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mineral king

Postby tomalbritton » Sun May 01, 2016 11:34 am

Planning a Mineral King trip in August and can't decide between Timber Gap/Black Rock/Sawtooth Loop or Franklin Pass/Sawtooth Loop. Am leaning towards Timber Gap. Thoughts?



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Re: mineral king

Postby AlmostThere » Sun May 01, 2016 12:30 pm

How masochistic are you? I did a Sawtooth/Five Lakes/Black Rock loop last year. I swear each time that I do Sawtooth that I am never ever doing it again, ever, and I did it again.... Everyone trudges up the scree with the same amount of enthusiasm, none, and few ever go all the way west to avoid it.

Personally, the next time I do Mineral King, I'm staying off Sawtooth. I favor a Franklin Pass visit, maybe heading over Farewell Gap into Golden Trout, or go hang out in Eagle/White Chief.
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Re: mineral king

Postby tomalbritton » Sun May 01, 2016 12:40 pm

was planning on doing the loop clockwise via Timber Gap. Still same reaction?
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Re: mineral king

Postby AlmostThere » Sun May 01, 2016 1:10 pm

Sawtooth is misery either way. Black Rock? OH BOY, if you go up it get a darned early start. We went down, and I appreciated it.

Mineral King isn't for everyone. If long, hard climbs of 2000 - 5000 feet in a single day on completely-sun-exposed trails (or off them, in really annoying scree or loose shale-y rock) are your thing, you will be in heaven. You will likely dance up the hills merrily while singing Disney songs.

I generally save Mineral King for fall, when temperatures are dropping, and right before serious weather is expected (before October, after August - yep, September) so that I don't completely die trying to hike there. The aspens are pretty and the marmots are done eating car parts for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I might not die of heat stroke on one of the passes that way.

Somehow, the climbs into the Tablelands don't feel so bad as Mineral King to me. I can do Moose Lake (5000+ feet of gain, lots of off trail climbing) in a single weekend but Mineral King just hurts.
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Re: mineral king

Postby Ska-T » Sun May 01, 2016 2:07 pm

Age, physical condition, and pack weight have a lot to do with it. If you have 2 or 3 going for you then Sawtooth isn't too bad in my opinion. Either of your routes are OK. The first two days of the Timber Gap trip are more gradual in grade (effort) and less direct in gaining impressive views.
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Re: mineral king

Postby alpinemike » Sun May 01, 2016 5:11 pm

I've done both Sawtooth and Blackrock Passes. Sawtooth, if you can believe I went over one day with 15 days worth of food and 10 pounds of Camera Gear. And then the next day had to go back and climb down it because I had gear failure among other things. Then I went over to Black Rock Pass 2 days later. You can get to Pinto Lake in a good long day and the following day you can get over Black Rock Pass to the Little 5 Lakes. I got to Big Arroyo in 2 days from Mineral King via Timber Gap and Black Rock Pass. Both Black Rock Pass and Sawtooth is long and hard but I will never go up Sawtooth again. It was truly miserable. Going down it I lost the trail but I would go down it if need be. Going down is straightforward... just know it's steep and you'll have plenty of scree in your shoes by the time you get to the Monarch Lakes. I know Franklin is a challenge as well uphill but not nearly as awful as Sawtooth. I would recommend to go over Black Rock and down Sawtooth. The views up Black Rock are amazing. And equally are the views up Lost Canyon. Just magnificent.
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Re: mineral king

Postby tomalbritton » Sun May 01, 2016 6:22 pm

Thanks! All are most helpful
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Re: mineral king

Postby AlmostThere » Sun May 01, 2016 6:56 pm

Age? Not so much. I know someone 20 years older than me who can hike circles around all of us...

Fitness, yes. Endurance, definitely. And more determination to hike in hot sunshine than I have. Pack weight? It's hard to get a pack for five days under 25 lbs, but I did that...

Maybe I just hate endless switchbacks and scree. And crowds. Like, there must have been forty people wandering around on Sawtooth that day...
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Re: mineral king

Postby RichardCullip » Sun May 01, 2016 8:05 pm

Way back in the mid 70's my brother and I had a favorite Mineral King loop. We would go up and over Franklin Pass, swing by Little Claire Lake, then head up Big Arroyo to the Little Five Lakes basin. On our way out we would cross country over to Spring Lake for a night and then up and over Glacier Pass to finish up our trip. I certainly enjoyed the combination of on trail and cross country hiking. Seriously doubt I'll ever get back up in the beautiful Mineral King high country.
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Re: mineral king

Postby SSSdave » Sun May 01, 2016 10:12 pm

Neither. In either case doing loops in those areas adds a lot of extra vertical that an out and back itinerary to the primary destinations would not have. But then some people like spending their whole time each day hiking on trails. The loop section over Timber Gap and Blackrock adds little scenically for a whole lot of extra effort as it drops way way down into a hole. And for those going over Franklin there is more than enough on the east side of the divide to be content with for two or three days than immediately dropping down into a huge hole only to have to climb back out of again. No the wiser itineraries are two out and back trips.
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