Recommendation for 6 Nights Winter Hike?

Discussion about winter adventure sports in the Sierra Nevada mountains including but not limited to; winter backpacking and camping, mountaineering, downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, etc.
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Bruno Burma
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Recommendation for 6 Nights Winter Hike?

Post by Bruno Burma » Tue Jul 30, 2019 5:22 pm

Hi all,

I'm an Australian hiker coming to visit my girlfriends family xmas 2019. I would like to do a hike while I'm in California, and I'm looking for recommendations. I have quite a lot of experience hiking, including off-tail and some snow camping and I have reasonably good gear which I will be bringing with me. I quite like a challenging hike.

I am looking for suggestions for a hike that I'll be undertaking over six (or 7) nights from January 7, to January 12/13 inclusive. As it is a long way to come to your see your beautiful nature I'm looking for the best walk you can think of with the following provisos:

1. 6 or 7 nights.
2. I won't have a car so a linear walk is fine.
3. I will get dropped off at the start of the walk but I will have to make my way back to LAX by public transport/shuttle buses/Uber/taxi/hitchhiking.

I was thinking of Sequioa and Kings Canyon, though would also be nice to say I'd done a bit of the John Muir track ... Clearly can't be too far from LA.

I'm looking for suggestions and any other tips, links to shuttle services, information about public transport to trailheads and your recommendation for the best walk you can think of in that time frame. I probably need a backup plan in case there's a blizzard too ...

PS: happy to share hiking ideas for Australia, if anyone is looking to come.

Cheers

Cris








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wildhiker
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Re: Recommendation for 6 Nights Winter Hike?

Post by wildhiker » Wed Jul 31, 2019 11:52 pm

You won't be hiking any part of the John Muir Trail in January, unless we have the drought year of the millenium next year. The high sierra is strictly backcountry ski-touring or snowshoeing that time of year, with most access roads closed for the season and the possibility of severe blizzards.

Why not do one of the desert sections of the Pacific Crest Trail? The desert is pleasant in winter, and it's close to Los Angeles. Perhaps the section that runs through Anza Borrego State Park east of San Diego and then maybe looping back down Coyote Creek to the town of Borrego Springs where you can probably get transportation. Check out the resources at the Pacific Crest Trail Association website at www.pcta.org.

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Re: Recommendation for 6 Nights Winter Hike?

Post by Bruno Burma » Thu Aug 01, 2019 4:03 am

Hey thanks - that's good to know and a great suggestion. I've found the site and also these excellent maps https://www.pctmap.net/maps/. Any ideas on how long that section would take? What is it like?

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Re: Recommendation for 6 Nights Winter Hike?

Post by c9h13no3 » Thu Aug 01, 2019 9:53 am

Yeah, winter hiking spots in SoCal are deserts (cold at night, but dry) or the coast (nice temps, but rainy).

Big Sur is pretty nice in January.

99% of the people I know that ski in January do so as a day trip. Being out for multiple days is super risky (avalanche danger, weather), not to mention heavy.
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Re: Recommendation for 6 Nights Winter Hike?

Post by Bruno Burma » Thu Aug 01, 2019 3:49 pm

Thx for the tips. Big Sur might be a bit far for this trip, though it looks good. What about Big Bear?

PS: I read your blog - you're right no-one includes photos of the insects! :-0

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Re: Recommendation for 6 Nights Winter Hike?

Post by c9h13no3 » Thu Aug 01, 2019 5:59 pm

Bruno Burma wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 3:49 pm
Thx for the tips. Big Sur might be a bit far for this trip, though it looks good. What about Big Bear?
Dunno, I live in San Francisco, so I have little reason to drive down to Big Bear when there's similar destinations up here. I just know it's a local ski hill for the LA crowd that doesn't want to drive to Mammoth.

Yosemite Valley is cool in winter if you're looking to see the Sierra. Course, that's even farther than Big Sur. Catalina Island has some nice hiking, and it's closer to LA than Big Sur. But I have no idea if it's any good.
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Re: Recommendation for 6 Nights Winter Hike?

Post by Harlen » Fri Aug 02, 2019 1:28 am

Hey Bruno,

If you have the gear and good luck with the weather, I reckon that a great winter trip (with snowshoes or skis) would be to start at Kearsarge Pass and end at Cedar Grove. You say that you can be dropped off at one end, so why not head across the range? It is a pretty straight forward route, but being new country for you, you'll need to have solid route-finding skills.

The distance will vary in winter depending on how far the roads are driveable. If it's a light snow year up to January 7th, you might get to the summer trailhead at 9185'. If so, and if at the other end you can somehow get a car in to "Road's End," (5035'), then the total distance is just 22.0 miles. There's a good chance that you would have to walk a few more miles from the east to get to the Onion Valley TH, and it you may need an additional 6 or 7 miles from Roads End to Cedar Grove to get a ride So the total distance could be around 30 miles. (*Someone who knows the situation around Cedar Grove please chime in and clarify this.)

A good topo map for this trip is the Tom Harrison Maps: "Kearsarge Pass-Rae Lakes Loop Map." This map ends in the west at Roads End; the next map continuing westward to Cedar Grove is the "Kings Canyon High Country Trail Map," (also a Tom Harrison Map). Kearsarge Pass is the only uphill challenge- it's nearly all downhill from the pass to Cedar Grove. It's wise to start in on the east side in order to accomplish the pass in good conditions. I always try to begin a winter ski tour when the NOAA weather forecast is good for the duration of the trip, or at least through the avalanche risky parts of the trip.

It is not always easy to find perfect conditions when one has a short time window as you will have Bruno. Good luck to you (The mountains I am most interested in Australia are in Tasmania- the "Arthurs," with "The Traverse," and a climb of Federation Peak as goals.)

I'll add a few photos to give you an idea of the beauty of this area, and part of the route. (*Can anyone add in the topo map?)

carl book 019.JPG
On Kearsarge Pass.


carl book 018.JPG
Near Kearsarge Pass, just south a bit.


carl book 021.JPG
The two route options westward from Kearsarge Pass (photo from K.Pass, looking west, with Bullfrog Lake in the far left). Route 2. is directly west, through Charlotte Lake. Slightly shorter, but with more risk of avalanche in the last couple miles before reaching Bubbs Creek. Route 1., using the JMT route for 1.5 miles down to Bubbs Creek is safer due to the lower angled slope, and denser forest.


carl book 025.JPG
View south from around the trail junction of the JMT and Kearsarge Pass trail- part of Route 1, ~10,560. The peak at center is East Vidette.
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Last edited by Harlen on Mon Aug 05, 2019 8:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Recommendation for 6 Nights Winter Hike?

Post by c9h13no3 » Mon Aug 05, 2019 11:57 am

Harlen wrote:
Fri Aug 02, 2019 1:28 am
If so, and if at the other end you can somehow get a car in to "Road's End," (5035'), then the total distance is just 22.0 miles
The road to Cedar Grove is generally closed until Fishmas. Most people that ski trans Sierra do so from an East side pass to Wolverton. For example, Bob Akka's epic day trip in May of 2005. Wolverton is not only plowed year round, but it's higher elevation so you're less likely to have to walk out on dirt.

Course, the car shuttle is crazy, the trip is committing, and I doubt I'd ever try anything that intense.
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