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Tehipite/Gorge Of Despair Sept 2013

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Tehipite/Gorge Of Despair Sept 2013

Postby johninberkeley » Sat Feb 08, 2014 6:40 pm

Here are some notes of a trip in September 2013 from Taboose Pass to the Lakes Basin, then down Cartridge Creek and the Middle Fork Kings to Tehipite Valley and down the (trailless) Middle Fork Canyon to Yucca Point. We wanted to try the canyon since it was a dry summer and a low-water year. We found only a few accounts of previous trips through here.

The hike from the Lakes Basin down Cartridge Creek to the Middle Fork is very rough bushwhacking starting pretty soon after Marion Lake (the lowest lake). Although the John Muir Trail was routed through here 70 years ago, we couldn't find it. Once down to the Middle Fork the trail is now in good shape all the way to Tehipite Valley (recently cleared and brushed by the Park Service), except for the washed-out bridge at Simpson Meadow, traversing miles of very impressive old-growth mixed conifer forest. Tehipite Valley is magnificent; the huge relief and scale makes it like being in Yosemite except my son and I were the only ones there!

From Tehipite there is a trace of a trail down to Little Tehipite, with some beautiful oaks and meadows. After Little Tehipite the Middle Fork enters a rough, deep canyon with no trail at all. This is barely passable at very low water. We had to cross the river 9 times (generally 3-4 feet deep) and very often scramble up several hundred feet of cliffs or rocky slopes on each side of the river where the canyon walls became vertical. It took us almost 2 days to bushwhack 9 1/2 miles. The exit is at the confluence of the Middle and South Fork Kings, but then it is a 2000+ ft climb (on a good trail, though) to Yucca Point and the road! All in all, rough going even for experienced backpackers.
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Re: Tehipite/Gorge Of Despair

Postby sparky » Sun Feb 09, 2014 9:30 am

Really cool route John! Truly a complete traverse of the range I would say :thumbsup:
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Re: Tehipite/Gorge Of Despair

Postby Shawn » Sun Feb 09, 2014 2:10 pm

Great notes (and first post - welcome to HST) JohninBerkley. This will no doubt prove very useful for others researching routes down the middle fork.

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Re: Tehipite/Gorge Of Despair

Postby maverick » Sun Feb 09, 2014 2:23 pm

Hi John,

Welcome to HST! Thanks for posting this. Any chance of pictures from TV to Yucca section?
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Re: Tehipite/Gorge Of Despair/Yucca Point

Postby johninberkeley » Mon Feb 10, 2014 11:40 am

Here are some photos from the segment of the hike posted February 9, 2014 -- the part from Simpson Meadow through Tehipite Valley and the trailless Middle Fork Kings canyon to Yucca Point.
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Re: Tehipite/Gorge Of Despair

Postby maverick » Mon Feb 10, 2014 11:48 am

Thanks John for taking the time to post these photo's. :thumbsup:
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Re: Tehipite/Gorge Of Despair

Postby DoyleWDonehoo » Mon Feb 10, 2014 3:45 pm

I have been up to Deer Cove and Wildman Meadow and beyond to Grizzly Lakes to the pass above a number of times. I think there was a faint looking trail heading to Happy Gap from the main trail, but I would not put money down on a bet that it is in any good condition or even visible beyond Burns meadow, if that much. Though in my experience trails in steep terrain usually last longer than the ones in woods. For a fact the supposed trail on the 7.5 maps heading west from Deer Cove Saddle is gone (there is a nice camp there next to a seasonal stream if you can find it). Also the eastern most trail shown on the 7.5 above Deer Cove is gone as well.
Anyway, I always wondered why there was even a trail to Happy Gap at all: there is nothing but steep terrain beyond. The only two possibilities I see is to camp/fish on Silver Creek or to descend to Little Tehipite Valley. Seems like lot of trouble for little return, and there is easier ways to Tehipite Valley. Not much interest there for me being allergic to poison oak and rattlesnakes. Anyway, been there, done that, in early season with few snakes and not much poison oak. (Go to Tehipite Valley early season and you may not be able to get past Crown Creek).
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Re: Tehipite/Gorge Of Despair

Postby SweetSierra » Mon Feb 10, 2014 4:25 pm

I think the Happy Gap trail came to be because long ago there was a trail to TV, rough and full of brush as it may have been. A friend looked this up on an old map and found the route the "trail" took to TV, as much as could be ascertained.
It probably barely existed then, was the consensus, as it was likely so little traveled. As you say, I'm not sure why the trail to Happy Gap still exists if you can't go beyond it without great difficulty. Perhaps just for the look into the Middle Fork and TV?
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Re: Tehipite/Gorge Of Despair

Postby tomba » Mon Feb 10, 2014 10:33 pm

Here is the Happy Gap trail on an old map.
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Re: Tehipite/Gorge Of Despair Sept 2013

Postby ndwoods » Mon Feb 10, 2014 11:32 pm

Thanks!
I've wanted to do Tehipite Valley for years. But, I really like the views of the higher passes and higher trails. With your description tho I think I better just do it and find out for myself!:)
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