Backpacked out of Mineral King last weekend. Our plan was to go MK>Forester>Big 5 Lakes>Little 5 Lakes>MK. Our ranger informed us that Blackrock Pass (coming out of Little 5 Lakes back to MK) was a toss up. Not enough information on whether it was possible or not. Choice two was Sawtooth which the ranger immediately shut down--they were not issuing permits for Sawtooth at all unless individuals had ice climbing gear; apparently it was impassable otherwise. So we decided to do a Forester Lake/ Big 5 Lake out and back.
MK>Franklin Lake. Water crossings were nothing serious: both Crystal Creek and Franklin Creek crossings were manageable with common sense and trekking poles. Neither were more than knee deep. 2-3 minor snow fields on the initial ascent to Franklin Lakes. Nothing major. Be mindful of snow bridges. The snow is thin in some spots-- I fell/broke through- thankfully it was not serious. Franklin Lake was beautiful. Still about 70% covered in ice. A lot of snow around the cirque. No bugs at all. Kind of hazy due to the fire.
Franklin Lake>Franklin Pass. Nice climb. A lot more snow. There are a few spots that you have to completely forgo the trail and make your own way because the fields are too large to see where the trail goes. Other spots where it may behoove you to do the same just because the snow fields are so steep. Either way very manageable trail with fantastic views.
Franklin Pass is doable with just trek poles if your are coming from Franklin into Rattle Snake Canyon, but it will be a serious workout if your itinerary brings you back over on a return trip or you are coming the other way. The deeper Sierras are still a winter wonderland. Snow everywhere.
After seeing the backside of Franklin Pass and knowing that Blackrock was potentially impassable we gave up and decided to just spend the weekend hanging out at Franklin Lake. Did some day jaunts around and explored. Polar plunged in the ice covered lake. A group of people did come over from Rattlesnake Canyon but they had ice axes and microspikes. Even though we didn't get to do any of our itinerary it was time spent in the wilderness which is always time well spent.
Questions and reports related to Sierra Nevada current and forecast conditions, as well as general precautions and safety information. Trail conditions, fire/smoke reports, mosquito reports, weather and snow conditions, stream crossing information, and more.
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