Ideas for Onion Valley 4 day loop

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Duke1
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Ideas for Onion Valley 4 day loop

Post by Duke1 » Sat Jul 27, 2019 2:16 pm

Hello:

We are planning a 4 night/5 day loop out of Onion Valley next week. We are a mixed age group, all Level 4 hikers, comfortable with Class 2 terrain when traveling and Class 3 when day hiking. Main interests are 1. Mountain Scenery 2. Lakes 3. Scrambling to view points. We have all been in the Sierra high county before and have no issues with elevation. No dogs.

I suspect we will not be able to make it to Rae Lakes in one day. Suggestions for camps along the way would be great.

We are considering a couple options for the non-travel days. 1. Take the shortcut over to 60 lakes basin and set up shop there, take day hikes and then return via the shortcut to Glen Pass. 2. Go down to Rae Lakes and find a site that is sufficiently away from the PCT/JMT traffic to set up camp and day hike to 60 lakes basin and maybe Dragon Lake & above. If we are away from the lakes (up the Dragon Lake outlet stream?) does anyone care about the one night camping limit?

Assuming we don't experience a thunderstorm cycle (like we did last year in Evolution Basin; not fun!) I reckon either plan will be fun but seeing some input from folks who have been to this area before.

Thanks!

Steven








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Wandering Daisy
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Re: Ideas for Onion Valley 4 day loop

Post by Wandering Daisy » Sat Jul 27, 2019 2:39 pm

I was just up at Purple Lake and Lake Virginia. The trail was crawling with PCT'ers and JMT'ers. It is that season! The only solitude I had was up at Ram Lakes. I suspect that Rae Lakes will be quite busy; personally would not base camp there. Perhaps one night only; like camp there, do an AM day-hike and then move to 60 Lakes. 60 Lakes is a nice base if you do not care to fish (these lakes are fishless). A long day-hike into the upper Gardiner Lakes would be possible.

Kearsarge Lake are very nice too. If you camp away from the standard sites (where the trail ends and old bear boxes are) you should get some solitude. OK fishing in Kearsarge Lakes.

Do not discount the lakes on the east side of Kearsarge Pass. Matlock Lake (no fish) is wonderful, as is Heart Lake (fish). I like to just go to one of these lakes the first day (that includes a 6-7 hour drive to Onion Valley) instead of camping at the trailhead campground. It is under 2 hours to get to these lakes and allows you to easily reach Rae Lake the next day.

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Re: Ideas for Onion Valley 4 day loop

Post by adornowest » Sat Jul 27, 2019 7:01 pm

See you out there, Steven! We are doing something very similar to your (1) + upper Gardiner + Dragon. So far, the weather forecasts are looking good. Fingers crossed.

Wandering Daisy, et al, do you have any tips for most beautiful acclimizing hike the day before: Golden Trout, Matlock, Robinson?

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Re: Ideas for Onion Valley 4 day loop

Post by cgundersen » Mon Jul 29, 2019 9:56 am

Hi Steven,
Over the last half decade, I've taken a couple trips where (with an early start, say ~7am), I've made it from Onion Valley over Kearsarge and Glen passes (and I'm SLOW!). Then, once one gets done with the initial descent from Glen, there are 6-7 lakes to the West of the trail, and although some of these lakes have decent campsites, there is another little tarn (just below the 3600 meter contour) northwest of this lake cluster. There are several options for camping by this tarn, and you will escape all the frenzy Daisy mentioned. Plus, from there, it's easy to go over the ridge to the North and right into 60 Lakes basin (I posted photos of this ridge in the off trail passes section) from which you have several options for day hikes. And, my preference would be to take your warm-up hike up to Golden trout. Have fun! Cameron

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Re: Ideas for Onion Valley 4 day loop

Post by Wandering Daisy » Mon Jul 29, 2019 10:52 am

I have never been keen on acclimatization day hikes. Why not just start out on the real trip, go very slowly and camp at one of the east side lakes; I think Matlock (10550) is the best because there are little hikes you can do once in camp. This way you have made some progress towards Kearsarge Pass as well as acclimated. The exception would be if you have a member of your group who definitely gets altitude sick and should sleep lower the first night. But in that case, Onion Valley CG (9250) is still an altitude where this kind of person would have difficulty sleeping.

Day hikes to Golden Trout (11390) would probably be to much if trying to acclimate. Robinson (10540) would be a better choice. I have never been to either. Heart Lake is a bit tricky to get to and 10,800 may be a bit much.

But then, if a before-trip day-hike is your style and nobody is overly sensitive to altitude, I would not go to a place that you will just walk by anyway on the real trip. It is a short side-trip from Flower Lake to go over to Matlock for a few photos as you take a break on the way up to Kearsarge Pass. Just from the contour lines, it looks like Golden Trout lakes would be more scenic than Robinson Lake.

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Re: Ideas for Onion Valley 4 day loop

Post by Duke1 » Tue Jul 30, 2019 8:40 am

Thanks for the ideas and keep them coming! Hearing and reading more about Rea Lakes makes me increasingly inclined to walk through as a day trip and stay in 60 Lakes Basin but we will see what the others in the party want to do. From information on this forum I'm confident we can find the "shortcut" route to 60 Lakes.

I live in Seattle at 330 feet so in theory the Sierra does present an altitude adjustment issue but I just have never had a difficult time. Slower for sure over the big passes but that's to be expected. I do lots of hikes in Washington, generally topping out at 7000 feet, so I'm sure that helps.

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Re: Ideas for Onion Valley 4 day loop

Post by cgundersen » Tue Jul 30, 2019 1:35 pm

Steven,
While we're at it, I'll offer another suggestion for a day hike destination: the shallow lake due east of the S (in King Spur on the HST map) in the plateau east of Clarence king (at about 3500 meters) has great views and has a nice outlet "shower" that will pelt you with semi-warm water. Very refreshing!. I'll attach a photo of the lake and the view from that plateau (good perspective of the whole Rae/60 lakes basin and Fin Dome). Cameron
Sierra July 2015 160sm.jpg
Sierra July 2015 163sm.jpg
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Re: Ideas for Onion Valley 4 day loop

Post by adornowest » Tue Jul 30, 2019 3:10 pm

Cameron -

I'm intrigued. You are talking about the lake NE of Clarence King I take it? Did you go the long way around to get there from 60 Lakes (assuming thats where you were coming from)?

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Re: Ideas for Onion Valley 4 day loop

Post by Wandering Daisy » Tue Jul 30, 2019 3:59 pm

There are two locations flagged on the map below. I camped at the lower lake that is flagged. I think he means the lakes east of and south of Clarence King. I also flagged one of those.
Lake_Eastof_Cotter-Clarence King.JPG

12_Lkbelow_cotter_Small.jpg
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Re: Ideas for Onion Valley 4 day loop

Post by Duke1 » Tue Jul 30, 2019 4:34 pm

Awesome! I have that lake marked as a possible home base in the basin.

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