby SeanReedy » Wed Aug 22, 2012 9:38 pm

NW wrote:I had the chance to buy some cheap tickets to the west this year so am taking the kids this time. I knew I would never be able to be near the bigger mountains without venturing up one but didn't want to wear the kids out. So I looked into some and decided on Barcroft. Personally I like arduous journeys (I'll be drooling at it's neighbor the whole time) but it's close to some Joshua trees which I want to take them to see and it's a decent height for them. Plus we'll be able to show them Whitney since they have see the pics from our trip last year. The kids have never been at much altitude so I thought this one would be fine to test them out on (I know it sounds like some experiment put that way but you never know how each individual will react to altitude when they live at 66-300ft above sea level). Plus I'ld like a place that isn't super crowded before we head to Yosemite for awhile. I have taken them on some loooong days so they can take the hike no problem (we did Katahdin last year when they were 7 and 8 and are going there for round 2 for them in a few weeks). Just curious about how long anyone thinks it may take to go round trip back to the car. Just making some plans and any details would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!


That brings up tons of questions to me. When? The gate will be open all the way to the Barcroft Station on September 2nd (only). Then you would be looking at about 1.5 miles round trip and a bit over 500 feet of gain. In the fall, wind and weather concerns may increase.
The specific question I see is how much time it will take for your 7 and 8 year old to hike Barcroft. Specific to that, I would think you could guess that better than us with the information on the mountain page. My guess is 3-6 hours. Make them go slow to lessen the chance of altitude sickness. It sounds like a couple of miles of simple fire road walk each way with about 1.5 miles of straightforward off-road hiking in the middle of the hike. It is less than 6 miles round trip and a bit over 1000 feet of gain.

Where do you plan to come from and stay? The altitude makes completing that hike questionable and risky. Some find themselves with AMS without leaving the car all the way up there. Be wary of AMS, and its deadlier extensions. What will you drive? The drive from HWY 168 may take 2 hours each way (or more) depending on what you drive, car sickness, and altitude sickness. Will you have a spare tire(s)? The road is notorious for tire problems. From the paved part, there is a nice viewpoint and a Bristlecone Pine grove with hiking at a lower elevation and a safer, shorter drive.

I suggest checking out trailheads here: http://www.summitpost.org/eastern-sierra/154084. Little Lakes Valley/Mosquito Flat, South Lake, Lake Sabrina, North Lake, Onion Valley, Glacier Lodge/Big Pine Creek, Horseshoe Meadows, and others are scenic, accessible, high altitude, and have adventurous family hiking opportunities. You can ditch crowds with many of the suggested peaks, or ask around more on here, or check out peaks with the Interactive Map feature. Lower altitude might be just as adventurous and scenic with less risk of problems.

By the way, there are Joshua trees along the paved part of the Big Pine Road to Death Valley (turn off is on the south side of 168 just east of the north end of Big Pine). Going farther into unpaved parts of Death Valley is not advisable this time of year. The views of the Sierra coming back down to Big Pine are nice. As far as seeing Whitney, there are closer viewpoints for it to the south, if the specific peak view matters. I could make other suggestions if I knew a little more of your general plans. I do family trips to the Eastern Sierra, Death Valley, Mojave National Preserve, Western Sierra, and general vicinity year round.
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Re: Barcroft

Postby NW » Thu Aug 23, 2012 2:48 am

We are coming that way near the end of September, I had read that the gate would be closed in an an article. We are driving a Jeep Patriot. We will be camping at Onion Valley campground for a few days while in that general area before heading over YNP way. With the altitude that is why I looked for a very non technical route. They have proven quite capable of doing a certain amount of technicality on lower trails but I don't want that on their first higher peak. I in no way plan to put them in danger and have gone over in detail the effects of altitude and that I will be watching them and even though they may really want to go up I will make them turn no ifs ands or buts. While my husband and myself have had no issues with AMS we have run into people who have felt sick near 12000 feet so it is hard to predict. There was nothing specific about this mountains overall look or location that drew me. Though the view of White mountain looks amazing and my son wants to climb as he calls it "a desert mountain". Thank you for the link. I will definitely check it out.
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Re: Barcroft

Postby fedak » Thu Aug 23, 2012 3:19 am

You might want to consider car camping the night before right at the gate for acclimation. Not sure if this is officially permitted but there's usually a group there doing it.

Its entirely a road hike from the gate to the summit- altitude effects are going to be your only real obstical assuming the weather isn't a factor.

And FWIW, I second Sean's note that its a long long drive to White Mountain and there are many high elevation nontechnical options elsewhere that would be far closer than heading all the way down and around to White. (And that doing something in the 12k range would be just as scenic w/ less risk of potential issues with kids- I know that my judgement can get kinda wacky above 13k. Not sure I'd want to be trying to assess a grade schoolers acclimation in that condition)
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Re: Barcroft

Postby SeanReedy » Thu Aug 23, 2012 8:38 am

NW, the camping spot, enthusiasm, experience, and vehicle you mention should make an unsuccessful attempt at Barcroft less likely than I was worried about. It is the kind of thing I will try with my kids in a few years (they are younger so they hang out at camp, do shorter stuff, or ride in a pack for now).

If your son wants a desert summit in late September, venturing up White Mountain Road should make for a fun adventure. The dirt part of the drive is scenic and not very curvy. You might manage under 90 minutes road time from Big Pine to the trailhead/under 2.5 hours road time from Onion Valley, but I'd allow longer for sightseeing stops and taking it easy on passengers. If altitude bothers anyone too much, dropping down to either of the Bristlecone Pine groves might provide enough relief to at least get some hiking in. Hikes out of Onion Valley would be a good and scenic warm up. There will be spots available at Grandview campground, closer to the planned Barcroft hike (if you bring plenty of water and decide to break your camp at Onion Valley). I don't think the White Mountain trailhead would be a comfortable place to spend a night for your situation, but it makes sense for some scenarios.

If I were staying in Onion Valley, I think I'd have trouble pulling myself away from the hikes and peaks there and at other nearby Sierra trailheads, but I tend to stay at more remote/less visited places like you mentioned seeking. You might want to look into this spot on the other side of the Owens Valley from Independence as an alternative desert peak (lower, closer, shorter hike, and stellar Sierra/Whitney views): http://www.summitpost.org/mazourka-peak/597159

Have fun!
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Re: Barcroft

Postby butitsadryheat » Thu Aug 23, 2012 10:09 pm

Mazourka has a beautiful view of the Sierra crest as well, and a decent road up there.

While in Onion Valley, why not take them up to Gould? It's a walk up with a simple(r) summit block if that is even necessary. The view from up there to the west and north is great too, and shouldn't be too crowded.
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Re: Barcroft

Postby Gafoto » Sat Aug 25, 2012 8:47 am

I would highly recommend not camping at the Barcroft gate. It is usually crowded with groups of people from SoCal desperate for the summit of White Mountain and there are much better campsites to be found elsewhere. The Barcroft gate area is completely alpine and devoid of any large vegetation. It's generally windy and unpleasant for camping.

Since you have a 4 wheel drive vehicle I would recommend driving down past the Crooked Creek Research Station on the east side of the White Mountains. If you need more directions just let me know. Fantastic campsites in Aspen groves can be found close to running water and you can enjoy a bit of solitude.

I will also say that if you are going up to the Bristlecones and have a 4 wheel drive vehicle that you should go up the Silver Canyon Road. It's steep and rough at times but it is always in passable shape. Silver Canyon is rugged and scenic with a tremendous vertical relief that really lets you appreciate how massive the White Mountains are. It's much more pleasant to ascend Silver than it is to descend though. Return to the valley via Big Pine.
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Re: Barcroft

Postby fedak » Sat Aug 25, 2012 5:30 pm

A didn't know there were better options than the gate up there. My point was mostly just to try and acclimate at 12k- not necessarily a ringing endorsement of that roadside turnout as a prime campsite :)
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Re: Barcroft

Postby SeanReedy » Sat Aug 25, 2012 5:37 pm

I've always been intrigued by Silver Canyon, especially when heading up from Bishop, but am always in 2WD with low clearance, or a crew cab, long bed 4WD. Has anyone seen long trucks/SUVs on that road, or could comment on the advisability of heading up with a long wheelbase and poor turning radius?

Although pleasant enough, the view from Grandview campground's sites ain't that grand. Thanks for the boondocking tip.
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Re: Barcroft

Postby inconsolable » Sun Aug 26, 2012 4:28 am

[quote="SeanReedy"]I've always been intrigued by Silver Canyon, especially when heading up from Bishop, but am always in 2WD with low clearance, or a crew cab, long bed 4WD. Has anyone seen long trucks/SUVs on that road, or could comment on the advisability of heading up with a long wheelbase and poor turning radius?

From what I've heard, absolutely not with a poor turning radius. My mechanic acknowledged that he might've felt a flutter or 2, descending Silver Canyon in a jeep: "And there were a couple of idiots in a longbed..." They did make it, but I understand that they were not a pretty sight.
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Re: Barcroft

Postby Gafoto » Sun Aug 26, 2012 7:48 pm

The Silver Canyon road has some fairly tight switchbacks that are pretty steep too. I know I can rarely make the corners on the first try driving my longbed regular cab F350 for work. I'd feel fine taking up something a little bit longer than that even. There's plenty of room to do a little jockeying back and forth. I wouldn't take anything unusually long up there (no RVs!) but any normal truck will make it up just fine.

You could most likely make it up in a 2WD truck, assuming you have good tires. Descending without 4WD Low Range will give your brakes a working over though. It's also just unpleasantly steep to drive down. Going down Wyman Canyon is much more pleasant but kind of puts you out in the middle of nowhere.
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Re: Barcroft

Postby NW » Tue Aug 28, 2012 11:00 pm

Cool thanks for all in the input, on trails and trucks lol. I wasn't planning on sleeping at the gate just cause of having the kids with us. Love my kids but when they occasionally get in my bed at night I get feet and elbows to the face all night. Surprisingly they stay put in a tent, it has some sort of mysterious power over their ability to smash me in the face with bony little elbows while I'm sleeping....I don't know if a Jeep would have the same effect... to risky! Lol. I'm really looking forward to showing them the Sierras. They have heard me go on and on about the bigger mountains but this will be their first time seeing anything over 4300 feet. Hopefully it will blow their minds! Clearly I'm trying to plant the seeds for future climbers, so far I have been successful. After we did Whitney last year we took the kids to Katahdin, thinking we would have more stamina and strength then them. They flew by us going up the slide on one of the trails, hopping from boulder to boulder packs and all after 5 or so hours on the trail. Show offs....but who fell asleep on the drive back home huh?!
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Re: Barcroft

Postby AshleyS » Wed Aug 29, 2012 10:12 pm

I just did White a few weeks ago and really enjoyed staying at the Grandview camp site. The lay out of the sites are nice and give you privacy. There are also latrines available and probably making it more comfortable when camping with kids. Just make sure you have a good amount of water since it a dry campsite. I'm sure they will enjoy seeing the sheep too if they are still at barcroft.
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