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Help me find next summer's hiking destination

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Help me find next summer's hiking destination

Postby tbaranski » Mon Oct 08, 2012 10:01 pm

Hello,

I live in Virgina and would like to start heading west at least once a year (solo) for greater hiking challenges and better views. I started off this year with a few days in Lake Tahoe (http://www.summitpost.org/lake-tahoe-2012/812055) and absolutely loved it. I'm looking at next summer for my next trip and would love to get some suggestions on where to go.

In rough order of importance, here's what I'm looking for:

1) Day hikes. (Probably three in three days, like in Tahoe.) I don't enjoy camping, so these need to be separate hikes each day.
2) Fun hikes! In particular, I love hard climbs up high peaks and the reward of a great view. Lots of elevation gain also a big plus.
3) Class 2-3. Challenging and fun, but no ropes required. (Pyramid Peak in Tahoe was my most memorable.)
4) High peaks. I'm looking at 12-13k territory after having no problems at 11k in Tahoe.
5) Close proximity. Ideally I'd stay in the same hotel for three nights and have lots of hiking options within reasonable driving distance.
6) Reasonably predictable weather. Since I'm flying across the country, rescheduling due to bad (wet) weather isn't much of an option. Places that are dry and snowless in mid-to-late summer (like Tahoe) are preferable.

I'm thinking something in Yosemite may make sense, but I'm totally unfamiliar with the area. Any advice would be appreciated. :-)
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Re: Help me find next summer's hiking destination

Postby JHH60 » Tue Oct 09, 2012 2:36 am

Yosemite has lots of spectacular hiking but if you want to avoid the heat and crowds of the Valley, and have easy access to peaks above 10K', your best bet in the park is Tuolumne Meadows, which has limited places to stay that don't involve camping (e.g., cabins at Tuolumne Meadows Lodge, or at Tioga Pass Resort just outside the park).

In California, some other places you might consider include Mammoth, which has lots of hotel space and also lots of short term home and condo rentals available, and lots of food and other creature comforts at night, but access to awesome hiking within a short drive. Likewise Bishop has a variety of comfortable lodging but also access to some of the best day hiking in Sierra - the Bishop Pass trail and the Big Pine Creek Trails are nearby, have eye popping scenery and access to many 12K', 13K' and even 14K' peaks within a day's hike. From Bishop you can easily drive south to Independence and Lone Pine and access Whitney and other high peaks, north to Tioga Pass and access the Yosemite high country, or East to the White Mountains.
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Re: Help me find next summer's hiking destination

Postby AlexRts » Tue Oct 09, 2012 6:11 am

Take a look at Bishop. Right there you have North Lake, Lake Sabrina, and South Lake. All have great dayhikable class 2-3 peaks with big elevation. You'll have a different trailhead for each day with minimal driving. There's even a Denny's in case you get back late!
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Re: Help me find next summer's hiking destination

Postby butitsadryheat » Tue Oct 09, 2012 6:23 am

^^^this^^^
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Re: Help me find next summer's hiking destination

Postby tbaranski » Tue Oct 09, 2012 11:57 am

Thanks everyone. The Mammoth/Bishop area looks awesome. Precisely what I was searching for.

One final question, I think: When do you think is the best time to go to have the best chance of avoiding snow on the peaks? Early August?
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Re: Help me find next summer's hiking destination

Postby SeanReedy » Tue Oct 09, 2012 5:04 pm

tbaranski wrote:Thanks everyone. The Mammoth/Bishop area looks awesome. Precisely what I was searching for.

One final question, I think: When do you think is the best time to go to have the best chance of avoiding snow on the peaks? Early August?


I agree with the suggestions. Guesses about snow are hard to make before May. Generally, most hikes don't involve snow by early August. Heavy snow years can see snow lingering on portions of some hikes/routes in early August, but generally not enough to be unavoidable or a problem. Such years are more likely to see mosquitoes lingering into August. Mid-August through September may provide closer to zero chance of snow and mosquitoes. Chances of a major heat wave or multiple days of thunderstorms generally lessen later on as well. Solitude increases after Labor Day, but days begin to shorten. Personally, I enjoy seeing some snow as an accent to the scenery, as long as I don't have to posthole or snowshoe through it for long stretches. Enjoy researching the peaks around Bishop. There are many scenic and rewarding options in that area.
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Re: Help me find next summer's hiking destination

Postby JHH60 » Tue Oct 09, 2012 6:09 pm

Some books you might want to read to do some research for your trip are Tom Stienstra's "California Hiking" and RJ Secor's "High Sierra: Peaks, Passes, Trails." Stienstra's book is mostly focused on class 1-2 hiking but has writeups for a thousand hikes all over the state, with directions to the trail head, distance and estimated hiking time, and subjective ratings for difficulty and scenic beauty. Secor's book is more focused on climbers and has information on routes and difficulty ratings (though these are often old school) and lots of good photos. Porcella and Burn's book, "Climbing California's Fourteeners" provides even more detailed information on routes for the 14ers in the state if you're interested in that - note that trailheads for all but one of these (Mt. Shasta) are less than a 2 hr drive from Bishop (though some of these are class 3+ by their easiest route and most of them are challenging to do car to car in a day).
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Re: Help me find next summer's hiking destination

Postby tbaranski » Tue Oct 09, 2012 6:36 pm

SeanReedy wrote:Mid-August through September may provide closer to zero chance of snow and mosquitoes.


I'd actually prefer to do this Labor Day Weekend (to get the Monday off) but I was worried about the possibility of early snow as the overnight lows at high elevations approach freezing. Do you think there's any realistic chance of accumulation so early in September? (Perhaps the sun would quickly take care of anything which does happen to fall.) I also like the lessened chance of storms and mosquitoes.

JHH60 -- Thanks for the books. I was looking around a bit yesterday but there were so many options. It'll be good to have something handy.
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Re: Help me find next summer's hiking destination

Postby butitsadryheat » Tue Oct 09, 2012 6:43 pm

Odds for snow in early September are low, but it's not unheard of (but as you say, would tend to be light)

Have fun!
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Re: Help me find next summer's hiking destination

Postby SeanReedy » Tue Oct 09, 2012 9:12 pm

http://www.summitpost.org/sierra-nevada/176773

http://www.summitpost.org/little-lakes-valley/715698

Yeah, chances of significant or frequent snow are slim before late October. The books mentioned are great resources if you enjoy thumbing through books about hiking/mountains in your spare time, but the Stienstra book leans toward easy hikes, backpacking, and folks who don't bother to climb peaks, while the other probably isn't a must have if you won't be doing class 4-5+ climbing.

SP has more than enough detail and information right up your alley for free. The links above are just the tip of the iceberg. Scroll down to the trailheads section of this page (listed north to south), and look up some of the peaks mentioned: http://www.summitpost.org/eastern-sierra/154084

Your approach of going a little higher than before seems wiser than assuming you will be fine at 14,000 feet, especially at the beginning of your trip. Maybe go higher each day if that is one of your goals and initial hikes go well.

Mammoth Lakes has an airport, but I doubt that will work out best for you. If you can fly into Reno, there are spectacular hikes and peaks in the 10-13,000 foot range with Bridgeport, Lee Vining, or Mammoth Lakes as a base. Off the top of my head, you might like Matterhorn Peak/Twin Lakes TH, Green Creek TH, Virginia Lakes TH, Saddlebag Lake/Mount Conness (near Tioga Pass), Tuolumne Meadows (look up the SP logistical center), or the trailheads around Mammoth and its plentiful modern conveniences. Type in a peak and use the interactive map feature to explore other nearby peaks.

If you stay in Bishop (the most modern, full-service town), no major airports will be nearby, but Reno, LAX (be careful of traffic), or Las Vegas would all be options. As mentioned above, it is hard to go wrong at North Lake, Lake Sabrina, or South Lake. You might like Cloudripper or Bishop Pass, Agassiz and/or Goode from South Lake. Up at Rock Creek Road, you might enjoy a hike like Mt. Starr/Ruby Lake overlooking Little Lakes Valley as a warm up for higher elevations. You could head to Langley if elevation is treating you well and you want a shot at a Sierra 14er without hassles.
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Re: Help me find next summer's hiking destination

Postby JHH60 » Tue Oct 09, 2012 10:28 pm

SeanReedy wrote:The books mentioned are great resources if you enjoy thumbing through books about hiking/mountains in your spare time, but the Stienstra book leans toward easy hikes, backpacking, and folks who don't bother to climb peaks, while the other probably isn't a must have if you won't be doing class 4-5+ climbing.


Guilty as charged. Got a stack of Supertopo, Maximus Press, Secor, Porcella and Burns and Beckey's books on the nightstand and/or in the bathroom; California Hiking is in the car for casual weekend outings with the kids. Summitpost is a great resource but I still like thumbing through guidebooks for ideas, and then checking Summitpost and other online resources for more info. And besides, my girlfriend would kick me out of bed if I brought my laptop there. :)
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Re: Help me find next summer's hiking destination

Postby SeanReedy » Wed Oct 10, 2012 1:12 am

Yep, I've gotten lots of good ideas from Stienstra and that book. I know all too well about how annoying laptops and smartphones can be in the bedroom, so I, too, try to stick with books and maps. Again, something free is available for DIY, but the National Geographic Trails Illustrated Maps for SEKI (205), Mammoth Lakes/Mono Divide (809), and Yosemite (206, 308, 309) could come in handy researching and visiting the discussed areas.

Also, you might want to consider participating in part of the 2013 version of this: http://www.snwburd.com/bob/challenge/2012

...and if you catch the prominence and altitude fever, keep in mind higher isn't always better, but check this out: http://www.summitpost.org/california-fifty-finest/602707

I'll leave other states to the silent majority. :D
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Re: Help me find next summer's hiking destination

Postby butitsadryheat » Fri Oct 12, 2012 12:05 am

Up at Rock Creek Road, you might enjoy a hike like Mt. Starr/Ruby Lake overlooking Little Lakes Valley as a warm up for higher elevations.

Pyramid Peak there in the Little Lakes Valley is an easy class 2 walkup as well, with good views. it's only about 3-3.5 miles in too, IIRC.

Also, out of North Lake, there are several easy ones, including Pilot Knob in Humphreys Basin (great views-although about 8 miles in, the last 3 or so at 11K+), and then out of the same trailhead, there is Lamarck (greta views as well of Darwin/Mendel and the bench and Evol Valley).
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Re: Help me find next summer's hiking destination

Postby tbaranski » Fri Oct 12, 2012 2:57 pm

Here's another question that just occurred to me. I've been researching Bishop vs. Mammoth Lakes for lodging. I'm wondering if Mammoth makes more sense purely from an altitude perspective -- 7k ft vs. 5k feet. Would staying at 7k be better to reduce my chances of problems at 12-13k? (Highest I've been is 11k.) Or is the difference insignificant?
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Re: Help me find next summer's hiking destination

Postby JHH60 » Fri Oct 12, 2012 6:31 pm

tbaranski wrote:Here's another question that just occurred to me. I've been researching Bishop vs. Mammoth Lakes for lodging. I'm wondering if Mammoth makes more sense purely from an altitude perspective -- 7k ft vs. 5k feet. Would staying at 7k be better to reduce my chances of problems at 12-13k? (Highest I've been is 11k.) Or is the difference insignificant?


How you deal with altitude depends on your personal physiology. I try to sleep at the highest altitude where I won't feel crappy after driving straight from home (sea level), which for me is about 10K'. I find I adapt to higher altitudes faster if I stay in or near Mammoth than if I stay in or near Bishop. That said, my wife and older kid both get headaches and feel tired for a day or two after we go to Mammoth, whereas they feel fine if we go to Bishop. If you felt OK right away in Tahoe you'll probably be fine at Mammoth. Note that there are even higher altitude cabins you can rent, though they are more rustic than what you'll find in Mammoth or Bishop. E.g., Tioga Pass Resort at 9600' or Rock Creek Lake Cabins at 9300'.
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