TR: Kaweah Basin, HST, MK, and more!!!!

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zacjust32
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TR: Kaweah Basin, HST, MK, and more!!!!

Post by zacjust32 » Wed Nov 27, 2019 6:14 pm

Just finished putting together one of my trips from this summer. I posted it on my blog so go check it out! (note: I don't make money off it, sorry for redirecting)

Ring around the Kaweahs

*EDIT* I uploaded it here as well. Some of the larger photos and panos were too large, but the majority of them fit.
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Re: TR: Kaweah Basin, HST, MK, and more!!!!

Post by balzaccom » Wed Nov 27, 2019 8:15 pm

Nice report and photos! Looks like you had a great time, and spectacular weather!
Balzaccom

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Re: TR: Kaweah Basin, HST, MK, and more!!!!

Post by kpeter » Wed Nov 27, 2019 11:22 pm

I enjoyed your report and your photos. You must be a very strong hiker!

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Re: TR: Kaweah Basin, HST, MK, and more!!!!

Post by sekihiker » Thu Nov 28, 2019 9:57 am

Great report and awesome photos. Thanks for posting.

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Re: TR: Kaweah Basin, HST, MK, and more!!!!

Post by zacjust32 » Thu Nov 28, 2019 10:48 am

Wednesday 8/28 Crescent Meadow -> Buck Creek
I got to the Crescent Meadow TH at 4:30pm and was on the trail soon after. It was an easy 10 miles to Buck Creek where I spent my first night. I used to loath the HST, but after taking it half a dozen times this season, I’ve come to respect it as a flat, dusty, boring way to get to Elizabeth Pass or Kaweah Gap relatively quickly.

Thursday 8/29 Buck Creek -> 9 Lake Basin
The plan today was to hike up to Kaweah Gap and meet up with my friend Corey. We were going to climb Mt. Stewart and stay at 9 Lake Basin before parting ways. I was on the trail by 6:30 and made it to Hamilton in a little over 2 hours. I kept on and soon found the Hamilton blowout I’d heard so much about. I didn’t find it difficult or sketchy at all, but I do have a higher tolerance for scrambling/off-trail than the rest of the general backpacking crowd. Precipice lake was straight ahead, and I met up with Corey there. We iced our feet in the snow for a bit then headed up to Kaweah Gap. The views from here always impress me and today was no exception. Now to head into new terrain: 9 Lake Basin! We made our way to the first lake in the basin ate lunch and stashed some gear before preparing to climb Mt. Stewart. It was an easy climb up, following the grassy ramp heading up to the left before cutting back right to the summit. I couldn’t help but keep looking back toward the Kaweahs I would be making my way to in the next few days. Black Kaweah was especially threatening. I made my way to the high point on the ridge before realizing that I had climbed Liliput Glacier instead of the slightly lower Mt. Stewart. I quickly traversed to the class 3 summit block where Corey joined me. I especially enjoyed looking down the Big Arroyo and across to the Kaweahs. Stunning. We made our way back down to 9 Lake Basin and set up camp.
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Re: TR: Kaweah Basin, HST, MK, and more!!!!

Post by zacjust32 » Thu Nov 28, 2019 10:52 am

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Friday 8/30 9 Lake Basin -> Kaweah Basin

Today I was headed into Kaweah Basin while Corey was headed back to the front country. But before parting ways we checked out a legendary campsite he had heard of near the ‘B’ in Nine Lake Basin on the Triple Divide Peak quad. We found a couple nice places in the area before parting ways. My plan was to climb over Pyran-Queen Col and camp in Kaweah Basin tonight. I also wanted to hit Lawson Peak and Kaweah Queen along the way. To get there I followed the northern branch of the east creek and then cut south to Lake 11,400+ and then followed that drainage up to the west side of Lake 11,682. I followed use trails on and off through the basin. The rock here was much different than other places. Much darker and more jagged than the polished granites so typical of the Sierra. It felt very remote, rugged, and unexplored, kind of like hiking into Mordor! I started the climb up Lawson from Lake 11,682; just head northeast and aim for the summit. Lots of talus and scree with one loose chute to climb, but nothing technical. I hit the summit at 1pm, signed the register, and admired the amazing views for about an hour. I planned to follow the ridge to Kaweah Queen from Lawson. Halfway there I got into some Class 3 downclimbing and decided to abandon KQ this time. I side hilled across steep scree before making it to the base of Pyra-Queen Col. P-Q is very steep and had an ice field at the top. I was able to kick-step the lower sections, but the very top steep part was too icy for me. I veered right to a steeper chute full of ice, but at least it had hand holds on the sides. It was a huge relief to make it to the pass, not a pass for the faint of heart, especially when it holds snow/ice. The east side of the pass was much easier, and I descended benches down and took the long talus-hopping journey down the moraine and into the basin. Someone else had accomplished the descent before me and decided that this was the correct way down the vast talus field. I’m glad I found their route and followed it; I don’t know what I would have done if that duck wasn’t there! 2 hours after P-Q Col I made camp in the shadow of the Kaweah Peaks. The mosquitos here were the worst of the trip (7/10), and no breeze to blow them away. I had heard magical things about Kaweah Basin-and it was very pretty-but I’m not sure why it is regarded as highly as it is. Maybe I’m missing something…

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...to be continued...
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Re: TR: Kaweah Basin, HST, MK, and more!!!!

Post by zacjust32 » Thu Nov 28, 2019 10:56 am

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Saturday 8/31 Kaweah Basin -> Chagoopa Plateau
I got up this morning with the intent to capture some of the sunrise in the basin. I ran around to some of the places I scouted when coming down the last night. Kaweah Pass was my goal this morning. It looked steep, and after P-Q Col I was expecting more steep, loose talus. I contoured southwest around the lake below the pass and cut across to the low point below the pass. The rock was loose, but much more stable than yesterdays. I hit a steep chute and favored the hand- and footholds it offered over more loose scree. Once at the pass I looked to the east ridge and saw peaks 3964 and 4049. It was an easy trek over to bag 2 more peaks (this puts the total to 4 for those counting). I scree-skied down the gulley east of Peak 4049 down to a small pond. I lounged a bit, did some laundry, and went for a dip in the pond. I contoured around the base of Mt. Kaweah and made camp in the forest at the mountain’s feet. Tomorrow is going to be a lot of climbing.
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...to be continued...
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Re: TR: Kaweah Basin, HST, MK, and more!!!!

Post by zacjust32 » Thu Nov 28, 2019 11:00 am

Sunday 9/1 Chagoopa Plateau -> Spring Lake
Sunday morning, I was hiking by 7:30 and started making my way up the long slog up the south side of Mt. Kaweah. The views back towards Mineral King were very nice. I got to the peak at 10 and took in the views. Mt. Whitney, Sawtooth, the Palisades, and many other notable peaks were visible. After a snack I started back down the slope and aimed for the High Sierra Trail. Secor states that the dry pond around 10,600ft is where most people start the climb from the HST, and what do you know, that’s exactly where I caught the trail coming down! First time I had seen a trail since Kaweah Gap 3 days earlier. Once on the HST I made great time down to the Big Arroyo and back up to Little 5 Lakes. I had never been on this side of MK and had a little time to take in the views; Mineral King is always so impressive to me. I could look across the Big Arroyo and see the Kaweah Peaks Ridge I had just ascended and descended today. It was getting late, so I jammed up Black Rock Pass and descended the west side. I looked up from the trail and saw an amazing sight: 3 lakes in a row cascading down into Cliff Creek. The lighting was perfect to grab a shot, one of my favorites from the trip. At the point the trail crossed a small creek I cut across Cliff Creek to Spring Lake. Spring Lake was a wonderful lake with plenty of fish, I should have brought my pole.
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Re: TR: Kaweah Basin, HST, MK, and more!!!!

Post by zacjust32 » Thu Nov 28, 2019 11:03 am

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Monday 9/2 Spring Lake -> Mineral King Valley
Monday morning started with a bang! I woke up at 4:45 to some sprinkling. I quickly set up my tarp and hunkered down. The rain really picked up at 5:45 and lightning too: 17 seconds between flash and crash. At 5:56 it was 4 seconds between flash and crash, less than a mile away. And then it stopped. By 6:15 I could see the sky and a faint rainbow to the east. I headed up to Glacier Pass and found traces of the old trail to the top. I had read that the north side had a section of class 3 climbing but I found nothing too terribly sketchy. Plenty of hand- and footholds and it looked like a section to the east that could be used to bypass the harder parts. From Glacier Pass I descended to Monarch Lakes. I was supposed to meet my friend Alison today to get a ride out. She was going to be camping at Columbine last night, so I kept an eye out for her. An hour and a half after Monarch Lakes I was at the trailhead. I passed a dozen other hikers coming out and when I looked behind me, I saw the droves headed out of the backcountry after Labor Day. I had a little time to reflect while waiting for my ride, and decided that this was a pretty good trip, and there’s plenty more to explore and more peaks to climb (I’m talking to you Eisen and Lippincott!)
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Re: TR: Kaweah Basin, HST, MK, and more!!!!

Post by Wandering Daisy » Thu Nov 28, 2019 11:07 am

I really enjoyed your trip report, especially the photos. I thought your route was very unique! Thanks for the information on Spring Lake; I hope to get there next year.

I suspect that your less than thrilling opinion of Keweah Basin was due to traversing the upper basin and not getting down to the lower lakes, where, in my opinion, the views are better. Day-hiking from the lower lakes and spending the entire day poking around the upper basin was very enjoyable when I was at the meet-up (although I missed everyone by a day).

Stewart and Lawson are both very nice climbs. I especially liked Stewart.

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