TR: Mineral King Loop | High Sierra Topix  

TR: Mineral King Loop

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

TR: Mineral King Loop

Postby adornowest » Sat Sep 04, 2010 12:04 pm

After much consulting with the forum community here, four of us headed out from the Bay Area in mid-August to do a loop starting from Mineral King in SEKI. The drive took about 6 hours and the final part, up a long, winding-road, caused our aged car to need a breather midway. We overnighted at the campground just a mile or two short of the trailhead before picking up our rented bear canisters and permit from the ranger station.

Day 1: The first day heading toward Franklin Lake was in many ways the least satisfying day. Much of the trail is along a valley that looks a little too much like something from “The Sound of Music.”

Day 1 - The Hills are Alive.JPG
"The hills are alive...!"


After gently climbing a few thousand feet, however, and more interesting mountains appeared with some spectacular colors. Franklin Lake itself is a formed by a dam, which diminished my enjoyment of it, but was otherwise quite pretty. We camped out on the bench elevated along the lake’s shore. This was the only campground we shared with others. There was a group of fishermen, and then, toward dusk, what appeared to be a (Christian?) youth group appeared and spread out over the rocks for some introspection. Since this was our first full day at this altitude, half of us felt sickish from the climb, but were significantly restored by a mid-afternoon nap. The alpineglow that evening was spectacular.

Day 1 - Franklin Lake.JPG


Day 2: After a slow start to the morning, we headed out over Franklin Pass. The trail up is well-maintained and looks infinitely preferable to climbing Sawtooth. The descent struck me as really very pretty, first crossing a rather wide basin of sand and shale (again on good trail) before descending into a nice meadow. A few hours march brought out to Forester Lake, and then up one final hill, before getting to Little Claire, where we ate a rather late lunch. We had originally hoped to leave our packs there and go off-trail to Amphitheater Lake, but the combination of altitude sickness and our late start made us reluctantly conclude that would be a bad idea. Luckily Little Claire is a pretty if small lake with wonderful camping spots, so it made for a good place to pass a lazy afternoon. At this point, unfortunately, I started suffering from really bad acid reflux. (Something to do with my hipbelt. Does anyone have any tips?) Also, we discovered a few days later that one of us had left his prescription glasses on a fallen tree in the area. If anyone comes across them, we’d be eternally grateful if you’d pack them out. (Slim chance, I know.)

Day 2 - Little Claire.JPG
Little Claire


Day 3: Most of the hike on this day was routine: lots of pretty meadows, a few minor river crossings and some elevation gain. We came across a nice tarn that our hiking book (by White) assured us was nice for swimming. And it was, especially near the shore, where it decently warm. After a nice relaxing hour around the tarn, we continued to the first of the Big Five Lakes. This was perhaps the most spectacular lake of our trip. It is large and was gloriously dazzling blue. We found a campsite on a rock shelf slight above the second lake, and then fought or way through the mosquitoes to see the remaining three lakes, of which the fifth struck me as best.

Day 3 - Big Five.JPG
The first of the Big Five


Day 3 - Big Five number 4.JPG
Another of the Big Five


Day 4: A short climb took us to the Little Five Lakes. This area struck me as the most consistently beautiful of the trip.

Day 4 - Little Five.JPG
Little Five


We left our packs at the trail junction and walked, on maverick’s excellent, suggestion, to lake 10410. The off-trail portion was very easy and very pretty. The Nine Lake Basin area beckoned temptingly in the distance.

Day 4 - Lake 10410.JPG
Lake 10410


After returning from lake 10410, we headed up Blackrock Pass, which wasn’t nearly as bad as it looked from the lakes. The pass provided us an excellent view of our next day’s journey. We descended the pass and cut towards Spring Lake. Perhaps there is use trail that goes to Spring Lake farther down the valley. Spring Lake was a spectacular camp site, flanked on several sides by mountains. While making dinner at dusk, some surprisingly aggressive deer kept attempting to partake.

Day 4 - Lakes.JPG
Spring, Cyclaman, Columbine


Day 5: The morning was spent climbing off-trail from Spring to Cyclamen and then unto Columbine. I really enjoyed Cyclamen, as it is framed by a beautiful cliff. From the top of Sawtooth, we had a great time descended down the scree, and felt sorry for the several people camped at Monarch Lake who asked us nervous questions about it. From there we high tailed it down to the car.

Day 5 - Cyclamen.JPG
Cyclamen Lake



User avatar
adornowest
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 28
Joined: Tue Jul 27, 2010 1:54 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: TR: Mineral King Loop

Postby copeg » Sat Sep 04, 2010 12:13 pm

Awesome trip report! Thanks for sharing :righton:
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: TR: Mineral King Loop

Postby richapple » Sat Sep 04, 2010 11:21 pm

Great photos and descriptions for some of my favorite areas. And yes, someday heading the beckoning of Nine Lakes Basin will reward you further.

A cross-country route to Little Claire is pretty easy from just a bit south and down from Franklin Pass, bypassing getting all the way down into Rattlesnake Canyon and hiking past Forester. It takes off from the trail at the east end of the first long traverse, about where the trail passes the 11560 altitude line on the topo... Not that Rattlesnake Canyon or Forester are things you want to miss!

Quite a few years ago we camped just below what you (and Maverick) are calling lake 10410, and then hung out there a whole day. Somebody (a packer? a ranger?) had mentioned it and said it was just "up the draw" from where we were on the main trail. So we've always called it the "up the draw" lake...

The photos really are just excellent. Thanks!
richapple
User avatar
richapple
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 49
Joined: Wed Aug 04, 2010 12:30 pm
Location: Santa Cruz, CA
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: TR: Mineral King Loop

Postby maverick » Sat Sep 04, 2010 11:47 pm

Very nice TR & pic's Adornowest, thanks for taking the time to post it!
User avatar
maverick
Forums Moderator
Forums Moderator
 
Posts: 8032
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:54 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

Re: TR: Mineral King Loop

Postby Cross Country » Sun Sep 05, 2010 1:05 pm

When Mike and I were there, the ranger stationed at Little 5s called Lake 10410 "Long Lake".
This is a nice trip report. It brings back fond memories.
Attachments
Long Lake.jpg
Cross Country
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1119
Joined: Thu Dec 24, 2009 11:16 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: TR: Mineral King Loop

Postby AlmostThere » Sun Sep 05, 2010 7:04 pm

Wonderful TR! Thank you for the kick in the pants to get out to Mineral King before the snow piles up. Awesome pics.
User avatar
AlmostThere
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1758
Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2009 4:38 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: TR: Mineral King Loop

Postby windknot » Sun Sep 05, 2010 8:28 pm

Great pictures and thanks for the trip report!
A few backcountry fishing pictures: http://wanderswithtrout.wordpress.com/
User avatar
windknot
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1348
Joined: Wed Aug 16, 2006 10:07 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: TR: Mineral King Loop

Postby diesel » Sun Sep 05, 2010 9:08 pm

Thanks for the trip report! I just got back from Mineral king and did a loop from mineral king over franklin pass to little claire lakes on day 1. day 2 was from little claire to the big and little fives lakes, up and over black rock pass then camping at pinto lake. day 3 was the final day out up and over timber gap. I had allotted 4 days, but got a little cocky and pushed myself pretty hard on days 1 and 2.

My only regret is that I wasn't able to do the cross country route from black rock to spring and beyond. I started to go off trail towards the lake, but realized that it would be dark soon (and I was exhausted) and felt safer staying on trail at that point. Next time I'll know to plan my route so that the cross country would be much earlier in the day. Otherwise, it was a great trip, and a felt like a big accomplishment for me as it was my first solo trip.
User avatar
diesel
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 33
Joined: Thu Apr 29, 2010 12:00 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: TR: Mineral King Loop

Postby miked » Thu Sep 09, 2010 8:23 pm

These recent reports make me want to visit mineral king. Thanks.
User avatar
miked
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 20
Joined: Wed May 26, 2010 11:49 am
Experience: N/A


Return to Backpacking / Hiking / Camping



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: bbayley80, jahneee, Karch, maverick, Wandering Daisy and 6 guests