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Recommendations Please - Excellent Beginner Locations

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Recommendations Please - Excellent Beginner Locations

Postby davidsheridan » Fri Dec 01, 2017 1:24 pm

Hi HST Community,

I appreciate your insights and expertise.

Background:
I am offering my trip planning services in a charity auction to raise money for a nonprofit. I am offering in this auction: I plan the backpacking trip, I secure the permits, I provide the gear, I provide the food, the trail map, I provide unlimited training and consultations leading up to the trip.
The winning bidder will likely be a couple or family who is new to backpacking.

My Request for Help:

Please give your suggestion for the best 2-4 day backpacking trip for beginners.
Time: Summer 2018
Location: Eastern, Western or Northern Sierra
Level of Skill: Beginner, not too strenuous, not too much elevation gain
# of miles per day: 5 or less, or a great basecamp with day-hike opportunities
Desired amenities: Amazing scenery, special location, great campsites, good water sources, good fishing is an added perk
________________________________________
Thanks for your help. If you are interested in learning more about the nonprofit I support, it is called Bay Area Wilderness Training (www.bawt.org). Bay Area Wilderness Training’s mission is to create equitable access to outdoor experiences for youth of color and low income youth. Are you looking for a way to give back? Come to one of our Discovery Sessions and Volunteer Night in Oakland in 2018: http://www.bawt.org/programs/community/ ... eer-night/

We are always looking for people in doing adventure fundraising for us, check out our 'Climbing For Kids' program: http://www.climbingforkids.org/



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Re: Recommendations Please - Excellent Beginner Locations

Postby maverick » Fri Dec 01, 2017 1:56 pm

Hands down Little Lakes Valley and then 20 Lakes Basin as a runner up. Makes sure it is towards the mid or late of August, so you avoid the mosquitoes season as much as possible, nothing ruins a trip for beginners, like those annoying things flying vampires, well except maybe some very bad weather for several days in a row.
I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Recommendations Please - Excellent Beginner Locations

Postby davidsheridan » Fri Dec 01, 2017 3:36 pm

Thanks Maverick, those are 2 great options (top choices). I will definitely strongly recommend a trip to the Eastern Sierra. IF you don't mind, I have a few more questions. Anything on the West Side or in the Northern Sierra come to mind? What are your thoughts on Lake of the Woods in Desolation Wilderness for a beginner? Also, do you have a recommended place to stay (hotel to cabin) at night at elevation for to someone to get a little acclimation coming from the Bay Area before they start at altitude int he Eastern Sierra? Thansk for your time and expertise!
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Re: Recommendations Please - Excellent Beginner Locations

Postby rlown » Fri Dec 01, 2017 4:00 pm

Hi David,

How many are in the party? There are campgrounds at Saddlebag on the approach road, Tioga Lk and Ellery Lk which are first come, first served. I think the price per site is ~$22. Saddlebag resort is up for sale and after seeing a picture of it under 22' of snow last winter, well, It and the boat shuttle won't probably open.

I suggest the campgrounds because it would give the kids a chance to also become familiar (and know) how the gear works. The campgrounds all have fire-rings, but the Tioga Lk campground can hold at most 2 tents each except for the one on the far East of the campground. You can also fish there pretty successfully.
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Re: Recommendations Please - Excellent Beginner Locations

Postby balzaccom » Fri Dec 01, 2017 5:27 pm

The challenge with anything in Desolation Wilderness is the permitting. They are tightly controlled. For easier access, look at Grouse Ridge off Highway 20-which gives you access to lots of lakes, and the first couple of miles is downhill. Emigrant and Hoover Wildernesses also have easier permits. That's all an attraction to Twenty Lakes Basin...
Balzaccom

check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
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Re: Recommendations Please - Excellent Beginner Locations

Postby LMBSGV » Fri Dec 01, 2017 8:07 pm

I agree with Maverick on Little Lakes Valley. That was the first place I thought of. Some alternatives are also Treasure Lakes out of South Lake and Piute Lake (with day hiking over Piute Pass) out of North Lake. One advantage of Piute Lake is if they get too tired, you could stop at Loch Leven.
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Re: Recommendations Please - Excellent Beginner Locations

Postby wildhiker » Fri Dec 01, 2017 11:28 pm

There is no single "best" 2-4 day trip for beginners. I notice that you did not list "solitude" on your desired amenities because that will be hard to find on a short trip. I suspect that "amazing scenery" is a different concept for a beginner than a jaded 40 year Sierra veteran, and that lots of "common" Sierra lakes will be "amazing" to a beginner.

I suggest that an important consideration is an easy drive. The backpack trip itself is going to be stressful enough to beginners, so you should make the drive easy. Since you mentioned that your program meets in Oakland, I assume your "clients" will be from the Bay Area. In that case, I would recommend something between Lake Tahoe and Yosemite on the west side to keep the drive shorter and easier. Here are some northern Sierra ideas.

The Grouse Lakes roadless area in the Tahoe National Forest mentioned by Balzaccom is easy to get to (about 1/2 hour off Interstate 80 on partly paved, partly gravel roads). It has fairly gentle terrain and many, many lakes in granite and metamorphic rock basins. It is not high - only about 7000 feet - but has a high country feel from all the bare rock. That lower elevation reduces altitude acclimation issues. You can find lakes to camp as little as two miles in, or up to 5 or more miles in. I think the easiest trail is from the Carr Lake/Feeley Lake trailhead to Island Lake (under 2 miles) and then north to the Crooked Lakes where you can find more secluded camping by going off the trail a bit to one of the lakes. The area is not designated wilderness, but managed as a backcountry recreation area, so no permits are needed other than the standard California campfire permit. The downside of this is that it can be crowded, particularly on weekends. Also, mountain bikes are allowed on the trails, but I have rarely seen any and I hike there all the time (it is near my cabin).

There are some good short backpack trips in the Carson Pass area with trailheads directly on highway 88. The trails here are up between 8,000 and 9,000 feet elevation with bigger mountains and exceptional wildflower displays in mid summer due to lots of volcanic rock that weathers to a richer soil than the granite. You can go north from just below Carson Pass on the Pacific Crest Trail over a low ridge and down to Meiss Meadow. There you can continue on the PCT to Showers Lake, in a granite bowl, or split off to the right to Round Lake with great sunset color on the volcanic cliffs on its east side. I took a less experienced family there on a 2 night "Y" trip - first to Round Lake, then backtrack a bit and over to Showers Lake, and then back out. This area north of Carson Pass is the Dardanelles roadless area - again, no wilderness permit needed.

Or, you can hike south from Carson Pass on the PCT to Frog Lake and then split off to Winnemucca and Round Top Lake in the Mokelumne Wilderness. These lakes are very popular; permits are required and there are quotas. But it is very scenic. The hike in to Winnemucca Lake has only modest elevation gain and much of it is over open terrain with great views plus wildflowers. Camping at Winnemucca Lake is limited to three designated sites. There is more camping at Round Top Lake. Actually, you can do a really nice short loop trip in this area that I have done with my wife and one adult child in one night, but did with all my children when they were young (5-10) in three nights. The loop starts at Carson Pass heading south on the PCT beyond Frog Lake and over the crest and down to the headwaters of Forestdale Creek (good camping just off the trail by a large tarn) and then up to Forestdale Divide. Leave the PCT here for the trail down into Summit City Canyon. This trail can be problematic. When I was here with the little kids in 1989, this trail was in good condition. When I came back with my adult child in 2006, sections were badly overgrown with brush that you had to push through (although you could still follow the tread). So it would be worth checking with the Forest Service about the trail condition. There is good camping once you hit the creek at the bottom of the canyon. From here, you head up the trail to Fourth of July lake - a classic Sierra lake in a granite cirque with good camping. Then you continue up to a pass and contour over to Round Top Lake and Winnemucca Lake to complete the loop.

-Phil
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Re: Recommendations Please - Excellent Beginner Locations

Postby kpeter » Sat Dec 02, 2017 7:30 am

Other east side destinations:
Sabrina Basin, stopping at Blue Lake.
Second Lake from Big Pine campground
Duck/Pika Lake from Lake Mary trailhead. You can motel in Mammoth and acclimate the night before, eat breakfast at Schaat's.

On West side:
Kibbie Lake from Cherry Flat trailhead.
If you want a very, very, very easy trip then Round Top Lake from Woods Lake campground.
Various jaunts from Wright's Lake trailhead; Maud Lake is a pretty green lake, over Rockbound Pass to Lake Doris is lovely, but there are several shorter destinations.
Last edited by kpeter on Sat Dec 02, 2017 12:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Recommendations Please - Excellent Beginner Locations

Postby davidsheridan » Sat Dec 02, 2017 8:08 am

Thank you HST Community! I greatly appreciative all of these ideas. You pointed me to many places and provided me with a great range of options. I am in a great spot and will research and present many these options to the auction winner along with pros and cons to find a suitable trip or whoever wins the auction item. Let's Help Get Youth Outdoors!
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Re: Recommendations Please - Excellent Beginner Locations

Postby brianA » Mon Dec 04, 2017 6:02 am

Agree with all the recommendations so far. I'm pretty sure the Lake Winnemucca permits are first come, first serve. Call ahead to check. If you want to go super spectacular, and don't mind a modest climb I have several ideas.

Cottonwood Lakes below Mt. Langley is an awesome place. About 5 miles to Lake #1. Day hikes galore. Possible bighorn sheep sightings. It does have a modest climb from the trailhead.

Long Lake on the Bishop Pass Trail. Absolutely gorgeous lake with spectacular mountain scenery. It's about 4-5 miles from South Lake, with a modest, gradual climb.

Lake Aloha on the PCT-Desolation. Spectacular lake with views of Pyramid, Dicks, Jacks, and other peaks. Five miles to the campsites at the front of the lake, but you can take the Echo Lakes ferry to chop off 2 miles each way. Still, a modest climb. Best of the three. Second favorite place in the Sierra.

Just throwing this out there. If you can coax your group into some semblance of shape, my favorite place in the Sierra is Thousand Island Lake. 7.5 miles on the river trail with a challenging climb. Maybe take two days to get there?
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