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Cross Country Route

Posted: Mon Apr 04, 2011 12:32 am
by RoguePhotonic
I think this is a bit of a shot in the dark but I was wondering if anyone knows anything about a small cross country route I have planned in Kings Canyon National Park. I planned this as a more interesting return route then on the JMT.


I have been trying to find some information on these areas but I can't find any. I will admit that not knowing anything is a bit more of an interesting adventure but finding yourself facing impassable terrain and having to reroute on the go is less fun.

Re: Cross Country Route

Posted: Mon Apr 04, 2011 8:39 am
by giantbrookie
I do not know any specifics on that particular route but the topo shows both of your ridge crossings to be supremely steep. The topography alone would suggest extended class 3 or worse (likely class 4 or 5) climbing to surmount both spurs. In other words this route is a bad idea unless you have experience in and plan on doing technical climbing with a full pack on. There are a few crosscountry cols that have been written about in this area (generally used as climbing approaches), but I don't know of any easier than class 3+ that cross those two ridges. There is a class 2 pass that goes from Gardiner Basin into the westernmost of the basins on your map, but this and the col at the head of Gardiner Basin are about the only class 2 passes in this area.

Re: Cross Country Route

Posted: Mon Apr 04, 2011 10:13 am
by Wandering Daisy
Be careful using those metric maps. It is very annoying that some maps are metric and some English. The contour inteval on the metric maps is an odd-ball (something like 66 feet) instead of the normal 40 foot contour interval. Thus, if you are used to looking at the normal 7.5-minute maps with 40 foot intervals, you not percieve the steepness shown on the metric maps. Get onto Google Earth and zoom in closely and take a look at your route. You may not be able to judge steepness but you will see if your route is full of talus or brush. I suspect the drop to Woods Creek to be nasty brush. If you cannot find any information, it could be that route is a miserable and dangerous route.

Re: Cross Country Route

Posted: Mon Apr 04, 2011 7:13 pm
by RoguePhotonic
That map is in Mapsource using 24K West and the contour lines are a solid 40 feet.

For more detail on this section I am planning a 1000 mile, 95+ day hike around the Sierra this summer. This section is a small part of my plans. I plan to go out of Roads End up Bubbs Creek, past Charlotte Lake, over Gardiner Pass to Gardiner Lakes, climb Mt. Cotter, cross into Sixty Lakes Basin and go to Dragon Lake then back into Sixty Lakes Basin and onto that route to Woods Creek and back to Roads End.

I have been on the JMT through this section both North and South so that is why I was looking for a different return route then taking the JMT to Woods Creek and back.

As for terrain I am more concerned about steep scree slopes then anything else but class 4 or 5 is annoying with a full pack on. I don't have a ton of cross country experience but I am more then comfortable doing it and am pretty good with navigation. The whole Sierra High Route is part of my plans. I think I have around 40 days or more of cross country on this hike which makes it more exciting then last year when I did 71 days with only like 3 days of cross country.

The first ridge crossing on that image I had originally planned for the lower saddle just to the North and that might still be a better idea but it will have me drop lower down before going further up the basin. Crossing the Kings Spur looks like a fairly easy talus climb but the decent looks like the possibility of very steep scree which is either very fun or very scary lol.

Generally this section I keep changing as at first I had just planned to go north out of Sixty Lakes Basin and drop down cross country to the JMT and back on Woods Creek. Then I planned to go to Bench Lake and down through the Muro Blanco but I decided the bush wacking was going to tear my clothes all up when I am less than a 3rd into my trip. So now I have this route.

If your curious about my whole route this summer this is it:

SJune 26 - 1 - Grasshopper Flat
MJune 27 - 2 - Rifle Creek
TJune 28 - 3 - Aspine Flat
WJune 29 - 4 - Monarch Creek
TJune 30 - 5 - Kaweah River
FJuly 1 - 6 - Moose Lake
SJuly 2 - 7 - Emerald Lake
SJuly 3 - 8 - Lodgepole
MJuly 4 - 9 - Bear Paw
TJuly 5 - 10 - Lonely Lake
WJuly 6 - 11 - Layover
TJuly 7 - 12 - Colby Lake
FJuly 8 - 13 - Junction Meadow
SJuly 9 - 14 - Lake South America
SJuly 10 - 15 - Lake Reflection
MJuly 11 - 16 - Roads End
TJuly 12 - 17 - Junction Meadow
WJuly 13 - 18 - Lake 9530
TJuly 14 - 19 - Gardiner Lakes
FJuly 15 - 20 - Dragon Lake
SJuly 16 - 21 - Layover
SJuly 17 - 22 - Lake 10700
MJuly 18 - 23 - Paradise Valley
TJuly 19 - 24 - Cedar Grove
WJuly 20 - 25 - Middle Fork
TJuly 21 - 26 - Middle Fork Kings River
FJuly 22 - 27 - Tehipite Valley
SJuly 23 - 28 - Layover
SJuly 24 - 29 - Simpson Meadow
MJuly 25 - 30 - Lake 9702
TJuly 26 - 31 - East Kennedy Lake
WJuly 27 - 32 - Cedar Grove
TJuly 28 - 33 - Granite Creek
FJuly 29 - 34 - Small Lakes 11160
SJuly 30 - 35 - Marion Lake
SJuly 31 - 36 - Palisade Lakes
MAugust 1 - 37 - Below Potluck Pass - Climb Mt. Sill
TAugust 2 - 38 - Bishop Lake
WAugust 3 - 39 - Parchers Rainbow Village
TAugust 4 - 40 - Leconte Canyon
FAugust 5 - 41 - Muir Hut
SAugust 6 - 42 - Lake 11910
SAugust 7 - 43 - Layover
MAugust 8 - 44 - Merriam Lake
TAugust 9 - 45 - Lake Italy
WAugust 10 - 46 - Mono Creek
TAugust 11 - 47 - VVR
FAugust 12 - 48 - Cotton Lake
SAugust 13 - 49 - Minnow Creek
SAugust 13 - 50 - Iva Bell Hotsprings
MAugust 14 - 51 - Layover
TAugust 15 - 52 - Reds Meadow
WAugust 16 - 53 - Cecille Lake
TAugust 17 - 54 - Lake Catherine
FAugust 18 - 55 - Foerster Creek
SAugust 19 - 56 - Red Devil Lake
SAugust 20 - 57 - Lower Ottoway Lake
MAugust 21 - 58 - Illilouette Creek
TAugust 22 - 59 - Yosemite Valley
WAugust 23 - 60 - Layover
TAugust 24 - 61 - Near Tenaya Lake
FAugust 25 - 62 - Tuolumne Meadows
SAugust 26 - 63 - North of Green Treble Lakes
SAugust 27 - 64 - Small Lakes above Return Lake
MAugust 28 - 65 - Twin Lakes
TAugust 29 - 66 - Kerrick Meadow
WAugust 30 - 67 - Benson Lake
TAugust 31 - 68 - Layover
FSeptember 1 - 69 - Return Creek
SSeptember 2 - 70 - Tuolumne Meadows
SSeptember 3 - 71 - Echo Lake
MSeptember 4 - 72 - Clouds Rest
TSeptember 5 - 73 - Babcock Lake
WSeptember 6 - 74 - Tuolumne Meadows
TSeptember 7 - 75 - Below Donohue Pass
FSeptember 8 - 76 - Reds Meadow
SSeptember 9 - 77 - Layover
SSeptember 10 - 78 - Purple Lake
MSeptember 11 - 79 - VVR
TSeptember 12 - 80 - Sallie Keyes Lakes
WSeptember 13 - 81 - Muir Ranch
TSeptember 14 - 82 - Martha Lake
FSeptember 15 - 83 - Simpson Meadow
SSeptember 16 - 84 - Lake 9760
SSeptember 17 - 85 - Layover
MSeptember 18 - 86 - Frypan Meadow
TSeptember 19 - 87 - Cedar Grove
WSeptember 20 - 88 - Roaring River
TSeptember 21 - 89 - Tamarack Lake
FSeptember 22 - 90 - Soda Creek
SSeptember 23 - 91 - Columbine Lake
SSeptember 24 - 92 - Mineral King
MSeptember 25 - 93 - Forester Lake
TSeptember 26 - 94 - Little Five Lakes
WSeptember 27 - 95 - Mineral King

Re: Cross Country Route

Posted: Mon Apr 04, 2011 10:05 pm
by Mike M.

95+ days! Sounds like a great adventure!

I don't know about the route you asked about, but there are plenty of routes in that basin that will go, so you should be OK.

You wouldn't tear up your clothes in the Muro Blanco -- it is just a dirty, tedious bushwhack that would require you to cross high water several times. On the up side, you would not see a soul.

You can't camp at Muir Hut -- emergency use only -- and wouldn't want to -- it stinks of piss and there are critters there that would keep you up all night. There are decent places to camp below the pass, near Helen Lake or below Echo Col.

Harrison Pass (or Lucy's Foot Pass or Milly's Food Pass) will have steep, treacherous snow in early season -- be aware and prepared.

Martha Lake to Simpson Meadow in one day would be a ballbuster. Why not spend some time in the Ionian basin or in the upper Goddard area? Once you get down to the confluence of Disappearing and Goddard creeks, it is a grueling 4 mile bushwhack to Simpson Meadow, then you will have to cross the river (there is no bridge).


Re: Cross Country Route

Posted: Mon Apr 04, 2011 10:58 pm
by RoguePhotonic
Yeah it will be a crazy adventure. I hope I can make it. in 2009 I did 40 days then 71 days in 2010 now 95. Got to keep aiming higher!

I do know your not officially allowed to stay in the Muir Hut but it seems like everyone does it. I stayed in it both in 2009 and 2010 and it was a great experience. I didn't have any problems with critters keeping me up, the smell didn't seem too bad and in 2010 especially it made a great shelter from very high cold winds on that night.

I do expect to hit major snow on that section that includes Harrison Pass. I intend to go from Lonely Lake over Copper Mine Pass and then over the Whale Back to Colby Lake. In 2009 I descended from the Table Lands into Deadman Canyon on June 30th and this was the sight:


I will be passing along the Deadman Canyon head wall about a week later in the year this time but that is not by much and the massive snow pack should make things interesting. Might make for some fun glisading! Of course it would have to be done with trekking poles as I don't plan to bring an ice axe. Maybe I should consider that but then I would have to deal with sending it home.
Martha Lake to Simpson Meadow in one day would be a ballbuster
Really? I planned it mostly based on miles alone. I am not a super hiker and I like to hike around 10 miles a day so I can just enjoy myself and take my time along the way but after being on the trail for that long I will be a machine and will put in some major miles. If I need to throw in a day to extend my return trip that wont be a problem. Generally what I do near the end of this trip will be subject to my resources and physical condition. If I make it all the way as planned and I still have enough money I may just keep on hiking as I have no reason to go home other then the onset of violent weather.

Resupply points are going to be questionable also. I plan to do a mix of buy as you go and send packages ahead but resorts will begin to close. I am not sure how late the services in Cedar Grove stay open.
Why not spend some time in the Ionian basin or in the upper Goddard area?
I did consider going past Davis Lake, over Muir Pass and into Ionian Basin then down through the Enchanted Gorge but I decided the route was too difficult and the payoff would not be worth it in the Gorge. Wandering around those basins might be worth exploring though. If you have a route you think is good let me know.

A couple other places that if anyone knows they could help me with is what is a good place to cross the Whale Back?

On my Tehipite Valley loop I plan to go through the Volcanic Lakes and cross the low ridge East of East Kennedy Lake. I think the approach to this small saddle will be easy but it looks like some steep areas on the other side. Anyone know something about this area?

Re: Cross Country Route

Posted: Mon Apr 04, 2011 11:11 pm
by RoguePhotonic
I forgot to add that on July 3rd 2009 I had to turn around at Colby Pass due to snow. At the time I did not know the location of the pass and found myself on steep slopes that were extremely dangerous so I fully expect to find the same or worse this year but I will attempt to push forward. This may be another excuse to take an ice axe on this section.

Re: Cross Country Route

Posted: Tue Apr 05, 2011 8:33 am
by oldranger

Your early season itinerary is pretty optimistic given the amount of snow.

Re Coppermine to colby: In early August 1986, not a particulary big snow year but one with massive avalanches, there was snow in Cloud Canyon almost down to where the Colby pass trail crosses Roaring River at the base of the whaleback. About 1/2 mile above the crossing much of the river was still under snow. In Deadman Canyon the snow level was about the same as your photo. I had to travel up to Coppermine Pass at that time going up Cloud canyon during a search. Over snow travel was not difficult or particularly dangerous. Suncups in the snow provided steps. Last year I took a telephoto of Upper Deadman from above Crown Lake in Woodchuck country around July 24 and the snow level didn't appear to have raised very much from your photo.

Not taking how snow will impact your travel and not knowing the "best" route but one that worked for me, I would: Traverse from the high point of Coppermine Pass to the tarn just n. of Lion Lake Pass then traverse around to glacier lake. That little traverse crosses a steep scree slope at the base of a cliff. I have not traveled that traverse with snow over the route. Then figure out your best route from Glacier over the upper portions of the ridge that leads n to the Whaleback. As I recall the reverse of my route (I went e to w) would involve going pretty close to Triple divide pass, going up the ridge to the n. then down the broad slope that goes down to the nw before finding a place to drop into the drainage e. of the Whaleback then hiking down granite slabs along the creek to the Colby Pass trail. This is a delightful little valley, seldom traveled. On my trip up the valley I had a wonderful encounter with a belligerent little pine martin that on seeing me dove into a crack but soon popped up and began to scold me until I talked to it. Then it dove back but popped up again. After about 20 minutes of this I tired of the game and walked past the little warrior as it dove for cover.

Finally in a humongous snow year like this plan that the n. side of all high n/s passes will have snow into September, some until the snow falls again. If they are not then you will be pleasantly surprised. It will be a good year for slushies and other frozen delights.

Class 5 with pack is a "mere annoyance" but scree bothers you?


Re: Cross Country Route

Posted: Tue Apr 05, 2011 11:36 am
by Jimr
Martha Lake to Simpson Meadow in one day would be a ballbuster
I second that! The upper half of Goddard Creek is an easy hike, but once you pass the lowest lake, you're in for a lot of work. A lot of route finding to the creek and a lot of creek crossings and bush whacking through brambles. I'd give a full two days from Martha lake to Simpson Meadows.

Re: Cross Country Route

Posted: Tue Apr 05, 2011 12:20 pm
by Mike M.
Rogue, regarding Martha Lake to Simpson Meadow in one day: yes, this would be a ballbuster. Have you looked carefully at the topography in that area? It is rugged. You'd be starting at 11,000 feet, going over a 12,000 foot ridge, then descending rugged terrain all the way down to 6,000 feet. Take two days and be prepared for several difficult creek crossings this year. Also note that the final leg, from the confluence of Disappearing and Goddard creeks, is a rough bushwhack that alone could take as much as half a day.

If you have a desire for even more punishment, consider hiking up the old Cartridge Pass trail the next day (before Mather Pass was built, the JMT followed this route). It is another classic Sierra bushwhack until you get to Triple Falls. Further up, Lake Basin is very pretty and you'll have the place all to yourself. The trail up to the pass, although no longer maintained, is easy to spot and is still serviceable. It will eventually take you down to the south fork of the King's River, near the entrance to the Muro Blanco, which of course would take you to Paradise Valley. Follow that itinerary, and you will lay claim to having completed a rare trifecta of three of the hardest Sierra bushwhacks in one fell swoop!!

Finally, to answer your initial question about the route you wanted to take between the lower Rae Lakes Basin, over King Spur at a point just north of Mt. Clarence King, and then down to Wood's Creek: this looks doable to me. The crux will be coming down the steep NW side of the ridge. I have not done it and have not seen any photos of the ridge, but it looks like difficult class 2, going by the topo map. If it is scree or talus, it should go. If it is cliffy, I'd be wary. It's anyone's guess what actual conditions on the ground might be. And that's part of the fun.

Go for it, then post some photos!