Final Warmup Hike - Franklin Lake, Sequoia NP

3:16 a.m. on July 21, 2013 (EDT)
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Since my big trip is just one week away, I decided to get in one more conditioning hike.  Franklin Lake in Sequoia NP is my home away from home in the Sierras, and I didn't get there last year.  I couldn't work out an overnight there, so today I did it as a dayhike. 

To get there you have to brave the Mineral King Road - 25 miles with 7000' elevation gain, 698 official curves.  And not quite two lanes wide, which made things interesting when I met a dump truck and a garbage truck on the way up this morning.  Finally reaching the trailhead, the first thing I see is one of the local denizens.  Mineral King has hordes and hordes of them, and they hang out at trailheads to chew on belts and hoses in cars


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View from the trailhead.  The trailhead is at 7800', Franklin Lake is six miles in and at 10,330' behind the peaks on the left


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I always stop for a snack at the first crossing of Franklin Creek, where it drops into Mineral King Valley


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Getting a little higher, Vandever Mountain becomes prominent


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You eventually cross Franklin Creek again right at 10,000'


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Not much higher, and you crest the rise before Franklin Lake, this is the first view you get.  The lake is at 10,330', and Florence Peak behind the lake is 12,438'.  Florence Peak is one of my favorite ascents, a fantastic boulder scramble for the final 400', but not on this trip...


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I went to the place I usually camp at the lake, on a shelf with this view


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Since the clouds were gathering I had to start heading down...forgot to bring raingear.  In the end it only sprinkled on me.  First, a farewell shot of the lake.  Forester Lake, which is where Patman and I will camp on the fourth night of our trip, is just behind the ridge on the left.


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Some views on the way down.  In the first one, you can see Timber Gap (the wooded saddle on the distant ridge, on the right), which Patman and I will cross next Saturday.


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And finally, a graphic reminder of the thin air.  I last had this water bottle open at Franklin Lake...see what it looks like when I got back home at 300' elevation


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3:21 a.m. on July 21, 2013 (EDT)
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Since this is such an extraordinarily dry year in the Sierras (second year in a row), I was surprised by how green things still were, and by the profusion of wildflowers.  Here are some examples:


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11:26 a.m. on July 21, 2013 (EDT)
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Great trip report and pics Lambertiana! Hope you have a great upcoming trip, sounds like you'll be with good company. Look forward to the trip report from that adventure as well.

4:00 p.m. on July 21, 2013 (EDT)
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Great trip report. Loved the wildflower shots. Have a great trip with Patman.Hope you both enjoy it...

12:11 p.m. on July 22, 2013 (EDT)
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don't forget the marmots like to chew on brake lines too! good pictures.

2:24 p.m. on July 22, 2013 (EDT)
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Awesome! Woo-hoo, five more days!

2:42 p.m. on July 22, 2013 (EDT)
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Beautiful report, John! That marmot is really big and fluffy! The creek pictures and the wildflower pictures are amazing.

Thanks for sharing!

2:50 p.m. on July 22, 2013 (EDT)
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Patman Alert!  This just in---you'll have to cancel your trip so you can spent 8 days on the Brush Mt trail in the Citico.  It's unmaintained and you probably won't find your way out.  Or you could go to California.  It's not a hard decision.

7:12 p.m. on July 22, 2013 (EDT)
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Absolutely beautiful!  I've always wanted to head up to Mineral King but I heard permits there require reservations long in advance... is that true?

12:04 a.m. on July 23, 2013 (EDT)
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Ashleigh - Mineral King is marmot central.  You see more there in an hour than you will see elsewhere in the Sierras in a week.  It was there that my son started wondering what marmot tastes like.

Macchiolives - I have never had much trouble getting permits out of Mineral King.  Of course, by this time of the year, it can be hard to get them for the more popular routes (Sawtooth and Franklin), depending on the date.  But it's not as bad as places like the Rae Lakes loop, Alta, or the High Sierra Trail.   A mid-week entry means you can probably still get a permit for any trail out of Mineral King.And some of the routes are so lightly used that you can just pull up and get a permit without advance reservation.  One of those is Mosquito Lakes.  The maintained trail only goes to the first lake, and you can't camp there, so very few people actually plan to spend the night in that basin.  But all you have to do is go up the drainage to the second, third, or fourth lake (a faint use trail exists for part of the way, and it is an easy route) and you will have it to yourself.  I really like the upper part of Mosquito Lakes basin.

Check here to see what dates still have permit availability in SEKI:

http://www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/reservation-availability.htm

Note that there is not a single day this year when permits for Mosquito Lakes are close to being filled.  My trip next Saturday starts on Timber Gap, and only three dates this summer are full or nearly full.

5:32 p.m. on July 23, 2013 (EDT)
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I'm gonna have to keep Mosquito Lakes in mind.. I've seen pictures of Sawtooth.. and they look absolutely stunning.. but as you mentioned, it's a pretty popular trail.  I'm trying to really make a concerted effort as to NOT allow the lack of permit reservations deter me from going on trips.. in which I go up to the reservation booth with Plan Bs and Plan Cs.  Thanks for the advice!!

12:41 a.m. on July 24, 2013 (EDT)
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If you have plan B/plan C in mind, you would have no trouble just arriving at the Mineral King ranger station and getting a permit for a nice hike.  

7:37 p.m. on July 25, 2013 (EDT)
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I am happy for your introduction to Mineral King. Be sure to read John Harper's Mineral King book.

There is no such place as the "SierraS". The name is already plural and saying "SierraS" is akin to saying "mountainses." Sierra (sawtoothed) and Nevada (mountains) are complete. A person who will say "SierraS" will also letter space l o w e r  c a s e  type and will steal sheep.

10:52 p.m. on July 25, 2013 (EDT)
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Scott - You must be an OCD school teacher.  Yes, I am fully aware of the "correct" way to say the Sierra, however the local vernacular often takes over.  Especially since I do not speak Spanish...

November 1, 2014
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