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Cross country down Tokopah Falls?

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Cross country down Tokopah Falls?

Postby Jacobus2 » Fri Jul 10, 2015 8:10 pm

This may be a loony idea, but I thought I'd throw it out there to see what you guys think. I'm planning a trip for mid-August that will start at Lodgepole, go over Silliman Crest to Crescent Lake, then a few days meandering around the Tablelands, finally coming out on the Lakes Trail to Wolverton. Almost all cross country, including some class 2 - just the kind of terrain we enjoy. Then at least one of us has to walk another 2.5 miles from Wolverton to Lodgepole to get our car.

Here's my loony thought: If it's reasonable to come down the Kaweah River instead of the Lakes Trail, which would mean coming down Tokopah Falls, our last day would be about 6 miles instead of 12.5, would include more of the cross country walking we enjoy, and would save the annoying walk from Wolverton to Lodgepole at the end. But... is walking down Tokopah Falls a crazy idea? I would only consider it if the river is very low, which I think it will be, and if it's a solid class 2 (we don't do class 3 with packs). It looks doable on the Google Earth satellite photos, but that can be misleading. Have any of you done this? If so, how was it?



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Re: Cross country down Tokopah Falls?

Postby AlmostThere » Sat Jul 11, 2015 9:35 am

I remember the terrain in that section being many cliffy segments. I suspect that navigating this section would be slower than hiking on trail. Personally, after the Tablelands (have done that before several times), my legs would be quite done with such terrain and the trail would be easier. I usually consider cross country miles to be equivalent to half the trail miles - I cut the day's expectation in half, if cross country - so from my perspective, those options are about even - perhaps skewed more to trail being easier, as the section of the Kaweah between Pear Lake Ranger Station and the end of the Tokopah Falls trail is steeper than most of the Tablelands. Google Earth tends to flatten terrain - my memory may be fuzzy, but looking down from the Watchtower at it, I remember thinking I would need younger legs and more time to attempt it. I would attempt it going up first, if I had the inclination.

There is a shuttle running in that section of the park, by the way. We took it from Giant Forest to Wolverton, and it also goes to Lodgepole.
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Re: Cross country down Tokopah Falls?

Postby MountainMinstrel » Sat Jul 11, 2015 10:17 pm

Are you bringing ropes? Looking down on that from watchtower it would seem the only way would be to rappel down it.
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Re: Cross country down Tokopah Falls?

Postby Jacobus2 » Sat Jul 11, 2015 10:22 pm

No, we're not bringing ropes. I'm thinking this is not such a great idea. Thanks all!
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Re: Cross country down Tokopah Falls?

Postby Shawn » Sat Jul 11, 2015 11:15 pm

Looks like a wise choice....using the trail.

As a point of reference...........presuming you are connecting with the trail at the outlet of Pear Lake, the hike to the Lodgepole parking lot near the twin lakes trail-head is 7.1 miles. I know maps are different, but not usually that different (i.e. 12.5 vs. 7.1). Perhaps I misunderstood your exit route?

Either way, have a good trip and take lots of pictures. :)
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Re: Cross country down Tokopah Falls?

Postby sparky » Sun Jul 12, 2015 9:08 am

I think the bus drops you off like a 1/2 mile from the lakes trailhead.....if I remember right. So conversely can be picked up at the same spot...ddouble check the parks website.
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Re: Cross country down Tokopah Falls?

Postby Jacobus2 » Sun Jul 12, 2015 10:34 am

>>12.5 vs. 7.1). Perhaps I misunderstood your exit route?<<
Oh, the 12.5 is all the way from lake 10,600 above Table Meadows.
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Re: Cross country down Tokopah Falls?

Postby maverick » Sun Jul 12, 2015 11:47 am

Do not even consider this route unless you are proficent rock climber, middle section is 5.7 and above, ropes needed. Also the rock can be extremely slippery, which adds to the dangers of this route, stick to the trail.
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Re: Cross country down Tokopah Falls?

Postby texan » Mon Jul 13, 2015 6:37 am

As crazy as it may sound we used to go up and down Tokopah Falls all the time when we were teenagers to fish the first hole at the top of the waterfall. It had good brookies in it. We found another route coming down from the Pear Lake trail a lot safer. Once we found that route we looked at the falls where we would come up and thought how STUPID we were for doing it. I would NOT recommend climbing or descending Tokopah Falls, its not worth it, especially when there is a nice trail right next to it.

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Re: Cross country down Tokopah Falls?

Postby limpingcrab » Mon Jul 13, 2015 4:08 pm

If you're good at route finding with a bit of luck it is possible to get all the way down, staying well north of the river, without crossing any technical terrain.

That being said you will be very likely to get into 3rd or 4th class and even more likely to have to do some intense bush whacking.

Trail is your best bet in my opinion, especially with packs.
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