Page 1 of 2

First Time Sierra Hiker - suggestions?

Posted: Wed Apr 23, 2008 7:11 pm
by East Hiker
I will be in Reno without a car in mid-May and want very much to plan a 3-4 day backpack trip after some business meetings. If it seems th ebest option I might rent a car and tailgate camp. I would love to get to the Sierra high country that I have read about all my life but never visited. I totally need help and advise. Any suggestions for a good guide book? Kings Canyon / John Muir trail seems kind of far from Reno... but maybe it is worth it. I would prefer an area not too crowded. Will snow be a problem memorial day weekend? Ideally I would like some kind of circut hike rather than hike in, turn around and hike back. It would be fun to walk on part of the Pacific Crest Trail. Thanks to anyone with suggestions. Sincerely, East Hiker

Re: First Time Sierra Hiker - suggestions?

Posted: Fri Apr 25, 2008 1:59 pm
by dmdhiker
East Hiker, from what I have read in many places including here on this forum mid-May seems early to get in the high country unless you want to camp in winter conditions. You may want to check out Yosemite valley as an option, should/is snow free so some dayhiking and maybe a few nights at lower elevations may work. There are bus options from Reno, do a search in the transportation section of this forum. Hope this helps.

Re: First Time Sierra Hiker - suggestions?

Posted: Fri Apr 25, 2008 4:50 pm
by Timberline
Hey, East Hiker, welcome to HST!
I can understand your excitement to get some sierra time while you're in the area, but I have to agree with dmdhiker that mid-May might be early this year for the high country you have in mind. If you want to consider any options closer to Reno than Yosemite or SEKI, you might want to explore Desolation Valley, which is just west of Lake Tahoe and has some grand country, tho not quite as high as the sierra further south. Check out ... /desowild/ for some intro and info to evaluate your interest there; you might also contact the web manager and see if you can get/find updates on conditions as your date of visit approaches, to best gauge how open the wilderness may be when you visit. I frequently see the western edge of DVW from near my house, and it's still pretty white on the peaks. Can't drive to my favorite lake yet either, but maybe by mid-May? Hmmmm. . . .

'Nother option might be to drive down US Hwy 395 from Reno and explore the east side. Some spectacular country to see for the first time, and you can probably car camp at any number of places, depending on how much time you have. Check out for this one.

Good luck - - and enjoy! :nod:

Re: First Time Sierra Hiker - suggestions?

Posted: Fri Apr 25, 2008 5:10 pm
by maverick
As others have mentioned its to early for the high country.
The Valley might be an option, where you could hike to Sunrise-Clouds Rest trail junction
and use it as a base camp for climbing Half Dome and Clouds rest or hike to Merced Lake
and do a day hike up to Babcock Lake or Washburn Lake and return the Upper Merced Lake Trail.
They have started to plow Tioga Road but I do not think it will be open in time for you to
use which means you'll have a long drive to get to the Valley.
If it did open in time then you could check out Waterwheel & LeConte Falls out of
Tuolumne Meadows.

Re: First Time Sierra Hiker - suggestions?

Posted: Fri Apr 25, 2008 6:39 pm
by giantbrookie
There are very few spots that can be guaranteed to be comparatively snow free at that time of year. One of them is easily accessible from Reno. It would be the lakes out of Leavitt Meadow (Hwy 108 east of Sonora Pass): Poore, Secret, Roosevelt, Lane. Depending on snow conditions you may be able to hike quite a bit farther up the drainage, but the first four lakes will be open and they offer good fishing for big fish if fishing is a priority. Another spot that may be open (not guaranteed, though) would be the Jamison Creek drainage and Plumas Eureka State Park (near Blairsden/Graeagle off of 70): Grass, Rock, Jamison, and Wades Lake. I'd suspect at least Grass will be open if not the rest of the drainage when you plan your trip. Lakes Basin itself nearby is a bit higher and may not be thawed out yet.

Re: First Time Sierra Hiker - suggestions?

Posted: Fri Apr 25, 2008 7:20 pm
by East Hiker
Thanks to all of you veterans for the advice. I think Yosemite is just too far from Reno so I might try Desolation area. (I really don't want to pack the gear and weight for snow camping.) I'll keep looking for a bus / shuttle from Reno. Brookiegiant... you really got me thinking about fishing. The link you sent and its photos have me thinikng I should definitely plan some casting time. I assume a spinning rod would work? What do people use, small spinners, bait? Or is fly fishingt the way to go. (I don't have a packable fly rod.) Again, thanks to all of you. East Hiker.

Re: First Time Sierra Hiker - suggestions?

Posted: Fri Apr 25, 2008 8:31 pm
by giantbrookie
There aren't too many places that are likely to be ice-free in Desolation in mid May given our rather slow thaw this spring. For example, you may go out of Glen Alpine, but the only lake that would likely be thawed is Grass Lake (and this may be a stretch). Out of Eagle Falls, Eagle Lake itself may be open, but above that would be doubtful. The NW side is the lowest and will thaw the earliest (earlier than the two lakes listed above): call the USFS station and ask whether Loon Lake is thawed. If it is the key lakes will be open: Buck Island (outside of the wilderness and awesome fishing) and Rockbound (inside the wilderness and great fishing). The problem with the west side Desolation entry via Loon Lake is that it is a rather long drive from Reno. I believe it is a longer drive from Reno than Plumas-Eureka or Leavitt Meadow. The Plumas-Eureka and the Leavitt Meadow area are both not too bad in terms of driving time from Reno and you would have more of a guarantee of being ice-free (for the lakes) and not having to deal with too much snow covering the trails. As for fishing, whether flies are your preference or lures, they both work quite well. I myself fish lures as you can tell by my website, but others do very well with flies. My lures tend to be rather large "bent spoons" of 1/4 to 3/8 oz size: Z-Rays and Kastmasters are my favorites.

Re: First Time Sierra Hiker - suggestions?

Posted: Fri Apr 25, 2008 8:32 pm
by Snow Nymph
I meant to post last night, but fell asleep. There's hiking in the Southern Sierra "Exploring the Southern Sierra" by Jenkins. Tomcat and I have a lot of trip photos from that area. Some of these will take you on the PCT.

I haven't seen anyone on these hikes except the group I'm with. Last weekend we saw a Sierra Club group early in the morning, and again after the hike at the vehicles. They started 2 hrs before us so we never saw them on the trail.

here's a few:

East Lamont Peak: ... 3638_j6W2U

Lamont Peak: ... 4235_oj9k3

Chuckwalla & Cross Mtns: ... 1175_c66h4

from last year
Morris Pk: ... 9831_6VfB2

Jenkins/Aquila Pk: ... 8107_9HbRg

Scodie Pk: ... 3097_26bNm

Round Mtn: ... 4980_W5UzL

Re: First Time Sierra Hiker - suggestions?

Posted: Fri Apr 25, 2008 10:24 pm
by hikerduane
Well, I see another of my posts didn't make it.

I work in Carson City, south of Reno about 20 miles during the week, if you need any help/suggestions leave a message for me. I would be able to help during the week after work, M-Th. I have been into the Lake Tahoe/Desolation Wilderness area since the mid 70's. I think you should come prepared to car camp or for snow camping. I don't think any campgrounds will be open yet around Lake Tahoe, maybe along the road from Truckee to Squaw Valley turnoff.

A very nice road trip would be down 395 to at least Bridgeport, watch for the Highway Patrol south of Topaz Lake thru Walker. About 2 1/2 hours from Reno to Bridgeport, very small town, highest gas prices in CA?

Re: First Time Sierra Hiker - suggestions?

Posted: Tue May 27, 2008 7:58 pm
by East Hiker
Hello All of you Helpful Souls. Well, I made the trip and have come back to Virginia. Thank you for your suggestions. You really helped me undertand the cnditions and what to expect. I ended up thinking it wiser to not actually backpack the PCT but rather camp nearby in a campground and do some day hikes and fisjing. I spent Friday the 23rd at Eureka Plumas state park with the plan of hiking over to the PCT. Long story short... it rained cats and dogs that Friday. I discovered my trusty backpacking stove (SVEA 123) of 30 years flawless performance, decided to stop working Friday when it was pouring rain. Next moring a wonderful volunteer in the State Park visitor center - and avid PCT hiker - suggested I go down near Sierra City where there are several good National Forest Service campgrounds, plenty of rivers to fish and where the PCT drops down in elevation at Rt 49. Sounded good to me so I drove back south and found myself camping in West Plumb Camground, a great spot. I tried fly fishing all Sunday along the Yuba River and tributaries. No luck - but that is OK. It is a lot of fun just bouldering along the stream side and pausing to cast -and wow, was it a workout. (Although I did come on a hatch of caddis flies that afternon ... but had no dry flys with me. No one else was catching either.) Now here is the fun part for you hikers... on Monday I was up and hiking by 7:30. I went up to the PCT from the campground, then north along Love Falls Trail, crossed Rt 49 and climbed up to the Sierra Buttes. It was raining and blowing hard. Here is the good news... I am over 50 and if I had had a stove that worked and had headed up that trail (that climbed 2,000 feet) with 30 pounds or so of load for a few days, I swear I would be dead on the trail! Under the circumstances of wind and rain and being solo, I cut down a side trail back to Sierra City and the campground. I ended up only hiking 3 - 4 miles on the PCT proper, but I am still alive and took no risks. By the way, there was no snow on the section of trail I crossed excpet a few piles about the size of a kitchen table. So in my mind it was an excellent adventure and I thank you for your suggestions and ideas - even though I pretty much headed north from locations you guys suggested. You helped me understand the realities of the snow at the higher elevations which helped me devise an alternative route. I hope I can get back there again - and then if the weather is better get down to Kings Canyon, John Muir stretch, Desolation Wilderness some day. Happy trails and casting!