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South Lake (Bishop) to Onion Valley

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  • thebowerfamily@ymail.com
    Greetings JMTers! I m planning a Onion Valley to Whitney trip the first week of August but didn t get my permits reservation in in time, so I m going to chance
    Message 1 of 26 , Jul 15, 2014
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      Greetings JMTers!


      I'm planning a Onion Valley to Whitney trip the first week of August but didn't get my permits reservation in in time, so I'm going to chance walk-in permits. 


      In case I can't get both entry and exit permits, my backup plan is South Lake to Onion Valley.  The Harrison maps put it at about 62 miles.  Anyone done this route before?  What's it like?


      Also, has anybody had any luck getting walk-in Whitney exit permits?


      Any discussion would be most appreciated!


      Mike

    • rnperky@sbcglobal.net
      Actually the South Lake to Onion Valley section is a great section of the JMT to do. It may actually be better to give you a good taste of JMT without the
      Message 2 of 26 , Jul 15, 2014
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        Actually the South Lake to Onion Valley section is a great section of the JMT to do. It may actually be better to give you a good taste of JMT without the Whitney Trail Crest Exit Quota hassles. I have a feeling the exit quota was long-ago filled up, but maybe there have been some cancelations? You won't be disappointed in your back up plan though, it's a great section hike. If you have a couple more days to add, the North Lake to Onion Valley section hike would get you through Evolution Valley, Evolution Basin, and Muir Pass. The view from the rim of Dusy Basin looking down into LeConte Canyon and over to the Ladder Lakes Drainage is something to behold though coming over from South Lake! That was the view many years ago that got my interest 'peaked' to hike that trail down below called the JMT! 
      • thebowerfamily@ymail.com
        Unfortunately, I only have 4 days so the 60-ish miles from South Lake to Onion Valley will already be a beast. What do you think about North Lake to South
        Message 3 of 26 , Jul 15, 2014
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          Unfortunately, I only have 4 days so the 60-ish miles from South Lake to Onion Valley will already be a beast. What do you think about North Lake to South Lake?
        • Larry Beck
          North Lake to South Lake is epic. I did it last summer in 4 days. Day 1 - North Lake to Piute Canyon Bridge - about 13 miles Day 2 - Piute Canyon Bridge to
          Message 4 of 26 , Jul 15, 2014
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            North Lake to South Lake is epic. I did it last summer in 4 days.

            Day 1 - North Lake to Piute Canyon Bridge - about 13 miles
            Day 2 - Piute Canyon Bridge to Evolution Lake - 14 miles
            Day 3 - Evolution Lake over Muir Pass to Big Pete Meadow - 15 miles
            Day 4 - Big Pete Meadow over Bishop Pass to South Lake - 12 miles
             
            Larry
            From: "thebowerfamily@... [johnmuirtrail]" <johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com>
            To: johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com
            Sent: Tuesday, July 15, 2014 9:00 PM
            Subject: [John Muir Trail] Re: South Lake (Bishop) to Onion Valley

             
            Unfortunately, I only have 4 days so the 60-ish miles from South Lake to Onion Valley will already be a beast. What do you think about North Lake to South Lake?


          • thebowerfamily@ymail.com
            If I were to do the South Lake to Onion Valley section, the plan would be: Day 1-South Lake over Bishop Pass to LeConte Canyon Station Day 2-Leconte Canyon
            Message 5 of 26 , Jul 15, 2014
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              If I were to do the South Lake to Onion Valley section, the plan would be:


              Day 1-South Lake over Bishop Pass to LeConte Canyon Station

              Day 2-Leconte Canyon over Mather Pass to treeline approx. 2 miles south of Mather Pass

              Day 3-Treeline over Pinchot Pass to Dollar Lake

              Day 4-Dollar Lake over Glen Pass and Kearsage Pass to Onion Valley


              Typing that out just looks brutal!

            • Larry Beck
              That is brutal! Day 2 is around 17 miles and well over 4000 ft elevation gain.. both Golden Staircase AND Mather Pass! Larry ________________________________
              Message 6 of 26 , Jul 15, 2014
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                That is brutal! Day 2 is around 17 miles and well over 4000 ft elevation gain.. both Golden Staircase AND Mather Pass!
                 
                Larry
                From: "thebowerfamily@... [johnmuirtrail]" <johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com>
                To: johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com
                Sent: Tuesday, July 15, 2014 9:32 PM
                Subject: Re: [John Muir Trail] Re: South Lake (Bishop) to Onion Valley

                 
                If I were to do the South Lake to Onion Valley section, the plan would be:

                Day 1-South Lake over Bishop Pass to LeConte Canyon Station
                Day 2-Leconte Canyon over Mather Pass to treeline approx. 2 miles south of Mather Pass
                Day 3-Treeline over Pinchot Pass to Dollar Lake
                Day 4-Dollar Lake over Glen Pass and Kearsage Pass to Onion Valley

                Typing that out just looks brutal!


              • rnperky@sbcglobal.net
                Larry s itinerary is a great one for a 4 day South Lake to North Lake trip! The good thing about this loop is you can do it either direction if you need to be
                Message 7 of 26 , Jul 15, 2014
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                  Larry's itinerary is a great one for a 4 day South Lake to North Lake trip! The good thing about this loop is you can do it either direction if you need to be flexible for permits. I'd say this would be a perfect 4 day slice of the JMT!
                • rnperky@sbcglobal.net
                  Can you give us an idea of what your fitness level is and how heavy/light your pack will be and any pertinent hiking info? Day 2 would be brutal for many, but
                  Message 8 of 26 , Jul 15, 2014
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                    Can you give us an idea of what your fitness level is and how heavy/light your pack will be and any pertinent hiking info? Day 2 would be brutal for many, but easier for others, so more info on what you have done before may help with mapping out a reasonable and sustainable itinerary that fits you.
                  • thebowerfamily@ymail.com
                    My fitness level is pretty good. I m 32 and Active Duty military. I run half marathons or Tough Mudders 2-3 times a year. My pack will be around 40-45 lbs. My
                    Message 9 of 26 , Jul 15, 2014
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                      My fitness level is pretty good. I'm 32 and Active Duty military. I run half marathons or Tough Mudders 2-3 times a year. My pack will be around 40-45 lbs.  My knees aren't the greatest with downhills, but they're strong. I've done Mt Baldy twice this season with little trouble and did the Tuolomne to Red's Meadow section 2 years ago. 

                      My 22-yr old cousin will be with me and will be her first backpacking trip. She's done a ton of day hikes and has done well, but with little to no pack weight. But, she's really tough and I can't see her having too many issues. 
                    • rnperky@sbcglobal.net
                      It sounds like you would be fine for a 17 mile, 4000 + elevation day provided you don t have any altitude related issues. It may be a little tougher on the 22
                      Message 10 of 26 , Jul 15, 2014
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                        It sounds like you would be fine for a 17 mile, 4000' + elevation day provided you don't have any altitude related issues. It may be a little tougher on the 22 year old with the elevation gain. The down-side to committing to the North Lake to Onion Valley in 4 days, is if you do happen to get behind, your bail-out options aren't too great on the east side. If this is your first foray into this area of the Sierras, than I agree with Larry that the North to South Lake, ( or vice versa ), may be the 'ticket' for you two! It will give you a more relaxed tempo with plenty of challenge getting up and over Muir Pass! It's pretty spectacular either direction you choose! 

                      • thebowerfamily@ymail.com
                        Regardless of which section we choose, the plan is to camp at elevation at the trailhead the night before to better acclimate, so hopefully the elevation
                        Message 11 of 26 , Jul 15, 2014
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                          Regardless of which section we choose, the plan is to camp at elevation at the trailhead the night before to better acclimate, so hopefully the elevation effects won't be too significant. 

                          This may be the only chance she has to hike a section of the JMT (she lives in Tennessee and I'm flying her out here for a graduation present) and I'm getting stationed back east next summer, so I don't know if and when I'll get another chance to take a stab at it either. 

                          I'm up for a challenge and am wanting a "trip of a lifetime" type section for my cousin since she may not get another opportunity.  
                        • thebowerfamily@ymail.com
                          I could also add another 3 miles to the first day to the first Roads End junction at the Palisade Creek/Kings River junction to take those miles off of Day 2.
                          Message 12 of 26 , Jul 15, 2014
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                            I could also add another 3 miles to the first day to the first Roads End junction at the Palisade Creek/Kings River junction to take those miles off of Day 2.


                            And it may be possible to stretch it out to 5 days... could look something like:

                            Day 1-South Lake over Bishop Pass to LeConte Station (13 miles)

                            Day 2-Leconte Station to Upper Palisade Lake (11-ish miles)

                            Day 3-Upper Palisade over Mather Pass to Lake Marjorie (11-ish miles)

                            Day 4-Lake Marjorie over Pinchot Pass to Rae Lakes (15 miles)

                            Day 5-Rae Lakes over Glen and Kearsage Passes to Onion Valley (12.5 miles)


                            I'm not sure I'd be able to swing this one... but maybe.


                          • Edwardo Rodriguez
                            I did this section going NOBO in 5 days, The key is a pass a day plus doing Mather and Pincho pass the same day On Tuesday, July 15, 2014 11:16 PM,
                            Message 13 of 26 , Jul 16, 2014
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                              I did this section going NOBO in 5 days, The key is a pass a day plus doing Mather and Pincho pass the same day


                              On Tuesday, July 15, 2014 11:16 PM, "thebowerfamily@... [johnmuirtrail]" <johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com> wrote:


                               
                              I could also add another 3 miles to the first day to the first Roads End junction at the Palisade Creek/Kings River junction to take those miles off of Day 2.

                              And it may be possible to stretch it out to 5 days... could look something like:
                              Day 1-South Lake over Bishop Pass to LeConte Station (13 miles)
                              Day 2-Leconte Station to Upper Palisade Lake (11-ish miles)
                              Day 3-Upper Palisade over Mather Pass to Lake Marjorie (11-ish miles)
                              Day 4-Lake Marjorie over Pinchot Pass to Rae Lakes (15 miles)
                              Day 5-Rae Lakes over Glen and Kearsage Passes to Onion Valley (12.5 miles)

                              I'm not sure I'd be able to swing this one... but maybe.



                            • rnperky@sbcglobal.net
                              If she can swing that itinerary, it s a good one! It gives you the wiggle room you need, yet if you are doing well you could push it a bit more as well! The
                              Message 14 of 26 , Jul 16, 2014
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                                If she can swing that itinerary, it's a good one! It gives you the wiggle room you need, yet if you are doing well you could push it a bit more as well! 
                                The South Lake to Onion Valley trip would give a chance to sample more of the prime JMT sections, so if you have even a little cushion, it would be a great trip for both of you! 
                              • rnperky@sbcglobal.net
                                If you end up camping at Lake Marjorie, can you look for my long handled ti-spoon? ; ) Just kidding, maybe? I left it behind there on my earlier JMT trip. It s
                                Message 15 of 26 , Jul 16, 2014
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                                  If you end up camping at Lake Marjorie, can you look for my long handled ti-spoon? ; ) Just kidding, maybe? I left it behind there on my earlier JMT trip. It's by a big, angled rock that's perfect for reclining against and a good wind block. Have a great hike whichever route you go! 
                                • thebowerfamily@ymail.com
                                  Thanks guys! I really appreciate your help!
                                  Message 16 of 26 , Jul 16, 2014
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                                    Thanks guys!  I really appreciate your help!
                                  • Inga Aksamit
                                    Is there any way the 22 year old cousin could get in even a 1 day overnight backpacking experience prior to the trip? Inga Aksamit Mobile: 415-470-1812 Email:
                                    Message 17 of 26 , Jul 16, 2014
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                                      Is there any way the 22 year old cousin could get in even a 1 day overnight backpacking experience prior to the trip? 

                                      Inga Aksamit 
                                      Mobile: 415-470-1812
                                      Email: Iaksamit@...
                                      Twitter.com/IngaAksamit
                                    • thebowerfamily@ymail.com
                                      So, I called the Whitney Ranger Station and they claimed the walk-in Whitney exit permit is rarely difficult to get and is almost always available. So, now
                                      Message 18 of 26 , Jul 16, 2014
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                                        So, I called the Whitney Ranger Station and they claimed the walk-in Whitney exit permit is rarely difficult to get and is almost always available.  So, now that we've done all of this talking about South Lake to Onion Valley, I'm torn which section to tackle.

                                         

                                        So, what do you guys think... which section would you recommend?  South Lake to Onion Valley in 5 days or Onion Valley to Whitney in 4 days???  If I could tack on a couple more days I would do Noth Lake to Onion Valley hands down to get in Muir Pass and Evolution Valley, but I just cant swing any more than 5 days. 

                                         

                                        On that note, would anybody recommend another 5-day section over either of these?

                                         

                                        As always, you guys are awesome and I can't say how much I appreciate the insight!

                                         

                                        Mike

                                      • rnperky@sbcglobal.net
                                        I may be in the minority on this, but unless Mt. Whitney is a major attraction, I would take the South Lake to Onion Valley section for the scenery you will be
                                        Message 19 of 26 , Jul 16, 2014
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                                          I may be in the minority on this, but unless Mt. Whitney is a major attraction, I would take the South Lake to Onion Valley section for the scenery you will be hiking through. Allowing for the 5 nights. Just my 2 cents.
                                        • thebowerfamily@ymail.com
                                          That s how it looks to me, too. I ll be sure to look for that spoon and let you know!
                                          Message 20 of 26 , Jul 16, 2014
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                                            That's how it looks to me, too. I'll be sure to look for that spoon and let you know!
                                          • Peter Hirst
                                            Whitney beta is accurate. Post at WhitneyZone.com for more perspective, but Wz gets a lot of cancellations and no-shows On Jul 16, 2014, at 4:11 PM,
                                            Message 21 of 26 , Jul 16, 2014
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                                              Whitney beta is accurate.  Post at WhitneyZone.com  for more perspective, but Wz gets a lot of cancellations and no-shows


                                              On Jul 16, 2014, at 4:11 PM, thebowerfamily@... [johnmuirtrail] wrote:

                                               


                                              So, I called the Whitney Ranger Station and they claimed the walk-in Whitney exit permit is rarely difficult to get and is almost always available.  So, now that we've done all of this talking about South Lake to Onion Valley, I'm torn which section to tackle.

                                               

                                              So, what do you guys think... which section would you recommend?  South Lake to Onion Valley in 5 days or Onion Valley to Whitney in 4 days???  If I could tack on a couple more days I would do Noth Lake to Onion Valley hands down to get in Muir Pass and Evolution Valley, but I just cant swing any more than 5 days. 

                                               

                                              On that note, would anybody recommend another 5-day section over either of these?

                                               

                                              As always, you guys are awesome and I can't say how much I appreciate the insight!

                                               

                                              Mike



                                            • rnperky@sbcglobal.net
                                              LOL! Thanks! You guys will have a great hike! It really is a cool section to hike. When you first look down into LeConte Canyon from Dusy Basin, you ll know
                                              Message 22 of 26 , Jul 16, 2014
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                                                LOL! Thanks! You guys will have a great hike! It really is a cool section to hike. When you first look down into LeConte Canyon from Dusy Basin, you'll know you're in for a special hike! Mather and Pinchot Passes are great passes, and Palisade, Marjorie, and Rae Lakes are awesome as well. There is some good swimming spots at Middle Rae Lake by a small island. The water is warmer, ( if that's possible for a Sierra lake ), than most along the shores there. The view from Kearsarge Pass is pretty nice as well. Have a great time, and hopefully we hear a trip report! 
                                              • thebowerfamily@ymail.com
                                                Thanks! And thanks again for the advice. I ll definitely post when we get back. What kind of clothing layers do you recommend this time of year?
                                                Message 23 of 26 , Jul 16, 2014
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                                                  Thanks!  And thanks again for the advice. I'll definitely post when we get back. 

                                                  What kind of clothing layers do you recommend this time of year?
                                                • Peter Hirst
                                                  Thin and many On Jul 16, 2014, at 9:39 PM, thebowerfamily@ymail.com [johnmuirtrail] wrote: Thanks! And thanks again for the advice. I ll definitely post when
                                                  Message 24 of 26 , Jul 16, 2014
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                                                    Thin and many

                                                    On Jul 16, 2014, at 9:39 PM, thebowerfamily@... [johnmuirtrail] wrote:

                                                     

                                                    Thanks!  And thanks again for the advice. I'll definitely post when we get back. 


                                                    What kind of clothing layers do you recommend this time of year?


                                                  • cehauser1
                                                    Mike: This topic comes up a lot on this board: young, athletic people with lots of day hiking experience, and probably great endurance, but absolutely no
                                                    Message 25 of 26 , Jul 16, 2014
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                                                      Mike:

                                                      This topic comes up a lot on this board:  young, athletic people with lots of day hiking experience, and probably great endurance, but absolutely no overnight backpacking experience.  I think the consensus here is that even just a one-night backpacking trip is extremely useful for a number of reasons... getting used to gear, trying out food, sleeping on the ground, understanding the effects of pack weight, etc etc.  It would be a very helpful experience.  I think most of us would suggest she hike out a few miles, cook a bowl of noodles on a stove, and then sleep on the ground somewhere... before jumping into a 5-day Sierra backpacking trip.

                                                      Personally, I've slept outside on my apartment balcony testing out different sleeping gear, and I learned so much from those simple experiments.  Other people will set up a new tent or tarp in their lawn, which is also a good learning experience.  But really nothing beats one or two nights out on the trail.  I just took my wife and 2 children (ages 6 and 8) on a 4-mile one-night backpacking trip...  Friday evening we walked 2 miles from the car into a nearby wilderness area, we threw down a tarp and slept out on the ground, then the next morning we packed up and walked the 2 miles back to the car.  Just stuff like that.

                                                      I'm not doubting anyone's abilities... I think it could greatly increase a person's enjoyment and comfort on a trip.

                                                      Chris.


                                                      ---In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, <Iaksamit@...> wrote :

                                                      Is there any way the 22 year old cousin could get in even a 1 day overnight backpacking experience prior to the trip? 

                                                      Inga Aksamit 
                                                      Mobile: 415-470-1812
                                                      Email: Iaksamit@...
                                                      Twitter.com/IngaAksamit
                                                    • rnperky@sbcglobal.net
                                                      Here is what I use for layers: Running shorts UA compression underwear UA short sleeve shirt Patagonia Cap 2 long sleeve shirt Patagonia Cap 2 long johns
                                                      Message 26 of 26 , Jul 17, 2014
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                                                        Here is what I use for layers:
                                                        Running shorts
                                                        UA compression underwear
                                                        UA short sleeve shirt
                                                        Patagonia Cap 2 long sleeve shirt
                                                        Patagonia Cap 2 long johns
                                                        Patagonia Nano Puff jacket
                                                        GoLite Rain/wind shell, ( old style before GoLite became GoHeavy )
                                                        GoLite Rain Pants, ( old style GoLite )
                                                        Beanie hat 
                                                        Thin, insulating gloves. 
                                                        Mosquito head net, ( not clothing, but handy )! 
                                                        Spare socks, ( 1- for sleeping 1- hiking ) 
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