Mineral King to Kaweah gap loop which way early July? | High Sierra Topix  

Mineral King to Kaweah gap loop which way early July?

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 to Kaweah gap loop which way early July?

Postby pavel » Thu May 26, 2011 3:07 am

Hi, we will be backpacking from July 2 for 5 nights from Mineral King, are experienced climbers and backpackers, experienced with snow and ice, but never backpacked in Sierra. Given current snow and water conditions, I was wandering if we should go counter-clockwise from MK through Redwood meadow and Hamolton lake to Kaweah gap and then to Big Five lakes and back through Blacktock or Franklin , hoping in additional days the snow level would be lower? Or should take opposite direction, first through Franklin pass over Blackrock and then return through Kaweah gap, Hamilton lake and Timber gap, hoping in perhaps slightly easier water crossing and altitude acclimatisation? We want to make around 10 miles a day, are in excellent shape and want to see diversity- high sierra, sequoia, lakes etc. Unfortunatelly we cannot move the date. Solitude is an important factor for us- will the Hamilton lake, Kaweah not be too crowded? Should we exclude it altogether and just focus on Franklin, Big Arryos, Five lakes etc, returning through Black rock? Thank you for any advice, pavel



User avatar
pavel
Topix Novice
 
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed May 25, 2011 6:43 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Mineral King to Kaweah gap loop which way early July?

Postby AlmostThere » Thu May 26, 2011 6:26 am

I hope the road opens for you. It should, but it's been an interesting year for snow and road closures.

You'll not see sequoias on any of those routes. The groves are all north of there. Much of the route you are describing is alpine and sub-alpine. If the road opens you will have company on the trails.

If you're hoping to achieve acclimitization, there are campgrounds down along the road - and it's such a long drive in there you might want to take advantage of down time and get a morning start on climbing anyway.

That early in spring you may want to do something to protect the vehicle from the marmots... there's a few threads about that around here for you to read for ideas.

I don't know that it matters which direction you go - there'll likely be patchy snow up high regardless.
User avatar
AlmostThere
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1762
Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2009 4:38 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Mineral King to Kaweah gap loop which way early July?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Thu May 26, 2011 8:02 am

How do you plan on crossing the Keweah River? I would check with rangers and be sure you can cross. Your time frame is putting you about at peak runoff this year. I do not know if there is a bridge down there or not.

You will have more than "patchy snow". I have been into Keweah Gap early and it will be nearly solid snow. But the snow is quite hard and you can walk on it. Precipice Lake will likely be iced over. Here are a few photos of an early trip.

Image
East of Keweah Gap
Image
Hamilton Lake
Image
View down valley from Precipice Lake area
User avatar
Wandering Daisy
Topix Junkie
 
Posts: 2608
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:19 pm
Location: Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento area)
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Mineral King to Kaweah gap loop which way early July?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Thu May 26, 2011 10:15 am

The photos previously shown were taken May 29, 2001 . I do not know what kind of snow year 2001 was compared to this year. A lot will depend on the melt rate this June.

Here is another photo in 2006 4th July weekend at Mineral King (Franklin Lake). On either trip, the snow was not a problem to walk on, but stream crossings were difficult.

Personally I think Hamilton Lake and Keweah Gap are spectacular and I would not delete them from your trip. Hamilton Lake can be popular but they really control how many permits are given and you are only allowed to camp there for a few nights so it is not usually overly crowded. You could camp just east of Keweah Gap and do a day-hike down to Hamilton Lake, and then return via Blackrock Pass.

Image
User avatar
Wandering Daisy
Topix Junkie
 
Posts: 2608
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:19 pm
Location: Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento area)
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Mineral King to Kaweah gap loop which way early July?

Postby RoguePhotonic » Thu May 26, 2011 1:28 pm

Your biggest concern with snow is going to be the tunnel section as you drop off or climb the Kaweah Gap. If you have any gear you will be fine but in 2008 in mid June I had to spend 2 hours digging a level trail through the snow because it was hard packed and steep. One slip means death in that spot.

Notice the cut in the snow:

Image

I may be wrong but I think there is a bridge that crosses the Middle Fork of the Kaweah.
User avatar
RoguePhotonic
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1667
Joined: Thu Mar 24, 2011 9:52 am
Location: Bakersfield CA
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Mineral King to Kaweah gap loop which way early July?

Postby maverick » Thu May 26, 2011 2:51 pm

Like Rogue mention the Tunnel Section will be difficult.
Hamilton may have a few folks, but because of the big snow year a lot of folks
may not want to go that high yet.
Precipice Lake will still be frozen, and you will have steady snow at the higher
elevations like Franklin, and KG for sure.

Pavel wrote "Or should take opposite direction, first through Franklin pass over Blackrock
and then return through Kaweah gap, Hamilton lake and Timber gap, hoping in perhaps
slightly easier water crossing and altitude acclimatisation?"

Your planning doesn't jive here, you need to go up the Big Arroyo, and then return
through the Gap, Hamilton Lake, and Timber Gap, don't need to go over Black Rock
Pass.
You must have meant to go down to the Big Arroyo (lots of stream crossings) from Little
Five Lakes, and then up to Kaweah Gap, Hamilton Lake, and on to Timber Gap through
Redwood Meadow to MK?
I would prefer to do the MK>Franklin>Little Five Lakes>Big Arroyo>Kaweah Gap>Hamilton
Lakes>Timber Gap>MK variation.
Check with the rangers about river conditions, they may have something about the
Hamilton Lakes area by then, maybe.
Also keep on eye on http://www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/trailcond.htm and also
keep an eye on this board for TR's to the area.
Oh, also come prepared for skeeterz, LFL, BFL, and Soda Creek area have nasty
skeeterz.
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
User avatar
maverick
Forums Moderator
Forums Moderator
 
Posts: 8045
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:54 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Mineral King to Kaweah gap loop which way early July?

Postby pavel » Fri May 27, 2011 4:10 am

Thanks a lot for advice and photos. We will go MK-Franklin- BFL- Big Arroyo-Kaweah Gap-Hamilton lake- Timber Gap- MK, there is nothing we can do about the snow and water, perhaps plan better next year.... Last year we travelled across SW national parks with the whole family in an RV, and we were so taken by the scenic beauty that we decided to return, this time without kids and with the backpacks. However, unpredictability is part of the wilderness atractiveness.

BTW, are there any outdoor shops in Visalia or Three Rivers for final items like fuel bottle etc which I cannot take to the plane? I could not find anything on www.

Thanks, pavel
User avatar
pavel
Topix Novice
 
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed May 25, 2011 6:43 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Mineral King to Kaweah gap loop which way early July?

Postby AlmostThere » Fri May 27, 2011 7:59 am

Visalia would be your best bet. Look up Big 5 - I know there is one, we bought fuel there on the way to Mineral King last year.
User avatar
AlmostThere
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1762
Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2009 4:38 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Mineral King to Kaweah gap loop which way early July?

Postby Troutdog 59 » Fri May 27, 2011 8:20 am

pavel wrote:BTW, are there any outdoor shops in Visalia or Three Rivers for final items like fuel bottle etc which I cannot take to the plane? I could not find anything on www.

Thanks, pavel


Theres a Sport Chalet in Visalia. Its south of the 198 Fwy a few miles on Mooney Blvd.
If you stand in the light, you get the feel of the night, and the music that plays in your ear......
In your mind you can hear, a voice so sweet and clear, and the music that plays in your head......
As it flows up from the ground, taking all that hear the sound, close your eyes, it’s about to begin.

R. Trower
User avatar
Troutdog 59
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 549
Joined: Thu Dec 23, 2010 12:11 pm
Location: Clovis
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Mineral King to Kaweah gap loop which way early July?

Postby lambertiana » Fri May 27, 2011 7:55 pm

Head south on Mooney Blvd from Hwy 198 in Visalia. You will get to Big Five first, it's on the east side of Mooney a little south of Tulare Ave (you have to pass it and then do a U-turn). They usually have a mix of Coleman, Primus, and Gaz canisters, and Coleman white gas. They have a limited supply of backpacking equipment. Or continue south on Mooney another mile to Sport Chalet, it is on the west side a little south of Caldwell, in the same shopping center as Target. They usually have a mix of MSR, Gaz, Snow Peak, and Jetboil canisters, and a few brands of white gas. They also have a big selection of backpacking gear, not much less than the Fresno REI.
User avatar
lambertiana
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 159
Joined: Tue Aug 24, 2010 3:13 pm
Location: Visalia, CA
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Mineral King to Kaweah gap loop which way early July?

Postby Phil R » Fri Jul 01, 2011 2:30 pm

I sure would be interested in getting some current info (especially from eye witnesses) on the trail from Hamilton to Kaweah Gap...especially the tunnel spot. One report dated 6/27 says still a lot of snow above Hamilton Lake. Plan to hike through there around August 10...should be OK by then.
People are friendly at 6000 ft...and the higher you go, the friendlier they get.
User avatar
Phil R
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 48
Joined: Thu Feb 02, 2006 9:18 am
Location: Orange County, CA
Experience: N/A


Return to Backpacking / Hiking / Camping



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: imtomfritz and 3 guests