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Black Rock Pass to Spring Lake - Mineral King route question

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Black Rock Pass to Spring Lake - Mineral King route question

Postby richapple » Fri Sep 05, 2014 9:29 am

With a number of trips to Mineral King under my belt (going back to, yikes, 1972) we're hoping to get to a couple places we haven't yet been, and one of them is Spring Lake. We just want to get there after coming over Black Rock Pass, and I find the following description somewhere:

"The easiest route leaves the Black Rock Trail near 10,000 feet and contours 0.9 mile to the lake."

The following photo I find is from Black Rock Pass Trail looking at Spring Lake
Image
(Photo from Panoramio and was taken by a Jordan Hughes - http://www.panoramio.com/photo/74532719)
and it (the photo) might show pretty well the general view, and it looks fairly easy. Anyone with cross-country experience around this area know if there is a visible "route" maybe from a turn or two down the trail visible in the photo? Or possibly a higher route staying to the left and above that (gulp) talus field in the photo?

Thanks,
Rich

PS - Some Trip/Route Advice qualifications/info about us
Level of backpacking experience: Level 4- Comfortable with trail and/or x-country travel
Terrain comfortable/uncomfortable with: Usually like to keep it at Class 1 with maybe a bit of Class 2 (assume rock climber type ratings), but we're not fans of long talus crossings. (For this trip note we're not doing any of the high x-country passes, and not even Columbine/Sawtooth, which we have done, and is spectacular).
richapple



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Re: Black Rock Pass to Spring Lake - Mineral King route question

Postby sparky » Sat Sep 06, 2014 10:57 am

It might be more than you want to chew on, but I found the route from the uppermost little 5 lake to upper big 5 lakes basin to spring lake to be pretty scenic, and I didn't find it difficult at all, but you might not like it. I remember the descent to spring lake as being steep class 2 with some large loose boulders, but it is a route that I would most definitely do again if I was heading from little 5 to mineral king. My memory isn't known for being accurate, but I think the class 3 ratings in this area dosn't indicate it is difficult. I have been on MUCH more difficult and scary class 2 terrain.

Go to the uppermost little 5 lake, hop the obvious saddle to big 5 lakes basin, contour toward the saddle that leads to spring lake (some easy route finding with a pretty good use trail most of the way). Sandy on the east side, the rocky on the west side. Use some hands with good holds and not much exposure. Descend grassy ramps/boulders to spring lake. Instead of descending to spring lake, you can contour to cyclamen lake, which has been described in another thread. I personally didn't like the look of it, but usually when you get up in the mix it isn't that bad. I exited using Glacier Pass, which I found to be fairly trivial also (with the exception of me getting needlessly stupid on icey steep slopes). But you can just as well descend cliff creek and pick up the trail to Mineral King.
IMG01412.jpg
contouring in the upper big 5 basin

IMG01416.jpg
approaching east side of the pass

IMG01427.jpg
descending the west side of the pass

IMG01428.jpg
looking at the west side of the pass from spring lake


If you want to keep it easy, just eyeball a route while descending black rock pass, should be an easy contour

IMG01424.jpg
view down cliff creek toward black rock pass trail
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: Black Rock Pass to Spring Lake - Mineral King route question

Postby richapple » Sat Sep 06, 2014 11:46 am

Thank you, Sparky,

Excellent information and photos. And I think that "Pass" from upper Big Five over to Spring might be called "Hands and Knees Pass". A ranger described it to us in 1999 with a fairly big grin.

We will have the time to investigate and I was already thinking of a day-hike from Big Five Basin to check out that pass (and view). Or at least we may go cross-country over the (as you said, "obvious") saddle to Little Five Lakes rather than the trail.

Again, thanks for the info, and I will report back what we saw, did, experienced, etc.

Rich
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