Lake-to-Lake Loop, John Muir Wilderness, California

Sierra Club Outings Trip # 14122A, Backpack

Highlights

  • Hike a spectacular section of the John Muir Trail
  • Soak in the glorious views among high mountain lakes
  • Ease in and out of the trip with moderate conditions

Includes

  • Ferry rides at both ends
  • Hearty, fresh-cooked, multi-course meals

Details

DatesJul 6–12, 2014
Price$625
Deposit$100
Capacity13
Difficulty2 (out of 5)
StaffMichael Murphy

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Trip Overview

The Trip

The beautiful High Sierra awaits the prepared and the vigilant. We are that group. Our entire trip will be within the boundaries of the John Muir Wilderness and Sierra National Forest, south of Yosemite. This portion of the John Muir Wilderness is spectacular and we will travel a section of the famous John Muir Trail. The trip leader has a great love of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and he takes great pride in sharing them with others. This trip is unique in that we spend about equal time above and below timberline. The forested portions are cool and inviting, while the High Sierra sections offer spectacular views of alpine lakes and granite cirques. This is a great trip for those new to backpacking and ready for a new kind of adventure.

Itinerary

Day 1: We start the first day taking car shuttles and then a ferry ride with fantastic views (low water means no ferry and a six-mile hike). Afterward, we hike a relatively flat two miles to our first camp.

Day 2: Today, we will cover more than six miles and have the greatest elevation change, at just less than 3,000 feet (2,000 feet up, 1,000 feet down). This will probably be our most strenuous day, but it earns us great views of the High Sierra from Bear Ridge.

Day 3: We’ll ascend Bear Creek in a totally delightful forested valley. Most of our water crossings will take place today. We will have glimpses of Seven Gables, Mt. Hilgard, Mt. Senger, and Mt. Hooper.

Day 4: We will cross Seldon Pass (10,800 feet elevation) and have lunch at a fantastic twin lake (Sally Keyes) with good fishing (license required) and swimming. Our afternoon trail brings us to camp along Senger Creek.

Day 5: We will descend nearly 2,000 feet in six miles and camp near the San Joaquin River.

Day 6: The last day’s five-mile hike on undulating trail takes us to Florence Lake, where we can swim or just enjoy the views from our secluded camp on a peninsula.

Day 7: After breakfast, we will catch the ferry back to the cars for our trip home.

Photos

Details

Getting There

The trip begins at 9 a.m. on day one at the Eastwood Visitor Center near Huntington Lake, about 64 miles NE of Fresno on Highway 168. More information will follow about the exact car shuttle point, when the trip leader knows the number of vehicles and participants on this trip. Camping is available at several sites between Shaver Lake and Huntington Lake. It is possible to stay in a motel in the surrounding area. The nearest airport is Fresno (FAT), about 86 miles from Edison Lake. The leader will attempt to assist trip members in the coordination of rides. Ultimately, it is each participant's responsibility to get to the road head.

Accommodations and Food

Most meals are multi-course, such as main dish, soup, and dessert, so provisions for special dietary needs, such as strict vegetarians, cannot be accommodated.

However, you can expect more than sufficient quantity of food. Your leaders believe in eating well, too. Gasoline stoves (provided) will be used for food preparation on the trail. Instruction will be given on the use of stoves and all other commissary equipment. Under supervision of the leader or assistant, group members will help prepare meals and do clean up.

The first meal will be lunch on day one, and the last meal will be breakfast on the last day.

Trip Difficulty

This trip is rated 2 out of 5 (moderate). The total mileage is about 30 and we average about six miles per day. We will have breakfast and lunch on the last day and expect to be to our cars by 2 p.m. (Some shuttling will need to take place to get a couple of people back to their cars at Lake Edison.) The weather in the Sierra during the summer is usually wonderful, but afternoon thunderstorms may happen. We will camp near water every night. Physical conditioning is essential for this trip. We will be hiking and camping at or above 7,700 feet four of the days, and above 10,000 feet the other day. You should already be doing some kind of regular exercise and be used to hiking with a 35- to 40-pound pack.

Equipment and Clothing

Standard backpacking gear (well-fitting backpack, down sleeping bag, etc.) will be sufficient. Check the equipment list appearing below for suggestions. Have a tent in case of rain. The mosquitoes can be friendly in mid-July, so bring bug juice. The weather is usually mild, but can be cold at higher elevations.

Your personal gear weight limit is around 20 pounds. Be sure to leave room for central commissary items, which may weigh as much as 12–16 pounds. The trip leader will provide bear canisters to protect our food and the local critters. A swimsuit may come in handy. You should bring a filter or tablets to treat your personal water supply. Bring two canteens -- one or two quart-sized canteens will be adequate. A dish (at least seven inches across), a bowl for soup, a cup, fork, spoon, and knife are the only utensils you will need. A fishing license is required for those wishing to fish.

California Backpack Equipment Checklist

The following is a list of equipment generally needed on Sierra Club outings. Due to the wide variety of trips we offer, this list may not be completely suited to your trip. Your trip leader is the best source of information regarding equipment.

Required Items:

  • Backpack (must have sufficient capacity for all your personal gear plus additional capacity for 12-16 pounds of common gear, which will be the size of a Garcia can)
  • Boots (well broken-in)
  • Sleeping bag and insulating sleeping pad
  • Shelter from possible rain (tent or tarp)
  • Insulating jacket (fleece or down)
  • Rain jacket or poncho
  • Lightweight shirt, long-sleeved
  • Hiking pants or shorts
  • Thick outer socks and thin inner socks (at least one change of each)
  • Change of underwear
  • Insulating headgear (wool or fleece)
  • Hat with wide brim
  • Sunglasses with UV protection
  • Water container(s), minimum one-liter capacity
  • Sierra cup (or lightweight plate and mug)
  • Lightweight spoon
  • Lightweight sharp knife
  • Insect repellant
  • Bandanna (handkerchief)
  • 1-inch or 1.5-inch white cotton adhesive tape (Zonas or Johnson & Johnson)

Recommended Items:

  • Ground cloth (sized to fit your tent or sleeping pad)
  • Long underwear (top and bottom)
  • Rain/wind pants
  • T-shirt
  • Sunscreen (15+ SPF)
  • Toiletries (biodegradable soap, toothpaste, toothbrush; women should bring extra tampons, even if it is not the time of your regular period)
  • Flashlight (lightweight)
  • Lightweight plastic lighter
  • Small washcloth
  • Long-sleeved wool sweater or shirt
  • Personal first-aid items (bandages, medications, tweezers, etc.)
  • Camp shoes (also used for the water crossing)

References

Books:

  • Winnett, T., and K. Schwenke, Sierra South and Sierra North. Wilderness Press.
  • Starr Jr., Walter A., Starr's Guide to the John Muir Trail and the High Sierra Region, 12th Ed., 1974. Sierra Club. This is the trip leader's favorite book about the John Muir Trail; it offers terrific trail descriptions.
  • Storer, Tracy I. and Robert L. Unsinger, Sierra Nevada Natural History, 1963. University of California Press. This is a general-purpose book dealing with the flora and fauna of the Sierra with some geology and history.

Maps:

  • "A Guide to the John Muir Wilderness and Sequoia Kings Canyon Wilderness," Three map set, USDA, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Region.
  • Tom Harrison “Mono Divide High Country” map covers the trip. 

Conservation

Our route lies entirely within public National Forest lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service. Fortunately, most of the highest of the High Sierra is permanently protected as congressionally designated Wilderness; for example, our trip is located in the John Muir Wilderness. However, most National Forest lands that do not have Wilderness protection are under continual assault. Logging, road building, overgrazing, and mine wastes have blighted many public forests with clear-cuts, water pollution, mudslides, invasion of non-native species, and loss of habitat. Much of this environmental degradation has been paid for by American taxpayers at a cost of billions of dollars.

During our trip we will discuss federal public lands and Wilderness protection, and learn about how the various land agencies do in terms of environmental stewardship. We will also learn about the Sierra Club’s storied legacy -- dating from John Muir himself -- of efforts to preserve endangered habitat and wilderness.

In 2014 America celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. The Sierra Club, various other organizations with a wilderness focus, and the four federal wilderness management agencies are vigorously planning this celebration. The goal of the effort is to assure that a broader public knows about the concept and benefits of wilderness. Sierra Club Outings is a vital part of the celebrations for wilderness.
 
While the Act was far in the future when our outings program started, we were already promoting the principle behind it: to forever set aside from human developments certain special places, by civic agreement. This is the basic principle on which the Sierra Club was founded. The wilderness anniversary gives us an opportunity to highlight our organization’s leading role—in publicizing this principle, in passing the 1964 Act, and in achieving more designated wilderness since then.

Sierra Club National Outings is an equal-opportunity provider and will operate under a permit from the Sierra National Forest.

Staff

Leader:

For the last 25 years, Mike Murphy has worked as an educator and geographer for the Clovis Unified School District. He has led trips for groups in the High Sierra for the last 30+ years, mostly taking hikers to the top of Mt. Whitney. His wife of 30 years, Janet, has been on many of those trips. He has been a leader in the Sierra Club's National Outings program since 1991, leading trips to both the Sierra and the Southwest. In 2002, he participated in "American Frontiers: A Public Lands Journey," a two-month trek co-sponsored by the National Geographic Society.

Co-Leader:

Larry Odoski has over 25 years of outdoor programming experience including leading trips and designing programs. For 15 years he instructed in and coordinated an outdoor/experiential program for young people. He has also been involved with the Sierra Club's National Outing Program since 1991 and is an avid canoeist and backpacker. He is certified in Wilderness First Aid and CPR. Larry formerly owned the Outdoor Paths Map Store in Black Mountain, NC and presently operates Outdoor Paths Publishing.

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