Circle of Solitude from Onion Valley plans - 6 days

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4x4Dragon
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Circle of Solitude from Onion Valley plans - 6 days

Post by 4x4Dragon » Wed Jul 26, 2017 9:39 am

Looking for any feedback on my plans for a 6 day hike I'm doing Sept. 25- Sept. 30. I will be doing a variation of the 'Circle of Solitude' out of Onion Valley with the highlight and big reason for the trip being to spend a night at the unofficially named Picket Guard Lake. My plans are as follows:

Day 1 - Hike as far as Junction Meadow/Bubbs Creek (think i could get another mile or two though especially if there are good campsites)
Day 2 - Hike as far as Roaring River (possibly a tad further if i can make it further in on day 1)
Day 3 - Hike as far as Colby Lake (i'm really not deadset on camping at Colby Lake so if I am in any way able to make it to Picket Guard Lake on this day, that would be better)
Day 4 - Picket Guard Lake! Have been wanting to get here for a while... (If somehow able to make this by day 3 then this would be a rest day or a leisurely day down to the Kern or across over to the PCT/JMT)
Day 5 - I would like to make it to at least within approach distance of Forester Pass.... so I was thinking anywhere between the Lake South America spur/turnoff trail and Forester Pass itself?? But this is where I'm really looking for guidance and advice as I would need some 'shelter'/cover if the weather looks bad
Day 6 - Hike out to Onion Valley (I don't mind this being a longer day as I figure i will have some conditioning by this point and by my calculations its a little over 19 miles from the Lake South America turnoff...hence why i would like to get a bit past that turnoff on Day 5

I will be car camping at Whitney Portal the Sunday night before i start.....which is pretty much the same amount of acclimatizing I've had on my previous 3 hikes in the Sierras. (1Horseshoe Meadows/Cottonwood Lakes loop, 2High Sierra Trail, 3Horseshoe Meadows/Miter Basin over Crabtree pass/back out Cottonwood lakes)

Again, looking for any thoughts/tips especially on campsites. I will have my hammock in hopes of using it but will also be able to go to the ground if necessary. Thanks in advance!








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maverick
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Re: Circle of Solitude from Onion Valley plans - 6 days

Post by maverick » Wed Jul 26, 2017 10:03 am

Hi 4x4Dragon,

Welcome to HST!
Day 1 - Hike as far as Junction Meadow/Bubbs Creek (think i could get another mile or two though especially if there are good campsites)
Did you not mean Avalanche Pass Trail/Bubbs and not Junction Meadow, since your next intended location is Roaring River? :)
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Re: Circle of Solitude from Onion Valley plans - 6 days

Post by 4x4Dragon » Wed Jul 26, 2017 10:16 am

Well, my national geographic map labels the junction after vidette Meadows as Junction Meadow(at the turnoff to Lake Reflection)..... Must be a mistake, thought that would be kinda odd to have 2 Junction Meadows lol.

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Re: Circle of Solitude from Onion Valley plans - 6 days

Post by maverick » Wed Jul 26, 2017 11:49 am

Just so you know, for planning purposes, it is approx 18.6 miles from Onion Valley to the Bubbs/Avalanche Pass Trail junction and another 12.2 to Roaring River, the climb up from Bubbs to the Sphinx Creek section should be done as early as possible, it get quite hot and there are rattlers on the staircase section. There are campsites at the Bubbs/Avalanche Junction and also where Sphinx Creek crosses the trail going towards Avalanche Pass.

I would like to make it to at least within approach distance of Forester Pass.... so I was thinking anywhere between the Lake South America spur/turnoff trail and Forester Pass itself?? But this is where I'm really looking for guidance and advice as I would need some 'shelter'/cover if the weather looks bad.
Not much cover once you head up towards Forester, there is some near Tyndall Creek as you start up towards the pass you can use.

Purchase some Tom Harrison Maps. :nod:
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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: Circle of Solitude from Onion Valley plans - 6 days

Post by cgundersen » Wed Jul 26, 2017 12:06 pm

Hi 4X4,
For reasons beyond my control, I've been a Kearsarge Pass regular the last few years, and it's a great conduit into the back country, but it has been a long time since I continued down Bubbs creek from there. Since the early stages of your trip are on well-worn trail, I think your travel estimates are reasonable, if the weather cooperates. My wife & I hit a bit of snow coming out Pine creek in mid-September last year and a massive thunderstorm on the Bishop pass trail the year before (also mid-Sept), so there's a chance you'll be dealing with inclemency. Oh, and appreciably shorter days. Still, there are gobs of places to camp along Bubbs creek and if you run out of gas heading up toward Colby Lake, I've camped near where Cunningham Creek flows into Cement Table Meadow and there's a great spot right where the trail crosses the creek before heading up to Colby Pass. But, frankly, it's worth it to try to get to Colby Lake. I've not visited Picket Guard Lake, so no comment there, but if all goes well, I can strongly recommend trying to get up somewhere close to Lake S. America, because the views of the great western divide are memorable. It's a schlep, but certainly doable. I think weather will be the biggest variable and if you hit a good patch, it'll be a fantastic loop.
Cameron

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Re: Circle of Solitude from Onion Valley plans - 6 days

Post by maverick » Wed Jul 26, 2017 12:13 pm

I've not visited Picket Guard Lake
:eek: You have gotta go visit it with Joy, CG, it is one of the best swimming pool, with a view sublime view east towards the Whitney Region, in the Sierra, maybe the next time you all go to KB.
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Re: Circle of Solitude from Onion Valley plans - 6 days

Post by 4x4Dragon » Wed Jul 26, 2017 12:39 pm

Thanks for the info so far guys! I don't think I will be trying for the Avalanche pass trail junction on the first day. I just at least want to make it to the Lake Reflection turnoff....but hopefully slightly further. And while I don't necessarily want to skip over Colby Lake, Picket Guard Lake is more important to me for reasons as Maverick has mentioned. Regarding campsites, I'm no stranger to cowboy camping above treeline....did it at Guitar Lake on my HST hike, just don't wanna do it if thunderstorms are present.

One other thought I had is what if I did the loop in the opposite direction? Feel like I might be able to better allocate my days this way...thoughts?

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Re: Circle of Solitude from Onion Valley plans - 6 days

Post by cgundersen » Wed Jul 26, 2017 12:58 pm

4X4 and mav,
OK, Picket Guard Lake just moved to VERY high on the list.......As for loop direction, I think counterclockwise would be my choice, simply for the WOW factor when you hit Colby Pass. And, you'll give yourself a few more days to get ready for 13K Forester. The other BIG advantage of going counter is you can really jam going down the trail on your first day, and because camping options are so plentiful along Bubbs creek, you can go till you run out of light (or, knees). If the weather cooperates, you may then get a leg up on day two and be able to crank it a bit closer to the Whaleback which is an imposing spectacle all on its own. But, everything is going to be contingent on the weather.............cameron

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Re: Circle of Solitude from Onion Valley plans - 6 days

Post by maverick » Wed Jul 26, 2017 1:11 pm

One other thought I had is what if I did the loop in the opposite direction? Feel like I might be able to better allocate my days this way...thoughts?
Would prefer to do it counter-clockwise, descending Bubbs Creek, climbing Sphinx/Avalanche section (wastes some folks knees descend it), climb to Colby Lake, views are great as you ascend seeing the Whaleback, descend to Junction Meadow (dust bowl) from Rockslide Lake.
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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.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org

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Re: Circle of Solitude from Onion Valley plans - 6 days

Post by 4x4Dragon » Wed Jul 26, 2017 2:16 pm

Ok, good reasoning. I'll just try and really make some mileage on day 1 to set myself up for the following days.

And just throwing this out there...I have no issues with anyone wanting to join this epic adventure! Might actually make my wife feel a little better knowing that I won't be hiking totally alone on the other side of the country.

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