(Adv. Intermediate) Overnight Backpacking in the Sierras
This will be a 1-night backpacking trip up into the Eastern Sierra Nevada mountains; the Golden Trout Wilderness. This trip will start at the Horseshoe Meadow Campground where we will start a clockwise loop.
Total: 27 miles, ~4,800′ EG
While this route does go to some high elevations, it should be within the skill of an advanced intermediate hiker. The trail is not technical, but the wind and cold weather will require some thought as to clothing.
Day 0: Meet at the Horseshoe Meadow Campground after dinner in Lone Pine. This is a walk-in FCFS campground that fills up quickly – you may wind up sleeping in your car if there are no site available. However, this is starting to be the off-season, so there will likely be space available. This is a “car camping” night.
Day 1: Head west up through Cottonwood Pass where we join with the Pacific Crest Trail. We follow that to the bottom of Rock Creek and then head uphill and spend the night at one of the lakes along that valley.
15 miles, 2,600′ EG
Day 2: Ascend the north (northwest) side of New Army Pass and descend to the Cottonwood Lakes and back around to end our loop.
12 miles, 2,200′ EG
The views from these mountains are always rewarding and I’m hoping that we won’t have any heavy snows by that time of the fall, but it could get quite cold.
This route will NOT summit Mt. Langley. We will have great views of it from a couple of miles away, but summiting could add 4 to 5 hours to the trip. We might summit Cirque Peak, if people are feeling good, but that will be a dynamic decision made at the time we make it to New Army Pass.
You should expect temperatures to be as low as 20F at Horseshoe Meadow as well as the backcountry camp. Horseshoe Meadow is at ~10,000′ and the backcountry camp is at 10,500′. This means that you need to have a 4-season tent and a sleeping bag rated to at least 15F. You may wish to have a sleeping bag liner or two. You may benefit as well from sharing a tent with someone to save weight as well as having a slightly warmer night.
There may be some snow by this time of year, especially at New Army Pass, elev. 12,300′. I think micro-spikes and gaiters are advisable. If there is more than a few inches of snow, I’ll cancel the event – this is not a snowshoe adventure.
The Caltopo route is shown here.
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Trail statistics are approximate. For safety purposes always assume they are underestimated. But don’t be disappointed if they are overestimated. Bring more water and snacks than you think you’ll need.
Trail descriptions are based on previous hikes. Current conditions are unknown until arrival. Expect the unexpected and plan accordingly.
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