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TR: KCHBR- Kings Canyon High Basin Route, 2018

Posted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 10:46 am
by CAMERONM
KCHBR- Kings Canyon High Basin Route, 2018. 22 days, 186 miles, 58,000’ ascent. 

The Kings Canyon High Basin Route (KCHBR) was conceived by Andrew Skurka. In the summer of 2018 I walked my version of the KCHBR, broken up into three sections, in June, July and August. For my version I added extra mileage to include a more northern destination, the annual meet-up of the HighSierraTopix.com website, and I did not walk the last leg of Skurka’s route as it nearly duplicates what I walked the previous summer when I completed the Sierra High Route (SHR). My trip took a total of 22 days, where I traveled 186 miles and climbed 58',000’. I trained reasonably hard for several months in advance, including climbing over 22,000’ of local peaks, running up 1,600 steps every day for months, and completing a quick 67 mile hike in March. I post a summary here but invite you to visit my website to see the complete report:
https://www.trailnamebackstroke.com/kchbr/
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For the first section in June I chose a loop to depart from Lodgepole and end up at the Cedar Grove/Road’s End trailhead. This meant I had to first drive to Lodgepole to get my permit, then drive to and leave my car at the Road’s End trailhead, and then hitchhike back to Lodgepole to start my trek.
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I reached the top of Longley Pass to find a massive overhanging snow cornice. No way I am dropping over it, and there is no acceptable way to climb around it. Yes, if I had a super-compelling reason and absolutely had to descend here, I could have done it, but I prefered to live to tell about it, and decided to change my route by backtracking back down the hill.
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Dramatic evidence of a hungry bear at the Roaring River ranger station.
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For the second section in July I entered at McGee Pass so I could spend some time up north and to visit the Highsierratopix meet-up. Along the way I attempted the Red and White and Red Slate mountains. At the top of the first ridge for Red and White I discovered a nasty bit of steep snow along the ridge to the peak. I did not bring traction and was unprepared for this final surprise. With this warm weather I could have probably kick stepped into the snow along the ridge, but it was still too funky for me, and I elected to quit.
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The next morning after the meet-up, Rich, his dog Beau and I departed south offtrail to seek the Laurel Creek trail. It was fun to see Beau negotiate some difficult terrain.
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I continued south up Goddard Canyon and reached Martha Lake. At 11,000’ the terrain became a moonscape.
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The view from Mount Goddard of the Ionian Basin.
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There is something special and "prehistoric" about this place. I particularly enjoyed all the small ponds of captured water.
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In August I completed the third section of the route, traveling north from Onion Valley to South Lake. This section is the most similar to the SHR in that it features many passes. I arrived at King Col, which seemed fairly standard on the approach. However the descent is nasty where there are very few dependable stable rocks. My usual method in these cases is to make to one side and do my best to have a controlled climb down. This one is more difficult than most.
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My La Sportiva TX3’s rapidly disintegrated, and contrary to urban legend, duck tape is not good enough, I needed to do some sewing. I made it down to Palisade Creek and the JMT to exit once again at South Lake. The trip was everything I had hoped for, and I learned more about Kings Canyon. There were a few times where it went from “challenging” to downright “hard”. No doubt, it is a tough route. Still, it made for a memorable summer.

Re: TR: KCHBR- Kings Canyon High Basin Route, 2018

Posted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 10:56 am
by bobby49
How did the dog do?

Re: TR: KCHBR- Kings Canyon High Basin Route, 2018

Posted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 12:55 pm
by sekihiker
CAMERONM wrote:
Sun Feb 10, 2019 10:46 am
I post a summary here but invite you to visit the my website to see the complete report:
https://www.trailnamebackstroke.com/kchbr/
Wow, Cameron! What a summer. Really enjoyed your trip report. Thanks for posting.

Re: TR: KCHBR- Kings Canyon High Basin Route, 2018

Posted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 1:06 pm
by CAMERONM
Beau did great. Rich and I split up a few times to scout the best path as there were some steep rock areas. In the more open field areas Beau would run ahead, seemingly chasing reflections in the water, or fish, or both. Dog heaven.

Re: TR: KCHBR- Kings Canyon High Basin Route, 2018

Posted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 2:39 pm
by commonloon
Great report Cameron!! I have those same approach shoes. Love them! They're so sticky like real climbing shoes, but have wondered if they would do that.

Re: TR: KCHBR- Kings Canyon High Basin Route, 2018

Posted: Tue Feb 12, 2019 1:05 pm
by Wandering Daisy
I finally read your entire report on your website. Great trip. Looks like you had some long mileage days; I am sure I would go much slower.

You must have gone through Dumbbell Basin and over the pass but I did not see anything about it. Dumbbell is one of my favorite places.

Just curious why you did not go out via Sphinx Lakes after not being able to do Longly Pass. I would have thought it would be quicker. Or did I incorrectly interpret your writing when you said you descended Cunningham Creek?

On the Tablelands section, I also encountered the snow cornice on Horn Col early season, but luckily found a chimney in the adjacent rock to slither down. Coming down into Cloud Canyon from Copper Mine Pass looked really steep! Two years ago I failed to find the pass from the Cloud Canyon side and gave up, instead going over Lion Lake pass.

Re: TR: KCHBR- Kings Canyon High Basin Route, 2018

Posted: Tue Feb 12, 2019 3:16 pm
by frozenintime
read the whole thing! amazing trip and report, as usual.

Re: TR: KCHBR- Kings Canyon High Basin Route, 2018

Posted: Tue Feb 12, 2019 4:20 pm
by CAMERONM
@ sekihiker. I am glad we got to meet this summer. I certainly have enjoyed looking over your trip reports. I would be interested to read your account of what you see as obvious changes to the landscape and the hiker experience over the years, as you have been at it for so long.

@ commonloon. I was sort of surprised that I did not bump into you again this year! I hope that you are healed up for a major go next year. I just estimated that those TX3's gave me 500 miles and about 150,000'. I don't think that one can expect more, they are real performers.

@ Wandering Daisy. Some days even 6 miles seemed like a "long mileage" day. I almost never went for less than 10 hours a day, often for 11, a few times for 12. I could not find any terribly good photos from the Dumbbells that I thought could add to the story. When I came to Longley I was a bit fed up and just went back down Cunningham Creek instead of looking carefully at my options. I agree that going out through the Sphinx Lakes might have been quicker and also more interesting. For Copper Mine, yes it was steep, and I took a pass on the southeast side ridge, not the one noted on the hst map to the north of the peak, also steep. The post-holing was real misery.

Re: TR: KCHBR- Kings Canyon High Basin Route, 2018

Posted: Tue Feb 12, 2019 11:23 pm
by Harlen
Cameron-Backstrokeman... What a pleasure!

We've just spent a couple of happy hours following first this fine journey, and then tracking you all the way back to the Boy Scouts!
Great trip you did here- really a fantastic route and write-up. Lizzie and I are glad to be reminded once again that we need to re-explore the Goddard Canyon - Ionian Basin country.

In your blog, it was heartening to see you traveling happily with your surfer son Reeve; (at least we assume he is your son?) because we have a saltwater son too, and fervently hope he'll be joining us on hikes to the snow again.

You should put some of your far-flung trips (like the Glacier NP trip) here at HST too. Thanks a lot for all the postings you created. We love traveling along with you. Ian and Lizzie.

Re: TR: KCHBR- Kings Canyon High Basin Route, 2018

Posted: Wed Feb 13, 2019 8:35 am
by AaronRDavis
Thank you for sharing this!