mineral king | High Sierra Topix  

mineral king

If you've been searching for the best source of information and stimulating discussion related to Spring/Summer/Fall backpacking, hiking and camping in the Sierra Nevada...look no further!
User avatar

mineral king

Postby tomalbritton » Sun May 01, 2016 12:34 pm

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?



User avatar
tomalbritton
Topix Novice
 
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun May 01, 2016 12:30 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: mineral king

Postby AlmostThere » Sun May 01, 2016 1:30 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.
User avatar
AlmostThere
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1767
Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2009 4:38 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: mineral king

Postby tomalbritton » Sun May 01, 2016 1:40 pm

was planning on doing the loop clockwise via Timber Gap. Still same reaction?
User avatar
tomalbritton
Topix Novice
 
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun May 01, 2016 12:30 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: mineral king

Postby AlmostThere » Sun May 01, 2016 2:10 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.
User avatar
AlmostThere
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1767
Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2009 4:38 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: mineral king

Postby Ska-T » Sun May 01, 2016 3:07 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.
User avatar
Ska-T
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 186
Joined: Thu Apr 26, 2007 8:59 pm
Location: Huntington Beach
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: mineral king

Postby alpinemike » Sun May 01, 2016 6:11 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.
Never put off a backpacking trip for tomorrow, if you can do it today...
Alpine Mike-

http://mikhailkorotkinphotography.com/
User avatar
alpinemike
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 207
Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2011 12:00 pm
Location: South Lake Tahoe, CA
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: mineral king

Postby tomalbritton » Sun May 01, 2016 7:22 pm

Thanks! All are most helpful
User avatar
tomalbritton
Topix Novice
 
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun May 01, 2016 12:30 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: mineral king

Postby AlmostThere » Sun May 01, 2016 7:56 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...
User avatar
AlmostThere
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1767
Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2009 4:38 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: mineral king

Postby RichardCullip » Sun May 01, 2016 9:05 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.
Life is good. Eternal Life is better!

Richard
User avatar
RichardCullip
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 146
Joined: Sat Oct 06, 2012 7:25 am
Location: Poway, CA
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: mineral king

Postby SSSdave » Sun May 01, 2016 11:12 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.
User avatar
SSSdave
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1965
Joined: Thu Nov 17, 2005 11:18 pm
Location: Silicon Valley
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: mineral king

Postby tomalbritton » Mon May 02, 2016 3:25 am

Thanks, David. What out and backs do you like
User avatar
tomalbritton
Topix Novice
 
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun May 01, 2016 12:30 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: mineral king

Postby SSSdave » Mon May 02, 2016 6:59 am

Well much depends on a backpacker's interests, whether peak bagger, fishermen, photographer, naturalist, trail distance/time challenger or the below. In general all have interests in visiting scenic locations and that is why backpackers tend to hike about timberline and alpine regions and not down in canyons or forests. There are fair numbers of backpackers often those newer enthusiasts that have not found their mountain calling so tend to mostly just hike from location to location, rising late, making breakfast, slowly getting packed up then getting back on the trail mid morning without having done much in the area where they were camped other than take a camp or lake pic or three. Then late afternoon after hiking all day arrive at the next camp spot and pretty much veg there, making camp, washing up, making dinner, taking a pic or three, staying up into the evening late, while not really exploring beyond short distances from their camp. Of course all went down to the requisite lake edge below camp and sat on the marmot boulder for several minutes absorbing their beautiful scene. Then repeat the above through most of their trips. Often their itineraries look like a chain of popular icons spread widely across a map that would include areas I would tend to create two or three week long backpacking trips for. Many of the icon locations are places more experienced backpackers layover or basecamp at with considerable activities about. Someone just passing through as a camp-body though hardly get to know these places.

As for the two areas mentioned, for the Sawtooth Pass zone there are 3 alpine lake basins of with strong alpine scenery, Columbine, Big Five, and Little Five. How one divides up time in those areas is your personal choice. The less strenuous choice to visit just Big Five and Little Five basins is to do an out and back over Sawtooth.

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=6074&p=41292&hilit=sawtooth#p41292

Total up and down doing the loop going over both Blackrock and Sawtooth is 9350 feet.

Total up and down doing the out and back just over Sawtooth is 8300 feet.

The first problem with Sawtooth is similar to those doing passes like Lamarck Col or Shepherd. Many groups seem to think they absolutely have to hike up and over the pass the first day as though there is nothing worthy on the west side. For some people, especially those ultralighters in great shape that is not an issue. However for most people carrying a classic backpacking load a day with more than 3000 feet of uphill vertical can become unpleasant. Thus a wiser strategy is to do the passes in two days instead of one. By camping the first day at Monarch Lake, one can get up at sunrise and while fresh hike up and over the final 1500 feet before the sun even shines over the ridge. Monarch has nice views to the west at sunset and gets optimal sunset light on clear days. From there one will arrive at Columbine in best early morning light where one could spend and hour or two before moving on and easily reach the lowest Big Five Lake mid pm. Spend the last night at Columbine. Easily could fill a week long trip.

The second problem with Sawtooth is the route many groups take on the west side of the pass through the sandy zone. Much of that sand can be avoided.

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=12873&p=96519&hilit=sawtooth#p96519

For Franklin Pass Hamilton Lakes has interesting colorful geology of interest. On the east side of the pass are a couple named lakes and a few no name lakes plus wonderful foxtail pines. On the hike out one can go all the way back. Thus a good 4 to 5 day trip.
User avatar
SSSdave
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1965
Joined: Thu Nov 17, 2005 11:18 pm
Location: Silicon Valley
Experience: N/A

Next

Return to Backpacking / Hiking / Camping



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: MSNbot Media [Bot] and 15 guests