Camp location suggestions for Seki Little 5 Lakes 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
maverick
Forums Moderator
Forums Moderator
Posts: 10213
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:54 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

Re: Camp location suggestions for Seki Little 5 Lakes Loop

Post by maverick » Tue Aug 05, 2014 1:38 pm

save one person, who has only done one or two trips (this person may dictate the
speed at which we're able to travel)
That is good to read, and shows good leadership.
Black Rock Pass is a long haul, and getting to Mineral King takes a while, so unless
you plan on spending the night before at Mineral King, you will get a late start
and may need to chop down one your original plans. Also do you know how your
group does at altitude, especially driving in and going high for the first night?
Especially you newbie.
If everyone is fine with the altitude, would recommend doing Franklin Pass, down
Soda Creek, visit 5 Big Lakes, Little Five Lakes, go over Black Rock Pass to Spring
Lake, from where you take the cross-country route (easy class 2) up to Columbine
Lake via Cyclamen Lake, and out via Sawtooth Pass. This will allow you to see most
of the Mineral King high country including Forester and Little Claire Lakes.


Professional Sierra Landscape Photographer

I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, an HST member: http://reconn.org






User avatar
oleander
Topix Regular
Posts: 373
Joined: Wed Aug 18, 2010 10:15 am
Experience: N/A

Re: Camp location suggestions for Seki Little 5 Lakes Loop

Post by oleander » Sat Aug 09, 2014 10:55 am

Hi,

It sounds like you have an well-traveled group. However, my experience with large groups is that you will always be traveling the (very slow) speed of the person who is having the greatest number of problems. It won't necessarily be your newbie. It could just as well be the person who is having unexpected altitude sickness, blisters, heatstroke, or joint problems. Or the person who got only 3 hours of sleep. Or the person carrying way too much weight. I have brought groups of athletes backpacking, and sometimes it is actually a very good athlete who is experiencing the most problems. Just don't expect to move very quickly.

Added to that will be the rugged vertical nature of Mineral King. I like to tell my hiking partners that although MK is one of my favorite areas of the Sierra, I never go there as my first trip of the season. It is just brutally steep in places, even the places with "good" trail. The Timber Gap trail is no joke, it goes straight uphill with no messing around, and if the weather is warm someone is going to have heat issues. It is 4000 feet of vertical just to get to Pinto Lake. Your likelihood of making it past Pinto with 10 people is low. Pinto has room for you group, easily.

Fortunately your itinerary is such that you can modify it - basically, eliminate the Nine Lakes diversion - on the fly.

In Little Five Lakes area, the uppermost lake is beautiful but it has really limited camping. I wouldn't try to find spots for 10 people there. The next lake down on the trail - the one with the ranger station - also beautiful - has plentiful camping. I'm not familiar with the other lakes in that basin.

If you think everyone including your newbie can do Class 2, one option is to shortcut from Little 5 to Big 5 Lakes. From the upper Little Five Lake, take the obvious saddle due south into the upper Big Five basin. I plan to go this way next time, in order to avoid the official trail between the two basins which I found not very interesting.

Maverick's suggestion to do the loop starting with Franklin Lakes is a good one too. Franklin is just as gorgeous as anything else in the area, and as a first-day climb it's less brutal than the other two official trails starting at the MK trailhead. Franklin is only ~6 miles in but it still requires some climbing, so I'd just stop there for the first night. Just getting to Franklin will feel like a full, hard day for some people (I speak from experience bringing others there), and the place is stunning especially with alpenglow, so just stop.

Whatever route you choose, Colombine Lake is a must-see.

- Elizabeth

User avatar
lauralai627
Topix Acquainted
Posts: 58
Joined: Wed Jul 27, 2011 3:44 pm
Experience: Level 3 Backpacker
Location: Oakland, CA

Re: Camp location suggestions for Seki Little 5 Lakes Loop

Post by lauralai627 » Mon Aug 11, 2014 8:23 am

Thanks Maverick and Oleander! Most of our group usually does fine with the altitude although there are one or two people I'm not sure about. Oleander, thank you for pointing out that any one of us could experience issues on the trail - you're absolutely right. I think we're going to stick to the Little 5/Big 5 Lakes loop since we already have the permit but we will most certainly be revisiting our itinerary to make sure everyone is comfortable before, during and after.

User avatar
lauralai627
Topix Acquainted
Posts: 58
Joined: Wed Jul 27, 2011 3:44 pm
Experience: Level 3 Backpacker
Location: Oakland, CA

Re: Camp location suggestions for Seki Little 5 Lakes Loop

Post by lauralai627 » Thu Sep 11, 2014 9:25 pm

Hey All,

Thanks again for all the trip advice. After hearing all of your warnings against trying to get over Black Rock Pass on day 1, we ended up doing Timber Gap to Pinto to start. It was actually pretty funny because there's no way we would have made it over Black Rock on day 1. We camped at Little Five Lakes for two nights and did a day trip to Precipice Lake and Nine Lakes Basin. We spent our last night at Columbine Lake. It was warm at night and not a single mosquito! One of our best trips yet.

Full trip report here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=11745#p88485" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

User avatar
Herm
Topix Regular
Posts: 255
Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2010 8:33 am
Experience: N/A
Location: Anaheim, CA
Contact:

Re: Camp location suggestions for Seki Little 5 Lakes Loop

Post by Herm » Thu Sep 11, 2014 9:44 pm

lauralai;

Thanks for that fun and informative TR! I have been to Mineral King many times, but have yet to get past Pinto Lake from the Timber Gap side, and Forrester Lake from the Franklin Pass side. Your description makes me want to get back out there, and somehow complete a loop. Have been to Hockett Meadow as well. So much to explore out of that valley - good stuff!

Cheers,
Herm
I am not in a hurry, so don't be hasty.

User avatar
slowhiker
Topix Acquainted
Posts: 22
Joined: Sat Apr 23, 2011 3:37 pm
Experience: N/A

Re: Camp location suggestions for Seki Little 5 Lakes Loop

Post by slowhiker » Thu Sep 11, 2014 10:35 pm

Lauralai, Great trip report. by the way my wife and i met the 3 of you as we were hiking down from Precipice Lake (where we had stayed the night before) and the 3 of you were hiking up toward kaweah gap. I am glad it was a rewarding trip for your entire group. We appreciated the enthusiasm the 3 of you exhibited and we did recognize you were on a rather long day hike. I too appreciated that there were nearly zero mosquitios. I intend to post our trip report later this weekend ( we did the High Sierra Trail)

slowhiker

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google Adsense [Bot], rsnipes and 3 guests