Chris S., James W., David W., Manfred K. and I made the trek out to Tehipite Valley in Kings Canyon from Wishon Reservoir this last weekend. I've been meaning to go to Tehipite for years, having heard many people praise it as a hidden roadless version of Yosemite Valley. It certainly did not disappoint. This year's low snowpack gave the unique opportunity to get out there in the early season, without having to worry too much about over-snow travel or swollen creek crossings. We gambled by leaving the snowshoes in the car and were rewarded with mostly dry trail with the occasional snowdrift of nicely consolidated and firm Sierra cement.
Depending on which GPS device you believe, it was about 15 miles one way to the valley with about 5400 feet (!) of elevation change. It took us most of the day Saturday to get there despite a 7:45AM start from the trailhead, and I only had about 45 minutes of fishing with my Tenkara rod in the valley before it got dark. I think we were all wishing that we had an extra day to hang out in the valley, explore, and procrastinate about the 3000 foot climb back out of the valley. I will be back some day with plans to spend 2-3 days in the valley itself.
Here are some pics... hopefully the other guys will chime in with some more thoughts and photos.
Chris at Rancheria Trailhead
This bear had no problems following the trail in the snow.
Dave getting his feet (but not much else) wet crossing Rodgers Creek
First view of Tehipite. You want me to walk all the way down there?
James & David on the switchbacks.
Chris putting on the brakes.
We found this cool old rifle down in the valley. I presume it's from the US Calvary? It had a smooth bore and a flintlock mechanism.
The Middle Fork of the Kings River was running pretty fast, but WAY below average for the end of April.
Breakfast the next morning.
First light on Tehipite Dome.
The 3000' of switchbacks weren't so bad coming out of the valley. Consensus was that it was worse to go down them at the end of the day on Saturday than back up on Sunday morning.
Overall it was a great trip, particularly because it was with a great group of friends.