Mineral King or Rae Lakes... help me decide!

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gelias96
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Mineral King or Rae Lakes... help me decide!

Post by gelias96 » Sat Jun 23, 2018 3:59 pm

Hey everyone

I've got a decision to make for a trip with my girlfriend from Friday 6/29 through Wednesday 7/04. I plan on leaving work in LA Thursday 6/28 evening and snagging a walk in for that night (or sleeping in my car if nothings available). Then Friday morning get up bright and early and hopefully grab a permit for that day. What TH that permit is for is what I need your guys' help with.
We're both in shape (at sea level), level 2-3 hikers. We want to avoid having to use ice axes/crampons, and would love to do some fishing. Something like class 2 or easy class 3 would be ideal.

Here are the two trips I'm considering:
1. Mineral king loop (clockwise, starting at Timber gap, ending through Sawpass).

2. Rae Lakes loop (clockwise, starting at Wood creek, ending through Bubbs).

I am torn between the beauty of the high sierra for Mineral King and the diversity of Rae Lakes loop. I am leaning towards Mineral King since I've done more research, but can be easily talked into Rae Lakes. Also, the relative solitude of Mineral King is tempting.

Some questions regarding each possibility:
Mineral King:
1. Does anyone know the snow conditions on Black Rock pass is right now?
From what I've pieced together from past year TR, it probably won't require crampons.

Rae Lakes:
1. Any anecdotes on crossing the South Fork Kings River Bridge above Paradise Valley?

2. What are my chances of getting a walk-in permit for Woods creek TH on Friday morning?
Alternatively we could got counterclockwise if Bubbs has availability.

3. How about the snow conditions on Glen Pass?
I apologize if someone has posted about this recently, I have only begun searching for Rae Lakes conditions.

What other considerations am I missing?

Any suggestions/information/insights would be greatly appreciated!
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bobby49
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Re: Mineral King or Rae Lakes... help me decide!

Post by bobby49 » Sat Jun 23, 2018 4:21 pm

In Mineral King, why must you go over Black Rock Pass?

How about Timber Gap, Bearpaw Camp, Kaweah Gap, Big Arroyo, and then all the way around to Sawtooth Pass?

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maverick
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Re: Mineral King or Rae Lakes... help me decide!

Post by maverick » Sat Jun 23, 2018 4:32 pm

Welcome to HST!

http://www.highsierratopix.com/communit ... f=1&t=4205

https://www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/trailcond.htm

http://www.highsierratopix.com/communit ... ss#p136438

What is your reason for wanting to exit via Sawtooth Pass, some people avoid the descent, Franklin Pass would be an alternative as an entry or exit to keep in mind. Be prepared for skeeters, it will be bad.
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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.

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Re: Mineral King or Rae Lakes... help me decide!

Post by Wandering Daisy » Sat Jun 23, 2018 5:13 pm

You cannot just drive into SEKI late at night and "snag a walk-in permit". For the Rae Lakes loop, they do not give out permits past 3PM. For Mineral King, I think they close the permit office around 5PM or even earlier. For either trailhead there are great campgrounds near the trailhead, so best to just drive into one of those and get your permit next AM. I would lean towards Mineral King, as it may take nearly a day to get a permit, if there are available permits, for Rae Lake.

By the way, another way to do Rae Lakes loop, is to go in the east side, via Kearsarge Pass, then over Glen Pass, down to Roads End, (just pass through or you have to get another permit), up Bubbs, back to Kearsarge Pass. You can pick up a permit for Kearsarge at Lone Pine. I have done the trip up to Castle Domes before they ever put the bridge in. We used to have to cross on a log. I would think water levels are down enough now that if you cannot find a log, you should be able to wade across early AM. You definitely will see more people on Rae Lakes loop.

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Re: Mineral King or Rae Lakes... help me decide!

Post by maiathebee » Sat Jun 23, 2018 8:08 pm

Wandering Daisy wrote:You cannot just drive into SEKI late at night and "snag a walk-in permit". For the Rae Lakes loop, they do not give out permits past 3PM. For Mineral King, I think they close the permit office around 5PM or even earlier. For either trailhead there are great campgrounds near the trailhead, so best to just drive into one of those and get your permit next AM. I would lean towards Mineral King, as it may take nearly a day to get a permit, if there are available permits, for Rae Lake.
From what I interpreted, he's planning to drive up and camp and then get permit in the morning, but used confusing language by saying walk-in permit instead of a walk-in site.

Should note though that sleeping in the car is not allowed if you can't get a site. More sites in total at Cedar Grove for the Rae Lakes loop trip. Moraine will have just reopened, good that you're not going two days earlier. That said, with it being before the holiday week it is unlikely you'll find a site if you leave from LA after work. You may as well take a power nap at home after work and leave late at night and just go straight to permit office to wait for it to open.

Don't make your trip decision about where you're more likely to get permits. Any walk-in permit is attainable if you are up early enough. Just take your sleeping bag and sit outside the office as early as you're willing to.

The loops you describe are going to be very different experiences in terms of how much company you'll have on trail. With the South Fork bridge out and all the people you'll be around on the Rae Lakes loop trip, I'd choose Mineral King.
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Re: Mineral King or Rae Lakes... help me decide!

Post by Wandering Daisy » Sat Jun 23, 2018 9:13 pm

There is an ugly, but free open Forest Service "dispersed camping area" just as you near the bottom King Canyon on the way to Cedar Grove. No facilities or water, but legal to sleep in your car. I think it is shown on the FS web site under "campgrounds". Not easy to find in the dark so you need to really have it located if you plan on arriving in the dark.

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Re: Mineral King or Rae Lakes... help me decide!

Post by SSSdave » Sat Jun 23, 2018 9:36 pm

The chances of receiving a Friday morning wilderness permit for either choice are poor. Because all those permits for such very popular trailheads would have been already taken by Thursday noon. Walk up permits are available the day before from 11am. To get those permits, one must get to a ranger station before they open up ( 8am? ) on the DAY BEFORE and then get a number to be used as a line position at 11am. So one less trail day.

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Re: Mineral King or Rae Lakes... help me decide!

Post by rightstar76 » Sun Jun 24, 2018 3:11 am

Flip a coin. Seriously. Each route is great. It's like two desserts that are equally delicious. The only thing I was thinking was solitude but since it's a holiday week, you probably won't find more solitude on the Mineral King loop. Both will be busy.

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Re: Mineral King or Rae Lakes... help me decide!

Post by TurboHike » Sun Jun 24, 2018 8:12 am

Gelias96,

Here is a recent trip report (not mine) for the Mineral King area:

http://www.highsierratopix.com/communit ... =1&t=18307

I hope you find it helpful

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Re: Mineral King or Rae Lakes... help me decide!

Post by maiathebee » Sun Jun 24, 2018 2:10 pm

SSSdave wrote:The chances of receiving a Friday morning wilderness permit for either choice are poor. Because all those permits for such very popular trailheads would have been already taken by Thursday noon. Walk up permits are available the day before from 11am. To get those permits, one must get to a ranger station before they open up ( 8am? ) on the DAY BEFORE and then get a number to be used as a line position at 11am. So one less trail day.
Oh yeah, good point. Somehow I always remember day before pickup for reserved permits but not for walk-ins! Probably that's because I almost only ever try for walk-ins solo, which makes it a lot easier. It happens pretty often that there's one lone permit left even on popular trails. Got a Cathedral Lakes day of walk-up day-of on Saturday of Labor Day weekend that way a few years back.
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