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Middle Fork Kings and Leconte Divide options?

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Middle Fork Kings and Leconte Divide options?

Postby patmegowan » Wed Mar 11, 2009 2:47 pm

Suppose you wanted to take in the Leconte divide area in great detail--basins of Red mtn, Bench valley, Blackcap on the west, Blue Canyon, Tunemah Lake--and take in Tehipite Valley as well. Assume plenty of time and food, 25lb max pack weight, good fitness, ability to climb class 5 but zero desire to prove anything, strong preference for sane and enjoyable routes. Talus hopping extravaganzas are not desirable.

How might you string these together? Where would you want to start? What are spots you'd want to make sure and visit or stay? (for all of these, why?)

Anyone have comments on stringing together the east side of the divide--Tunemah, upper blue canyon, upper goddard creek canyon, over to martha lake, down canyon and over hell-for-sure?

How would you get in and out of the middle fork kings--is the trail from crown valley to Tehipite in decent shape? Is going up or down Goddard Creek (to/from Simpson Mdw area) a deathmarch or a decent idea? Is adding Tehipite to this trip just a rotten idea;-)?

Thanks!



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Re: Middle Fork Kings and Leconte Divide options?

Postby TehipiteTom » Wed Mar 11, 2009 4:38 pm

25 lb max pack weight?????? You must be one of those fanatical ultralighters. ;)

Can't speak to the part about getting to the Middle Fork (from what I've read, the lower reaches of Goddard Creek are one long alder thrash, but that's strictly second-hand), but I have been over the portion from Blue Canyon to Lake 10,232 at the head of Goddard Creek valley. I was going to list the highlights, but really that whole stretch is a highlight. ;) The lakes in upper Blue Canyon are beautiful. The basin of the western fork of Goddard Creek is a great place to spend some time in, just a classic Sierra basin with a bunch of lovely alpine lakes; we camped on the ridgelet east of Lake 10,400+, with a great view across to the multicolored metavolcanics of Ragged Spur. The upper Goddard Creek valley is magical, gorgeous meadow with rock walls on either side (granite to the west, metavolcanics to the east), culminating in the heartbreakingly beautiful Lake 10,232.
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Re: Middle Fork Kings and Leconte Divide options?

Postby maverick » Wed Mar 11, 2009 4:56 pm

Adding Tehipite to the mix if your planning to ascend Goddard is
not the best option because of the thick bush, descending Goddard
to the Middle Fork is a much easier option.
You could start at Rancheria-Coyote Pass-Blue Canyon-BC Pass
Reinstein Pass-Martha Lake-Hell for Sure Pass-Hutton Pass-Blackcap Pass
from here you go into Crown Basin and follow Crown Creek till you hook up
with the trail back to Rancheria.
The Crown Valley area had a big fire last year so you may want to keep
that in mind when planning your trip.
Highlights are hard to comment on since each area has beautiful lakes
ridges, meadows, and great mountain scenery.
If your a middle of the road hiker I would plan on 7-9 days to complete
this trip without rushing.
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Re: Middle Fork Kings and Leconte Divide options?

Postby patmegowan » Wed Mar 11, 2009 5:17 pm

Thanks for the info Tom, sounds exciting! How did you get in and out of all this trailless splendor?

I do go pretty light now--it's kinder to the knees but at least as important has greatly increased my joy in walking. More strolling, less grinding, more inclined to throw on the pack and say "I think I'll just go over there...and there...and there. Something about the freedom of the hills. But much more comfortable than the first such adventure, Sept. overnight at 11k feet w/3 pounds total, food and all. Memorable in the extreme--Brrrr.
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Re: Middle Fork Kings and Leconte Divide options?

Postby TehipiteTom » Thu Mar 12, 2009 8:01 am

We hiked in from Rancheria Trailhead via Crown Valley and Blue Canyon, went over the pass immediately east of Finger Peak into the west fork Goddard Creek basin, spent a layover day there (with a dayhike to Lake 10,232), then headed out via Finger Col north of Finger Peak, Cathedral Lakes, and the North Fork Kings to Courtright (car shuttle).
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Re: Middle Fork Kings and Leconte Divide options?

Postby patmegowan » Thu Mar 12, 2009 1:16 pm

Thanks Maverick, that's a pretty thorough tour. I don't recognize some of the off trail pass names from my maps, are they from another source, perhaps Secor, which I keep hearing about?

From the responses so far sounds like the Rancheria roadend is popular--any alternate views out there?
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Re: Middle Fork Kings and Leconte Divide options?

Postby maverick » Thu Mar 12, 2009 4:00 pm

Yes they are from Secor's book, and all are easy class 2 passes, as matter of
fact the only class 2-3 in the area is the pass east to west down to Valor Lake.
You could start from Courtright Reservoir and visit Red Basin first and exit
Rancheria, two car option.
The only place I have not visited is the Blue Canyon area, but I have been to
all the other area's mentioned.
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Re: Middle Fork Kings and Leconte Divide options?

Postby giantbrookie » Sat Mar 14, 2009 7:03 pm

That is some beautiful country. Note that if you choose to include Tehipite, this means brushy stuff as noted above. What is more IF one includes the brushy Goddard Creek stuff the loop should be executed so that the Goddard Creek brush is done in the downhill direction. Tough brush is many times worse going uphill. If you choose to skip Goddard Creek and the Middle Fork, then this also gives you some freedom in terms of your kickoff point.

If you relish off trail travel as much as I do, then the Hoffman Mtn. road end becomes a nice alternative to Rancheria. If you hike out of there you must be very comfortable with off trail travel, including some off trail country with lots of trees and limited line of sight. Last year I took a smaller part of your planned trip out of Hoffman and went directly toward Blue Canyon. Only lousy conditioning (and a poor choice of energy drink that upset my stomach) prevented us from reaching upper Blue Canyon on day one (via the col above Hummingbird Lake--I prefer not to use all of those Secor names after people; there are way too many of them). We eventually went to Tunemah and the unnamed lakes below it before coming back out and going by Maxon Lake and then back to Woodchuck country. The trip was something like 51 miles of hiking of which 49 were off trail (see Tunechuck thread earlier in this forum). You could use Hoffman to say hit Woodchuck or Crown Lake for a mellow "break-in" day 1, or if you were in prime death march mode (and didn't care about fishing). One way or another you could then go Bench Valley to Red Mtn. Basin then Hell for Sure, then Martha, Reinstein Col, 10232, then over to Blue Canyon with the side excursion to Tunemah, then over to Hummingbird, then to Blackcap Basin, then out via Woodchuck Country (where you can remove a lot of trail distance with clever off trail routes) to Hoffman Mtn. I guess you could say that if I were doing this as a 7-9 day trip, that's what I'd do. Just for kicks, I might be tempted (because I haven't done this) to descend from 10232 to the Tunemah outlet creek then make the enormous off trail climb up to the lakes below Tunemah then Tunemah, then Blue Canyon.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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