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Camp location suggestions for Seki Little 5 Lakes Loop

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Camp location suggestions for Seki Little 5 Lakes Loop

Postby lauralai627 » Mon Aug 04, 2014 8:14 pm

A large group of us (about 10 people) is heading into Seki for a 5 day trip over Labor Day weekend. Our tentative itinerary:

Day 1 - Mineral King trailhead to Little Five Lakes
Day 2 - Hike to Kaweah Gap, Precipice Lake and Nine Lakes Basin
Day 3 - Hike to Big Five Lakes
Day 4 - Hike to Columbine Lake
Day 5 - Back to the trailhead

Does anyone have any specific suggestions on excellent camp sites for a group of this size? We could really use some advice on where to camp on the second night - is it possible/advisable to camp at Precipice Lake? Or is Nine Lakes Basin more scenic and comfortable?

If anyone has any other trip/route advice, please feel free to share.

Thanks HST!



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Re: Camp location suggestions for Seki Little 5 Lakes Loop

Postby Silverfox » Mon Aug 04, 2014 9:22 pm

There are very few campsites around Precipice Lake, may not be enough space for the size of your group. Here is a picture of the closest lake in Nine Lakes basin from Kaweah Gap, have not camped there, but it is much more flat than around Precipice Lake. I would definitely take a side trip to Precipice Lake for the scenic view and you can get a glimpse of the Valhalla and Hamilton Lakes to the west.
Nine Lakes Basin.JPG


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Re: Camp location suggestions for Seki Little 5 Lakes Loop

Postby mshields » Mon Aug 04, 2014 10:50 pm

A few quick comments:

Mineral King to Little 5 Lakes is a pretty tall order for a single day; some serious elevation gain and challenging ascent of Black Rock Pass in the afternoon sun. May want to reconsider?

I agree with Silverfox, given your group size Nine Lakes Basin would be the preferred choice to Precipice.

You'll be fine (provided other groups aren't already hunkered down) with space at Little 5, Big 5, and Columbine. Columbine is a bit more spread out, but the room is there.

I've attached a picture of the campground drawing found inside the bearbox at Big 5; it's a very good breakdown of what's available.
Big 5.JPG


I camped at both Little 5 and Columbine Lake six weeks ago, they are both beautiful areas. The sunset/alpen-glow at Columbine are unbeatable!
Columbine.JPG
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Re: Camp location suggestions for Seki Little 5 Lakes Loop

Postby BigMan » Tue Aug 05, 2014 8:02 am

I second what maverick says about your day 1. I hope all 10 of you are in great shape and acclimated. The march up Black Rock Pass would be cooler in the morning, and there's lots of space near Pinto Lake.

If you visit Precipice first, you may indeed find enough space. If not, 9LB is a short distance away. Good space on the southeast shores of the heart-shaped lake.

At L5L, there are plenty of spots for 10. If you want to be farther from neighbors, there are some nice spots at Lake 10476 past the ranger patrol hut.

Did someone mention alpenglow at Columbine?
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Re: Camp location suggestions for Seki Little 5 Lakes Loop

Postby lauralai627 » Tue Aug 05, 2014 8:39 am

Thanks everyone for the great advice! We are hoping to do Mineral King to Little Five Lakes on Day 1 (instead of doing the loop in the other direction since we heard that going in at Sawtooth Pass is harder). In reality we will probably stop and reassess our goal once we get to Pinto Lake.

Really looking forward to getting out there!
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Re: Camp location suggestions for Seki Little 5 Lakes Loop

Postby SSSdave » Tue Aug 05, 2014 10:02 am

Agreed very unrealistic itinerary. Those new to backpacking sometimes just look at the mileages involved without considering the vertical. Mineral King via Timber Gap to Little 5 Lakes is a 6400 foot vertical uphill and 4000 foot down. That much vertical while NOT carrying a backpack would be attempted by only the most in shape peak baggers.

7800 MK TH
9500 +1700 Timber Gap
7000 -2500 Cliff Cr
8700 +1700 Pinto L
11700 +3000 Black Rock P
10250 -1450

With just 5 days you will find just doing the loop allowing 2 days to get over Blackrock without the Precipice Lake diversion a challenging trip where you won't be doing much else besides hiking all day. Ten people in such open timberline areas are like a grain of sand on a vast beach so finding camps spots is almost never an issue except at lake edges and steep slopes enroute.
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Re: Camp location suggestions for Seki Little 5 Lakes Loop

Postby Ska-T » Tue Aug 05, 2014 11:02 am

I agree fully with David. If you can explore the Little Five Lakes and Big Five Lakes areas in the 5 days you have allotted consider that a very successful trip. Further, a ten person expedition is going to make that more difficult to achieve than a small party of 1 to 3.

If all members of your party are in good shape and are comfortable on class 2 terrain there are a couple of cross country passes in the area that add interest and cut down the mileage, but not the exertion/time.

You could make the trip easier by renting mules to get you to Pinto Lake (day 1) or the top of Black Rock Pass (morning of day 2) but that costs $$.

-Scott
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Re: Camp location suggestions for Seki Little 5 Lakes Loop

Postby Buford » Tue Aug 05, 2014 11:17 am

I did a similar loop a couple weeks ago, but I am not an expert. I skipped Blackrock pass and did middle fork to Bearpaw meadow and up the HST. I don't recommend the route I took, your plan looks better to me. I will try and get a report up soon. I agree with what everyone has said.

My impressions:
Precipice lake, I didn't really see many for sites for a solo hiker. 10 spread out in the few spots I saw would be pushing it. Very scenic and worth a visit though. I didn't visit 9 lakes basin.

Little 5 lakes, I saw some nice sites back by lake 10410 outlet. None were huge sites that I saw, but getting 10 people near each other wouldn't be an issue. I camped back there.

Big 5 lakes, the trail to the upper lakes exists despite what I have heard from some people. I liked the scenery at 10192, and the one above it, you will get better scenery at the upper lakes in my opinion. Plenty of spots to camp.

Columbine lake had plenty of nice spots, you'll just have to spread out a bit. The sunset/glow was spectacular and the highlight of the trip when I did it.

Everyone is different. 5 days to do that loop seems doable to me if altitude doesn't get you, but will you enjoy it or just survive it? That is a brutal first day planned, doable for some, enjoyable by few, impossible for some. Some people trail run loops like yours in a day and enjoy that too. Depends on the person.
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Re: Camp location suggestions for Seki Little 5 Lakes Loop

Postby maverick » Tue Aug 05, 2014 12:00 pm

Hi Lauralai627,

Would recommend that you read this, and answer some of the questions so
we have an idea on the different experience levels within you group, otherwise any
advice or recommendations are worthless, and could even be dangerous. viewtopic.php?f=1&t=4205
I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Camp location suggestions for Seki Little 5 Lakes Loop

Postby lauralai627 » Tue Aug 05, 2014 12:09 pm

Thanks Maverick, and thanks everyone else who has commented! We will definitely plan on reevaluating our itinerary and may very well end up cutting out the side trip to Precipice/Kaweah Gap if we're slow on our first day out.

Everyone in the group goes backpacking every year (for at least a few years) and is comfortable with trail and some x-country, save one person, who has only done one or two trips (this person may dictate the speed at which we're able to travel). We're comfortable with class 3 terrain, river crossings and light snow crossings. We're interested in some big mountain scenery and might also be doing some fishing if time permits.

We did the North to South Lake loop in five days two years ago -- that was probably close to the upper limit of what we'd like to do on this trip.
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