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Circle of Solitude Hike

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Circle of Solitude Hike

Postby bgreen14 » Sun Jun 15, 2008 1:27 pm

I've been floating the idea of doing the "Circle of Solitude" (Great Western and Kings-Kern Divides Loop) as described in Mike White's Kings Canyon book. Has anybody here done this loop? Any comments/suggestions for this trip?



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Re: Circle of Solitude Hike

Postby TehipiteTom » Mon Jun 16, 2008 8:13 am

Doyle has a report of a trip covering a lot of that hike, including the Kern-Kaweah headwaters: http://www.sierra-trails.com/kaweah/cover1v9.htm. Lots of pics, looks like amazing country.
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Re: Circle of Solitude Hike

Postby maverick » Mon Jun 16, 2008 1:10 pm

Hi Begreen14

Sorry I'm not familiar with Mike's route but have visited that area several times, if
you'd give us the route I'd appreciate it.
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Re: Circle of Solitude Hike

Postby copeg » Mon Jun 16, 2008 2:42 pm

For those that are unfamiliar with the route: It starts and ends at Road's end. The route goes over Avalanche Pass->Cloud Canyon->Colby Pass->Upper Kern Basin->Over Forester->down Bubbs Creek.

I've hiked virtually all of this route on different trips and will say it definitely deserves the name. Here are some things that come to mind off the top of my head.
Depending upon when you go, I'd think about using Harrison Pass rather than Forester Pass - Forester is nice but Harrison is less populated and will take you down into beautiful East Creek drainage. I say 'when you go' because Harrison is renowned for having a steep snowfield on its north face (I've never done it, but there is an old thread here from last year about Harrison with good info) and Bubbs Creek can be a tough ford in early season where it meets East Creek - so if your uncomfortable in situations like that and you go earlier in the season I would suggest using Forester. I hiked the Colby Pass trail last year (in fact ran into a fellow doing the loop you are asking about) and while some parts on the west side looked as though they'd been maintained in the last few years, there were still portions where the trail just disappears. In some parts it is in poor shape. I've hiked over Colby a few times, and I will say some areas are in the running for the mosquito breeding capital of the High Sierra (but the view from the top is incredible and worth every step)
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Re: Circle of Solitude Hike

Postby maverick » Mon Jun 16, 2008 3:28 pm

Thanks TB

Harrison is your easiest x-country pass of the many others in the area.
That said make sure your comfortable with x-country passes. The northern side
will give you the most difficulties. Early (snow and ice) and later (loose rock and
talus). Still much better alternative to the inexperienced than Lucy's Foot, Milly's
Foot or Ericsson Pass.
As mentioned you wont get across Bubb's in early season.
Also Big Wet Meadow and Colby areas are a skeetrz hang out in the summer so be
prepared.
Also Milestone Bowl is an interesting place to check out if you have time.
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Re: Circle of Solitude Hike

Postby LMBSGV » Mon Jun 16, 2008 9:44 pm

I hiked this route in early September 1999, with some side trips. At that time of year, mosquitoes weren’t an issue, fortunately-- I’ve heard stories about how bad they can get earlier in the season. The hike from Avalanche Pass down to Roaring River and then up Cloud Canyon was spectacular. The only people I saw were at Roaring River. There are lots of great places to camp in upper Cloud Canyon and also Colby Lake on the way to Colby Pass. The last climb to the pass and down the other side, the trail was as Trailblazer described; short sections of the trail were effected by small avalanches. And yes, the view from the top is more than worth the climb. I camped at Gallats Lake which is in an immense meadow with wondrous 360 views. However, I suspect the bugs might be pretty bad there earlier in the season. For a sidetrip, I concur with going to Milestone. There is an easy to follow use trail at the crossing of the Kern above the falls that takes you into Milestone Basin. The views of the Whitney Crest alone are worth the sidetrip and one could spend days exploring the creeks and lakes of the basin. I also suggest getting off trail in the Upper Kern. Cross country travel is easy and the most beautiful lakes and greatest solitude are off trail. It’s a shock when you leave the solitude of the Upper Kern and run into the hordes of hikers on the JMT going over Forrester. But if you’ve never done it, the trip up and over Forrester is worth doing. On the other side, to maintain a semblance of solitude, avoid camping in the popular places like the Center Basin junction and Vidette Meadow. If you take this trip, you won’t regret it. It’s every bit as beautiful and wondrous as you can imagine.
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Re: Circle of Solitude Hike

Postby rmainer » Mon Jul 14, 2008 9:48 am

Our family did this in early July 2006 and it was marvelous. The mosquitos were ferocious in the meadows. Rain, hail and snow were a threat every afternoon. We started from Independence which was a spectacular route though longer. We spent 10 days on the trail including 2 layover days. Other than the JMT, we saw only 3 other people. It is worth exploring upper Cloud Canyon. Roaring River and Colby Lake are full of trout.
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