Welcome to SP!  -
Areas & RangesMountains & RocksRoutesImagesArticlesTrip ReportsGearOtherPeoplePlans & PartnersWhat's NewForum

Recommendations for 3-Day September Sierra Backpack

Regional discussion and conditions reports for the Golden State. Please post partners requests and trip plans in the California Climbing Partners forum.
 

Recommendations for 3-Day September Sierra Backpack

Postby TheRightPants » Mon Jul 28, 2014 9:58 pm

Hi! I've been lurking the SummitPost boards for many years, but finally found occasion to create a profile and post. Thank you all for your information over the years!

I'm looking for suggestions for a 3-day, 2-night backpack in the high Sierras in early September this year. A buddy of mine is flying out from Florida to Los Angeles and I'd like to show him the beauty of region. He's less experienced than I, but in great shape and eager to explore. Ten miles per day is a rough limit, though more is possible if the route rewards it!

Here are some things I'm looking for:
1. within 3-4 hour drive of Los Angeles, either on the Sequoia/East or Inyo/West side
*likely in the Lone Pine area, but open to other options!
2. two nights worth of backcountry camping
3. combined with the summit of a 14-er or an otherwise beautiful peak
*I've done Whitney and Langley, so something different is ideal
*Class 3 and below... and I'd probably avoid Russell due to the exposure
4. access to fishing at some point
5. Bonus but not necessary:
*both nights at same campsite
*loop instead of out-and-back
*having a legal campfire--understandably unlikely

I realize this is specific, so I appreciate the opinions! Thank you for your help!
User Avatar
TheRightPants

 
Posts: 10
Joined: Mon Jul 28, 2014 9:09 pm
Location: Los Angeles, California, United States
Thanked: 0 time in 0 post

Re: Recommendations for 3-Day September Sierra Backpack

Postby Palisades79 » Tue Jul 29, 2014 7:08 pm

Several good choices in the Palisades above Big Pine. Take it easy with the altitude.
Palisades79

 
Posts: 187
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 5:45 pm
Location: sacramento, California, United States
Thanked: 23 times in 20 posts

The following user would like to thank Palisades79 for this post
TheRightPants

Re: Recommendations for 3-Day September Sierra Backpack

Postby SeanReedy » Tue Jul 29, 2014 8:21 pm

TheRightPants,

Funny username. I like it. :lol:

Yeah, if you don't have a stove and need a campfire to make decent food, you generally need to stay kinda low (varies somewhat by specific area). **Edit: due to drought/high wildfire danger season you will not likely be able to legally make a campfire outside of a car campground (such as Onion Valley).** Also, coming from sea level for a short trip and not being a super experienced party, staying low or at least climbing slowly will reduce likelihood of AMS/HACE/HAPE sneaking up on y'all or putting a damper on plans. Plus, weather in September is often a little cooler so lower is not so likely hot and could reduce likelihood of major cold (early September could easily turn out to basically be summer, but without mosquitos, without really long daylight, and without snowy views). On the other hand, you are looking to stay south and see spectacular High Sierra scenery so going somewhat high is almost unavoidable.

Big Pine Creek area is a great suggestion!

Have you ever been to Onion Valley/Kearsarge Pass area? It is very scenic with many options! In my opinion 14ers/13ers/going to a specific enumerated high elevation is extremely overrated when scenery is a main interest. I have found going for specific numbers and big name peaks the general public may recognize to very quickly lose its appeal in favor of scenery and solitude. Anyway, Kearsarge Lakes would be good, but you may do better spending a night in Onion Valley or at Flower/Heart/Matlock Lake area on the east side of Kearsarge Pass for acclimitization the first night. If you go, be sure to check out the views down to East Vidette/Vidette Meadow from Bullfrog Lake area if you don't do a peak. Even just walking the JMT down and back up in the Vidette/Bubbs Creek area is beautiful! Maybe summit Mount Gould or harder University Peak. Most significant loops tend to be more rugged or longer mileage than would be ideal for your number of days and party description, but you can make short ones with a bit of x-country travel (Don't bite off more than your partner wants to chew on what could be a fun and relaxing trip). Anyway, tons of backpacking advice can be found over on highsierratopix forum, but I come to SP for most peakbagging research (nicely organized mountain pages and interactive map features for nearby peaks here on SP).
User Avatar
SeanReedy

 
Posts: 769
Joined: Tue Jul 26, 2005 8:37 pm
Location: Garlic, California, United States
Thanked: 382 times in 302 posts

The following user would like to thank SeanReedy for this post
TheRightPants

Re: Recommendations for 3-Day September Sierra Backpack

Postby fatdad » Tue Jul 29, 2014 11:05 pm

Good suggestions. Done both and they're terrific. You could huff up Shepherd's Pass, camp at Anvil and do either Williamson or Tyndall. A lot more elevation and scenery probably isn't as nice as the other two mentioned. Other alternatives on the west side are a partial off trail loop from Mehrten Meadow--Moose Lake--Pear Lake in Sequoia NP. You could also piece something together in the Golden Trout Wilderness on the west side, but it's mostly hiking through the woods at 8-9,000' with no big peaks of notes. Pretty meadow and forests. 14ers. Not. Unfortunately, there aren't that many loop trips I can think of that you could do in 3 days. The Sierra is just such a big place.
User Avatar
fatdad

 
Posts: 1396
Joined: Tue Jul 24, 2007 9:39 pm
Location: Los Angeles, California, United States
Thanked: 88 times in 62 posts

The following user would like to thank fatdad for this post
TheRightPants

Re: Recommendations for 3-Day September Sierra Backpack

Postby JHH60 » Wed Jul 30, 2014 2:23 am

Another suggestion in the Palisades region would be to head up the Bishop Pass trail and establish base camp at Bishop Lake (beautiful spot, fishing opportunities, may have to share the lake with others) or in Dusy Basin (not unlikely you will be alone) or the Palisade Basin (even less crowded). It's an out and back unless you want to cross one of the class 3 passes and head back via North Fork Big Pine Creek Trail - I have checked out the passes from both sides but never done the loop since I'm too lazy to lug an overnight pack across :) . There are some good climbing opportunities from there, e.g., you can climb Mt. Agassiz from Bishop Pass (class 2 from there, almost a 14er, great views). Cloudripper is another popular 13er than can be accessed from the Bishop Pass trail. If you are energetic, other possibilities include the southwest chute of Thunderbolt Peak (a 14er) which is 3rd class, except for the 5.9 summit block, or Mt. Sill (another 14er) southwest slope (class 2-3), though Sill would be a long day, especially from Bishop Lake or even Dusy Basin. Be aware that these both require cross country travel in addition to class 2-3+ climbing at altitude, and I personally find such climbing a lot more pleasant after at least two days at 10K'+, but your mileage may vary.
Last edited by JHH60 on Wed Jul 30, 2014 4:19 am, edited 2 times in total.
User Avatar
JHH60

 
Posts: 1167
Joined: Tue Oct 21, 2008 6:59 pm
Location: Belmont, California, United States
Thanked: 94 times in 78 posts

The following user would like to thank JHH60 for this post
TheRightPants

Re: Recommendations for 3-Day September Sierra Backpack

Postby AceSierra » Wed Jul 30, 2014 2:36 am

Though I haven't traveled as extensively through the Sierra as many in here have, I would say University Peak and Mt. Agassiz are probably the two best class 2 peaks I've been on, in terms of views and reward. Both of them make you feel like you are on top of the world, and though they are mostly class 2, they both feel like a "real" mountain summit. Since you have already gotten some recommendations for the area, I'd vote for a trip that can include Mt. Agassiz. However, in September (especially this September following a bad winter), the view of the bare Palisade glacier might be kind of sad. :(
User Avatar
AceSierra

 
Posts: 14
Joined: Fri Jun 24, 2011 7:06 pm
Thanked: 9 times in 4 posts

The following user would like to thank AceSierra for this post
TheRightPants

Re: Recommendations for 3-Day September Sierra Backpack

Postby SeanReedy » Wed Jul 30, 2014 3:34 am

Great additional suggestions that probably can't go wrong, but it all depends on what the OP and his partner are looking for and how they feel up there. What matters most? Fishing? Lake basins filled with plant and animal life? Lush meadows? Stark beauty of active glacial areas? Pointy peaks? Beautiful forest? Scenic streams? Bragging rights? Top of the world views? Views of granite? Views of lakes? Easy peaks? Spicy scrambling at the edge of their abilities? Pushing themselves physically? Relaxing and doing easy activities? The best aesthetics given the time of year? Proximity to L.A.? Obviously much of this would involve fair amounts of personal opinion. Again though, all would be great! If we are including Bishop area, North Lake TH provides great trip opportunities as well.
User Avatar
SeanReedy

 
Posts: 769
Joined: Tue Jul 26, 2005 8:37 pm
Location: Garlic, California, United States
Thanked: 382 times in 302 posts

The following user would like to thank SeanReedy for this post
TheRightPants

Re: Recommendations for 3-Day September Sierra Backpack

Postby TheRightPants » Thu Jul 31, 2014 11:44 pm

SeanReedy wrote:Great additional suggestions that probably can't go wrong, but it all depends on what the OP and his partner are looking for and how they feel up there. What matters most? Fishing? Lake basins filled with plant and animal life? Lush meadows? Stark beauty of active glacial areas? Pointy peaks? Beautiful forest? Scenic streams? Bragging rights? Top of the world views? Views of granite? Views of lakes? Easy peaks? Spicy scrambling at the edge of their abilities? Pushing themselves physically? Relaxing and doing easy activities? The best aesthetics given the time of year? Proximity to L.A.? Obviously much of this would involve fair amounts of personal opinion. Again though, all would be great! If we are including Bishop area, North Lake TH provides great trip opportunities as well.



Great questions! Honestly, there's a lot of flexibility here. Hitting a high peak (13k+) appeals to my sense of multi-tasking while showing an out-of-towner some incredible scenery. Fishing isn't necessary, but juxtaposes one active summit day with another lazy mile-free day. I've done this in the past and found mixing accomplishment and relaxation to be a great way for active types like myself to spend a few days in the wilderness.

For the fishing, it's more about the process for us. Chilling, getting a few bites, maybe nabbing a killer trout. We're not regular sport fishermen, just raised in the country and used to casting a line. With regard to summits, I think a less challenging peak with great views would do the trick. Sill and Aggasiz seem more our (read: his) speed than, say, Thunderbolt or Russell. I could push him to do his limits but I think we'll both be just as happy bagging a minor milestone.

Bishop is a little far for this one, but I'm logging those suggestions for future trips!

Finally, I'm considering playing with the following itinerary, depending on the setting:
-SUNDAY: drive up from LA in late morning, hike to campsite
-MONDAY: summit
-TUESDAY: fish/chill
-WEDNESDAY: leave early and return to city

There are possible variations on that theme, but that's the thought. I'll slink away again now and research your suggestions. Thank you all again for your time and expertise!
User Avatar
TheRightPants

 
Posts: 10
Joined: Mon Jul 28, 2014 9:09 pm
Location: Los Angeles, California, United States
Thanked: 0 time in 0 post

Re: Recommendations for 3-Day September Sierra Backpack

Postby TheRightPants » Sat Aug 02, 2014 9:31 pm

SeanReedy wrote:TheRightPants,

Funny username. I like it. :lol:

Yeah, if you don't have a stove and need a campfire to make decent food, you generally need to stay kinda low (varies somewhat by specific area). **Edit: due to drought/high wildfire danger season you will not likely be able to legally make a campfire outside of a car campground (such as Onion Valley).** Also, coming from sea level for a short trip and not being a super experienced party, staying low or at least climbing slowly will reduce likelihood of AMS/HACE/HAPE sneaking up on y'all or putting a damper on plans. Plus, weather in September is often a little cooler so lower is not so likely hot and could reduce likelihood of major cold (early September could easily turn out to basically be summer, but without mosquitos, without really long daylight, and without snowy views). On the other hand, you are looking to stay south and see spectacular High Sierra scenery so going somewhat high is almost unavoidable.

Big Pine Creek area is a great suggestion!

Have you ever been to Onion Valley/Kearsarge Pass area? It is very scenic with many options! In my opinion 14ers/13ers/going to a specific enumerated high elevation is extremely overrated when scenery is a main interest. I have found going for specific numbers and big name peaks the general public may recognize to very quickly lose its appeal in favor of scenery and solitude. Anyway, Kearsarge Lakes would be good, but you may do better spending a night in Onion Valley or at Flower/Heart/Matlock Lake area on the east side of Kearsarge Pass for acclimitization the first night. If you go, be sure to check out the views down to East Vidette/Vidette Meadow from Bullfrog Lake area if you don't do a peak. Even just walking the JMT down and back up in the Vidette/Bubbs Creek area is beautiful! Maybe summit Mount Gould or harder University Peak. Most significant loops tend to be more rugged or longer mileage than would be ideal for your number of days and party description, but you can make short ones with a bit of x-country travel (Don't bite off more than your partner wants to chew on what could be a fun and relaxing trip). Anyway, tons of backpacking advice can be found over on highsierratopix forum, but I come to SP for most peakbagging research (nicely organized mountain pages and interactive map features for nearby peaks here on SP).


Thank you, Sean! I attempted to write you a reply a few days ago, but it wasn't approved due to being "a duplicate". Strange. Maybe because I'm new here?

Anyway, let me see if I can recover that response and show you much deserved appreciation for your comments!!!
User Avatar
TheRightPants

 
Posts: 10
Joined: Mon Jul 28, 2014 9:09 pm
Location: Los Angeles, California, United States
Thanked: 0 time in 0 post

Re: Recommendations for 3-Day September Sierra Backpack

Postby powderjunkie » Tue Aug 05, 2014 9:23 pm

hard to beat going out north fork of big pine creek and do a loop out through the numbered lakes/sam mack meadow, etc.. you can leave camp in the same location and do the loop portion as a day hike and have many possible peaks to bag too.

What about a loop out towards Langley?

Lots of west side loops out of sequoia/kings but that may be too far for you.
powderjunkie

 
Posts: 67
Joined: Wed Oct 15, 2003 5:00 pm
Location: Santa Rosa, California, United States
Thanked: 7 times in 6 posts

Re: Recommendations for 3-Day September Sierra Backpack

Postby SeanReedy » Tue Aug 05, 2014 10:57 pm

powderjunkie wrote:hard to beat going out north fork of big pine creek and do a loop out through the numbered lakes/sam mack meadow, etc.. you can leave camp in the same location and do the loop portion as a day hike and have many possible peaks to bag too.


TheRightPants, this idea keeps coming up for good reasons, but I somehow have yet to hike the specific route/trail myself, so my knowledge of it and peakbagging from there is not first-hand. I guess it is usually a bit out of the way for me from where I live and from my ideal camp spots. For you, it is a bit farther drive than Lone Pine or Independence, but the part of the drive up to the trailhead from 395 should be slightly quicker than the roads up to Onion Valley or Horseshoe Meadow. Also, it does get you to the base of the Palisades! It will be as alpine as you can get.

My main concern from Big Pine would be the routes up Sill and Agassiz you seemed to be mentioning might feel long and contain significant scrambling at significant altitude after significant gain. At least you'd have more than one day. For the least technical and shortest route up Agassiz, many opt to approach it from Bishop Pass/Dusy Basin area out of South Lake from Bishop. Agassiz can be pretty easy with a South Lake approach with adding spicy route choices optional (yes, the drive is a little farther). Sill would be a longer commitment from South Lake and which route is least technical on Sill can depend on conditions and who you ask. Anyway, if the routes from N.F. Big Pine sound great to you and you are confident your buddy will enjoy it, go for it! Otherwise, you may find or get tips on easier peaks nearby from the same N.F. Big Pine Creek hike.

Alternately, as mentioned upthread, you could do a trip with significant peakbagging from Onion Valley. I did some interesting loops there recently (see my summit log entries from my profile) and know of other x-country passes/routes near University Peak and Kearsarge Pinnacles/Lakes aside from what I tried, but like everything else mentioned in this thread none are ideal choices if carrying much weight (not leaving some weight at a base camp).
User Avatar
SeanReedy

 
Posts: 769
Joined: Tue Jul 26, 2005 8:37 pm
Location: Garlic, California, United States
Thanked: 382 times in 302 posts

The following user would like to thank SeanReedy for this post
TheRightPants

Re: Recommendations for 3-Day September Sierra Backpack

Postby peninsula » Wed Aug 06, 2014 4:45 pm

All of the above are excellent suggestions. I'd definitely go up the east side. Kearsarge Pass is a terrific entrance, relatively easy and with good camping in Kearsarge Basin at about 6 miles. Alternatively as SeanReedy mentions, there are nice camping options at a shorter distance on the west side... Flower/Heart/Matlock Lake area. I like Matlock Lake in particular, but only brook trout for fishing. The fishing in Kearsarge Basin is mostly stunted golden trout.

Another option in this area that is straight forward and full of spectacular scenery: http://www.highsierratopix.com/communit ... =1&t=11540

Also previously mentioned, there are challenging x-country options in that area. If you are game for getting off trail, you could go for Gould Pass (Class 2). Base camp at Golden Trout Lake and acclimate. Bag Mt Gould on day two. You'd have the option of going over Gould Pass after bagging Mt Gould with a second camp site along the shores of Dragon Lake (brook trout). Fishing in one of the Rae Lakes would be a viable option if you made Dragon Lake for a second camp site. Rae Lakes Basin (nice golden trout fishing) is a short hike (class 1) from Dragon Lake (you'd be better off camping at Dragon Lake than in the Rae Lakes Basin). That entire area of Kings Canyon is awesome. Gould Pass is not easy and only for those with very good mountaineering experience — I have never done it myself. Pre-setting way points would be advisable if you have the mapping software. Perhaps others can comment on the wisdom or lack thereof in attempting Gould Pass. One thing is for certain, the area is truly spectacular.
User Avatar
peninsula

 
Posts: 1700
Joined: Fri Mar 18, 2005 8:10 am
Location: San Diego, California, United States
Thanked: 77 times in 50 posts

The following user would like to thank peninsula for this post
TheRightPants

Re: Recommendations for 3-Day September Sierra Backpack

Postby TheRightPants » Mon Aug 11, 2014 8:16 am

Thank you again for your input! These kind of options are exactly what I was looking for, so I'm very grateful.

by SeanReedy » Tue Aug 05, 2014 2:57 pm
For the least technical and shortest route up Agassiz, many opt to approach it from Bishop Pass/Dusy Basin area out of South Lake from Bishop. Agassiz can be pretty easy with a South Lake approach with adding spicy route choices optional (yes, the drive is a little farther). Sill would be a longer commitment from South Lake and which route is least technical on Sill can depend on conditions and who you ask.


This is actually a fine option. I'm warming up a bit to the longer drive, especially since I've never been to the area and it looks gorgeous. Agassiz from South Lake sounds like the front-runner now. The route seems pretty short from the South Lake approach, maybe 10 miles one way. That's great. Any idea which backcountry lakes along the way are best for setting up a 2-3 day camp? Fishing?

While Agassiz sounds like a safe bet, Mt. Sill remains an intriguing option and I haven't ruled it out. It seems a little longer (27 miles from South Lake, from what I read...). Could that be done in a reasonable day-hike from one of those lakes along the JMT--maybe near Dusty Basin? And without much route-finding trouble? The route descriptions I've found thus far are widely varied and have left a lot to be desired. A good campsite for Sun/Mon and route-description for a Monday summit bid from there might seal it. Haven't found it yet in my preliminary searches, though.

I'd be happy setting up one camp for lazy fishing day and another for pre-/post-summit bid. This discussion has helped clarify that!

by peninsula » Wed Aug 06, 2014 8:45 am
All of the above are excellent suggestions. I'd definitely go up the east side. Kearsarge Pass is a terrific entrance, relatively easy and with good camping in Kearsarge Basin at about 6 miles... If you are game for getting off trail, you could go for Gould Pass (Class 2). Base camp at Golden Trout Lake and acclimate. Bag Mt Gould on day two. You'd have the option of going over Gould Pass after bagging Mt Gould with a second camp site along the shores of Dragon Lake (brook trout). Fishing in one of the Rae Lakes would be a viable option if you made Dragon Lake for a second camp site. Rae Lakes Basin (nice golden trout fishing) is a short hike (class 1) from Dragon Lake (you'd be better off camping at Dragon Lake than in the Rae Lakes Basin). That entire area of Kings Canyon is awesome. Gould Pass is not easy and only for those with very good mountaineering experience — I have never done it myself. Pre-setting way points would be advisable if you have the mapping software. Perhaps others can comment on the wisdom or lack thereof in attempting Gould Pass. One thing is for certain, the area is truly spectacular.


Thanks for the thought! I've got a decent amount of mountaineering experience, but no GPS. It looks beautiful in and around Kearsarge. But I've heard Gould Pass could be troublesome. Makes me reluctant to tackle, being a first-timer as the leader.
User Avatar
TheRightPants

 
Posts: 10
Joined: Mon Jul 28, 2014 9:09 pm
Location: Los Angeles, California, United States
Thanked: 0 time in 0 post

Re: Recommendations for 3-Day September Sierra Backpack

Postby BCL » Mon Aug 11, 2014 2:35 pm

If you make your Florida buddy slog up Sill from Dusy Basin, you won't be friends anymore.
User Avatar
BCL

 
Posts: 216
Joined: Sun Jul 25, 2004 12:24 am
Location: Dublin, California, United States
Thanked: 2 times in 2 posts

The following user would like to thank BCL for this post
SeanReedy

Re: Recommendations for 3-Day September Sierra Backpack

Postby peninsula » Mon Aug 11, 2014 11:57 pm

TheRightPants wrote:
by SeanReedy » Tue Aug 05, 2014 2:57 pm
For the least technical and shortest route up Agassiz, many opt to approach it from Bishop Pass/Dusy Basin area out of South Lake from Bishop. Agassiz can be pretty easy with a South Lake approach with adding spicy route choices optional (yes, the drive is a little farther). Sill would be a longer commitment from South Lake and which route is least technical on Sill can depend on conditions and who you ask.


This is actually a fine option. I'm warming up a bit to the longer drive, especially since I've never been to the area and it looks gorgeous. Agassiz from South Lake sounds like the front-runner now. The route seems pretty short from the South Lake approach, maybe 10 miles one way. That's great. Any idea which backcountry lakes along the way are best for setting up a 2-3 day camp? Fishing?


A great spot for fishing is the upper Treasure Lake basin at an elevation near 11,200 feet. Treasure Lake trail comes off the main trail to Bishop Pass at around 10,225 feet — it was well marked last time I visited 13 - 14 years ago. I camped at a nice spot near one of the upper lakes by a small tarn full of fingerlings. There are also campsites near the lower Lake at 10,675 (more traffic around the lower lake), but it is the upper lakes that offer the best fishing. After a day of fishing and acclimating, the main trail can be picked up via a Class One x-country route to the south of Hurd Peak due west of the Timberline Tarns. The fishing along the main trail before Bishop Pass is not all that great due to the heavier traffic, but their are plenty of campsites. Dusy Basin is one of the areas picked for the Mountain Yellow-legged Frog restoration project and the fish may have been removed from area lakes. The fishing in Dusy Basin was very good before the project. Camp sites away from the main trail in Dusy are spectacular, it is an awesome basin. The Palisades are of my all-time favorites.
User Avatar
peninsula

 
Posts: 1700
Joined: Fri Mar 18, 2005 8:10 am
Location: San Diego, California, United States
Thanked: 77 times in 50 posts

The following user would like to thank peninsula for this post
SeanReedy, TheRightPants

Next

Return to California

 


  • Related topics
    Replies
    Views
    Last post

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests

© 2006-2013 SummitPost.org. All Rights Reserved.