Planning August John Muir Wilderness Westside trip

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sekihiker
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Re: Planning August John Muir Wilderness Westside trip

Post by sekihiker » Fri Apr 05, 2019 8:41 am

SSSdave wrote:
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.
I took a similar route on my Confusion Lake trip. Here's a map of my route: http://www.sierrahiker.com/ConfusionLake/day4map.html








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Re: Planning August John Muir Wilderness Westside trip

Post by kpeter » Fri Apr 05, 2019 9:38 pm

Wow, lots of very helpful information. I'm sure we are going to face a lot of snow especially above 10000. I remember Big McGee at 10500 had plenty of snow into September in 2017, and we have more snow this year, I'm going higher, and I'm going 3 weeks earlier. Heck, 2017 was the year I had to walk on an ice ridge to get through Kaweah gap in early August. Thanks for the alternative routes.

It may be that if the snow is too much we will just make it to one basin and hang out. If you had to choose between RMB, BV, and Blackcap Basin--and could only do one--which would it be? I think SSSDave suggested that RMB would be a good destination, and as a photographer I've found his advice often works out well for me. While I might be able to go back to the other basin(s) in a future year, nothing is certain, and so I'd like to make this one count.

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Re: Planning August John Muir Wilderness Westside trip

Post by AlmostThere » Sat Apr 06, 2019 6:56 am

I would go to Bench, but I'm more into fishing than I am a photographer.

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Re: Planning August John Muir Wilderness Westside trip

Post by Wandering Daisy » Sat Apr 06, 2019 8:25 am

Red Mountain and Blackcap both have more room to move around and/or day hike. Bench is spectacular but smaller. It takes a bit longer to get into Blackcap and the access trail is in poorer condition. You can also get up to Confusion Lake without going over a big pass. Red Mountain Basin seemed less soggy/meadows to me than Blackcap, perhaps because it has more well drained sandy ground. Most of the lakes sit at 10,800 in Blackcap whereas most in Red Mountain sit at about 10,500. There are more woodsy/timbered lakes in Red Mountain. Not sure if you can wait and make the final decision end of July when you can get a better idea of conditions.

To really leave you confused, I prefer Blackcap; this year, best in late August or September. But if I had to choose based on what we know today, it also would be Red Mountain Basin.

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Re: Planning August John Muir Wilderness Westside trip

Post by sekihiker » Sat Apr 06, 2019 3:29 pm

If you decide on the Blackcap Basin, it can be reached from the Rancheria Trailhead out of Wishon Reservoir.
See: http://www.sierrahiker.com/BlackcapBasin/index.html The photos in this trip report show snow cover you may see in July or August this year. If you wanted to try to get to some of the lakes of Bench Valley from Blackcap Basin, they are easily reached by crossing Blackcap Pass.

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Re: Planning August John Muir Wilderness Westside trip

Post by kpeter » Tue Jul 30, 2019 5:48 am

My planned trip is almost upon me. I appreciate all the advice given. The plan is to do Red Mountain and Bench Valley and skip Blackcap.

Question: does anyone have an idea of how much snow there will be in Lucifer's Pass 1 and Lucifer's Saddle 2? I think it may be necessary to take SSSDave's route, which might avoid the talus walking anyway.

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Re: Planning August John Muir Wilderness Westside trip

Post by sekihiker » Tue Jul 30, 2019 7:49 am

If you are coming from Devils Punchbowl, I would drop down Meadow Brook and turn east from the trail toward Crabtree Lake. See the map at: http://www.sierrahiker.com/ConfusionLake/day4map.html
Lucifer WILL be snowed in.
If you have already spent time in the Red Mountain Basin, an alternate route would be to hike to the Meadow Brook Trail and take the route shown on the map. There is plenty to see in the Bench Valley area to fill up weeks of trips and the scenery is spectacular. Its not as gentle as the Red Mountain Basin, though.

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Re: Planning August John Muir Wilderness Westside trip

Post by kpeter » Tue Jul 30, 2019 9:54 pm

In coming down from Bench Valley to the North Fork of the Kings River, the main trail descends SE to the east of Big Maxson Meadow. My GPS shows another trail that follows the south bank of Fall Creek steeply west down to the Kings, which would cut miles off. Has anyone seen/done that trail?

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Re: Planning August John Muir Wilderness Westside trip

Post by sekihiker » Wed Jul 31, 2019 7:17 am

kpeter wrote:
Tue Jul 30, 2019 9:54 pm
In coming down from Bench Valley to the North Fork of the Kings River, the main trail descends SE to the east of Big Maxson Meadow. My GPS shows another trail that follows the south bank of Fall Creek steeply west down to the Kings, which would cut miles off. Has anyone seen/done that trail?
I've gone up it and it's very steep. I never took it again because of that. Even the other trail is pretty steep and somewhat sketchy in places.

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Re: Planning August John Muir Wilderness Westside trip

Post by tlsharb » Thu Aug 01, 2019 10:11 am

I've done it couple times, both headed down. The first time there was a well marked cairn coming off the main trail. Pretty easy to follow, and definitely saves a couple miles. Last year we couldn't find the "use" trail, and just headed down. It took a little while to hit bottom down at the river, but nothing difficult. Definitely worth doing if you are on the way back to courtright.

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