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Dave T
(DaveT) - F
Nine day loop from Kings Canyon to Minearl King and back on 09/22/2009 20:25:18 MDT Print View

Hi all.

Just got back from a September 9-18 loop trip from Roads End (Kings Canyon) to Mineral King, and back, in the High Sierra. The return route was based on the "Sierra High Route South" at:
http://sierrahiker.home.comcast.net/~sierrahiker/HighRouteSouth/index.html

Almost all of the route is on the Tom Harrison map "Mt. Whitney High Country" if you want to follow along. (if you don't have all these maps, you should! they are great.)

A great trip... the quick synopsis...

-------------

3.5 days heading south, semi-leisurely, all on trail:

Day 1: Roads End up the steep climbs up to Avalanche Pass, to lovely campsite just east of pass.

avalanche pass
(campsite at Avalanche Pass)

Day 2: Avalanche Pass down and then up Deadman Canyon to just below Elizabeth Pass. Mice ate half of my baseball cap in the night for the salt.

deadman canyon
(view up Deadman Canyon)

Day 3: Over Elizabeth Pass and then way down on poor trail, passing lovely Lone Pine Canyon, and taking the VERY tall bridge and cliff-side trail past Bearpaw Camp (I sure wish they'd get rid of these "High Sierra Camps"). Camp along Middle Fork of Kaweah River.

descending elizabeth pass
(descending south side of Elizabeth Pass)

Day 4: Up and over Timber Gap and down into Mineral King. Pick up food resupply box previously left at food storage shed. Relax in campground.

----------------

5 days heading north, on trail and off trail:

Day 5: Drizzle in morning at camp, and climb towards new snow in mountains. By the time we reach Monarch Lakes, it is clearing, and we head up the sandy slog to Glacier Pass, supposedly Class 3 in Secor, but easy. Down trail (didn't know it was here) to Spring Lake, and then tedious traverse to pick up Black Rock Pass Trail. Long switchbacks in fog up to pass, where fog ends and huge views to north and east wait. Down to Little Five Lakes to camp.

black rock pass in distance
(Black Rock Pass switchbacks visible from Glacier Pass)

Day 6: Frost and ice on bag and tarptent in morning. Down trail and up lovely Big Arroyo, leaving trail (for several days!) at Kaweah Gap. Cross steep pass at Lion Rock Pass, and descend sneaky gully down to lake. Another steep climb to Lion Lake Pass, curving to Glacier Lake to campsite.

frozen at little five lakes
(frozen morning)

Day 7: Climb Triple Divide Pass, and traverse to ridge, climbing atop it. Not able to initially find the way off the end that Bill Finch discusses, and find ourselves dropping to be stymied on narrow granite cliffs. Turn around and to back up, only to find relatively easy way down. Cross Colby Pass Trail, and head up Milestone Bowl, to cross at narrow ridgeline pass. Descend lots of talus on far side, to campsite above upper small lake.

towards milestone pass
(climbing towards Milestone Pass)

Day 8: Follow Milestone Creek east, to Kern Trail, following for a short distance before heading west up canyon to Thunder Pass (as an alternative to Millys or Lucys Footpasses, which we figured were harder and left you much further down by Lake Reflection.. thanks Tom!). Relatively easy going over pass (Secor says "ice axe required, Class 2" - it was a scree slide onto muddy hard ice, followed by lots of talus. Went around several lakes on talus, to campsite, in view of Longley.

down thunder pass
(hard ice on descent from Thunder Pass)

Day 9: Up past lake to sandy slog up Longley Pass, bypassed hard cornice on north side with easy rock. Down around South Guard Lake, over to Brewer Pass, another pass over Sphinx Pass, and hustling downhill towards the car. A tedious few hours of talus, willows, aspen, forest, etc. led us past Sphinx Lakes and down to trail at Sphinx Creek we had left on the first day. Hurried down trail for a few hours to trailhead, with clouds of tiny flies in the oak areas. Made it to the camp store with 6 minutes to spare, where a 12 pack of beer, ice, and chips made the night in the campground nice!

beer
(ice + beer + paper bag = cooler)

A great trip. Great weather, lots of time off trail above timberline, and amazing views. If you haven't hiked in the Kaweahs and Great Western Divide area, I definitely recommend it.

Edited by DaveT on 09/23/2009 09:57:55 MDT.

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
Kings Canyon to Minearl King-Loop on 09/22/2009 21:15:07 MDT Print View

Cool stuff Dave T!!!
The circumnavigation of the Kaweah Peaks (94.8-mile loop) is on my "To Do" list for next summer.. Nice pictures
Thanks for posting..

-Jay

Edited by Creachen on 09/23/2009 21:26:35 MDT.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Nine day loop from Kings Canyon to Minearl King and back on 09/23/2009 18:08:40 MDT Print View

Superb route concept, Dave! You passed through just about the finest the southern Sierra has to offer. It doesn't get much better, IME. Thanks for sharing.

" Climb Triple Divide Pass, and traverse to ridge, climbing atop it. Not able to initially find the way off the end that Bill Finch discusses, and find ourselves dropping to be stymied on narrow granite cliffs. Turn around and to back up, only to find relatively easy way down."

Are you referring here to the ridge that Secor advises crossing at 12,000', just south of the Colby Pass Trail and overlooking it? If so, I can second your confusion. I had trouble finding the route down, too. It is much easier to figure out going up, enroute to Triple Divide Pass.

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim) - MLife

Locale: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Nine day loop from Kings Canyon to Mineral King and back on 09/23/2009 18:33:08 MDT Print View

Man! That's some nice hiking. Did 5 days in that area in July, but man, a few extra days and I could've done your route.

It's all good.

HJ

Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
Re: Nine day loop from Kings Canyon to Minearl King and back on 09/23/2009 21:04:29 MDT Print View

Heaven on earth.

Dave T
(DaveT) - F
Triple Divide Pass on 09/24/2009 11:02:18 MDT Print View

"Are you referring here to the ridge that Secor advises crossing at 12,000', just south of the Colby Pass Trail and overlooking it? If so, I can second your confusion. I had trouble finding the route down, too. It is much easier to figure out going up, enroute to Triple Divide Pass."

Yes, I mean that tall ridge that sticks out just east of Triple Divide Pass. You climb onto it, and head along the top, before trying to discern the way down off it towards Milestone. In our case, we missed the little way off it, and kept going down onto granite benches with cliffs, trying to link them into a way off the end. We were finally met by one steep face we couldn't get down (and we shouldn't have tried!), and then went back up, and found a way down.

When you look at the ridge from across Milestone, you can't even really easily see the way down (or up, from that vantage point). It seemed like there might have been an easier way down in a little notch much further up the ridgeline, but who knows. It was definitely not easy to find it while headed in the the northern direction, and it led us to a few sketchy moments on some cliffs!

ridge

Edited by DaveT on 04/30/2010 15:47:58 MDT.

Larry Sullivan
(150mph) - F

Locale: Los Angeles
re: Nine day loop from Kings Canyon to Minearl King and back on 10/18/2009 21:01:30 MDT Print View

Epic hike. Thanks for posting! I especially liked your view of Black Rock Pass. Wow, that is formidable-looking from the south!

Dave T
(DaveT) - F
route map for Roads End/Mineral King loop on 10/24/2009 20:17:00 MDT Print View

Here's a rough map of the route. Roads End, on western path (all on trail) to Mineral King, and back on eastern route (mostly off trail).

route

Thomas Gauperaa
(gauperaa) - F - M

Locale: Norway
Re: Nine day loop from Kings Canyon to Minearl King and back on 10/25/2009 12:19:27 MDT Print View

Looks fantastic! Really makes me want to spend some months in the states hiking (even though it is pretty nice here in Norway too)

John Goodin
(jdgkeg) - F

Locale: Western Slope of the Sierra
Longley Pass on 03/27/2010 22:33:49 MDT Print View

Awesome trip report. I'm considering doing the Mr. Brewer Loop this summer and was wondering how "technical" the rock section is on Longley Pass to bypass the cornice? Any additional beta on that specific section that you can share? I'm not a technical climber and I will likely be down climbing that section. Much appreciated.

Dave T
(DaveT) - F
longley pass. on 04/30/2010 15:46:54 MDT Print View

(Sorry to be tardy in the reply - I didn't see your post until today.)

Longley Pass looked harder from a distance than it was up close. From the east, it was a loose, steep sand slog up to the pass, where a long hard cornice was still in place in September. We could've gotten through/over it, but choose to do an easy rock/sand scramble around it - no more than Class 2 or so at the worst. I'm not a rock climber either, so no worries - it was easy. Secor calls it a Class 1 pass I think, so there's nothing to it.

Edited by DaveT on 05/01/2010 19:35:07 MDT.

Dave T
(DaveT) - F
longley pass. on 05/01/2010 19:33:57 MDT Print View

Longley Pass as viewed lakes below to east.
longley from below

Atop Longley Pass with old cornice remains
Around hard cornice