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:
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.
(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.
(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 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 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.
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.
(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.
(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!
(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.