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Kaweah-Red Spur Basin

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Kaweah-Red Spur Basin

Postby maverick » Fri Dec 15, 2006 2:41 pm

We'll after visiting Kaweah Basin which included the beautiful Picket
Creek drainage 3 yr ago I had a yearning to revisit this area again.
I originally wanted to include the Red Spur Basin but enjoyed Picket
Lake area so much I extended my stay there instead.
I gained entry by using Pants Pass the last time, this time I revisited
using Pyra Queen Col.
The route was alot more tedious than I had remembered yet prettier
than the Pants Pass approach.
Extensive boulder hopping and talus involved. The col itself is a small
chute running left to right with some snow at the start of the chute.
Steep but short unlike Pants Pass which is long and steep on both sides.
Got a late start Sat(Sept 6th) around 11am from Crescent Meadow.
Pack weighed around 30lbs plus my new 30d and 2 lenses in a Lowepro
waist pack.
I got to Hamilton around 5pm had dinner and talked to a ranger on his
way to Pinto Lake to meet some friends.
Got up at 6am and was at Precipe Lake by 8am. Stopped a few times
taking pictures of Hamilton Lake and Angel Wings.
Kaweah Gap is always a great place to take a break and look down
the Big Arroyo and look at my route into Nine Lake Basin.
The climbing up to Pyra Queen Col was longer than I had remembered
it to be, but the lakes on the way to the col were even prettier than the
last time(pretty emerald green like the lakes out of Big Pine).
Once over the col I was running out of sunlight but managed to find
a spot next to one of the lakes at 11500ft between the rocks before it
got completely dark.
The next morning I got to revisit areas I have seen before and was
happy not to see any evidence of usage or abuse.
I headed down to one of the lowest lakes that has an island in it
and decide to spend the night before heading into Red Spur Basin.
The next morning I headed up the cliffs from the lake with the island
to about the 11000ft level and once over the shoulder I saw a small
I climbed down to the lake and headed up the drained that was dry to
some dried out ponds. There was a small ridge in front of me which
was supposed to have a lake on the other side of it.
Oh yes there was a beautiful lake which was my home for 2 days!!
I forgot to mention on my previous visit to Kaweah Basin the lakes
I had seen this trip were all dried out thats why I wasnt sure these lakes
would be here!
I explored the basins lakes and you can walk to the edge and look down
into the Kern.
The views to the east was as pretty as I had envisioned on the map,
even prettier. Whitney and all the other peaks in their full glory, with
unobstructed views!! Wow!
This place really gives you the feeling of being away from it all and it
really is!
I then made a decision to descend the Kaweah River to Rockslide Lake.
This was quite a down climb and there was some class 2 parts but with
the river running low I could rock hop down the middle of it in alot of
The top part involves some steep down climbing from Red Spur Basin
which can be by passed by climbing back around and down toward the
lake with the island to the last pond before the river descends toward
Rockslide Lake.
From there it was down to Junction Meadow, Kern Hot Spring and Upper
Funston Meadow where I spent the night. This is also the first place I
experienced rain.
My way up to Chagoopa Plateau gave my a nice view down the Kern!
Once in the heart of the Plateau I followed Chagoopa Creek to a group
of some cool lakes where I decided to spend the night.
Took off at 6am again and got sprinkles early in the day near Big
Arroyo. Arrived at Little Five Lakes when it started to rain and there
was a very cold wing blowing. The rain did turn to snow for short
period. This is where I got to experience the most intense alpenglo
I have yet to experience in my many travels. The colors were surreal!
The next day I went over Black Rock Pass, down to Spring Lake, up
to Cyclaman and Columbine Lake over Sawtooth Pass and down to
Timber Gap to Pinto Lake for the night.
The next day was to Crescent Meadow and out.
Pictures posted in Sierra Photography Section allready.

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Postby giantbrookie » Sat Dec 16, 2006 4:04 pm

Great trip report. I have fond memories of that area. I was there on a great trip (Pants Pass, Kaweah Pass, Upper Kern-Kaweah, Pickett, Kaweah, Red Spur basins) in 2003. For days we saw no one. This is certainly one of the most remote and seldom visited areas in the range. I suppose some of the latter stems from the fact that there are no fish in the area other than the Kern-Kaweah R. and the lakes along it. In any case this area is very special and (fortunately) owing to the habits of most modern Sierran hikers (who focus on "glamor" areas featured in guidebooks), is likely to be largely ignored for many more years.
Last edited by giantbrookie on Wed Dec 20, 2006 11:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
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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Postby Steve Bearman » Tue Dec 19, 2006 10:51 am

Thanks for the report! Beautiful photos!

I was taken to the Kaweah Basin as a teen on an Outward Bound trip over 20 years ago. I remain grateful to Pete, our leader, for bringing us to such a pristine place to do our two days of "solo" time: each person alone and fasting. I am also grateful he taught us how to keep the area pristine.

I have only been back once since. It was the place my wife and I decided to get married, testament to how magical that basin is.

I led some friends there over Pyra-Queen Col. They were skittish about getting onto and crossing the snowfield up near the top of the pass, so we made the mistake of going around the snowfield to the right. The talus in that area is so poorly rooted in the mud that large blocks slid below us as we climbed onto them and threatened to slide onto us from above for far too much of the climb. The rest of the group was so trembly by the time we reached the angling chute at the top of the pass that I had to ferry their packs up to the top for them while they walked up.

As Brookie said, we are lucky to have some places in the High Sierra so remote and untrailed that only the most dedicated hikers come to visit. Or hikers like Maverick who seem to be able to traverse the Sierras in a single day of hiking!
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Postby maverick » Tue Dec 19, 2006 12:37 pm

Hi Steve

Perfect place to get married,wow! Only backcountry marriage that
I saw was at East Lake and attended one on HalfDome.
I also visited the area when I was in my teens back in the early 70s
so Pyra-Queen Col brought back some pleasant memories, though it
seemed longer but prettier this time around!
I guess with age Ive come to appreciate the Sierra even more.
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Postby Steve Bearman » Tue Dec 19, 2006 5:50 pm

Whoops. I meant that while in Kaweah Basin we decided to get married. We didn't actually get married in the Sierras. It would have been pretty tricky to bring our friends and families to Kaweah Basin.

We did consider getting married up on the plateau on the main Sierra crest just West of Duck Pass (Mammoth area, along Roper's High Route). That seemed to be just accessible enough.

But, no. Alas, we got married someplace drivable. We do, however, have a nice photo of the two of us in Kaweah Basin having the conversation in which we decided to get married.
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Postby Strider » Wed Dec 20, 2006 8:24 am

Steve Bearman wrote:Whoops. I meant that while in Kaweah Basin we decided to get married.

Maybe the Forest Service could offer temporary three-day marriage certificates valid only above 9,000 feet. :evil:
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