...last year with my 1 mph pace...where I was solo and really pounding it hard from dawn to dusk. It was pretty brutal.
You know you're doing something tough when 1mph is "brutal". There was a hike earlier this summer where I spent 6 hrs to get 2 miles from my car, and no net elevation gain. It was fun though.
Part of what confused me was the glacial ice in the upper Paradise Branch. Is that part of Reid or part of Zigzag?
ZZ is a poorly defined glacier. I see it as two distinct lobes, separated by the low broad ridge that runs from Crater Rock to Mississippi Head. In contrast, Reid is in a very deep canyon (cirque up higher). There's no mistaking it. If you ever find yourself questioning if you're looking at ZZ or Reid, then it's gotta be ZZ.
I was looking at my track on Google Earth and it looks like you could just follow the edge of Reid down to Ramona and cross the Sandy before getting to the trail? Was that where you went last year and it was merciless bushwhacking?
Yep, yep. Guy also reported it was disappointing. As bushwhacks go, it wasn't particularly awful, but it certainly wasn't fun (up high it was okay).
I want to go as high as I can on Cooper Spur.
Well, I guess that would be the summit. You saw my TR on the little pulpit VP over Eliot. That's a satisfying goal. Or maybe to the top of the snowfield. Above that I guess the only natural turnaround point is the final snowy approach to the summit, but at that point you're just tempting yourself to do something stupid, so maybe better to not put yourself in that position, depending on how much you hate to retreat.