TR Mineral King Loop 6/1 - 6/3

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
jhfowler
Topix Acquainted
Posts: 47
Joined: Wed Jun 01, 2016 9:00 am
Experience: Level 4 Explorer
Location: San Diego, CA
Contact:

TR Mineral King Loop 6/1 - 6/3

Post by jhfowler » Mon Jun 04, 2018 8:46 pm

I have posted a full trip report on a Mineral King loop I did this weekend here:

https://jimmyjamhikingclub.wordpress.co ... cier-pass/
https://jimmyjamhikingclub.wordpress.co ... klin-pass/
https://jimmyjamhikingclub.wordpress.co ... ll-canyon/

But it's pretty long so let me summarize here.

First, there were zero mosquitoes anywhere from 7800 to 11800 feet. I love late Spring in the Sierra!

Snow levels were generally 10,500 feet on north facing slopes and 11,500 feet on south facing slopes (I'll be more specific below). Patchy snow on north facing slopes down to 10,000 feet.

I took hiking crampons but never used them. It was above freezing everywhere the whole trip and I hit the passes in the afternoons so I never encountered icy conditions.

I took an ice axe and I did use it on Glacier Pass. I also used it on Franklin Pass (but that's my fault -- more below).

Columbine, Cyclamen, Spring, Upper Little Five and Upper Big Five Lake are still frozen over. All other Little Five and Big Five Lakes, Little Claire Lake, and Forester Lake are open.

Stream crossings are not dangerous -- nowhere more than knee high, and most of the time there is a way to stay dry.

Okay, some specifics.

Day 1: I did the cross-country route from Sawtooth Pass Trail at 8757 up to Glacier Pass, with a small excursion on the historic Monarch Lakes Trail. Easy Peasy, just one tiny snow field to cross that may already have melted by now:

Image
South Side of Glacier Pass

From my route I had a great view of the Sawtooth Pass Trail to Monarch Lake, which has substantial snow starting at 10,000 feet:

Image
Sawtooth Pass Trail is the faint line running across the snowfields about 40% from the top of the picture

North side of Glacier Pass is full snow down to 10,500 and partial snow down to Spring Lake:

Image
North side of Glacier Pass

Image
View of snowy north side of Glacier Pass toward a dry south side of Black Rock Pass

Image
Spring Lake

Then up a dry south side and down a snowy north side of Black Rock Pass to Little Five Lake 10476:

Image
South side of Black Rock Pass

Image
Columbine, Cyclamen, Spring Lakes from Black Rock Pass

Image
North side of Black Rock Pass

Image
View of snowy north side of Black Rock Pass towards frozen Upper Little Five Lake.

Day 2: Explored Little Five and Big Five Lakes. Snow (and an avalanche!) at Uppermost Big Five Lake:

Image
Uppermost Big Five Lake

Image
Big Five Lake 10260

Rest of the day was snow free down to Lost Canyon, and up Soda Creek until the switchbacks up to Little Claire Lake. There was occasional snow on the switchbacks, but nothing that couldn't be avoided:

Image
Occasional snow on switchbacks up to Little Claire Lake

Image
Snow-free Little Claire Lake

I discovered (by accident) the spectacular ridge walk and above Little Claire Lake and the trail through the sandy meadow that leads to the Franklin Pass Trail at 10,600 feet. Beautiful and efficient!

Image
Sandy meadow at 10,800 feet above Rattlesnake Canyon

No snow up towards Franklin Pass until about 11,500 feet, but then the snow fields were either avoidable or shallow and on slopes that were not too steep. No traction needed.

Image
Snowfields below Franklin Pass

Then I got lost trying to follow the USGS coordinates for the trail over the pass which say to turn south at 11,800 feet. I should have followed the satellite image of the actual trail which turns above 11,900 feet. That would have put me on the west side of the steep rocky ridge at the top instead of the east side. My mistake cost me an hour worth of class 3 climbing at the 11,800 foot level and then dropping down to the 11,600 foot level before putting me at the physical Franklin Pass. From there I did controlled slides and class 3 down climbs until the tarn above lower Franklin Lake where I returned to the trail. I have indicate the difference between the path I took and the actual trail on this caltopo map:

https://caltopo.com/m/FH1H

Image
View towards Franklin Pass

Image
View back towards incorrect turning point at 11,800 feet (I should have kept going left up the sandy slope)

Image
View of my improvised route down from physical Franklin Pass

Image
Tarn above Franklin Lake

Image
View of Franklin Pass from Lower Franklin Lake where I camped

Day 3: Easy Peasy down Farewell Canyon - snow free except for two small fields on the trail after it crosses over at the meadow at 10,000 feet

Image
Franklin Creek meadow at 10,000 feet

Image
Snow field at 9,900 feet

And that's it! I didn't post any pictures of stream crossings here (some are on my blog) because they were all pretty trivial (and believe me, I know how to back away -- I missed going to Redwood Meadow Grove in April because I didn't like the Granite Creek crossing).

It's going to be a great June this year so get out there! And please feel free to ask me questions!








User avatar
maiathebee
Topix Regular
Posts: 310
Joined: Tue Jun 18, 2013 11:59 am
Experience: Level 3 Backpacker
Location: Oakland, CA
Contact:

Re: TR Mineral King Loop 6/1 - 6/3

Post by maiathebee » Mon Jun 04, 2018 8:55 pm

Thanks for the TR! Looks like you had loads of fun, so gorgeous up there right now!
oh hey! you're reading my signature.
that's nice. want to check out my blog?
here it is: plutoniclove.com
ig: @plutonic_love

User avatar
Tonydavid
Topix Acquainted
Posts: 47
Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2016 9:23 pm
Experience: Level 2 Backpacker

Re: TR Mineral King Loop 6/1 - 6/3

Post by Tonydavid » Mon Jun 04, 2018 9:22 pm

Great trip report. Thanks!

User avatar
jhfowler
Topix Acquainted
Posts: 47
Joined: Wed Jun 01, 2016 9:00 am
Experience: Level 4 Explorer
Location: San Diego, CA
Contact:

Re: TR Mineral King Loop 6/1 - 6/3

Post by jhfowler » Tue Jun 05, 2018 6:02 am

Thanks Maia and Tony!

User avatar
Hobbes
Topix Fanatic
Posts: 1119
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2011 8:09 am
Experience: N/A
Location: The OC

Re: TR Mineral King Loop 6/1 - 6/3

Post by Hobbes » Tue Jun 05, 2018 7:21 am

Looks beautiful. How were the snow conditions? I was up the same weekend @ Piute, and the snow was still somewhat unconsolidated. It seems a lot of PCTers are post-holing as well around Forester by late morning, even if they get early alpine starts.

User avatar
csc
Topix Novice
Posts: 17
Joined: Thu May 24, 2018 11:13 am
Experience: Level 2 Backpacker

Re: TR Mineral King Loop 6/1 - 6/3

Post by csc » Tue Jun 05, 2018 8:30 am

Thanks for this trip report, jhfowler. It really helps me plan my upcoming trip next week. Looks like Black Rock Pass might be doable for us after all. Really happy to hear about 0 mosquitoes!

User avatar
jhfowler
Topix Acquainted
Posts: 47
Joined: Wed Jun 01, 2016 9:00 am
Experience: Level 4 Explorer
Location: San Diego, CA
Contact:

Re: TR Mineral King Loop 6/1 - 6/3

Post by jhfowler » Tue Jun 05, 2018 8:38 am

Hobbes, I usually hit the snow after noon, so it was slushy on top. i'd say every 10 steps was a posthole to the knee and every 100 was a posthole to the waist. better conditions late afternoon down to little five lakes since the snow was crisping up in shadow, and worse conditions in the tarn above franklin lake which gets full sun until sunset. i think if i went early morning it would have been icy for a while, but it stayed above freezing the whole time so maybe not.

csc, thanks! And one thing I forgot to mention: I caught a mosquito larva in one of my water bottles, so they are definitely on their way!

User avatar
Harlen
Topix Expert
Posts: 626
Joined: Sat Mar 11, 2017 9:13 am
Experience: Level 4 Explorer
Location: California

Re: TR Mineral King Loop 6/1 - 6/3

Post by Harlen » Tue Jun 05, 2018 10:45 am

Jhfowler writes:
thanks! And one thing I forgot to mention: I caught a mosquito larva in one of my water bottles, so they are definitely on their way!
Good for you- 1 less mosquito for us, I too eat every one that lands in my oatmeal, and "Bear" eats about 100 a day! (He tries for house flies at home too, with little success, so when he encounters the slow mossies of the Sierra buzzing right around his head, he has a field day!)

We really enjoyed your TR; it is truly excellent with the photos, maps, and clear descriptions. Thanks a lot, and good luck on your next trip.

User avatar
jhfowler
Topix Acquainted
Posts: 47
Joined: Wed Jun 01, 2016 9:00 am
Experience: Level 4 Explorer
Location: San Diego, CA
Contact:

Re: TR Mineral King Loop 6/1 - 6/3

Post by jhfowler » Tue Jun 05, 2018 11:07 am

Thanks Harlen!

User avatar
kpeter
Topix Expert
Posts: 861
Joined: Mon Jan 04, 2010 1:11 pm
Experience: N/A

Re: TR Mineral King Loop 6/1 - 6/3

Post by kpeter » Fri Jun 08, 2018 5:59 am

It is nice to see so many familiar sights in different conditions. How was the deadfall in Soda Creek? After last year's snow it was choked and they had not sawed it out. The snowfields below Franklin Pass (east side) did not look that different from late last July--but there seems to have been a lot more snow at the top obscuring the trail. Very interesting to see how the melting patterns differ from late in a high snow year to early in a low snow year....

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: davidsheridan, Google Adsense [Bot], seamusperry and 6 guests