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Topic: 9 day backpacking - Christmas week, trail suggestions< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
 Post Number: 1
zorobabel Search for posts by this member.
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 12 2013, 7:29 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Hi,

My employer has decided on a mandated vacation for Chrismas week. Since I rarely get to have 9 days to recreate, I want to make the best of it, and hike some longer trail. I most likely won't have a hiking partner. I'm hoping to get some ideas here.

These trails have crossed my mind:
Tahoe Rim trail
High Sierra trail

I used to think that the Lost Coast had a week of backpacking, but it seems it's only 3 days.

The weather forecast is unknown at this point.

Thanks!
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 12 2013, 7:53 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

What's your winter mountaineering experience? Getting caught in a winter storm anywhere east of Lower Hamilton Lake and west of Trail Camp and you're in serious trouble and back there weather forecasting is a joke. I got hit with snow in August out that way....  Once down in the Kern trench there are no good bailout routes.

OTOH the Tahoe Rim trail has the advantage of offering numerous bailout opportunities though I'd expect that to be a total snow route in December. Probably would be a fun ski.

A nice ski route is up Snow Creek to Tuolumne Meadows where there's a winter ranger and a lot of potential places to poke around with an exit returning fown down Snow Creek to the Valley or out east down the closed 120.   The advantage being its max elevation is about four thousand feet lower than the High Sierra Trail and avalanche risk far below what any snowfall would pose below Kaweah Gap or down from Trail Crest.

How about the Grand Canyon or thereabouts if a GC walk up couldn't get you a permit?
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Eric H Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 12 2013, 9:03 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Grand Canyon, walk up permit.

Descend Grandview (major exposure at top be sure to have instep crampons, some traction device, poles), hike Tonto Trail west to Hermit Tr., ascend. Option, overnight near Phantom Ranch (river level) on the way. Option, ascend Bright Angel Tr. to obtain food stash at rim part way thru the trip, resume march to Hermit, with lighter load .  Awesome trip.

Edit: also Tucson area trails. I'll leave that to Big Load, someone else who knows the area better than I.

Lost Coast could well be soaking cold rain. Both Tahoe Rim and High Sierra Trails are snowy semi expeditions demanding serious winter mountaineering background. HST could easily turn into a death trap as HSF mentioned.
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 12 2013, 9:23 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

On the reason the range is named "Nevada" (alt. form of Spanish nevado "snowy")...:
"Tioga, Glacier Point roads close in Park
Yosemite National Park officials have announced that Tioga Road and Glacier Point Road are now closed for the season.

While lower-elevation snow totals from last weekend's storm were modest, accumulations along the higher-elevation routes were "heavy," the Park said in a statement."

http://www.mariposagazette.com/node/44729

ETA: BUT, OTOH? The High Sierra Trail with an extra loop up beyond Milestone Creek and Basin around by Lake South America and then down and out over Trail Crest? Fun, fun route for the summer.
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zorobabel Search for posts by this member.
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 13 2013, 5:06 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thanks High_Sierra_Fan and Eric H!

About mountaineering experience - I do have some experience in winter, but I've never been out for this long in winter or solo. I also never had an avalanche burry me or a hiking partner, maybe because of my risk tolerance. Unfortunately I don't ski. I am weighing options at this stage, and will choose a trail depending on forecast and snow levels ultimately. I didn't find much snow on TG weekend, and I'm unsure of how much snow accumulated this past weekend. Thanks for that article link. IMO Yosemite rangers were itching to close the Tioga road.

The HST does have that steep portion W of Kaweah Gap, if the trail was to be followed. I'm definitely not hiking that trail is there's a lot of snow due to avalanche danger.

The Tahoe Rim trail - I'm realizing that I don't have enough time for the whole trail, not to mention driving there and back from OC. 165 miles in 9 days of December is a pretty long shot on foot.

Thanks for the GC suggestion, I am looking into it. I am trying to have a number of options available and make up my mind just before leaving, depending on weather and forecast.
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 13 2013, 5:55 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Zorobabel,

Two handy long range URL's here, offering a 2 week view "upstream", i.e. now thru 12/29.

FWIW, the precip. one spotted Flagstaff's 2nd largest snowstorm ever  a few years back -- and spotted it 10 days out.

http://wxmaps.org/pix/prec1.html

http://wxmaps.org/pix/temp1.html

Also, near term precip., quantified here. Tenths of an inch, 6 hour models to 3.5 days out, then 48 hour models to 7 days out. Neat to see how much, and when. i.e. precip. overnight may not be that big a deal.

http://www.hpc.ncep.noaa.gov/qpf/qpf2.shtml
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tarol Search for posts by this member.
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 14 2013, 1:21 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Some So Cal ideas:

San Rafael Wilderness - you can easily spend a week or more here, hit up Toejam for some suggestions

Sespe Wilderness

PCT south of San Jacinto - may require some water caching


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 Post Number: 8
zorobabel Search for posts by this member.
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 19 2013, 3:48 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thanks Eric H and tarol!
HSF, what do you think of Colby Pass?
I'm thinking of a loop starting in Wolverton and returning to Lodgepole...
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 19 2013, 4:09 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(zorobabel @ Dec. 19 2013, 12:48 pm)
QUOTE
Thanks Eric H and tarol!
HSF, what do you think of Colby Pass?
I'm thinking of a loop starting in Wolverton and returning to Lodgepole...

Not during that time frame, I wouldn't care what the weather forecast said. Colby would be a good five days in? Lot's changes in five days and getting trapped in the Kern drainage would be nasty. 11.970 feet with snow? Trouble. I guess my metric would be a rock solid clear forecast all the way back and I'm just not certain that's possible.

Too much of that has no bailouts for snow. I'd think I'd want to stay on the same side of pushing 12k passes as my exits during a December.

ETA: Lodgpole and Wolverton are right next to each other so what would be your route other than that it'd cross Colby? Head south by Alta, hit Kaweah then drop down to the Kern and back up to Colby and back over Silliman? Well at least if it dumped early and the southern slope of Mt. Stewart turned in to a death zone (not to mention that eyebrow cliffside trail beyond that with the tunnel) you could bail back to Crescent Meadow etc. But once over Kaweah you'd be committed.

The Kings-Kaweah divide (Silliman) is still 10 K..... the Great Western (Colby) 12K, Trail Crest to the East: 13.6K

ETA2: Truth be told? Weather aside: helluva trip. The area around the east side of Milestone is close to my favorite (of the ones I'll talk about anyway, :) )
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 Post Number: 10
AlmostThere Search for posts by this member.
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 19 2013, 10:41 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Road closures, unpredictable weather, winter conditions (aka ice where there's water of any sort and subzero temps some nights particularly at elevation), and the length of the trip would demand that you have serious mountaineering mojo, a good solid idea of options for bail outs (not very many with road closures) and preferably, hiking buddies. Not a good idea regardless of forecast, IMO, for a solo hiker.

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Eric H Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 20 2013, 10:00 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Well said Almost There.

Zorobabel, I hope you reassess. I think you have other areas available for a truly awesome trip next week. Doing Colby Pass next week seems, to my eye, to be incredibly risky.

Please know that I'm saying this as someone who emphasizes, someone who studies maps for hours and dreams of "elegant lines", "new routes".  And someone who often does off trail trips solo simply for lack of a suitable partner.

And, while assessing those trips it is almost like a math formula A plus B plus C plus D = a reasonably safe trip. Colby Pass, next week, is a trip where A, B, and C are flashing orange lights that could turn red quickly. And, if you or I are not listening well, it is very possible those lights are red already, and our desire to do the trip is turning us "colorblind".
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 20 2013, 12:49 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Humphrey's Basin?

High and wild this time of year but were the weather to go bad bailing back over the pass would be a short run.... at 10K the area's high enough for a nice, solid cold, winter trip.

Desolation Lake and environs would be stark and bleak: much fun and quick daytrips up to Alpine Col etc. could ld be suitably extreme were that desired.
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 20 2013, 1:50 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

A 70-mile loop with plenty of side trails & very little snow. Bring a warm sleeping bag for nights and hiking shorts for days.

https://picasaweb.google.com/toejamh....ectlink
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 20 2013, 6:05 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thanks guys!

In trying to keep things safer, I am thinking of a shorter loop, with side trips added; this way I can skip side trips if needed while not being too far in. This loop could be done in 5 days if there's little snow (no precipitation at least until Thursday according to the forecast): Wolverton > Alta Meadow > Moose Lake > Pterodactyl Pass > Lonely Lake > Deadman Canyon > Roaring River > Comanche Meadow > *Crowley Canyon > Silliman Pass > Lodgepole.
*For crossing the Kings-Kaweah divide (Silliman) - I could use JO Pass, if there's too much snow.
It's not ideal as I am somewhat familiar with the areas closer to the trailheads, I was hoping to explore some new areas.
Now it's just a matter of sidetrips suggestions, which I hope you can help with :).

Thanks toejam!
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 20 2013, 9:08 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Using JO Pass is a bad choice - the road between the parks is the access and is closed in bad weather, so no one will be around to get you anywhere. It's a long walk to Montecito Lodge from there. There's been no trail maintenance on JO and lots of down trees make slow progress.

The area is under snow - not lots of it, but enough to make navigating interesting. And the slabs on the way up to Moose are going to be icy. If you are not navigating to the right spot on the ridge, you will be facing class 4 - 5 climbing, as the ridge between winter Alta and the old trail to Moose is quite steep and gnarly. A better route to Moose less likely to result in technical climbing would be from Pear Lake, via the Hump Trail - the Watchtower trail is closed due to ice. The route from the lake is cross country via use trails usually, which will be hard to find in the snow, but generally class 1.

The Elizabeth Pass trail is nearly nonexistent beyond a certain point, and there are no signs after the last junction at the bottom of the switchbacks. The small stream that is the jumping off point to get to Lonely Lake was completely dry and even under the minimal snow it would be hard to find.

The trail in Deadman canyon will be hard to find in snow, as it is faint in some sections of the meadows.

It's a bad idea if you are not familiar with the areas. I am, and I wouldn't go. A winter storm could catch you in the Tablelands too easily - I abandoned a crossing due to lightning earlier this year. There is too much exposure and not enough snow to dig in and hunker down.


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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 22 2013, 5:51 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

zorobabel,

Good luck, safe travels.

Hope we hear more from you, hear how it went.
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zorobabel Search for posts by this member.
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 30 2013, 12:33 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Sorry to dissapoint, but I never made it to the trailhead.
The slush box in my car stopped slushing just N of Castaic. I got a nice ride back with a tow truck.

Thanks for contributing to this thread!
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 30 2013, 6:00 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Ouch!

Once had my radiator give up on the Lee Vining Canyon road climb. That's never fun. Better luck next time!
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 01 2014, 11:39 am Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

Sorry to hear the car news.
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