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Five Day Loop From Mineral King, Sequoia NP

Discussion in 'Wilderness & Survival Skills' started by lambertiana, Aug 7, 2019.

  1. lambertiana

    lambertiana Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 7, 2000
    After taking the scouts on the warmup hike to Mosquito Lakes, we went on a five day loop out of Mineral King.

    All the previous week the skies had been beautifully clear...but starting the day before this trip I could see the big thunderheads over the sierra. Oh well, a little rain never hurt anyone. We drove to the ranger station at Mineral King to pick up our permit. The ranger there gave me bad info, saying that our proposed route involved a spot that had suffered a significant landslide last winter and was practically impassable, so we took option #2. We started on the trail in a drizzle and headed over Timber Gap, and went down to Cliff Creek. There we discovered that the water was still running higher than normal...I usually hop rocks across Cliff Creek, but not this year. Still a lot of snow melting above, which made the water rather cold.
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    We continued up to Pinto Lake where we spent the night. And discovered that the mosquitoes that I was expecting at Mosquito Lakes finally decided to make an appearance, and were a continual plague the rest of the trip except when we were crossing high passes. We got tents set up and then it rained for a while, which would be a recurring theme on this trip. After it cleared the view toward Empire Mountain was really nice:
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    The next morning we got up to clear skies and made the long slog up Black Rock Pass (Pinto Lake is at 8600', Black Rock Pass is 11,600'). Here is a shot of the view toward Spring, Cyclamen, and Columbine Lakes with Sawtooth in the background, from the Black Rock Pass trail.
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    After crossing Black Rock Pass we descended to Little Five Lakes, where we camped for the night. Just after we set up camp, the rain started and we had a two hour rain. After it cleared I got some pictures. Here is the lake we camped at:
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    And a five minute walk from camp is the last of the Little Five Lakes; I have always loved the view toward the Kaweahs from that lake:
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    Last edited: Aug 7, 2019
    315 and mazibuko like this.
  2. lambertiana

    lambertiana Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 7, 2000
    The next morning it was already threatening rain when we got up. We packed up and again changed our route because the ranger at Little Five Lakes warned us that a stream crossing that we planned to do was impassable, and this time I believed it because I had seen the stream draining Little Five Lakes, which we had to wade across; the previous time I did the proposed route down Big Arroyo, I was able rock hop across the stream at Little Five Lakes but had to wade across the stream in Big Arroyo. Given the significantly higher flow of the tributaries, it made sense that the Big Arroyo stream would be a raging torrent where we wanted to cross. So we just stayed on the high route, going to Big Five Lakes, across the bottom of Lost Canyon, and then up Soda Creek. It started raining when we were partway up Soda Creek, and we hastily set up camp just in time before a steady three hour rain. After it stopped, I got a picture of the canyon near camp (again, note the flow in another tributary to Big Arroyo, which reinforced the wisdom of avoiding Big Arroyo this year):
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    The next morning we headed up Soda Creek:
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    And then after another cold stream crossing
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    up to Little Claire Lake, which has great views from the outlet. First, down Soda Creek (the Whitney group is in the right background, with the summits obscured in the clouds. On the left end is Mt Whitney, 14,508' or 4422M for those on the other side of the pond):
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    And north toward Sawtooth and Needham (the picture on the second day was taken from the other side of those peaks):
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    Little Claire Lake:
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    From Little Claire Lake we crossed the divide to Rattlesnake Creek, here are a few views of that area:
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    We went by Forester Lake:
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    Last edited: Aug 7, 2019
    315, WILLIAM.M and JV3 like this.
  3. lambertiana

    lambertiana Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 7, 2000
    From Forester Lake we went up Rattlesnake Creek:
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    And camped for the night in this bowl just below Franklin Pass:
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    The next morning we got up early. We motivated the scouts to start an hour earlier by telling them that if we got out on time we would stop for burgers at the Silver City resort below Mineral King. They have outstanding burgers and pie there, and those scouts were in a hurry to get there. We ascended to Franklin Pass, here are views along the way:
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    Finally we got to the pass (11,700') and had great views:
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    From there we descended to Franklin Lake:
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    Halfway from the Pass to the trailhead, looking at Vandever Mountain:
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    And finally, getting close to the trailhead; Timber Gap, where we started the trip, is the timber-covered pass a little right of center:
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    We made it in time for burgers and pie. Overall it was a great trip, despite the mosquitoes and rain. We only had one difficult snow crossing on a very steep exposed snowfield, but otherwise we didn't have much trouble with the snowfields that we crossed.
     
    315, SW-EDC, JV3 and 1 other person like this.
  4. Mistman68

    Mistman68 Gold Member Gold Member

    121
    Apr 7, 2019
    See any wildlife?

    Awesome pics BTW, looks like a great time!
     
  5. WILLIAM.M

    WILLIAM.M

    Apr 14, 2006
    Sweet!!!
     
  6. B Griffin

    B Griffin Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    Beautiful images! I love all the reflection shots and the valley shots are really cool too. I want to go hiking there just once before I get too old to do it.
     
  7. lambertiana

    lambertiana Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 7, 2000
    Deer, grouse, one bear, various birds (stellars jay, clark's nutcracker, etc) and trout in the lakes.
     
    Mistman68 and B Griffin like this.
  8. 315

    315 Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 2, 2017
    Great write up to what looks like a fabulous trip:thumbsup:
     
  9. Quiet

    Quiet "That guy" Platinum Member

    Oct 11, 2013
    An absolutely phenomenal thread, thank you for sharing all these stunning pics. Wow.
     

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