Mineral King Trip Report | High Sierra Topix  

Mineral King Trip Report

If you've been searching for the best source of information and stimulating discussion related to Spring/Summer/Fall backpacking, hiking and camping in the Sierra Nevada...look no further!
User avatar

Mineral King Trip Report

Postby copeg » Wed Sep 02, 2009 3:59 pm

Mineral King to Mineral King by way of Timber Gap, Black Rock Pass, and Sawtooth Pass:

With driving induced stiff legs, my neck hurt looking up towards Timber Gap. But with spirits high I hoisted my pack and charged up the trail. I could hear, smell, taste, and feel the heat bearing down on me, mid-day on an open slope in a hot spell was a brutal place to be, but for some reason I liked punishment. The squeal of chipmunks broke me out of my trance, and I looked up to see a Cooper's Hawk sail past through the forest, the ground erupting with warning calls along its path. 1700 feet up, and 2500 feet down I was filling up my water bottle and belly along Cliff Creek, sitting next to a seemingly unclaimed pair of jeans and socks drying in the sun. My hopes of making it far up Cliff Creek fading, I threw down my pack near Pinto Lake, exhausted and dehydrated.

It didn't take much effort to sleep in the next morning. Tired, lazy, and packed I began the climb up the canyon. I didn't think twice about Black Rock Pass until I stood at its base. Massive switchbacks slowly stole my strength from me, and by noon I stood at its top exhausted, being blasted by a cold wind coming up canyon. A hawk soared overhead, enjoying the stiff breeze as it sailed past. A few hours later and somewhat recharged, I was rounding several of the Little Five Lakes, fishing all the while but coming up empty. Sunset moved in, and later that night I was listening to the movement of several nocturnals while enjoying the Kaweah's bathed in moonlight.

A relatively easy day on schedule, I stopped to visit Big Five Lakes, not having time to explore as much as I liked but getting my fill nonetheless, along the way a few pieces of garbage made their way into my backpack. Before long I was eating PBJ's in Lost Canyon. With each stride higher the more desolate the landscape became. Large sculptured cairns led the way around Columbine Lake. The wind packed a punch, and seemed to constantly pound every campsite available. Before long it got to me, dissatisfied with my first choice I found myself moving camp to a less secluded but more protected spot. Brookies were caught every other cast, but sheer laziness stopped me from a nice trout dinner. The wind finally started dwindling when I ducked into my tent that night.

I don't know what kept me awake that night, my mind racing or the rustling outside my tent. Curious, I stepped outside to see the ground scatter in all directions. Headlamp on, I thought the mice were going to walk off with my backpack on their shoulders, like ants marching back to their nest. What they were after I don't know, but my vestibule came in handy that night and the infestation went away after I moved some of my things inside.

I dreamt of Sawtooth Pass, and hauling myself up the east side the next morning I kept thinking "this isn't as bad as I've heard". Less than thirty minutes later I stood on top of the pass, tucked into the leeward side of a rock enjoying the views. Five minutes later I was cursing to myself "this is worse than I've heard". I descended down the west side, sliding and cursing as I went. Off and on the gravel gave way to rock, then to slippery gravel on top of slippery rock. Coincident with each sudden change I noticed the deafening crunch under my feet come and go. At last I was at Monarch Lake, nursing my feet back to life. It wasn't too long before they were punished just a bit more, but finally relieved as I slipped off my socks at the trailhead. Thirsty and exhausted I opened the hood of my truck to find the ranger was spot on: late season the marmots do find treats other than hoses, asbestos, and fan belts.

A few photos, perhaps more to come:


Kaweah Alpenglow
Image

Kaweah Range from Little Five Lakes
Image

An image I've planned for some time (although in hindsight the execution was less than ideal). Star trails above the Kaweahs
Image

Sun spangles on Little Five Lakes #2
Image

Lost Canyon
Image

Sunrise at Columbine Lake
Image



User avatar
copeg
Founding Member & Forums Administrator
Founding Member & Forums Administrator
 
Posts: 1968
Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2005 9:25 pm
Location: Menlo Park, CA
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Mineral King Trip Report

Postby STRETCHMAN » Wed Sep 02, 2009 4:40 pm

Greg, as always the case, your photo's are fantastic! =D>
User avatar
STRETCHMAN
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 38
Joined: Sat Jan 31, 2009 10:58 am
Location: San Diego
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Mineral King Trip Report

Postby maverick » Wed Sep 02, 2009 5:19 pm

Looks like you had a fun time.
I really enjoyed going down Sawtooth myself, it took me 30-40 minutes to slalom down
to Monarch, now going up on the sandy trail would be a different story.
I like the sun spangles photo, did you use a nd filter, and a 8 point star filter, or photoshop?
User avatar
maverick
Forums Moderator
Forums Moderator
 
Posts: 8028
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:54 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Mineral King Trip Report

Postby The Other Tom » Wed Sep 02, 2009 5:27 pm

Great shots, Greg.
I'm guessing the star tracks was maybe an 8-10 min exposure ?
User avatar
The Other Tom
Founding Member
 
Posts: 713
Joined: Mon Dec 19, 2005 6:06 pm
Location: Upstate South Carolina
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Mineral King Trip Report

Postby hikerduane » Wed Sep 02, 2009 6:23 pm

Thank you for the great report and photos. More please.
Piece of cake.
User avatar
hikerduane
Founding Member
 
Posts: 1194
Joined: Sun Nov 06, 2005 9:58 am
Location: Meadow Valley, CA, Carson City, NV
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Mineral King Trip Report

Postby copeg » Wed Sep 02, 2009 7:31 pm

Thanks everyone! It was a great and memorable trip

Mav, at some points I enjoyed Sawtooth as well, and other points hated it...but all the while when heading down was glad I wasn't going up ;) No filters or 'special' effects on the sun spangles photo - aside from RAW processing this is pretty much straight out of the camera. The sunbursts were an optic effect from stopping down quite a bit (f29).

Tom, all told it was about a 30 minute exposure. I wanted to go longer but was worried the sky and mountains might have gotten a bit washed out from the moonlight. Ideally I would have gotten up about 20 minutes before moonset and exposed for several hours, but the wind ruined any chance for the reflection.

Duane, I'm working on it ;)
User avatar
copeg
Founding Member & Forums Administrator
Founding Member & Forums Administrator
 
Posts: 1968
Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2005 9:25 pm
Location: Menlo Park, CA
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Mineral King Trip Report

Postby SSSdave » Wed Sep 02, 2009 8:18 pm

The first time I figured out the elevation up/down vertical taking the standard trail over Timber Gap going way way down into Cliff Creek and then way way up to Blackrock Pass, I knew I would never take that popular route most use. If it weren't for the d!@# bear cannister rules, (fits in only 6 days of my kind of food at most) the last few years I would have done a 9-dayer over Sawtooth to base camp in Big and Little 5 lake basins. For same reason I will never reach the Kaweah bench area I've always wanted to visit.
User avatar
SSSdave
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1965
Joined: Thu Nov 17, 2005 11:18 pm
Location: Silicon Valley
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Mineral King Trip Report

Postby quentinc » Wed Sep 02, 2009 10:12 pm

Beautiful shots. Why is that everyone on this board (except me) seems to be a professional level photographer? :) It makes me embarrassed to post my own pictures.

I did a similar trip last year, going over Franklin Pass and out over Timber Gap. It was great, but I hated the part after Black Rock Pass (once you got down to the valley) down that endless horrible rocky trail to Pinto Lake, then down down down to Cliff Creek and out. If I were to do it again, I'd head off the trail shortly after Black Rock Pass over to Spring Lake and out over Glacier Pass.
User avatar
quentinc
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 890
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2005 10:28 pm
Location: Los Angeles
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Mineral King Trip Report

Postby Shawn » Wed Sep 02, 2009 10:43 pm

Amazing pictures Greg. Makes me want to get back to MK sooner rather than later.

I've slogged up Sawtooth pass one too many times, I'll likely avoid that next time around. :D
User avatar
Shawn
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 795
Joined: Sat Nov 12, 2005 9:56 pm
Location: Paso Robles, Ca
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Mineral King Trip Report

Postby copeg » Thu Sep 03, 2009 7:42 am

Thanks again everyone. Dave, that elevation is a killer, and as quentic mentioned (and I totally agree with) some parts of that section of trail not the greatest along the length of the trip (still beautiful nonetheless though). A lot of the spots do have bear lockers (I was surprised at how many there were along the trip), and (correct me if I'm wrong) because of their presence I don't think canisters are required around this area, so you could rely on lockers for the first few days at least until you can fit everything in the can.
quentic, keep posting those pics!
User avatar
copeg
Founding Member & Forums Administrator
Founding Member & Forums Administrator
 
Posts: 1968
Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2005 9:25 pm
Location: Menlo Park, CA
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Mineral King Trip Report

Postby maverick » Thu Sep 03, 2009 8:59 am

You are correct Greg, there are bear boxes in all the locations you visited except in Lost
Canyon which is a breeze to get through till you reach Columbine Lake where the
next bear box is located.
User avatar
maverick
Forums Moderator
Forums Moderator
 
Posts: 8028
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:54 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Mineral King Trip Report

Postby trav867 » Thu Sep 03, 2009 9:23 am

Great photos! I did the same trip a couple years ago and your photos capture the beauty of the area very well. I had almost forgotten what a pain descending Sawtooth is!
User avatar
trav867
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 166
Joined: Mon Nov 12, 2007 6:12 pm
Experience: N/A

Next

Return to Backpacking / Hiking / Camping



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot], Google [Bot], MSNbot Media [Bot] and 8 guests