Exploratory Loop in Ansel Adams Wilderness

This trip idea is to explore the area I have never been to and, possibly, shall add it to my "portfolio". This western corner of Ansel Adams is adjacent to Yosemite and can serve as a sneaky route into the latter on free Sierra NF permits ;-) The place seems to be quite popular in summer time. Last weekend, it was still under snow, but the road to trailheads had already cleared; 3 weeks from now should be the perfect time to go before the crowds. 

It takes an awfully long drive to get to the place, 6+ hours from Bay Area. The plan is to take off Thursday after work and camp by the car in the dark; I scouted a couple of suitable sites 1/2 hour short of the TH. Then, we can hit the trail early enough and hike to the far point of the loop, Slab Lakes or so. Next day, we will move South, doing some serious meandering and side walks, off the trail where appropriate, to thoroughly explore the area. Camp near the exit, somewhere around Madera Lakes. Next day, a short hike down to the TH and a long drive back.

Sierra NF has quotas on the trailheads; I will be calling for a permit on Thursday and try to get one from Fernandez TH, - not expecting any problem this early in the season. Maximum group size is 15, but I hardly expect that many :-)

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  • Alex

    A nice recon trip. Long days allowed to cover significant area in a relaxed manner, no hurry. This place resembles Dinkey Lakes, but long drive and USFS imposing trail quotas and insistent to see you in person (no drop-off permit by phone) make it less accessible. There IS fish in these lakes, needs more scouting. The scenery is gorgeous... Absent a devoted camera man in the crew, took some pictures myself, - due to upload soon.

    June 16

    • torroid

      Devoted camera man ... Looking forward to a next trip.

      June 16

    • Alex

      Mark, where in the hell have you been so long? You have missed tons of fun!

      June 16

  • David M.

    I'll be driving up a day early to hang out, if anyone wants a ride from the bay area let me know.

    June 4

    • David M.

      I was looking at the map yesterday, and it looks like I could probably find it. If Little Jackass has a sign out front, then maybe that would be better... Also, maybe we should get each other's phone numbers just in case. Are we allowed to share phone numbers on meetup?

      June 4

    • Alex

      Let's shoot for Miller Meadow, then. Planning to get there by 11pm to midnight. If we miss each other's tents, we'll meet at the TH Friday morning. I will be sending you my contact info by e-mail.

      June 4

  • Diane D.

    Hi Alex. I'm thinking about this one. It's hard to resist off-trail exploration and this area sounds really interesting. I'll see if I can move a Sunday commitment, and locate some super-sonic Deet!.

    June 3

    • Alex

      The route is mostly around 9000', about snow line, - don't think will be any skeeters, come onboard! :-) BTW, this trip was postponed and the dates changed: the original plan was to hike Sat-Mon, now it is Fri-Sun, driving in late Thursday after work. I have updated the description, now the days are correct.

      June 3

  • David M.

    Thanks for putting together this trip. I would like to go, so I'll be watching for exact directions, and time to meet, etc. Let me know if you need anything from me (I'll probably be driving up a day or two before).

    May 13

    • Alex

      Hi David, - Miller meadow is at 7000', camping there will hardly give you any boost. Click on the 'map' link and switch to satellite view, I set the pointer to the exact spot: there is a dirt road on the right between Miller Creek and Minarets road junction. However, most of the hike is just in the discomfort zone of 8500' to 9000', - precisely where you want to stay for acclimatization. If you made a couple of trips above 9k last year, you will likely feel no symptoms.

      May 13

  • Jane

    Hi Alex,

    Two questions: (1) Is this Friday - Sunday trip? (the header says Thursday, but the description says Friday) and (2) any idea the mileage / elevation gain? Jane

    May 12

    • Alex

      Hi Jane, - on your Q's: (1) I plan go drive in late Thursday and car camp at Miller Meadow, then go into the wilderness Friday morning; (2) see my reply to Don on Apr 21, at the very bottom of this thread. Since this area is uknown to me, I think, about 8mi/day is all we'll be able to do, with all side walks.

      May 12

  • David M.

    Considering joining in on this one. I might leave a day or two early to acclimate (I'm retired). I'll let you know soon.

    May 12

  • torroid

    I'm a maybe right now. I have another commitment but it's flaky, so I may be signing up later.

    April 22

    • Alex

      Hi Mark, Peggy said - she knows you. Small world!

      May 12

    • Purple P.

      Alex, you ratted me out??? I'm gonna tell Satori not to like you so much! :-)

      1 · May 12

  • Alex

    Per rangers info, the snow line is still below 8k now, and Peggy has another commitment on May 17. Moving the date TENTATIVELY to the next available weekend of June 15, though the chance of leaving this trip for next year is growing.

    May 12

  • Tom

    Hi Alex. I'm thinking maybe on this trip. Long drive, but a spectacular area. Kind of fun early in the year too.

    May 11

  • Tom

    I went last year on a 3 day to AAW over memorial day and it was a bit dicey, about half the time cross country on snow. Be ready for snow, some of the climbs and descents were "interesting" -- I badly bent a trekking pole when I post holed to my hips (stupidly forgot to NOT have the straps around my wrist). I went clockwise from Agnew Meadows to Ediza lake, then over to Thousand Island Lake, back to Agnew via the high trail (PCT). Great trip, but not simple or easy. Though I can't make this trip, let me know of any questions.

    1 · April 24

  • Alex

    Looking at weather patterns, it may be too optimistic going to these elevations on May 9. Pushing this down by a week, tentatively.

    April 22

  • Don

    What type of elevation are you speaking about? I'm not familiar with the region well enough to know w/o looking closely at maps.

    April 21

    • Alex

      On the map, the area looks like a tilted plateau, lakes separated by ridges, opening into a wide valley, descending to the TH. Les'see... TH is at 7200', Slab Lakes - the highest point - at 9800' - IF we can get there because of snow. Most other lakes sit around 9000' in open rocky areas. No steep passes, unless you purposefully climb a ridge (I am no a fan of that). We will certainly encounter some snow, hopefully, walkable. Cannot tell for sure, this will be my first time in the area.

      April 21

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