Camp location suggestions for Seki Little 5 Lakes Loop | High Sierra Topix  

Camp location suggestions for Seki Little 5 Lakes Loop

If you've been searching for the best source of information and stimulating discussion related to Spring/Summer/Fall backpacking, hiking and camping in the Sierra Nevada...look no further!
User avatar

Camp location suggestions for Seki Little 5 Lakes Loop

Postby lauralai627 » Mon Aug 04, 2014 9:14 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!



User avatar
lauralai627
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 32
Joined: Wed Jul 27, 2011 3:44 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Camp location suggestions for Seki Little 5 Lakes Loop

Postby Silverfox » Mon Aug 04, 2014 10:22 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
First lake in Nine Lakes Basin from Kaweah Gap


Silverfox
User avatar
Silverfox
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 36
Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2011 3:05 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Camp location suggestions for Seki Little 5 Lakes Loop

Postby mshields » Mon Aug 04, 2014 11:50 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
User avatar
mshields
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 61
Joined: Fri Nov 19, 2010 8:40 pm
Location: Ojai, Ca
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Camp location suggestions for Seki Little 5 Lakes Loop

Postby BigMan » Tue Aug 05, 2014 9:02 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?
Attachments
Columbine.jpg
In wilderness lies the hope of the world.
User avatar
BigMan
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 82
Joined: Wed May 30, 2012 2:17 pm
Location: San Jose, CA
Experience: Level 3 Backpacker

User avatar

Re: Camp location suggestions for Seki Little 5 Lakes Loop

Postby lauralai627 » Tue Aug 05, 2014 9:39 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!
User avatar
lauralai627
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 32
Joined: Wed Jul 27, 2011 3:44 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Camp location suggestions for Seki Little 5 Lakes Loop

Postby SSSdave » Tue Aug 05, 2014 11:02 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.
User avatar
SSSdave
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1965
Joined: Thu Nov 17, 2005 11:18 pm
Location: Silicon Valley
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Camp location suggestions for Seki Little 5 Lakes Loop

Postby Ska-T » Tue Aug 05, 2014 12:02 pm

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
User avatar
Ska-T
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 186
Joined: Thu Apr 26, 2007 8:59 pm
Location: Huntington Beach
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Camp location suggestions for Seki Little 5 Lakes Loop

Postby Buford » Tue Aug 05, 2014 12:17 pm

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.
User avatar
Buford
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 26
Joined: Sat Apr 27, 2013 9:49 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Camp location suggestions for Seki Little 5 Lakes Loop

Postby maverick » Tue Aug 05, 2014 1:00 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
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
User avatar
maverick
Forums Moderator
Forums Moderator
 
Posts: 8039
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:54 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Camp location suggestions for Seki Little 5 Lakes Loop

Postby lauralai627 » Tue Aug 05, 2014 1:09 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.
User avatar
lauralai627
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 32
Joined: Wed Jul 27, 2011 3:44 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Camp location suggestions for Seki Little 5 Lakes Loop

Postby maverick » Tue Aug 05, 2014 1:38 pm

save one person, who has only done one or two trips (this person may dictate the
speed at which we're able to travel)


That is good to read, and shows good leadership.
Black Rock Pass is a long haul, and getting to Mineral King takes a while, so unless
you plan on spending the night before at Mineral King, you will get a late start
and may need to chop down one your original plans. Also do you know how your
group does at altitude, especially driving in and going high for the first night?
Especially you newbie.
If everyone is fine with the altitude, would recommend doing Franklin Pass, down
Soda Creek, visit 5 Big Lakes, Little Five Lakes, go over Black Rock Pass to Spring
Lake, from where you take the cross-country route (easy class 2) up to Columbine
Lake via Cyclamen Lake, and out via Sawtooth Pass. This will allow you to see most
of the Mineral King high country including Forester and Little Claire Lakes.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
User avatar
maverick
Forums Moderator
Forums Moderator
 
Posts: 8039
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:54 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Camp location suggestions for Seki Little 5 Lakes Loop

Postby oleander » Sat Aug 09, 2014 10:55 am

Hi,

It sounds like you have an well-traveled group. However, my experience with large groups is that you will always be traveling the (very slow) speed of the person who is having the greatest number of problems. It won't necessarily be your newbie. It could just as well be the person who is having unexpected altitude sickness, blisters, heatstroke, or joint problems. Or the person who got only 3 hours of sleep. Or the person carrying way too much weight. I have brought groups of athletes backpacking, and sometimes it is actually a very good athlete who is experiencing the most problems. Just don't expect to move very quickly.

Added to that will be the rugged vertical nature of Mineral King. I like to tell my hiking partners that although MK is one of my favorite areas of the Sierra, I never go there as my first trip of the season. It is just brutally steep in places, even the places with "good" trail. The Timber Gap trail is no joke, it goes straight uphill with no messing around, and if the weather is warm someone is going to have heat issues. It is 4000 feet of vertical just to get to Pinto Lake. Your likelihood of making it past Pinto with 10 people is low. Pinto has room for you group, easily.

Fortunately your itinerary is such that you can modify it - basically, eliminate the Nine Lakes diversion - on the fly.

In Little Five Lakes area, the uppermost lake is beautiful but it has really limited camping. I wouldn't try to find spots for 10 people there. The next lake down on the trail - the one with the ranger station - also beautiful - has plentiful camping. I'm not familiar with the other lakes in that basin.

If you think everyone including your newbie can do Class 2, one option is to shortcut from Little 5 to Big 5 Lakes. From the upper Little Five Lake, take the obvious saddle due south into the upper Big Five basin. I plan to go this way next time, in order to avoid the official trail between the two basins which I found not very interesting.

Maverick's suggestion to do the loop starting with Franklin Lakes is a good one too. Franklin is just as gorgeous as anything else in the area, and as a first-day climb it's less brutal than the other two official trails starting at the MK trailhead. Franklin is only ~6 miles in but it still requires some climbing, so I'd just stop there for the first night. Just getting to Franklin will feel like a full, hard day for some people (I speak from experience bringing others there), and the place is stunning especially with alpenglow, so just stop.

Whatever route you choose, Colombine Lake is a must-see.

- Elizabeth
User avatar
oleander
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 325
Joined: Wed Aug 18, 2010 10:15 am
Experience: N/A

Next

Return to Backpacking / Hiking / Camping



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google Adsense [Bot] and 10 guests