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Looking for advice on Tehipite Valley and MF Kings, June 201

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Looking for advice on Tehipite Valley and MF Kings, June 201

Postby vhsvhs » Thu Mar 31, 2011 1:25 am

Hi All,

I'm looking for advice about planning a seven-day loop that includes a zero day in Simpson Meadow along the MF Kings River.

I'm organizing a group trek for mid-June 2011, and I would like to visit the MF Kings River. I've visited the upper stretches (Le Conte Canyon), and I've always wanted to see the lower regions (Tehipite Valley). If snow weren't a problem, then one possible route is Roads End-> Granite Pass-> Simpson Meadow-> Palisade Lakes-> Mather Pass-> Pinchot Pass-> Paradise Valley-> Roads End. Of course, the extreme snow levels this year make the high passes (Mather especially) tricky in June. I've crossed Mather and Pinchot in mid-June of an extreme snow year (2005); it wasn't impossible, but I'm reluctant to lead a group on that route so early in the season.

I welcome all suggestions about itineraries through the MF Kings region. Our trip does not necessarily need to be a loop, but it would be nice. The Rancheria/Crown trailheads look appealing, but can we make it a loop? What about connecting Godard Creek with Blue Canyon? Is the Cartridge Creek route usable anymore?

If it helps motivate discussion, my experience with backpacking/trekking is non-trivial. (PCT thru-hiker, JMT x 2, plus many cross-country trips in SEKI). The other hikers in my group are strong and experienced, but maybe not so good on long multi-mile snow stretches. We're willing to tackle class 2 and some easy class 3---routes similar to LeConte Col, Milestone Col, or Potluck Pass. Our primary intentions are to find a good mix of long trekking days, high mountain scenery days, and a couple lazy meadow days.

Thanks, I appreciate all tips!



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Re: Looking for advice on Tehipite Valley and MF Kings, June 201

Postby gregw822 » Thu Mar 31, 2011 4:02 am

I've done one trip into the Tehipite Valley. It was early June of a moderate to heavy snow year, nothing like this year, however. Went out of Rancheria, and did that amazing descent into the canyon. When we got down there we were stranded. The water was too high get beyond the flat at the bottom of the trail. The river was big and fast and very beautiful. There's a feeder stream right there at the bottom that runs into the river. It's was too big to cross, so we couldn't go upriver along the left bank, Crossing the river itself to the right bank was absolutely out of the question. We stayed overnight and went back out. I suspect you would find the same this year. I've scoured the topo maps and searched the web, but I haven't been able to find evidence for a loop trip back to Rancheria. The feeder creeks, such as Blue Creek, all seem to end at cliffs. It's probably been done, but it won't be easy. I recall reading one account of people doing one of the side creeks with climbing gear, but it's been quite a some time, and I don't recall the details. My advice is to make other plans or delay your trip.
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Re: Looking for advice on Tehipite Valley and MF Kings, June 201

Postby TehipiteTom » Thu Mar 31, 2011 6:25 am

I'm fairly certain that in June this year you won't be able to cross the Middle Fork, and 90% certain you won't want to cross Crown Creek (the stream gregw mentioned). I led a trans-Sierra trip in August 1995 (extreme snow year) that was intended to go from South Lake to Wishon via the Middle Fork; at the last minute we decided to re-route to Road's End instead. When we actually saw the Middle Fork, we knew we had made the right decision.

Edit: and I just saw in today's Chron that the snowpack this year is the biggest since...1995!
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Re: Looking for advice on Tehipite Valley and MF Kings, June 201

Postby snowgoat » Sat Apr 02, 2011 11:10 pm

Was stranded at Crown creek in July. It was only passable if you had a death wish. That was just a feeder stream. No chance of crossing the river. Forget June.
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Re: Looking for advice on Tehipite Valley and MF Kings, June 201

Postby maverick » Sun Apr 03, 2011 1:58 pm

Hi Vhsvhs

Welcome to HST!
Like others here have said, this is definitely not the year to go in June.
You'll have a lot of snow, creek, and river crossings will not be possible, try rescheduling
to some time in mid or late in the season.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Looking for advice on Tehipite Valley and MF Kings, June 201

Postby vhsvhs » Sun Apr 03, 2011 2:25 pm

@gregw822, @TehipiteTom, @snowgoat, @maverick --- Thanks for the advice. I'll save Tehipite for later in September.
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Re: Looking for advice on Tehipite Valley and MF Kings, June 201

Postby East Side Hiker » Mon Apr 04, 2011 8:23 pm

Burns me up - I've been planning my Tehipite trip since last Sept - to start on May 14 (ya'll know because I want to check out the "rumor" that there's a great flower display in the valley). And I got 10 days off to do it. I knew from the beginning, and many people on this site have warned me, that it would be a crap shoot; and Crown Cr. is a big one during run-off (ever checked out the size of that watershed?). Guess I'm going to Baja and roam the San Padro Martir instead. Or the Panament Range. I want to see the Calochortus kennedyi - but even then It'd be too dern soon.
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Re: Looking for advice on Tehipite Valley and MF Kings, June 201

Postby TehipiteTom » Tue Apr 05, 2011 11:03 am

One thing worth mentioning: it's not as if Tehipite Valley is a total loss just because Crown Creek is uncrossable. It does mean it's an out-and-back trip (no possibility of looping), and it does limit where in the valley you can go, but there's still plenty to see...and the upside is that Silver Spray Fall would be spectacular.

May 14 is still probably too early (you'll likely have lots of snow on the ground along the way, and there are streams that could be very difficult at that point), but June isn't necessarily out of the question.
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Re: Looking for advice on Tehipite Valley and MF Kings, June 201

Postby almostpicasso » Wed Apr 06, 2011 10:38 pm

The trail down into Tehipite from the rim is probably not maintained anymore. It was pretty rough last time I was there in 1985. Recent accounts also mention that the trail from Tehipite Valley to Simpson Mdw is not maintained either, and the bridge across the MF Kings downstream from Simpson Mdw is probably long gone. Read this guy's account:

http://www.climber.org/reports/1999/477.html

It was the same as when I came down the valley in 1977 the first time from Goddard Ck., but it's evidently even more over-grown now.

Plus, the Tehipite Valley floor trail is a 12 mile long snake pit, you will see one fat rattler after another every 30 yds or so! The kayakers who run the MF Kings also see lots of them along the river, but usually in early season.

Tehipite Valley is DEFINITELY worth experiencing, and the view of the Gorge of Despair will blow your mind. It is the "Backpacker's Yosemite" and you'll have it all to yourself. Once you've been there, you will feel like one of the chosen few. But it's just not a place to visit early this season.
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Re: Looking for advice on Tehipite Valley and MF Kings, June 201

Postby TehipiteTom » Thu Apr 07, 2011 10:53 am

almostpicasso wrote:The trail down into Tehipite from the rim is probably not maintained anymore. It was pretty rough last time I was there in 1985. Recent accounts also mention that the trail from Tehipite Valley to Simpson Mdw is not maintained either, and the bridge across the MF Kings downstream from Simpson Mdw is probably long gone. Read this guy's account:

http://www.climber.org/reports/1999/477.html

It was the same as when I came down the valley in 1977 the first time from Goddard Ck., but it's evidently even more over-grown now.

Plus, the Tehipite Valley floor trail is a 12 mile long snake pit, you will see one fat rattler after another every 30 yds or so! The kayakers who run the MF Kings also see lots of them along the river, but usually in early season.

Tehipite Valley is DEFINITELY worth experiencing, and the view of the Gorge of Despair will blow your mind. It is the "Backpacker's Yosemite" and you'll have it all to yourself. Once you've been there, you will feel like one of the chosen few. But it's just not a place to visit early this season.

The bridge across the Middle Fork is long gone (as I can verify from experience), but I don't think the trail is 'unmaintained'--just infrequently maintained. In fact, I did it in 1999 (same year as that climber.org report) and there was a trail crew in the canyon. Didn't help us much of the way, but where they were ahead of us we were really grateful.

And I've been to Tehipite twice and never seen a rattler there (seen plenty elsewhere--just not there). Just one more data point to consider.
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Re: Looking for advice on Tehipite Valley and MF Kings, June 201

Postby Wandering Daisy » Thu Apr 07, 2011 1:39 pm

I have climbed with Ron Hudson, the fellow who wrote the climber.org report. Ron climbs 5.10, is a champion at competative orientieering, is about 6ft4in, takes one step for every one of mine, can out-walk everyone and has banged around the Sierra for over 40 years. Although he made it up river, I doubt many of us could. I sure enjoyed climbing with him. I do not think there is any terrain too gnarly for him to get through.
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Re: Looking for advice on Tehipite Valley and MF Kings, June 201

Postby lostcoyote » Fri Apr 08, 2011 7:23 pm

agree with everyone herein about june/july this year...

for what it's worth, here's my trip report from sepember, 2010:
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=5514&start=0

the trail is in good condition.
long climb out but well worth the visit in late season this year imo if you can.
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