Sequoia\ Kings Kanyon questions...

3:55 p.m. on September 7, 2009 (EDT)
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Hi All

We plan to do some backpacking in Kings Kanyon or Sequoia parks in early october.

Since we do not live in the area, (or the continent for that matter) - we do not have time to do our own exploring, so i would love to hear some recommendations for a 2-3 day hike. The more water - the better. :)

I've read quite a few good things about the rae lakes loop, but that's 5 days. How about Jennie Lakes area? Mineral King? Parts of the John Muir trail?

all suggestion are welcome!

another question - what about the weather? what will it be like in the higher elevations? will it be awfully cold (below zero Celsius - 32 f) ?

5:42 p.m. on September 7, 2009 (EDT)
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Hi although I don't have any input for you mainly because I live in Central New York there are other members here that can help you I just wanted to welcome you to Trailspace

7:12 p.m. on September 8, 2009 (EDT)
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I have very good memories of the JMT but i'm not sure about access. I know for sure Muir pass was absolutely awesome. I'll have a look at my maps and I'll get back to you.

1:25 p.m. on September 9, 2009 (EDT)
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Mineral King will be getting a little cold in October. Not sure when the road closes, but people are packing out by then. I'm leaving tomorrow on a 7-day to go up there--pretty excited.

I'm not sure what the weather will be next month, but it's already in the 40s up in the high country (9-10,000 ft) during the day time and getting down to the 20s at night. Snow flurries are not unheard of this month, so from everything I've heard October is a month of change--could be pretty cold.

4:36 p.m. on September 9, 2009 (EDT)
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Hi All

Thanks a lot for the answers!

Do you think it will be possible to have several plans for various areas, and then maybe consult a ranger regarding access/dangers/weather upon arrival, to choose the best option?

I remember hiking in Denali, where rangers actually go through your trip plan, if you go into the backountry, to make sure you don't venture into dangerous places, or those closed off for wildlife reasons. is it the same thing in Seki/ Kings Kanyon?

thanks again


12:35 p.m. on September 10, 2009 (EDT)
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They should ask you which trailhead you're starting from, and which corridors you'll be hiking in. I believe this is the minimum they need to know in order to manage quota restrictions. Depending on the area, they are more or less strict about you being where you say you're gonna be. For example, in the Rae Lakes area you have to camp at specific locations, and no more than one night at each, so that pretty much means your trip is laid out for you. To the best of my knowledge, there are only a handful of places with these restrictions (more popular routes), however. In any case, have a good idea of which trailhead you'd like to start from and which corridor you want to hike. Be open to other trailheads, though, because you never know which specific restrictions there are until you either call the station issuing your permit or show up.

2:00 a.m. on September 20, 2009 (EDT)
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Kearsarge Pass past the Kearsarge Lakes to Charlotte Lake is a nice 3 day hike in and out. Camp in the basin by Kearsarge Lakes or just head to Charlotte the first day. October can be a bit problematic for weather. It would be cool, possibly below 32 at night and I have seen it snow on numerous occasions at this time of the year. Storms are generally weak but remember this is 11,000 feet. I have seen 2 feet in early oct. Prepare for the worst and the weather will be fine.

Another nice area is just out of Onion Valley too. Head past the falls towards Trout lake. Before you get there turn to the north towards Dragon Peak and the Tooth. A lake just before the Tooth is a wonderfully scenic and private area. Over looks Parker Lakes Basin and Owens Valley.

Enjoy and have fun. Get a weather report before you leave and your wilderness permit in Lone Pine.

5:06 p.m. on September 22, 2009 (EDT)
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Re: Sequoia\ Kings Canyon questions...

You might look at Frommer's Guide to Yosemite, Sequoia & Kings Canyon NP. Choose a specific trail from suggested hikes then return here and ask about it

Day and Section Hikes of the John Muir trail by Kathleen Dodge suggest the following hikes and describe how to reach trailheads:

1 Florence Lake to South Lake 45 miles

2 South Lake to Roads End 58 miles

3 Roads End to Onion Valley 35 miles

4 Onion Valley to Mt. Whitney 51 miles

Remember, October is approaching winter in the High Sierras!

3:11 p.m. on October 17, 2009 (EDT)
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Unless you are willing to take on considerable depth of snow, your best time to be in the Sierra is mid July through September with end of July first of Aug being the prime time for streams, flowers, bugs and people. The first part of October can be spectacular but normally it is cold nights mild days with a chance of snow (Tioga Pass at 3030m was closed a few days this week - Oct 13, 2009). Mid November is winter there. First sticking snow on lower west side is around last week in November. Usually the passes have been closed by then. There is usually still snow at 3050m until mid June but there is excellent backpacking with ski, snow shoe and crampons from March onward - mind the weather forecast. The higher passes (and Mineral King) might be open around end of May. Mammoth is expecting to start their ski season in a few weeks. But then they have the worst weather in the Sierra.

Although the lower altitudes and canyons on the west side are beautiful in their own right, it is usually the higher altitude (above 3000m) that most are drawn to in the Sierra. In SEKI there are only three accesses to the rest of the park(s). Roads End in Kings, Crescent Meadow and the High Sierra Trail (100% WOW) in Sequoia, and Mineral King (big WOW even from the parking lot). You have probably noticed there are not many roads in the three parks. It is a backpacker's paradise but a relatively longer walk to the higher elevations from the west.

On the east side, going north on US 395 from Lone Pine (about 4 hour drive from Los Angeles) in the south all the way to Reno, there are many accesses to the very high eastern ridge (all but two of the 4260m+ California mountains are in this ridge between Lone Pine and Mammoth). Almost every little hamlet or wide spot in the highway has a road going to the west to a trail head that will take you over a 3300m+ pass in 6-10 miles. Many of the trail heads start around 3000m. Lots of ghost towns/mines and mining history and places to squander your money on the eastern side.

During the summer a -7C bag (20F) is adequate and you will spend most of the night on top of it, but plan on infrequent night time temperatures to -6C or so even during August above 3000m. Day time to 35C+ are not unusual and neither is frost on the grass in lower parts of a high valley near the stream. You need a hat, sunglasses and UV protection to not be a crispy critter. DEET and a hooded top and heavy stockings are good to have to keep pesky mosquitoes at bay most evenings and mornings. Thankfully we don't have no-see-ums or gnats. Thundershowers, sometimes severe, are frequent in afternoon. Above 3000m, there can be a local (and temporary) accumulation of snow/sleet/hail to 6cm+ from a summer afternoon storm.

Hope this gives you some strategic planning for your next trip.

2:14 a.m. on October 28, 2009 (EDT)
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LOL 0 DEGREES NO WAY This is California, the Golden State,O.C. Disneyland and Warm Weather but if you plan on going during winter I would pack a thick sweater or 2 and maybe a jacket gets a cool breeze from all the Oxygen and Beach yea O.C.!

2:15 a.m. on October 28, 2009 (EDT)
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Also if you got a @@@ than get a map and some guide books/maps from them they're more helpful than you expect in an unfamiliar enviroment!

8:57 p.m. on October 28, 2009 (EDT)
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ummm, yes, freezing temperatures (0 Celsius) are possible in the Sierra at any time of year, as are sleet, hail, and snow that sticks to the ground. Starting in October (the OP was proposing a backpack in early October), freezing temperatures at night are common at altitudes above 7000 to 8000 ft, which are the more interesting areas of the Sierra to backpack in (remember the Donner Party blocked by snow just below Donner Pass (7200 feet) in late October, and were not rescued until the following March (the last got out April 29). Just a couple years ago, there was a massive snowstorm in late October that trapped several parties who were evacuated by helicopter after major search efforts in several widely separated areas. Their cars were not retrieved until the following spring.

Do not underestimate the "Gentle Wilderness" of the Sierra Nevada (as John Muir characterized it). Blue Canyon, on Interstate 80, consistently ranks at or near the top in annual snowfall. 15-20 foot storms are not unusual with all the passes between Carson Pass (just south of Lake Tahoe) south to Sequoia-Kings Canyon being closed from sometime in November to March every year (there are no trans-Sierra roads from just north of Sequoia-Kings Canyon NP to Tehachapi, and Tehachapi is often closed for at least a few days each winter, along with the Grapevine, just north of Los Angeles, and Cajon Pass, just north of San Bernardino on the way to the Mojave Desert.

However, if you are prepared and experienced, winter in the Sierra is the most glorious time of year - fantastic snowshoeing and backcountry skiing, and the scenery is at its best.

10:29 p.m. on November 3, 2009 (EST)
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Another good book to help you:

Sierra South by Kathy Morey and Mike White, 8th Edition. Wilderness Press.

Describes many good hikes of various lengths and it is organized by the trailheads found off the various roads leading into the Sierras from east and west in your area of interest. (Sequoia and Kings)

April 19, 2018
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