Planning August John Muir Wilderness Westside trip

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tlsharb
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Re: Planning August John Muir Wilderness Westside trip

Post by tlsharb » Mon Mar 18, 2019 6:48 am

I've spent 5 of the last 6 summers hiking that area, and yes it is gorgeous. Last summer was supposed to be a Red mtn/Bench/Blackcap hike that started at Courtright and ended at Wishon. Everyone liked Bench so much that we stayed an extra day there, and then came out via Halfmoon and Woodchuck. Never made it to Blackcap. As has been said, trying to cover all three basins would be a stretch, but two is very doable. Courtright into Red Mtn Basin (Blackrock Lk is a very nice camping spot and good place to spend a couple days checking out the southern part of the basin). Hop over Lucifer's saddle (not too bad) and go over to Crabtree Lk in Bench Valley. Then exit down to the Kings River and back through Post Corral. The only tricky part is finding the "use" trail down to the Kings. The main trail takes you way out of your way. No matter where you pick to go, the Leconte Divide is a great part of the Sierra.








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Re: Planning August John Muir Wilderness Westside trip

Post by kpeter » Tue Mar 26, 2019 9:42 pm

I have my reservation to go in on Sunday Aug 11. We would like to camp at the reservoir the night before to get a little acclimated, but the campgrounds only take reservations for 2 nights. How likely would it be we could find an unreserved camping space late on a Saturday afternoon at Courtwright Reservoir?

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Re: Planning August John Muir Wilderness Westside trip

Post by AlmostThere » Wed Mar 27, 2019 7:34 am

The campgrounds take reservations at Courtright? I've never bothered to look.

There are pullouts on the road all the way in, after the fork - pick a pullout. You might end up sharing but some of them are very large. I would drive all the way in to the trailhead - there are pullouts right before the trailhead parking that are easy access. Can't camp at the trailhead itself.

Another option - walk the first couple of miles in on the Dusy Ershim and camp at Voyager Rock. It's not in wilderness, no permit needed, the OHVers are friendly and welcoming. If all the sites are full walk along the shore of the lake and pick a spot next to Courtright itself. Or walk up on top of the ridge along the Ershim - it's open and flat up there. There is a trail that heads to Chamberlain Camp from Voyager Rock to reconnect you - puts you at the wilderness boundary as you rejoin the official trail.

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Re: Planning August John Muir Wilderness Westside trip

Post by mbehlen » Tue Apr 02, 2019 1:09 pm

I LOVED the red mountain basin! I hiked from Courtright to Post Carral night 1, and hoofed it to Hell For Sure Lake Night 2 and camped somewhere inbetween nignt 3. Hell For Sure is wonderful!

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Re: Planning August John Muir Wilderness Westside trip

Post by c9h13no3 » Tue Apr 02, 2019 4:02 pm

AlmostThere wrote:
Wed Mar 27, 2019 7:34 am
Another option - walk the first couple of miles in on the Dusy Ershim and camp at Voyager Rock.
How much clearance would you need to drive to Voyager Rock? I've heard conflicting reports.
"Adventure is just bad planning." - Roald Amundsen
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Re: Planning August John Muir Wilderness Westside trip

Post by AlmostThere » Wed Apr 03, 2019 9:18 am

c9h13no3 wrote:
Tue Apr 02, 2019 4:02 pm
AlmostThere wrote:
Wed Mar 27, 2019 7:34 am
Another option - walk the first couple of miles in on the Dusy Ershim and camp at Voyager Rock.
How much clearance would you need to drive to Voyager Rock? I've heard conflicting reports.
Most of the vehicles you will see back there are genuine lifted 4wd. Some plain jane trucks/suburban types make it back there. I wouldn't take a car or mini suv. There are spots in the road where you'd high-center something without good clearance, a steep climb up granite slab, some deep holes and roots/rocks your average transaxle won't survive. I can't claim to be an expert in such things but while it's not as bad as the Dusy Ershim gets, it's not for 2wd/awd.

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Re: Planning August John Muir Wilderness Westside trip

Post by SSSdave » Wed Apr 03, 2019 8:54 pm

With all the snow this year travel across the usual cross country passes between those basins even early August is certain to encounter snow fields on northern exposures. With an average pack, it will take you 2 days to reach RMB and another 2 to get back to Courtright without a death march. On the way in Post Corral Mdw but on the way out will suggest camping at Devils Punchbowl then take the trail down to the NF Kings to camp there enjoying the river. With all the lakes in RMB including those to the north, it is another ideal location to semi base camp so with your trip could spend 4 nights there and still only have time to day hike to half of them. Also worth the the easy climb to RM Pass and then RM for the great afternoon view out to all the big KC peaks as well as the SF of the San Joaquin plus Martha and Goddard to the south. And you can still see Bench Valley with an afternoon day hike to the well used cross country pass sw of Mt Hutton or could even climb that peak.

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Re: Planning August John Muir Wilderness Westside trip

Post by Wandering Daisy » Thu Apr 04, 2019 9:50 am

Ah, the walk-out strategy. You certainly can walk out to in one day from Devil's Punchbowl. From viewing Google Earth, it looks like a pretty easy x-c walk from Devil's Punchbowl to intersect the trail below Fleming Lake, although I have not done it. When I worked I did the long walk-outs with the exhausting drive home the same day. Ugh! Now that I am retired, I usually leave a short last day and drive home, eliminating either the sleepy drive home or trailhead camping. However, Courtright Reservoir has some really nice regular campgrounds and staying the night there would be quite beautiful. Courtright has a lot of amazing granite domes, similar to Tuolumene Meadows. The canyon below the dam is pretty amazing. One could easily spend a day hiking around to see the domes. We used to rock climb there.

I found camping at Hell for Sure Lake pretty stark. I prefer camping on the peninsula at Horseshoe Lake, although it is a bit tricky to get there. I hiked up to Mosquito Pass in Red Basin and the view down the north side is interesting. Camping up there is likely to be soggy and full of mosquitoes late into the season this year. I would not plan to camp there.

In Bench Valley the loop from Crabtree to the lakes above Bullet was the most scenic. I was a bit disappointed in Little Joe Lake. McGuire and Guest were mosquito hell. There was snow on the north side of the pass SW of Hutton when I did it, which made it harder than others have indicated. You have to find the correct route to avoid getting cliffed-out above Big Shot. I camped on the ridge NW of Big Shot, not as plush as Devils Punchbowl, but the morning reflections across Big Shot were excellent.

Whatever you choose you really cannot go wrong. I hope you have a good trip.

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Re: Planning August John Muir Wilderness Westside trip

Post by sekihiker » Thu Apr 04, 2019 11:36 am

SSSdave wrote:
Wed Apr 03, 2019 8:54 pm
And you can still see Bench Valley with an afternoon day hike to the well used cross country pass sw of Mt Hutton or could even climb that peak.
Mt Hutton is an easy walkup from Two Passes/Lucifer Passes and I recommend it for the fabulous views. The problem this year is all the snow we've accumulated. We had a fair amount of snowfall in 2017 and the western of the two passes was filled with snow at the beginning of September. Dropping down to Devils Punchbowl was a real challenge.
See: http://www.sierrahiker.com/BenchValley/index.html

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Re: Planning August John Muir Wilderness Westside trip

Post by SSSdave » Fri Apr 05, 2019 8:30 am

Alternative route between RMB and BV avoiding talus and the the snowy headwall above Big Shot that is longer (2.7 versus 2 miles) with a minor amount of more vertical but less tedious travel through sparse lodgepole slopes. If considering that route, do review it on Google Earth.

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