ADVICE: Lower-Elevation Alternative for June

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hstjoshua
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ADVICE: Lower-Elevation Alternative for June

Post by hstjoshua » Mon May 13, 2019 4:00 pm

Hello,

A friend pointed me towards this website recently and it is indeed very helpful; thank you all.

I am seeking your advice on lower-elevation backpacking trips. Our original plan was to go from Cottonwood Lakes Trailhead (Golden Trout Wilderness) around to Crabtree Meadow, Mt. Whitney, and then to exit at the Portal. Along the way, we were to summit Langley and possibly Muir. We had all the right permits and have done this same trip several times in the past. This was for mid-late June (cannot change the dates).

After all the snow began falling, I cancelled our permit and looked for something lower in elevation. Agnew Meadows to Mono Pass (north) via Gem Pass and Koip/Kuna Pass was a trip I've always dreamed of walking and there were permits available. Great, reserved a permit. We were going to start off slow around Ediza, Garnet, and Thousand Island Lakes before heading north and bagging Koip/Kuna, Parker, and Mt Gibbs. But at this point, I'm worried that the snow may be too high for us to have an enjoyable and safe trip here too. One of my friends has already asked about this possibility in thread 19428 and the group provided us with some good advice.

So, are there any lower-elevation hikes that you would recommend for mid-late June? Here are some considerations:
  • Trip should be 35-55 miles (ideally there would be a few spots we could stay at the same campsite twice in order to do some day-trips/exploring)
  • Group size is 10 people
  • A loop or point-to-point trail is preferred, we'd like to avoid too much backtracking
  • We'd like to summit several peaks during the trip
  • We'll have a few amateur photographers along the trip who were really looking forward to Garnet and Thousand Island Lakes
  • Our trip leaders have a fair amount of experience with off-trail navigation and other backcountry skills
  • In general, the higher the better but we're not ready to be mountaineering through the snow for a week
  • A couple days in the snow would be fine (even fun), but this should not be a ski trip on boots
  • Obtaining a permit this late may be difficult
Thank you for your time and advice,
Josh








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maverick
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Re: ADVICE: Lower-Elevation Alternative for June

Post by maverick » Mon May 13, 2019 4:51 pm

So, are there any lower-elevation hikes that you would recommend for mid-late June?

Welcome to HST!
Keep in consideration that the Reds Meadow Road opened on 6/15/18 last year, and 7/21/17 the year before, and snow levels are similar to 2017, so I would not count on the road being opened by your planned trip.
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I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

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Re: ADVICE: Lower-Elevation Alternative for June

Post by c9h13no3 » Mon May 13, 2019 5:27 pm

Whitney, Langley generally get less snow accumulating late season than the Yosemite/Mammoth area. It's further south, and in the rain shadow of the Great Western Divide. Elevation isn't everything.

Where you driving in from? There's good options north & south.
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Re: ADVICE: Lower-Elevation Alternative for June

Post by rightstar76 » Mon May 13, 2019 5:44 pm

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Last edited by rightstar76 on Tue Aug 13, 2019 4:24 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: ADVICE: Lower-Elevation Alternative for June

Post by hstjoshua » Mon May 13, 2019 8:21 pm

Thank you maverick, the opening of Red's Meadow Road is one of my main concerns.

Thank you c9h13no3, I have guys coming from the greater LA area and also from the Central Valley, so we probably want to stay south of Hwy 108... although I could go as far north as Tahoe for the "ultimate" trip.

Thank you rightstar75, I will look up more info about Golden Trout Wilderness.

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Re: ADVICE: Lower-Elevation Alternative for June

Post by c9h13no3 » Mon May 13, 2019 9:22 pm

hstjoshua wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 8:21 pm
Thank you c9h13no3, I have guys coming from the greater LA area and also from the Central Valley, so we probably want to stay south of Hwy 108... although I could go as far north as Tahoe for the "ultimate" trip.
Yeah, I'm up in SF, so the Southern Sierra isn't my expertise.

This map is pretty useful for finding holes in the snow. The data in that map is modeled, so it doesn't account for things like slope aspect, forest shade, blah blah, but it's a great way to get a quick idea of where the snow is. The real data is here, but it's harder to quickly sort through.

You can see on that map that there's a lot of light blue from Whitney to Olancha peak. I'd think your original trip idea would go, if you can get your old permits. Obviously notoriously bad passes for snow like Old Army Pass will still be bad, but WanderingDaisy has previously recommended the Sky Blue Lake & Miter Basin area as an early season option. Probably want to use Cottonwood Pass to get over the crest.
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Re: ADVICE: Lower-Elevation Alternative for June

Post by SSSdave » Mon May 13, 2019 11:31 pm

There are plenty of older threads from past big snow years on lower elevations destinations though new members ask these same questions about where they might go early season into the magnificent High Sierra at each new big snow year. Though a few have done their homework searching for past threads, they may wonder if they are missing something or some are holding out on secrets.

Some members will suggest trying to enjoy embracing going right into the snow covered landscapes and claim they enjoy doing so and others might too. Others that IMO don't adequately understand where snow is likely to be because they can't interpret snow info and weather websites and instead rely on their own limited experience of more average winters will promote heading into areas that end up much more snowy than they expected. The fact other experienced members don't refute their inputs does not mean the rest of us accept such advice but rather just don't want to inject a negative vibe.

And others like this person will suggest staying below the snow line to the very limited lower elevation destinations possible that are not likely to qualify with the requestee's vision of a worthwhile High Sierra experience. Consider is it worth going to places most will find boring or cancelling?

But that is early season reality.
http://www.davidsenesac.com/2017_Trip_C ... 17-12.html
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Re: ADVICE: Lower-Elevation Alternative for June

Post by Wandering Daisy » Tue May 14, 2019 8:31 am

The 10-person group size may be your most challenging problem this late in the game. Is there any possibility to split into two groups and do two entirely separate trips? Otherwise you may want to look for non-quota trailheads.

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Re: ADVICE: Lower-Elevation Alternative for June

Post by hstjoshua » Tue May 14, 2019 2:41 pm

Thanks you c9h13no3, those links to the raw data are helpful.

Thank you SSSDave, I did look around the forum a bit before posting but probably could have been more diligent with my searches. Your trip up Cherry Creek looks promising. Maybe start there and head up towards Kennedy Meadows and Sonora Pass area. I believe there are some non-quota trailheads we could use (thanks Wandering Daisy).

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Re: ADVICE: Lower-Elevation Alternative for June

Post by SSSdave » Tue May 14, 2019 6:06 pm

One of the best things is solitude wise, unless others are reading this, (: I doubt any will go beyond Kibbie Lake (and below LM, too big at peak flows for kayaks) because most backpackers have the incurable alpine lake disease.


towards KM and Sonora, you would not be able to avoid impossible river/creek crossing much less at trail crossings unless climbing too high into each upper basin into deepest steepest snow areas. No the most excellent strategy is figure out how to stay within the ("we don't have to cross any big creeks and will go cross country where the topo allows,") zone bounded by Cherry Creek and east Kibbie Ridge. Many most excellent things there in June at those low elevations. Ask kayakers. Like hit Cherry Creek gorge if all in party are up to it. Lord Meadow 2 or 3 days, Many Island lake, Kibbie Lake, even more depending on snow levels.

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