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Mineral King TR 7-25 to 7-28

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Mineral King TR 7-25 to 7-28

Postby Buford » Tue Aug 05, 2014 5:09 pm

Got to Mineral King Thursday evening a little after 7. Cold Springs campground only had 2 walkin spots left when I arrived. Campground host said it now fills most nights in summer, even Thursday nights. I had been led to believe that there were always open spots midweek, she said it was no longer true. I think Atwell mill had plenty of spots still.

Trip was: Mineral King - Timber Gap - Middle fork - Bearpaw Meadow - Over the Hill- Lone Pine Creek - HST to Kaweah Gap - Little 5 Lakes - Big 5 lakes - Lost Canyon - Columbine Lake - Sawtooth Pass- Mineral King.

All photos taken with my cell phone. I'm not a photographer.

Day 1 Mineral King to Lone Pine Creek
The hike up Timber pass was easy, took about an hour. The way down to Cliff Creek had some decent flower fields that were pleasant to see, although past their peak. The stretch from Cliff Creek to Bearpaw meadow, I wouldn't repeat. Dry, not very scenic. The sequoia grove was nice, but the pack camp around it, not so much. It was already dry. It was not as hot as I feared. Saw 2 bears. From Bearpaw Meadow took the over the hill trail to lone pine creek and found a flat spot to sleep.

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Day 2 Lone Pine Creek to Little 5 lakes
Hamilton Lakes was not as scenic as I hoped, Precipice Lake exceeded all expectations. Felt bad climbing to Precipice lake, but some calories, water, and salt fixed that. I was pleasently surprised at how scenic the little tarns were just below the gap. Decided not to explore 9 Lakes Basin. Left it for another trip.

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Day 3 Little 5 Lakes to Columbine Lake
Woke up near the outlet to lake 10410. It started getting threateningly cloudy even earlier than the day before. Thunderstorms and rain hit me while I was exploring the higher lakes in Big 5 Lakes. The trail marked on the Tom Harrison map to the upper lakes in Big 5 does exist. Coming back I went cross country, walked right over the trail at the lowest lake and headed down into Big Arroyo. About 20 minutes later got the map out and realized the last lake I passed was the lowest lake, and that path I walked over was the trail and I should head back uphill. It rained most of the rest of the day from heavy mist to moderate rain. The stormy skies made for the highlight of the trip, the Sunset and Columbine Lake. It rained just a little at Columbine Lake, and threatened much worse. Most of the heavy bands of rain I saw in the sky passed just to the North and East as the sun went down. There was no rain forecast for this day when I left the ranger station just 2 days prior.

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Day 4 Columbine Lake back to Mineral King
Another hiker at Columbine Lake had a weather radio the previous night, otherwise I would have used my InReach to get a weather forecast. The weather was getting worse. The skies were already threatening early. Climbed Sawtooth Pass, then attempted Sawtooth Peak. Bailed on the peak attempt when my knee started to hurt most of the way there, and it was a little scary being blind to the weather since I was on the other side of the ridge and couldn't see it coming. I made sure before I started towards the peak that the weather looked good. Had a great time coming down Sawtooth Pass. Monarch Lakes looked like a crowded REI outfitted refugee camp, although with good scenery. Made it back the trail head around 11 am, and hit Silver City for a burger. It rained off and on in Mineral King. On the drive home the next day the Valley was filled with smoke.

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Thanks to everyone that does trip reports and provides conditions reports. It makes planning much easier.

edit, just realized some of the pics are all small and some are cutoff, If I have time I will fix it.



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Re: Mineral King TR 7-25 to 7-28

Postby maverick » Tue Aug 05, 2014 5:59 pm

Beautiful TR and photo's Buford, good job with the cell phone. :)
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Re: Mineral King TR 7-25 to 7-28

Postby sparky » Tue Aug 05, 2014 7:07 pm

Hamilton Lake not very scenic? You sir, are crazy!

Great trip, and photos though by the way, especially the alpine glow ones.

I once had one of those special moments during a sunset at monarch lakes. Actually my avatar photo selfie was taken there some 4 or 5 years ago.
There is a million ways to be human, all are worthwhile.

True happiness is the absence of striving for happiness.
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Re: Mineral King TR 7-25 to 7-28

Postby Buford » Tue Aug 05, 2014 8:34 pm

I didn't say not scenic at all, just not as jaw dropping (to me) as expected. It's all about expectations beforehand, the conditions at the time, and how I feel. I enjoyed the HST up to the lake more than the lake itself.

The whole loop was scenic, some parts are just more scenic than others.
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Re: Mineral King TR 7-25 to 7-28

Postby sparky » Tue Aug 05, 2014 8:57 pm

:thumbsup: gotcha. We had a discussion about expectations in some thread awhile back that was interesting. Its good to not have 'em, not just in the backcountry, but in life in general :unibrow: easier said than done.
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Re: Mineral King TR 7-25 to 7-28

Postby RooPhillip » Wed Aug 06, 2014 6:57 am

Cool report. Thanks for the look! Those are great pics for a cell phone!

Cold Springs has been a zoo this year. I can't help but wonder if the recent exposure in Sunset magazine had anything to with it...
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