TR: SEKI Loop from Onion Valley 7/12 - 7/16/18

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stringbop
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TR: SEKI Loop from Onion Valley 7/12 - 7/16/18

Post by stringbop » Fri May 24, 2019 9:42 am

3P6F.jpg
Day 1

I got to Corona bright and early to carpool up to Onion Valley. While pulling out, the driver didn’t see a planter in the parking lot with a huge rock in the middle of it. He drove directly over it, and what ensued was the most gut wrenching ear piercing screeching sound as the rock scraped and gouged the under makings of the car. :eek: Stop to assess the damage. Everything appears to still be attached and in working order. Oh man this a bad omen to start the trip.
Get on the road and come to a dead stop right before Kramer Junction for road construction. At this point we notice that the entire inside of the truck tastes like exhaust. We take a look at the muffler and see to our demise that is has been pushed up into the body of the truck, and the exhaust is basically being distributed back into the vehicle. So we have to get out some tools and bend the crap out of it to get free again. Easier said than done. Always delays with trips it seems. :smirk:
Grabbed the permit got to the trailhead and off we go. Plan was to get to East Lake or Lake Reflection. So the group was my 3 cousins who I have hiked with before (who are strong hikers) and then my cousin’s fiancé who was supposedly a strong hiker as well. I confirmed with the fiancé before that 14 mile days were good, and he said no problem. Well it was apparent right from the get go that no way in hell he was doing 14 miles. He was struggling major and Kearsarge Pass is relatively easy compared with what was to come… So this had me real worried.
So after Kearsarge Pass we are moving at a steady clip but by the time we get to Vidette Meadow he is spent and ready to call it a day. I am dumbfounded as we’ve only gone 8.3 miles! No way we are doing the loop at this rate. We try to motivate him and pump him up to hike some more, take some of the load from his pack but as we are descending Bubbs Creek it is obvious we have to stop. Guy looks like he is literally going to pass out. So we find a place to camp and regroup. He throws out the idea that the next day we split up and he and my cousin will do a smaller trip while me and my other 2 cousins do our original loop plan. Hmmmmm Sleep on it. We do have an extra stove to take but not an additional water filter….
Kearsarge Pinnacles.jpg
Kearsarge Pinnacles
Descending Bubbs North Guard.jpg
Descending Bubbs Creek

Day 2
Wake up, consult with my other 2 cousins and decide we want to push on. We will just go without a filter. Say our goodbyes and agree to meet at the truck in 4 days. So now it was off to Lake Reflection and Little Joes. I had wanted to see Lake Reflection so badly in person and it did not disappoint. I only wished I could have camped here to enjoy it longer. Little Joe’s was super gnarly. I mean I knew we had our work cut out for us but didn’t really calculate that it was 2,400 feet straight up a mountain! The footing was stable so that made the going easier (as opposed to Harrison Pass which the same can’t be said apparently) Took us over 3 hours to get to the top of the pass only for clouds to roll in almost instantly and obstruct all the views. I was able to get a couple pics before thankfully. Then the storm came in and out came the rain gear. So as we traveled through the Upper Kern it was wet and miserable. Major bummer as this was the area I was most interested in seeing. Night 2 we stayed near Kern River and Milestone Creek.
East Lake.jpg
East Lake
Lake Reflection.jpg
Lake Reflection
Lake Reflection Longley.jpg
Lake Reflection
Little Joes.jpg
Coming up Little Joes
Ericson Crags.jpg
Ericson Crags
Longley Cornice Straight Ahead.jpg
Longley Pass Straight Ahead
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stringbop
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Re: TR: SEKI Loop from Onion Valley 7/12 - 7/16/18

Post by stringbop » Fri May 24, 2019 9:45 am

Day 3
We were originally going to do the loop up around Colby Pass. But waking up the next morning my cousin had a blister and wasn’t sure he was up for the big mile days. So we decided we would loop back the other way on the JMT instead (via Forester). Well this gave us some additional time so we went to explore the Milestone Basin which I had heard so much about (thanks to High Sierra Topix). Wow, what a treat. Arrived at the perfect time of day, clouds dotting the sky with the sun illuminating the Great Western Divide and showing off all its magnificence. Water flowing, granite everywhere, gigantic peaks and spires. It felt like a whole other world, this is what the backcountry is all about right here. May just be my favorite basin…. After soaking it all in, we departed down the Kern River. Cousin had a mishap crossing over Tyndall Creek. Gashed his foot real bad, so actually had to use the First Aid Kit. Well in the commotion I set my sausage stick down (lunch for the next 2 days) only to never pick it back up! :angry: When we hit the HST the views looking back towards the Colby Pass Trail, Kern Point and Picket Guard Peak were insane. I swear I stopped and took a zillion pictures but my camera roll only has one. I don’t know how this is possible as I was completely mesmerized by the vista. On the way, while we were crossing a stream my cousin asked for an antiseptic wipe out of the First Aid Kit. So I took off my pack and rummaged through my sack trying to find it somewhere near the bottom. When I finally find the thing, I hand it to him and he says, “oh, I didn’t mean right now, I meant I wanted it later”. I gasp are you kidding, while my other cousin starts cracking up as he seen me digging thru my pack trying to find this damn wipe! :lol: So inside joke rest of the trip, to ask for things we don’t need til later. We then booked it all the way to Wright Lakes to do some fishing and camped for the night.
Milestone.jpg
Milestone Basin
Milestone brady.jpg
Milestone Basin
kaweahs.jpg
Looking back towards the Kaweahs
Wright Lakes.jpg
Headed to Wright Lakes
Wright Lake.jpg
Wright Lake

Day 4
We awaken to Mt. Whitney and Mt. Tyndall towering off in the distance. I had plans to climb Mt. Russel later this summer so I was trying to get a view of that as well. Of all the talk about JMT being herded with people and a traffic jam of a highway - that is rarely my experience (well besides Happy Isles and Tuolumne Meadows). From the junction at HST the day before all the way to Diamond Mesa that morning, a stretch of 7+ miles, we saw a total of 4 people. We went up and over Forester and had lunch on the other side, when I discovered my sausage stick was missing. What a bummer. :crybaby: After lunch I was trying to push fast enough where we could get to Center Basin and camp at Golden Bear Lake. After going over Forester, I wasn’t sure if the gang would want to hike up another 1,000ft to get into Center Basin. Well we were at the turnoff for Center Basin at 3:30PM so no reason we shouldn’t. I promised the boys it would be worth the detour and boy was I right. Center Peak and the Center Basin Crags are EXACTLY where we need to be camped tonight. Another GEM in the backcountry. Thank you High Sierra Topix again
Big Horn Plateau.jpg
Big Horn Plateau
Big Horn Plateau I.jpg
Big Horn Plateau
Forester South.jpg
View From Forester Looking South
Descending Forester.jpg
Descending Forester Pass
Descending Forester I.jpg
Descending Forester Pass
Center Peak.jpg
Center Peak (me on the right)
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Last edited by stringbop on Fri May 24, 2019 10:12 am, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: TR: SEKI Loop from Onion Valley 7/12 - 7/16/18

Post by stringbop » Fri May 24, 2019 9:49 am

Day 5

Smooth sailing today all the way back to the car. On the way in from Kearsarge Pass we took the low trail thru BullFrog Lake. Today we took the high trail. I will never take the low trail again. Haha The other 2 were already at the car waiting for us when we got back so everything worked out great.
Center Crags.jpg
Center Crags
Cruising Center Crags.jpg
Cruising along Center Crags
East Vidette.jpg
East Vidette
Mt. Brewer.jpg
Mt. Brewer Straight ahead in all it's glory
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Re: TR: SEKI Loop from Onion Valley 7/12 - 7/16/18

Post by Flamingo » Fri May 24, 2019 1:39 pm

Hi @stringbop -- Thanks for sharing this TR. I admire your sense of adventure in tackling Little Joe's. It looks brutal from afar.
Would you mind sharing what type of camera you used? Your photos feel crisp, and have a nice wide angle feel (although maybe it's a trick of cropping).

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Re: TR: SEKI Loop from Onion Valley 7/12 - 7/16/18

Post by stringbop » Fri May 24, 2019 2:00 pm

Hey @Flamingo - Thanks for reading my trip report! My cousin said Little Joe's was the gnarliest thing he's ever done. haha I just use my phone for pics- Samsung Galaxy 9, on whatever the standard settings are. Although on the first picture of Lake Reflection I posted- I enhanced it with Google Photos....

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Re: TR: SEKI Loop from Onion Valley 7/12 - 7/16/18

Post by Wandering Daisy » Fri May 24, 2019 2:57 pm

With all our frustration over snow, snow and more snow and what to do in June, it was great to read a real trip report. Just what we needed! Great first glance at the upper Kern. Next time you can zip into Wallace and Wales Lake, the upper lakes in Wrights Lake basin, the basin above Casper Lake and the basin below Jordan Peak. They are just as spectacular as your two side-trips. Actually each basin is well worth two days to explore, fish and climb. Just a note; from Wrights Lake basin where you were it may have actually been easier to go over Rockwell Pass (really easy) to reach Tyndall Creek.

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Re: TR: SEKI Loop from Onion Valley 7/12 - 7/16/18

Post by wsp_scott » Mon May 27, 2019 6:26 am

Looks like a great trip even with all the problems. Makes me excited for my planned trip to the Upper Kern this summer.

Out of curiosity, where was the fiancee coming from? Is he used to doing flat miles at sea level? What did they end up doing, hopefully not just hanging out in Lower Vidette for a couple days :)
My trip reports: backpackandbeer.blogspot.com

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Re: TR: SEKI Loop from Onion Valley 7/12 - 7/16/18

Post by stringbop » Mon May 27, 2019 8:45 am

Hey @wsp_scott, Yeah it was such an epic trip. They ended up going over Little Joe's as well and then following the trail from Lake South America to Tyndall Creek to meet with the JMT and take it back up. So they basically just did a smaller loop than we did. We actually would have bumped back into them if we didn't turn off for Center Basin (they didn't know about that GEM). He says the reason he was so exhausted was because he only got 3 hours of sleep the night before and he packed way too much stuff...

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Re: TR: SEKI Loop from Onion Valley 7/12 - 7/16/18

Post by wsp_scott » Thu May 30, 2019 4:17 pm

only 3 hours sleep would kill me, glad everyone had a good trip
My trip reports: backpackandbeer.blogspot.com

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Re: TR: SEKI Loop from Onion Valley 7/12 - 7/16/18

Post by mckee80 » Sat Jun 01, 2019 11:03 am

Thanks for the report. Now I’m thinking about heading down that way instead of north to Rea Lakes.

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