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TR: Sequoia NP

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TR: Sequoia NP

Postby Wandering Daisy » Tue Jul 01, 2014 3:33 pm

TR: HST-Little Five-Nine Lakes Basin-Tablelands 6/24 to 6/30

After meeting a potential hiking partner last summer, we finally were able to test out our hiking compatibility. We both like to cover some miles- she a strong trail hiker and I have more off-trail experience. I picked the route primarily to get some photos of areas I had already visited as well as my first trip to the Five Lakes. Mostly trail, the route had an off-trail ending via the Tablelands. Our original 8-day trip was condensed to 6 days due to other personal commitments. Never being one to give up territory, I decided to skip fishing and just go farther each day. Luckily we both were early risers and easily started each day’s hike by 7AM. There sure is a lot of daylight one week after the summer solstice! The miles stated below are what I measured from the map – not what the NP signs say.

Day 1. We drove down and picked up our permit and were on the trail by 2:30. We just walked in as far as we could while avoiding setting up tents in the dark. Thankfully there was a nice breeze and it was fairly cool. The 7.8 mile, +2890 -2110 roller coaster hike ended at Nine Mile Creek.

Day 2. Up early, we minimally wanted to get to Hamilton Lake. Reaching the lake shortly after noon, we decided we could make it to Precipice Lake, where I had always wanted to camp to get sunset photos. It was hot and we soon slowed to a snail’s pace. Were we glad to reach the lake and find nice flat established campsite. Although tired, we arrived early enough to rest and get plenty of photos, wash clothes and take a quick bath. The wildflowers were beautiful along the trail. Views were impressive as was the “tunnel” along the trail. Thankfully there was a nice breeze to cool us off the entire hike as well as keep the mosquitoes down. Creek crossings were amazingly low. We could hop rocks/logs across the outlet of Hamilton Lake. I had been to Precipice Lake 4th July weekend during a high snow year, and then it was totally covered with snow and the lake still partially frozen. This year there was no snow and the water temperature was more like August- very sad. This 8.1 mile, +4215 -1520 feet day was hard on me. After all, I AM a senior citizen!

Day 3. We headed over Keweah Gap and quickly dropped down to the Little Five Lakes tail junction. We had to wade across the creek twice, but it was only mid-calf deep. Then it was steeply up to Little Five Lakes where we arrived before noon. This left time for a hike to the upper lake, off-trail adventure to the set of lakes to the north that are also called Little Five Lakes on the map, and lots of wandering around the meadows. The weather turned odd. Clouds came billowing over the ridge from Keweah Gap to Blackrock Pass, quickly covering the peaks as quickly as it dissipated. Clouds also came and went over Black Keweah. This was our “lazy day” of 6.4 miles plus 4 miles of day-hikes with a total of 2500 feet gain and similar elevation loss.

Day 4. Birds chirped; daylight begins before 5 AM. We are off again early. First, we hiked to Big Five Lakes. The wind was howling, thankfully, keeping the mosquitoes down. The Big Five Lakes area is much wetter than Little Five Lakes and when the breeze lessened, the mosquitoes were horrid. The lakes had white-caps. Back at camp for lunch, we pack up and head back up to Nine Lakes Basin, arriving at 3PM, with enough time to hike to the upper lake. Not a mosquito in sight! Unfortunately, we ran out of time to go over to the lake below Black Keweah. With late afternoon hikes, I am pretty strict about “turn-around” time. The odd fast moving clouds started again about 4PM. Our camp was in the shadows of the clouds but our hike to the east stayed in sunlight. We did a lot of miles (13.1) but most were day-hiking without the packs. It was another day with 3200 feet gain and similar elevation loss. Again we bathed in amazingly warm water from the small creek. The daylight exceeded our energy so we were in tents by 8PM.

Day 5. Another hard day! Up early, we went back to Keweah Gap and dropped 3840 feet elevation to Hamilton Lake. After lunch at Hamilton Lake, we headed up to Lone Pine Creek. The Elizabeth Pass Trail is in poor condition, with the trail nearly overgrown with head high vegetation. It was hellishly hot. At the crossing, I slipped on moss while filling a water bottle. Even though the creek was low, all water was funneled where I slipped and the current dropped me into a pool below. As much as getting soaked was actually pleasant, it could have been very dangerous in higher water. Downstream a short distance is a huge waterfall! The heat was on. No breeze or clouds to cool us now. Mosquitoes were task masters who only avoided us as long as we walked. We left the trail and followed the creek from Lonely Lake camping on the second bench up. We climbed 3390 feet and covered nearly 9 miles. Mosquitoes made dinner a bit unpleasant. Several four legged bold visitors came after dinner- six deer (four little ones and two “moms”). One pesky marmot also had to be watched closely or our food would disappear.

Day 6. We minimally wanted to get to Emerald Lake where we had a permit to camp. The climb up to Pterodactyl Pass went quickly now that our packs were lighter and my new friend did well on her first Class 2 pass. We headed to the small lake on the top of the Tablelands where we had a fine view of the two lakes above Big Bird Lake. Mosquitoes were pesky as our breeze died down. We dropped to Table Meadows and followed the creek downstream. The water level was pitifully low as we stepped across on rocks. I miscounted the buttresses (I hate being on the edge of two maps). We cut over a saddle too soon and had to drop back down and do it all over again on the proper saddle. We walked down the rock slabs to Pear Lake. It was only 12:30 so we decided to just walk out. Emerald Lake was crowed and soon we ran into many day-hikers. We took the Watchtower Trail and enjoyed the view down to the bottom of the Watchtower. Thankfully the trail was in the shade. After 13.4 miles, 1865 feet gain and 4740 feet elevation loss we sat down at the shuttle bus stop at 4:20, feet sore, and not walking another step!

Here is where everything went downhill with logistics. The bus did not arrive for 45 minutes. We still had two connections to make to get back to Crescent Meadow and our car. Luckily we waited much less time for the next two rides, arriving at Crescent Meadow at 6PM on the last bus. I was looking forward to a shower, my friend was looking forward to a real meal, we both were craving a cold beer and hoped to camp at Lodgepole.

None worked out. The restaurant was closed, the quarter machine for the showers was broken and not a quarter could be found, they only sold unrefrigerated beer, and the campground was full. It was 7PM and things looked grim. Luckily Dorst Creek campground had space; unfortunately dinner was backpack food. I did get a quart of cold milk and an apple. I bet we were the first in the entire campground to go to bed! It was 8:30PM and we were beat. Next morning we were the first to get up at 5AM and drove home after eating another backpack meal. I stepped out of my car and it was 104 degrees! Ugh! I want to go back into the mountains!

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Hamilton Dome (photo taken on Day 5)

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Angle Wings

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Tunnel on Trail to Precipice Lake

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Precipice Lake



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Re: TR: Sequoia NP

Postby Wandering Daisy » Tue Jul 01, 2014 3:46 pm

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Lower Little Five Lake from Upper Little Five Lake

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Keweahs from Little Five Lakes

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Middle Big Five Lake

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Windy at upper Big Five Lake

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Day hike to upper Nine Lakes Basin Lakes (below Lawson Peak)

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Unnamed upper lake

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Return to Keweah Gap

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Hamilton Lake

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Lone Pine Creek looking towards Lion Lake

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View from our camp below Lonely Lake

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Visitor

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Lakes above Big Bird Lake viewed from small lake on Tablelands
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Re: TR: Sequoia NP

Postby Tom_H » Tue Jul 01, 2014 5:28 pm

I know this dear friend of mine had been looking forward to hiking with you for a long time. I know she had a great time learning from you. And she really does like to cover a lot of miles, doesn't she! Thanks for a great trip report. Beautiful pictures and really well written as usual.

Have a great time in the Wind River Range!
Last edited by Tom_H on Tue Jul 01, 2014 5:37 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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TR: Sequoia NP

Postby themappist » Tue Jul 01, 2014 5:30 pm

Lots of great pics. The two B/W shots are my favourites. Thanks for sharing.
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Re: TR: Sequoia NP

Postby sparky » Tue Jul 01, 2014 5:31 pm

That ridgeline coming down from pterodactyl pass is just awesome! One of my favorite views that I have seen. There are so many awesome granite formations in this chunk of the sierra.

Great pictures, and great trip! Thanks for the share
There is a million ways to be human, all are worthwhile.

True happiness is the absence of striving for happiness.
-Chuang Tzu.
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Re: TR: Sequoia NP

Postby balzaccom » Tue Jul 01, 2014 7:20 pm

Wonderful photos and TR, Daisy. Thank you!
Balzaccom

check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
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Re: TR: Sequoia NP

Postby giantbrookie » Tue Jul 01, 2014 8:00 pm

Nice report and gorgeous photos. You cover some serious ground in a day, too. Quite the torment for the finale, too. It reminds me of a couple of my own trip endings.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Re: TR: Sequoia NP

Postby RichardCullip » Tue Jul 01, 2014 8:26 pm

Thanks for the great report. My brother and I visited the Little Five Lakes area a few times back in the mid-70's. Your pictures brought back some great memories.
Life is good. Eternal Life is better!

Richard
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Re: TR: Sequoia NP

Postby sekihiker » Tue Jul 01, 2014 9:03 pm

Thanks for sharing great photos of one of my favorite areas. I loved the clouds moving over the Kaweahs.
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TR: Sequoia NP

Postby Bluewater » Tue Jul 01, 2014 10:49 pm

Thanks for your tr and photos! I hiked nearby your camp below Lonely Lake and the small lake at the top of the Tablelands a few months ago and your b/w photos take me right back. Thanks!


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Re: TR: Sequoia NP

Postby Tom_H » Wed Jul 02, 2014 12:49 am

WD, your off-trail guide to the Wind River Range is such a well written and organized book. The quality of your photography in your TRs is so good that I hope you will consider publishing a pictorial portfolio of the Sierra. I know I would surely buy a copy!
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TR: Sequoia NP

Postby AlmostThere » Wed Jul 02, 2014 7:10 am

this is pretty funny - I'm about to leave on approximately the same route. Yet another missed opportunity to meet someone... sigh.
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