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Tehipite Valley
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Andrew F
(andrew.f) - F

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Tehipite Valley on 04/30/2013 12:51:48 MDT Print View

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

Rancheria Creek

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.

Tehipite Dome

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.

Edited by andrew.f on 04/30/2013 12:52:51 MDT.

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
Tehipite Valley on 04/30/2013 13:16:36 MDT Print View

Tehipite Valley is a excellent place to explore and is remote for sure. I have been there a few times over the years and look forward to going back in the future. I would of like to go this weekend but I guessed I missed out.


Manfred Kopisch
(Orienteering) - F
The more the merrier ... on 04/30/2013 14:19:07 MDT Print View


we had two additional seats in the minivan. So may be next time we don't just pick up James and Chris after work at the BART in Dublin ...

Tehipite is indeed an excellent place to explore. I wish we would have had more time there to see Silver Spray Falls, Painted Rock and Blue Canyon. And extra time for fishing would have been nice too ...

But even without extra exploring our trip was great. Spending the weekend with like-minded backpackers does that already -- being out in the Sierra makes it a sure bet -- seeing Tehipite Valley for the first time was the icing on the cake for me.


Andrew F
(andrew.f) - F

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: The more the merrier on 04/30/2013 14:31:54 MDT Print View

Hey Jay, sorry, I should have realized that you would be interested in this trip. My bad on that one. Hopefully we can get together for the next one.

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
Tehipite Valley on 04/30/2013 14:55:23 MDT Print View

No worries maybe next time. Maybe we could get everybody's email addresses together and if any body has a idea of a backpacking trip you could put it out there and then see who might have interest and then respond back. I took my boy up North to the Middle Eel Wilderness this weekend to Yolla Bolly Lake but I would of liked Tehipite valley much more. Tehipite Valley is awesome!! My email address is: might be going to the Trinity Alps on May 10-12 to do the Four Lakes Loop with Ken Thompson and Kat if anybody has interest.


Andy Duncan
(bluewater) - M

Locale: SoCal
Tehipite Valley on 04/30/2013 16:00:25 MDT Print View

Many thanks Andrew for posting photos from your Tehipite Valley trip. I have been wanting to head out there for a while but this is the closest I've gotten:

tehipite dome

Tehipite Dome from Windy Ridge.


Andrew F
(andrew.f) - F

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Windy Ridge on 04/30/2013 16:21:53 MDT Print View

Just sent you an e-mail Jay.

Andy, thanks for the reminder. I had totally forgotten about the view down the Middle Fork from Windy Ridge. Your pic takes me back to being there. I didn't take the time to go out to Windy Point when I was there... will have to correct that oversight some day... :)

Manfred Kopisch
(Orienteering) - F
Want to go back to Windy Ridge? on 04/30/2013 16:26:47 MDT Print View


the view from Windy Ridge was fantastic when we did the SHR last September. Do I hear you want to do it again? ...


Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
A Historic Find on 04/30/2013 17:03:36 MDT Print View

That rifle you found might be from the Civil War era. It is a Spencer Repeating Rifle from the 1860s. If you saw "Unforgiven" Eastwood used a Spencer in that movie. Because it was one of the first repeaters that actually worked it was a huge hit with Union soldiers during Civil War. I believe the Cavalry that stopped the Confederates on the first day of Gettysburg used Spencers but I could be wrong.

The gun you found could have been carried by a soldier. But about 1870 or so the Army began getting rid of them. A lot were sold as surplus so its quit likely your find belong to a prospector or hunter. I read somewhere that it was a favorite with older trappers and mountain men because it had a more powerful cartridge then the early Winchester rifles.


This is what is used to look like. Did you ask any rangers about it? They might be interested to know it was there.

Manfred Kopisch
(Orienteering) - F
Cool - So it is a Spencer Rifle on 04/30/2013 19:16:11 MDT Print View


Thanks for that information. My sons were trying to figure out what it was from this photo that Andrew took of me with the rifle. They think that is the coolest thing.


Spencer Rifle in Tehipite Valley

Edited by Orienteering on 04/30/2013 20:06:30 MDT.

David W.
(Davidpcvsamoa) - MLife

Locale: East Bay, CA
Tehipite on 05/04/2013 22:26:01 MDT Print View

Awesome trip with a great group of friends. Thank you Andrew for posting the report and thank you Manfred for driving.


A nice break Saturday morning

Andrew checking the map and enjoying a snickers.


Johnson's Cow Camp.


Tehipite Valley


Tehipite Dome and the Middle Fork of the Kings River


Manfred relaxing in camp


James and Chris making a dinner fire.

Edited by Davidpcvsamoa on 05/05/2013 21:27:05 MDT.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Spencer on 05/04/2013 23:06:19 MDT Print View

Glad to help Manfred, in the new pictures that is definitely a Spencer. Your right hand is holding the magazine. The rounds would have fit in there in a removable tube that held seven rounds. To fire it you would have pushed the trigger guard down and forward, just like the Winchester rifles in John Wayne movies. Then you would cock the hammer with your thumb and you were ready to fire. For the time it was a very fast shooting rifle.

Your specimen looks like it has longer a barrel so it probably did not belong to a Cavalry trooper. It could be the Infantry version or it could be the sporting version which was sold in small numbers to hunters. It would be interesting to see if the US Army was up in that area and if so why they were dropping rifles. Maybe from the Indian Wars? Or maybe someone shot at the wrong grizzly. As collectors say "If only this gun could talk!"

Okay I guess you figured out by now I'm a bit of a history geek. Nice pictures and trip report by the way.

Chris S
(csteutterman) - F

Locale: Tahoe
Re: Tehipite Valley on 05/05/2013 12:44:37 MDT Print View

A few more pics:

James at one of the first stream crossings.

The bear tracks.

Johnson's Cow Camp. David going in for a closer view.

Spectacular viewpoint just before heading down into the valley.


It was hard to leave this spot.

Tehipite Dome and the Middle Fork Kings River just a short walk away from camp.

James taking an alternate approach to stream crossings. This time he winds up and spins across like the Tazmanian Devil.

Typical trail conditions for much of the route.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Tehipite Valley on 05/05/2013 13:25:28 MDT Print View

Awesomely beautiful, hard to believe there is so little snow. Looking forward to hiking with some of you next week.

David Lutz

Locale: Bay Area
"Tehipite Valley" on 05/05/2013 13:26:52 MDT Print View

Chris, I like your photo of the dome with the Kings in the foreground.

That valley is a weird and cool place.

Was there evidence of anyone else being in there this year or were you guys first?

Any geologist types care to explain how those domes form?

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: "Tehipite Valley" on 05/05/2013 13:45:28 MDT Print View

David, the domes like Tehipite are the same as the ones in Yosemite and elsewhere in the Sierra Nevada. Half Dome was once a full dome, but then the glacier sheared off half of it.

Basically, there were big bubbles of molten granite deep within the earth, and they slowly rose to toward the surface about 90-100 million years ago. As they neared the surface, they started cooling off from the outside inward. As a result, the cooled dome tends to be round and peels off in layers (exfoliation).


Edited by --B.G.-- on 05/05/2013 14:01:02 MDT.

Manfred Kopisch
(Orienteering) - F
We were the first backpackers in Tehipite Valley this year on 05/05/2013 14:34:02 MDT Print View


There were no visible signs of anyone going to Tehipite Valley before us. The ranger also said we were the first this year to get a permit.


Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: We were the first backpackers in Tehipite Valley this year on 05/05/2013 15:05:30 MDT Print View

"There were no visible signs of anyone going to Tehipite Valley before us."

Bears are people, too.


Backpack Jack
(jumpbackjack) - F

Locale: Armpit of California
Bears in Tehipite Valley on 05/05/2013 15:12:56 MDT Print View

Nice trip guys, wish I could have went with you.

The bear prints just prove my point about bears in Ca. they don't hibernate, they're always looking for food, and we just make it easy for them in the winter, we bring it right to thier front porch. LOL Just kidding about the food, but I've seen many bears and bear tracks in the deep of winter.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - M

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Tehipite Valley on 05/05/2013 16:17:31 MDT Print View

That place looks huge!