Monday, June 1, 2015

Another possibility

I've been giving some thought to the idea that maybe I'm biting off more than I can (or want) to chew with my itinerary?  I'm not sure, but I'm not in peak backpacking physical condition myself, and bringing my son along, who's still just shy of 14, may mean that I want to make sure that I'm not overextending via planning too much.  There's also the possibility that the weather and snowpack won't be as melted as I hope it to be and expect it to be, in which case I'll also have to make modifications to the trip.  If I come to believe this, what are some of my options?  My Day 0 at Mirror Lake highway won't change for any of these plans.

  • Break up the Red Castle and the Dead Horse areas into two trips, with stops to the car and movement to another trailhead in between.  The most conservative plan might actually increase my mileage, so I won't spell that out, but this plan would look like:
    • Day 1 is still the same; go to Red Castle Lake.  Day 2 is to explore a bit and then head back to the car.  If I wanted, I could even spend two nights at the same campsite and do plenty of Red Castle exploring before heading back to the car.  Maybe a better plan would be to camp at Lower Red Castle, and then head over Wilson Pass and come back over Squaw Pass and get to the car via Little East Fork Basin.  I haven't ever heard that the Little East Fork Basin itself is anything special, although the south rim of it, where I'd join, is supposed to be nice.  There'd be a long, rather boring forest walk back to the car though.  If I camped the second night in the southern reaches of the Little East Fork, I could make a nice loop, basically this guy's route but I'd be doing what he recommends rather than what he actually did.
    • On the third day, back at the car, I drive to the WFBF trailhead, or as near as i can get to it, depending on whether or not I need to ford the river in my car, and start heading into Buck Pasture.  I don't think I'd even want to consider trying to get to Dead Horse Lake on night 3, so I'd camp somewhere en route and then continue on the next day.  This means that I'd be foregoing the stay in the arms of the Tokewanna/Wasatch cirque, and that I may not the do the Reconnaissance Lake jaunt either, depending on how much walking I will have done by this point.  The plan involves a night 3 somewhere in Buck Pasture, a night 4 and 5 and Dead Horse Lake, and a night 6 at Crater Lake.  I'm concerned about getting back to the car all the way from Crater Lake though, I admit.  Maybe I'd be better off moving the Crater Lake day up, and spending the final night in the wilderness somewhere closer to the Lovenia cluster so I can get back to the car at a decent time on Monday afternoon?  This also depends on how close to the WFBF trailhead I can actually end up parking, to some degree.
  • Although I'm a little loath to do it, I could cancel the Red Castle area.  Again.  And just really explore the Dead Horse Lake area, including Reconnaissance Lake, Crater Lake, and I can surely find a way to work Allsop Lake and maybe even Priord Lake into it if I do this.
  • Of course, I can always lop off the Reconnaissance area loop and just shorten my "big loop" but otherwise keep more or less to it.  Camp at North Star Lake on night 2, for instance, making Day 2 a two-pass rather than 3-pass day, and spend night 3 at Lambert Lake instead of Crater Lake.  This makes Day 4 really short, since I really don't want to miss Crater Lake, but that may be just fine.  Day 5 would still be at Dead Horse (this effectively becomes a 2-pass day as well, since there's no way I'm going to Dead Horse Lake and not summiting the pass to look over into Rock Creek Basin; although being able to do that without a pack would be nice, of course.)  This is the least disruptive of my plans, since it only chops off an optional no-pack leg, while still maintaining the entirety of my backpacking loop.  The advantage to this is that I can keep it flexible and not even have to decide until either late on day 2, or even day 3--in theory, I can make day 3 longer and get back on track even if day 2 ends up getting shortened.

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