Mt Whitney Webcam
Mt Williamson Webcam
Feature Topics
Who's Online
0 registered (), 12 Guests and 60 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Forum Stats
3241 Members
13 Forums
5318 Topics
49470 Posts

Max Online: 382 @ 11/07/12 05:45 AM
Page 1 of 2 1 2 >
Topic Options
#26192 - 07/25/12 01:12 PM Routing Advice Requested: Langley/Miter Basin
Akichow Offline


Registered: 04/07/10
Posts: 659
Loc: SF Bay Area
Hello folks. I am planning a trip in an area that is unfamiliar to me, and would appreciate trip/routing/camping location advice.

I'd like to hit both Langley summit and Miter Basin/Sky Blue Lake. I gather one option is Cottonwood Lakes TH-High or Long Lake-New Army Pass (drop pack)-Langley summit-New Army Pass (regain pack)-Soldier Lake-Miter Basin/Sky Blue Lake-???

Is this correct? A few questions:

1. What is the distance/how much time should one allot from Soldier Lake to Sky Blue Lake? Are there obvious use trails? (I have some topo maps, but they don't fit together so well so I am finding this a little challenging.)

2. What would be the best way back from Miter Basin to the trailhead? Should I exit toward Cottonwood Pass TH and then work my to Cottonwood Lakes TH?

3. Can I use Old Army Pass instead to go up Langley, and then, after summiting, work my way back to the New Army Pass trail and then down to Soldier lake?

4. What camping spots can you recommend, and how many days would you recommend? I do love camping at lakes. Sky Blue lake sounds ideal. The Cottonwood Lakes do too.

5. Would it be better to start with Miter Basin and then hit Langley? Certainly, I can see that, from an acclimatization perspective, it might be better to get a few extra days at altitude before going up Langley. But I kind of like the idea of hitting Langley first, and then spending a day or so relaxing in the Miter Basin area. I will build some acclimatization in at the front end regardless (e.g., night at Tioga Pass, night at Horseshoe Meadows, and then presumably night at one of the Cottonwood Lakes).

Many thanks for any comments, suggestions, advice, etc. This trip will probably be around Labor Day.


Top
#26194 - 07/25/12 02:22 PM Re: Routing Advice Requested: Langley/Miter Basin [Re: Akichow]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7209
Loc: Fresno, CA
> I have some topo maps, but they don't fit together so well so I am finding this a little challenging.

Gmap4 is your friend -- best online maps around. Click the options (upper right corner), zoom in and out, click and drag to see other areas...

      Mt Langley area

Which is Soldier Lake? It doesn't seem to be labeled on the online maps.

Top
#26197 - 07/25/12 05:48 PM Re: Routing Advice Requested: Langley/Miter Basin [Re: Akichow]
Glenn Offline


Registered: 09/16/11
Posts: 103
Loc: Oklahoma
Akichow- You're going to like the Miter Basin, and that's the perfect time to go. The route via Lower Soldier is good, and mostly on trails. To answer your question, yes, you can take Old Army Pass and easily connect with the New Army Pass trail on the west side. Lower Soldier Lake to Sky Blue Lake is a good one-day hike. From Lower Soldier climb the hill on the west-northwest side of the lake and from just over the top follow the contours (heading north), then dropping down gradually to meet-up with the use trail that heads up Rock Creek. The use-trail comes and goes in places, but the route is pretty obvious. At the head of the valley is a steeper part and a short ways up it, cross over to the west side of the creek to some ledges that will take you to Sky Blue Lake at its outlet. A good small campsite is located around to your left in the ledges by the lake, or further on the east shore. Good day trips from there are a Mount Mallory climb, Iridescent Lake, the lake up by Mount McAdie just south of Crabtree Pass, and Arc Pass.

Are you comfortable with off-trail route finding and good with map and compass? If so, a great alternative route is to go via Upper Soldier Lake: Camp the first night at Lake 4 and the next day go up Old Army Pass and head up the Crest toward Mount Langley. At around 12480' or so, peal off to the west and head down into the Soldier Lakes drainage. There is a use trail, but it's discontinuous and easy to loose, so take the time to navigate with the map. A really great camping spot is a big sandy area along the north side of Upper Soldier Lake. It's a good 1-day hike to Sky Blue from there. From Upper Soldier, follow the drainage down (you can pick-up switchbacks of an old trail - keep more to the right as you go down and you'll find them) to where a creek comes down from the right in a steep narrow gully and ascend that (the creek shows on the map on the southwest edge of the Major General; again, there is a use trail). You top-out at a small tarn and from there contour along the side of the ridge heading north and eventually drop down to the use-trail along Rock Creek.

For a paper map to carry along, the Tom Harrison Mt. Whitney High Country is good with up-to-date locations for the official maintained trails. But for off-trail route finding, it's always good to have the USGS 7.5 min sheets also. A couple of the ones in that area are metric so the contour lines don't exactly match-up with the ones that are in feet, but it's not really a problem.

You can exit from the Miter Basin the way you came in with the same campsite itinerary. (Or on the last day you can pass-by the camp in the Cottonwood Lakes and make for a long day of hiking out to the Cottonwood Lakes trailhead). I find that to summit Langley on the way out is more enjoyable because of being much better acclimatized and conditioned.

Steve - Lower Soldier Lake is just off the southwest ridge of the Major General. A short spur of trail leads to it from the Rock Creek Trail. Upper Soldier Lake is the upper one, directly east.

Top
#26199 - 07/25/12 06:19 PM Re: Routing Advice Requested: Langley/Miter Basin [Re: Akichow]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1239
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
1. LSL to SB...a few hours.

2. CP or AP...Army Pass, I hate the trip up the undulating beach, which is the PCT from from LSL to CP.

3. The question makes no sense...You come off NAP and cross the AP Trail to access Langley. Through the Cottonwood Lakes Basin to Army Pass is the best to Langley and the best back from the Miter.

4. Lake Camping...North end of Lake #3, the bench above the no camping sign at LSL. I can't help you with Sky Blue because I never have camped there.

5. Langley summit...if you are staying at CL #3, #4 or #5 the first night, I'd Langley first. If your plan it to get to LSL or SBL the first day, I'd do it on the way out.

Top
#26206 - 07/25/12 08:26 PM Re: Routing Advice Requested: Langley/Miter Basin [Re: Glenn]
Akichow Offline


Registered: 04/07/10
Posts: 659
Loc: SF Bay Area
Awesome advice and tips!

Steve, the GMAP4 link is fabulous! Exactly what I needed (I do have the Harrison Whitney High Country map, plus some USGS maps, but this puts it all together!). Is there a way to print sections from that website? When I hit print, I get a blank page.

Glenn, you make this trip sound so doable, thanks! The routefinding based on your description and the topo looks pretty good via Upper Soldier Lake, but as I am not all that experienced yet with cross-country travel (though gaining experience and confidence), and as my friends have even less experience, I'll probably stick this time with the Lower Soldier Lake route. I am able to follow exactly what you are describing on the GMPA4 link and on my topos...seems very doable, thanks!!! I am wondering if perhaps I should camp two nights in the drainage below Sky Blue Lake, and do Sky Blue Lake and Iridescent Lake as a day hike in the inbetween day.....

I just got the permits for a late August entry ... am thinking perhaps 5 nights in the backcountry...

Again, many thanks, everyone, for your suggestions. If you have any more, please, keep them coming!

Top
#26207 - 07/25/12 09:21 PM Re: Routing Advice Requested: Langley/Miter Basin [Re: Akichow]
SierraNevada Offline


Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1098
Loc: NorCal
I also like ACME Mapper 2.0 which uses the same Google base maps as GMAP4 but it has some different features in the interface. They're both good tools.

FYI: You can print through your browser with GMAP4 - check out the menu button at the top of the screen for options and help.

http://mapper.acme.com/

Top
#26213 - 07/25/12 11:36 PM Re: Routing Advice Requested: Langley/Miter Basin [Re: Akichow]
Ken Offline


Registered: 10/29/09
Posts: 742
Loc: Los Angeles
Inasmuch as this is the first time to the area for you, there are a lot of options.

Although some don't like it, I think a very nice trip goes over cottonwood pass. I've enjoyed doing that as an afternoon hike, camping at Chickenspring Lake, instead of camping at HS meadow. Just a couple hour hike, but gets you to your first lake.

NAP 12,200
AP 11,900
CP 11,200

So going over CP is easier elevation-wise.

Next day, easy 6 miles to lower Soldier lake, gradually descending trail. If you are feeling good, go over the saddle into Miter. I recommend camping below SBL in a copse of trees below the Miter for a little shade, shown as a green patch on the map. This is another 1.8 miles, mostly flat.

Next day, dayhike to destinations in Miter Basin, but move camp back to Soldier lake.

Final day, climb Langley via Army Pass Trail, but hang a left to the mountain. ~4.8 miles to the top, about 3k gain. About 10 miles back to the Cottonwood PASS trailhead, but it is ALL DOWNHILL!

Top
#26218 - 07/26/12 05:09 AM Re: Routing Advice Requested: Langley/Miter Basin [Re: Akichow]
Joseph Offline


Registered: 09/03/10
Posts: 46
Loc: Redmond, WA
Originally Posted By: Akichow
Steve, the GMAP4 link is fabulous! Exactly what I needed (I do have the Harrison Whitney High Country map, plus some USGS maps, but this puts it all together!). Is there a way to print sections from that website? When I hit print, I get a blank page.


Printing is done through your browser by clicking File ==> Print Preview. After the image appears in the print preview window then use the controls at the top of that window to fine tune your image and then print.

This works fine in Firefox but might not work in IE or Chrome.

Joseph, the Gmap4 guy

Top
#26224 - 07/26/12 09:09 AM Re: Routing Advice Requested: Langley/Miter Basin [Re: Joseph]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7209
Loc: Fresno, CA
Joseph is a good man! Sure thank you for the Gmap4.

I primarily use Firefox, and the printing seems to work well there. I fired up IE (Internet Explorer), and the File, Print Preview features seem to work ok there as well. But NOT Google Chrome -- not sure what their problem is, but I get the same as Akichow: a blank page.

SierraNevada, I've looked at ACME Mapper. Checking some areas, they seem to use a different topo map set than Gmap4. If there are some features you like better, I'll bet Joseph might like to know. :)


Top
#26227 - 07/26/12 09:41 AM Re: Routing Advice Requested: Langley/Miter Basin [Re: Akichow]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1239
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
Akichow,

I find a GPS handy for the return to the crossing point to get back to LSL. We set a waypoint at the top of the climbout of LSL. This trip is not all that difficult. Once you break into the open the route is to Sky Blue Lake is straight forward.

Personally, I like 7.5' quads for land navigation. I use TOPO! California for planning and a route map with notations and waypoints.

Top
#26228 - 07/26/12 09:51 AM Re: Routing Advice Requested: Langley/Miter Basin [Re: wbtravis]
Akichow Offline


Registered: 04/07/10
Posts: 659
Loc: SF Bay Area
This does seem like a good trip for the Garmin GPS. I have a good one with preloaded topo, so I will use both that and paper topo per your suggestion.

Steve and Joseph, yay, that must be my problem -- I am using Google Chrome. I will try with IE and Firefox!!!!

YES-USING PRINT PREVIEW ON FIREFOX SOLVES MY PROBLEM!!! I have now taped together a couple different sections and have the whole route.

As I look at my new, pasted-together, big map, I am wondering if perhaps I should do the big loop rather than an out and back -- that is, Cottonwood Lakes TH-Cottonwood Pass-Lower Soldier Lake-Miter Basin/Sky Blue Lake-Lower Soldier Lake-New Army Pass-Langley-Old Army Pass-Cottonwood Lakes-Cottonwood Lakes TH. Hmmmm.

Also, I wonder if I can use my existing Cottonwood Lakes TH permits if I do the grand loop, or if I need to cancel and get Cottonwood Pass TH permits instead? Looks to me like I can do the whole grand loop starting and ending from Cottonwood Lakes TH, but does Inyfo FS care if you start at Cottonwood Lakes TH, but cross over to Cottonwood Pass, and then come back to Cottonwood Lakes TH via Cottonwood Lakes?


Edited by Akichow (07/26/12 10:26 AM)

Top
#26229 - 07/26/12 11:24 AM Re: Routing Advice Requested: Langley/Miter Basin [Re: Akichow]
Glenn Offline


Registered: 09/16/11
Posts: 103
Loc: Oklahoma
That loop is a very good way to do it. And camping the first night at Chicken Spring Lake per Ken's suggestion is a great way to start the trip. Going in on the Cottonwood Pass Trailhead, you'll need to change your permit. When you hike out at the Cottonwood Lakes Trailhead, just before you get to the trailhead, turn right on a short connector trail to the Cottonwood Pass Trailhead and your car. Be aware that the location of the Cottonwood Lakes trail is incorrect on the USGS topos (out of date) for the last couple of miles to the trailhead, and by extention on GMAP4 and ACME, so don't let that confuse you. If you happen to have the Tom Harrison Golden Trout Wilderness map, it's correct on there, but if you don't have that map don't worry, its easy to find the way.

The stretch of trail from Chicken Spring Lake to the junction with the New Army Pass Trail is dry so carry the water you'll need. Hiking that route, it's very cool to look out across the lower terrain as you go along and then watch the view of The High Sierra open up in front of you. Very dramatic.

Top
#26231 - 07/26/12 11:50 AM Re: Routing Advice Requested: Langley/Miter Basin [Re: Glenn]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7209
Loc: Fresno, CA
> Be aware that the location of the Cottonwood Lakes trail is incorrect on the USGS topos (out of date) for the last couple of miles to the trailhead, and by extention on GMAP4 and ACME, so don't let that confuse you.

Glenn, thanks for pointing that out! Until now, I hadn't noticed, but you are right. Checking the map versions, some show the trail crossing the middle of Horseshoe Meadow to Trail Pass, and others don't. And those that do show it are not accurate.

Top
#26234 - 07/26/12 01:46 PM Re: Routing Advice Requested: Langley/Miter Basin [Re: Akichow]
Ken Offline


Registered: 10/29/09
Posts: 742
Loc: Los Angeles
Originally Posted By: Akichow
but does Inyfo FS care if you start at Cottonwood Lakes TH, but cross over to Cottonwood Pass, and then come back to Cottonwood Lakes TH via Cottonwood Lakes?


I am POSITIVE that if you actually did that, they would not care. They only care which trailhead you start from, nothing else.

I am also positive that a lot of people get the two trailheads confused, and end up on the wrong one, or get the permit for the wrong one.

As I mentioned, I have started at C Pass, then came out from the lakes, and cut over to the Pass trail....no reason why you could not do that at the beginning. I think you lose about 90 feet if you were to drop to the trailhead, but the CL trail heads due west, then heads due north. At that point if you kept heading west, you'd run into the CP trail, just by dropping to 10,000 feet. In fact, this might be quite fun, inasmuch as there appears to have been an old trail exactly doing this, and trails don't disappear. They just hide the beginning and end of them, but the trail itself is still there, and it'd be fun to find and follow it! You can't really get lost. There is also a spur trail (unmarked) on the CL trail that takes off downhill to the packer campground, don't mistake that for the old trail.

One other side note: on the PCT from Chickenspring Lake to the intersection with Soldier Lake trail, there MAY be a spring. On the map, to the west of Cirque Peak, there is a section of trail where it reverses direction, and heads SOUTH for a short distance, on some maps showing it going around a small lake. There is no longer a lake there, but there is often a creek. When you are travelling southbound, about half way, you reach a somewhat large cut log face that defines a path to the left downhill into some large boulders where the creek resides (and a nice small camp area). I wouldn't depend upon it for water, but if there, a nice place for a break.

Top
#26236 - 07/26/12 02:17 PM Re: Routing Advice Requested: Langley/Miter Basin [Re: Steve C]
Glenn Offline


Registered: 09/16/11
Posts: 103
Loc: Oklahoma
Steve - Yes. Also, as it applies to the Cottonwood Lakes Trail, the USGS topo shows the trail on the east side of Cottonwood Creek and leading to a bend in the road northeast of the parking lot. I think that trail is only used now by the private camp. If you look on the topo near Golden Trout Camp the Cottonwood Lakes Trail on the west side of the creek is shown crossing the creek to join the one on the east side about a mile south of the camp. That's not the way it is now. The Cottonwood Lakes Trail continues south on the west side of the creek, crosses South Fork, and goes across the flattish area, more-or-less directly to the Cottonwood Lakes Trailhead parking lot. Also shown on the USGS topo is an apparently abandoned trail that links the Cottonwood Lakes Trail with the Cottonwood Pass Trail, about a mile long and a little less than a mile west of both parking lots (I think the old trail that Ken just mentioned). Now, a short trail links the parking lots more directly, going through the forest and passing by (as Ken also mentioned) a horse packer facility. On the Cottonwood Lakes Trail, the turn off is an eighth of a mile or so west of the trailhead.

This is shown correctly on the Tom Harrison Golden Trout Wilderness map, but unfortunately, it's the Mount Whitney High Country map one would use in the Cottonwood/Miter area, and the trailhead area happens to be off the edge. Oh well, it's easy enough to find your way. The only real source of minor confusion comes when, if you are heading for the trailhead and looking at the USGS topo, you cross a creek and expect to be crossing Cottonwood Creek with the water flowing from your left to right. But it's flowing from right to left because you are actually crossing South Fork. One might also wonder why the topo doesn't show the trail as going to the Cottonwood Lakes Trailhead parking lot (the two loops at the end of the north fork of the road), but rather, to some random bend in the road. Of course, I might be the only person who was ever confused by this...

Top
#26237 - 07/26/12 02:24 PM Re: Routing Advice Requested: Langley/Miter Basin [Re: Glenn]
Akichow Offline


Registered: 04/07/10
Posts: 659
Loc: SF Bay Area
Again, great information!!!! I am so appreciative!!!!

Top
#26242 - 07/26/12 06:37 PM Re: Routing Advice Requested: Langley/Miter Basin [Re: Akichow]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1239
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
You either have a Cottonwood Lakes, Cottonwood Pass or Trail Pass Trailhead permit. The powers that be do care where you start. I've run that one by the folks at ESIAVC.

Basically, if you have CL Trailhead permit they want your first night's camp at that can be gotten to from that trail. In other words, how would you get to Chicken Spring Lakes from the Cottonwood Lakes Trail other than use the Cottonwood Pass Trail for most of your trip.

Fortunately, you can probably exchange your permit when you pick it up for the trailhead of choice. Both trailheads have big quotas.

Top
#26934 - 08/13/12 07:18 PM Re: Routing Advice Requested: Langley/Miter Basin [Re: wbtravis]
BrynneAlexis Offline


Registered: 08/13/12
Posts: 1
Loc: IL
Hello everyone,

I am also new to the Langley/Whitney area, and I have been continually referencing this fantastic forum while planning my 11-day adventure in the Sierras, starting this Thursday (acclimatizing day). I am traveling with my boyfriend, and both of us are in good physical condition; being a geologist, my job requires me to hike, and him, he grew up in the Colombian Andes. We are flying into LA and making a "loop" around the National Parks / National Forests beginning on the west side (Inyo NP, 3 nights, 4 days), hitting Yosemite (3 nights, 3 days), and ending on the east side in Sequoia (2 nights, 2 days).

We have overnight permits for Cottonwood Creek TH (3 day / 2 night) beginning this Friday. Is this route doable?

Day 1: Horseshoe Meadows to Miter Basin (camp at Sky Blue Lake. too far?) via Cottonwood Lakes Trail / NAP

Day 2: Hike down to Lower Soldier Lake, drop packs, summit Langley via shortcut from Upper Soldier Lake to NAP (camp at Lower Soldier Lake)

Day 3: Hike back to Horseshoe Meadows via Cottonwood Pass Trail.

Do you think this would be better done in reverse (start at CP, exit CL?) I estimated the time from Horseshoe Meadows to the Miter Basin ~9 hours. Is this naively underestimated?

Another option would be is to keep camp for both nights at Lower Solder Lake, and make day hikes in Miter Basin visiting Sky Blue Lake and Langley.

Input is greatly appreciated, and thank you again.

Brynne

Top
#26942 - 08/13/12 09:28 PM Re: Routing Advice Requested: Langley/Miter Basin [Re: BrynneAlexis]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7209
Loc: Fresno, CA
Brynne: Welcome to WhitneyZone! I hope someone will comment on your hike out of Horseshoe Meadows. You're certainly in for a treat. (You have a lot of miles planned -- pack light!)

I am just curious about your travel after the hike... First of all, Inyo National Forest is on the east side. I assume you will then drive north and cross into Yosemite at Tioga Pass. (The drive up 395 is a treat!)

If you could find the time, a side trip into the White Mountains out of Big Pine (east of Bishop) will definitely give you a different geological perspective. The Bristlecone Pines are a unique forest -- only growing in dolomite formations.

And Sequoia N.P. is on the west side, except you will be stepping into it from the east when you ascend Cottonwood or New Army Pass.

Sequoia has some unique limestone caves -- check out Crystal Cave, open to public tours.

Top
#26944 - 08/13/12 10:23 PM Re: Routing Advice Requested: Langley/Miter Basin [Re: BrynneAlexis]
Ken Offline


Registered: 10/29/09
Posts: 742
Loc: Los Angeles
I WOULD reverse this. The first day (which, due to altitude will be the toughest), will be much harder if you go over NAP. Something like 1,500 feet of extra elevation gain, and it is almost 10 miles to lower soldier, compared to about 9 via cottonwood pass.

I WOULD base at lower Soldier and dayhike to Sky-Blue. the camping in not so nice at that lake-rocky. Alternatively, about 3/4 mile below in the Basin, there is a grove of trees below the Miter. Back to Soldier, or relocate to Upper Soldier, and next day climb up to the Langley Plateau trail from there, as some like to do. A bit of a slog, but 3/4 mi, 1K gain, but gradual. It does save 2 miles.

Top
Page 1 of 2 1 2 >