Sierra Nevada - July 2013

11:12 p.m. on December 23, 2012 (EST)
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Hello everyone!

I am starting the process of looking into a summer backpacking trip.  I was originally planning a trip during the end of august or september, but alas, I am a joyful father to be and our child is due during this time.  Therefore, I am looking to do a trip earlier (around 7/15/13).  I am looking for a 5-7 trip and am accustomed to trekking 10+ miles a day and x-country scrambling.  I live in Northern California and really wanted to do a trip in the Kings Canyon/Seqouia area.  It does not have to be a loop hike and I have looked into the following as options:

1.  Little Five Lakes/Big Five Lakes loop.  Start at Mineral King and go over Timber Gap, then up Cliff Creek and over Black Rock Pass to Little Five Lakes/Big Five Lakes.  From there return to Mineral King via Lost Canyon and Sawtooth Pass, or go for a longer trip and go up Soda Creek to exit via Franklin Pass.

2.  North Lake/South Lake loop.  Start at North Lake, go over Piute Pass and down to the San Joaquin at the northern boundary of Kings Canyon.  Then go south on the JMT over Muir Pass, and exit to South Lake via Bishop Pass. 

3.  Copper Creek/Woods Creek loop.  Start at the Copper Creek trailhead at Roads End and go over Granite Pass and down to Simpson Meadow.  Then go up the Middle Fork trail, and take the JMT south over Mather and Pinchot Passes, and return to Roads End via the Woods Creek trail and Paradise Valley.

I am uncertain about whether these passes would be passable this early in the season and am looking for some feedback on these possibe trips and for any other suggestions.

Thanks in advance and hope to see you on the trail!

 

11:00 a.m. on December 24, 2012 (EST)
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Scroata,

This year so far has brought lots of snow in the Sierra so your plan could be optimistic.  The southern part of the range clears out earlier than the middle part.  Maybe you can select a route at lower elevations just in case.

2:18 p.m. on December 24, 2012 (EST)
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How late the passes stay snow bound is mostly due to how big and how late are the last storms of the season.  I recall big total snow fall seasons, where the passes thawed in June, but also remember a few years when the deep interior and passes remained snow bound for the entire summer, regardless the total snow fall wasn't unusual.  They key was there were big dumps around April during these years.  Thus I'd say it is too early to tell what July will bring you.

Ed

5:14 p.m. on December 24, 2012 (EST)
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Thanks for the word... I know it is a little early and there are many more storms to come through, but it is never too early to start getting exciting about an adventure in the mountains!

 

12:20 p.m. on December 25, 2012 (EST)
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whome,

Interesting observations.  My experience is different where the total accumulated snow depth is the issue that affects the opening dates for the passes.  I have ridden horses over passes in July with 6-8 feet of snow.  There is always a lot of floundering and thrashing, but the distances are usually not that great before the trail is clear again.

10:33 p.m. on December 25, 2012 (EST)
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A couple years ago, Forester had a large snowfield on the north side in late July.  Colby Pass same.  The flatlanders had a tough slog over the snow, they poked along on the downhill side too.  I was having lunch a mile maybe from the top, watching folks slowly walk across the wide snowfield.  They seemed intimidated by the downhill side too and it was snow free at the top.

Duane

12:26 a.m. on December 27, 2012 (EST)
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Mid June (around Father's Day) most trails above 11,000 are snow covered.  Meaning there are no trails, but a lot of the big rocks are covered so a bit of cross country would be more fun.   By end of July, even in big snow years passes are passable (even Forester).  So you are in between.  I've found most passes are not a big adventure to get over even in spring and even less so if you have and ice ax for moral support and crampons to keep upright.

I'd be partial to the Black Rock Pass route mainly for the scenery and Black Rock is not so high and is more exposed to the sun.  Saw Tooth is actually easier to ascend from the east because snow covers the loose gravel.   Depending upon the snow, there is a summer time cross country connection from Saw Tooth over to the trail to Black Rock.  

11:02 a.m. on December 27, 2012 (EST)
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So many passes, so much back country, I'll never see it all.

Duane

11:37 a.m. on December 31, 2012 (EST)
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While we are on the subject, please use caution on steep snowfields.  It is important to be able to self-arrest.  My doctor was killed last August when a slip without an ice axe caused him to crash and burn into a boulder field.

8:06 p.m. on January 3, 2013 (EST)
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Yes, I remember that story.  Can happen to the best.

Duane

August 20, 2014
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