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Early October trip planned to Mineral King

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Early October trip planned to Mineral King

Postby snusmumriken » Sun Aug 31, 2008 9:20 pm

A couple of friends and I have a weekend trip to Mineral King planned for the first weekend in October. Obviously we'll keep an eye on the forecast an make alternate plans if needed, but in general are we crazy for going this late in the season?

The outlines of the weekend would be this: Friday drive from Bay Area and LA respectively, starting out around noon, hopefully getting to the trail head around dusk and camp at one of the campgrounds in Mineral King. Saturday hiking up to Hamilton Lakes which sounds like about 6 miles and plenty of elevation gain. Camp at Hamilton lakes. Sunday hike back down and drive home.
Is there a better / more scenic destination than Hamilton?

We're all fairly experienced backpackers, but we haven't visited the Mineral King yet. Anything else we should know about the area?



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Re: Early October trip planned to Mineral King

Postby trav867 » Sun Aug 31, 2008 10:42 pm

Do you mean Franklin or Monarch Lakes? Hamilton Lakes are probably 6 miles north of MK as the crow files, but at least 18 or 20 by trail. The easiest access points are Crescent Meadow or Wolverton, but even those are 15 miles away.
If you want to leave from Mineral King though, Franklin Lakes would be a great overnight destination. MK is such a pain to get to though (endless single lane winding road) that you might consider a two night trip if you're heading all the way up there.

For my money/free time, if you've only got one night, I'd say leave from Lodgepole/Wolverton and head up to Pear Lake.

If the forecast is clear you should be fine aside from some possibly chilly nights.
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Re: Early October trip planned to Mineral King

Postby snusmumriken » Mon Sep 01, 2008 9:29 am

Thanks for the feedback Trav. Yes I did mean to say Franklin lakes. Sorry about the confusion.

From the map there appears to be three other short trip lake destinations from Mineral King: Eagle Lake, Monarch Lake, or Crystal Lake. Should we consider one of those?

Unfortunately for this trip we only have the weekend (have to be back at work bright and early Monday morning.) I hear what you're saying about the road being long and winding. Maybe Mineral King isn't worth the effort for just a weekend?

Thanks for the suggestion of Pear Lake as an alternative weekend trip idea. I'll look at that one.
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Re: Early October trip planned to Mineral King

Postby Shawn » Mon Sep 01, 2008 11:50 am

If you do go to MK, be sure to phone in advance to make sure the gate is still open..

FWIW, I don't think the road is all that bad, but then again I commute 100 mile a day. ;)
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Re: Early October trip planned to Mineral King

Postby cgundersen » Mon Sep 01, 2008 11:59 am

Hi snus,
If you keep close tabs on the weather you should be fine. Obviously, it's likely to get appreciably more chilly at night, and the days are shorter, but the longer rays of autumn can weave their own magic. And, there will be next to no one else about. My wife & I usually try to get in a short trip in October for those very reasons.
Anyway, even if it's a schlep, there are some great places to visit out of MK, so I'd not dismiss it. If you guys are all in good shape, there's no reason you could not get over Sawtooth pass, and the scenery from that ridge is pretty incredible (and, even if you crashed at Monarch Lakes, you could probably scoot to the pass the next morning before leaving). I'm just saying this 'cuz even though Pear is OK, it gets so much use that for your experience it might not pass the sniff test.
CG
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Re: Early October trip planned to Mineral King

Postby maverick » Mon Sep 01, 2008 3:03 pm

If you are in good shape then shoot for Sawtooth Pass and stay at the smaller
lake northwest of Columbine Lake, it has a little more protection from the wind.
The views of the Kaweah's from the northern edge of the little lake is beautiful
also the views from the pass is great towards the east.
Here is a view eastbound from the top of the pass which will wet your appetite for more.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/maverick02 ... 218663765/
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Re: Early October trip planned to Mineral King

Postby maverick » Mon Sep 01, 2008 3:25 pm

On thing if you do decide to go for Sawtooth is that you will be camping close to 11000 ft
and either person in your party may get ams so keep a watchful eye on one another
for symptoms.
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Re: Early October trip planned to Mineral King

Postby Cloudy » Tue Sep 02, 2008 7:58 am

maverick wrote:If you are in good shape then shoot for Sawtooth Pass and stay at the smaller
lake northwest of Columbine Lake, it has a little more protection from the wind.


The last couple of hundred yards up Sawtooth are a real butt-kicking sandy slog... The view is lovely though. Franklin Lakes are reasonably pretty and there are a number of campsites higher up that afford a nice view. I happened to be there one time during a storm and saw lightning strike the ridge across the lake and start a small landslide. I was also there another night and strong gusts of wind destroyed my plastic tube tent during a bit of rain - rather funny actually when one second you have a roof overhead and the next you have nothing and rain is sprinkling on your face :)
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Re: Early October trip planned to Mineral King

Postby Greengrassmonk » Tue Sep 02, 2008 9:19 am

If you want some Mineral King then I'd go to eagle if you want a short hike. For me Franklin is the most beautiful and has the best campsites. If you do Monarch take the trail that leads up monarch creek instead of the switchbacks its much more fun. There are also some amazing camp sites on the west ridge above both upper and lower monarch lakes. To get access to them go to upper monarch lake go across the dam and do a little climbing up the ridge and you will see them. The views of sawtooth peak are amazing from there.

Also Sawtooth pass trail is not maintained and won't be fun for you unless you like climbing sand dunes. If thats not your cup of tea go for franklin pass its a perfect trail over the pass.

Another idea would be Silliman Lake out of Lodgepole. Its not far from the trailhead but it has a lot of variation and isn't terribly hard to find. The final climb to the lake up the granite is a treat. In my opinion its like pear lake trail but steeper with less trail. Plus you won't see anyone, once you leave the twin lakes trail.
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Re: Early October trip planned to Mineral King

Postby snusmumriken » Tue Sep 02, 2008 10:09 am

Thank you, thank you, thank you. Such a depth of information on this board. I'm studying the maps with every new suggestion.

In Mineral King:
Camping at Monarch lake, but going up the creek instead of trail, and then tackling the pass the next morning if we are up for it. Is Monarch lakes a worthwhile destination in its own right in case we don't go up the pass?
OR going up to Franklin lakes and maybe doing that pass next morning.
Eagle lake if we want a short hike - anybody been there and can tell me more?

Out of Lodgepole:
Silliman lake
OR Pear lake

Keep the ideas coming!
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Re: Early October trip planned to Mineral King

Postby Greengrassmonk » Tue Sep 02, 2008 11:14 am

If you go up monarch creek, the trail starts right before you cross monarch creek, take the trail to the left. Stay left of the creek all the way up. The trail up to upper monarch also starts left of the lake.

What do you consider a typical backpacking day for your group?
Mileage,on or off main trail, steep or nice switchbacks?
Let me know and I can recommend something.
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Re: Early October trip planned to Mineral King

Postby maverick » Tue Sep 02, 2008 12:15 pm

Here is another great place to go which will not be close as difficult and give you
great views and beautiful lakes.
From Sunset Meadow near Horse Corral hike to either Seville or Lost Lake, from there you
can go cross-country to visit Sheep Camp Lakes (highest is the prettiest).
Don't bother with Ranger Lake.
Both Lost and Seville Lakes have bear boxes and you'll have both of them to yourselves.
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