Eight Days out of Mineral King, Sequoia NP with Patman

11:26 p.m. on August 4, 2013 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
371 forum posts

For several years I have been looking at the 7.5' Mineral King Quadrangle, and a pair of lakes at 10,900' at the east end of Needham Mountain has been calling to me.  This year I built my long backpacking trip around reaching those lakes.  Patman flew out from TN to join me.

As we got our permit at Mineral King, it was raining pretty good; I told Patman that he brought the rain from TN.  But as we ascended to Timber Gap, the rain let up some.  From that first part, looking toward Mineral King valley


IMG_5166.jpg

After reaching Timber Gap, we headed down toward Cliff Creek


IMG_5201.jpg

Then we headed up to Pinto Lake to camp for the night


IMG_5233.jpg


IMG_5248.jpg

We camped here


IMG_5291.jpg


IMG_5292.jpg


IMG_5319.jpg

The next morning we got up to bright clear skies


IMG_5332.jpg

We ascended Black Rock Pass (11,600'), with views toward Columbine, Cyclamen, and Spring Lakes with Sawtooth Peak in the background


IMG_5355.jpg

Once on Black Rock Pass, we could see our destination for the day - Lake 10,192 in the Big Five Lakes, just right of center


IMG_5357.jpg

The Kaweahs from the pass


IMG_5363.jpg

We were chased down the pass by a hailstorm, but by the time we reached Little Five Lakes, it started clearing up


IMG_5379.jpg

Then we looped around to Lake 10,192, where Patman decided it was time for a brisk swim


IMG_5418.jpg

Sunset at Lake 10,192


IMG_5476.jpg

11:32 p.m. on August 4, 2013 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
371 forum posts

The next morning the skies were clear


IMG_5480.jpg


IMG_5500.jpg

The plan for the day was to descend to Big Arroyo, and then follow it down to a point below the plateau that we would cross to get to the lower part of Rattlesnake Creek.  The park service warns that the Big Arroyo does not have a maintained trail and requires routefinding skills.

The initial descent from Big Five Lakes took us past the lowest of the Little Five Lakes, with the Kaweahs in the background


IMG_5527.jpg

Just one example of the fine scenery on the way down to Big Arroyo


IMG_5548.jpg

Finally reaching Big Arroyo


IMG_5557.jpg

In Big Arroyo


IMG_5586.jpg


IMG_5601.jpg


IMG_5611.jpg

Then we ran into trouble, in the form of a lot of this


IMG_5620.jpg

As the day lengthened, we decided that we would rather change plans than risk still being in the deadfall as it got dark, so we stopped for the night there.

11:51 p.m. on August 4, 2013 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
371 forum posts

The next morning we went back up Big Arroyo a short distance and headed up toward Soda Creek.  The Soda Creek canyon is very scenic


IMG_5641.jpg

We went all the way up to Little Claire Lake (10,420'), where we were treated to outstanding views from the outlet.  First, looking east down the canyon, with the Whitney group in the background


IMG_5684.jpg

And north to the head of the canyon proper, with Sawtooth Peak and Needham Mountain at the top


IMG_5687.jpg

From the inlet end of Little Claire Lake


IMG_5707.jpg

We then went over the divide to camp at Forester Lake (10,354')


IMG_5748.jpg

Patman found this nice erratic garden on the nearby rise overlooking Rattlesnake Creek


IMG_5784.jpg

Sunset at Forester Lake


IMG_5839.jpg

The next morning, a clear sunrise


IMG_5853.jpg

We backtracked over the divide, passing Little Claire Lake again


IMG_5872.jpg

We continued down Soda Creek, and then looped around to camp at the bottom of Lost Canyon near here


IMG_5910.jpg

Lost Canyon creek cascades down a hundred yards of rocks like this by our camp


IMG_5940.jpg

12:04 a.m. on August 5, 2013 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
371 forum posts

And then the adventure began.  There are no trails to the lakes that were the goal of the trip, so we went cross country from Lost Canyon.  The first part was in a nice woodland, with great views


IMG_5971.jpg

But then it turned into a LOT of this, probably at least 3/4 of a mile total.  Patman got his introduction to sierra granite boulder hopping in a big way


IMG_5996.jpg

Eventually we reached a small lake in the bowl immediately north of our target for the day


IMG_5980.jpg

Then we traversed around to the next basin south, which held my lakes
IMG_6008.jpg


IMG_6044.jpg

There was no trace of human presence there, confirming my belief that this lake rarely, if ever, receives visitors.

Patman scrambled up the slopes to get a snowball (he had to go high in this very dry year)


IMG_6062.jpg

View toward the Whitney group from camp



IMG_6101.jpg

I love foxtail pines, and there were some picturesque examples there


IMG_6083.jpg

I liked the composition of this foxtail root from a fallen tree against a healthy specimen


IMG_6108.jpg

Sunrise at my lakes
IMG_6150.jpg

The next day we headed back toward Lost Canyon, but we followed a better route that did not involve as much rock hopping.  Leaving my lakes, parting shot


IMG_6184.jpg

Some rock hopping was inescapable


IMG_6204.jpg

Going by the smaller lake again



IMG_6213.jpg

See the smile on Patman's face?  Picture yourself there


IMG_6221.jpg

Some more interesting foxtail pines


IMG_6228.jpg

12:11 a.m. on August 5, 2013 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
371 forum posts

We returned to Lost Canyon and headed up.  Some views along the way


IMG_6237.jpg


IMG_6238.jpg


IMG_6241.jpg


IMG_6250.jpg

Again, see the smile on his face?


IMG_6251.jpg


IMG_6253.jpg

Eventually we reached the top of the divide just above Columbine Lake.  This is looking back down the canyon
IMG_6266.jpg

And Columbine Lake (10,970'), where we spent the night


IMG_6273.jpg


IMG_6275.jpg


IMG_6294.jpg


IMG_6316.jpg

From the outlet you can see Black Rock Pass, just right of center


IMG_6277.jpg

Evening at Columbine Lake

IMG_6353.jpg


IMG_6367.jpg


IMG_6371.jpg


IMG_6398.jpg

12:25 a.m. on August 5, 2013 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
371 forum posts

After another starry night, morning at Columbine Lake


IMG_6406.jpg

We then ascended to Sawtooth Pass (11,630').  From the pass the summit of Sawtooth Peak (12,343') lures you


IMG_6436.jpg

We took a side trip to the summit, which is one of my favorites.  The summit is about the size of my living room, with big drops on all sides.  Here is Patman close to the top


IMG_6438.jpg

Standing on top.  See how the rock looks like there is a line in it just to the left of him?  That is because the rock on the far left is actually 1200' below him.


IMG_6439.jpg

Patman got brave and went on the actual summit fin...something that I won't do.  The picture does not come close to conveying the exposure on that rock, big drops...


IMG_6447.jpg

Some views from the top


IMG_6440.jpg


IMG_6441.jpg


IMG_6449.jpg

After some adventure on the way down from the summit, we picked up our packs and headed down the slopes (Patman's first experience skiing down sand/gravel at that elevation, we dropped 1200' vertically in less than 15 minutes), we arrived at lower Monarch Lake (10,400')


IMG_6454.jpg

Sawtooth from the west as we descended


IMG_6462.jpg

From there it was the depressing descent to Mineral King, depressing because I knew that it meant returning to all the worries of daily life.  This is Empire Mountain from the south; Cliff Creek is on the other side


IMG_6465.jpg

And finally, Mineral King valley


IMG_6477.jpg

As we drove out, we stopped for a walk up into the Atwell Mill grove.  We didn't get to any of the really big trees, but I think it whetted Patman's appetite to come back to visit the really big ones.


IMG_6487.jpg

To really grasp the size of these trees, it is best to find a fallen tree and walk the trunk.  Can you see Patman at the far end of this fallen tree?


IMG_6490.jpg

I had a very enjoyable time this last week.  We had great scenery, and Patman is a great trail companion and is easy to get along with.  I'd do another hike with him any time.

6:57 a.m. on August 5, 2013 (EDT)
TOP 10 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
1,366 reviewer rep
409 forum posts

Great pics and it looks like you had great weather for the most part, plus you now have a group of lakes named after you.  I'm thinking this trip was a success!!

Thanks for posting :)

10:31 a.m. on August 5, 2013 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
171 forum posts

great trip report and pics. I bet Patman had a grin on his face the whole time. 

10:47 a.m. on August 5, 2013 (EDT)
97 reviewer rep
47 forum posts

Epic trip, Looks like you and Patman had a fabulous week. The pictures are incredible, and it looks like the weather treated you well for the most part! Thanks for sharing.

11:40 a.m. on August 5, 2013 (EDT)
MODERATOR TOP 10 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
2,746 reviewer rep
346 forum posts

John,

This looks like an amazing trip! The pictures are fabulous! I am glad to see that y'all found your lakes.  I hope y'all had a great time!

9:25 p.m. on August 5, 2013 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
770 reviewer rep
1,266 forum posts

John, many thanks for planning and executing one of the coolest and most fun backpacking trips I've ever done!

You were a gracious host and most excellent trail companion.

Your pictures turned out much better than mine (no big surprise since you actually know how to use a camera!).

I feel the same way and would absolutely do another trip if we get the chance.

When I get caught up I'll post a more narrative report because this report captures the visuals much better than my pics would.

Wow, what a trip! I'm still grinning about it.

 

10:47 p.m. on August 5, 2013 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,245 reviewer rep
1,270 forum posts

Awesome trip and great pix!  I was in that area in May ... up from Wolverton, Hamilton Lake, Kaweah Pass, Big Arroyo, Black Rock Pass (with snow on the east side, yikes!), and back to Wolverton. That one was 5 days/4 nights of amazing scenery.  None of that rock hopping & super exposed summit stuff for me though :).

I hoped to take an 8-9 day trip this summer, too, but it didn't work out.

2:31 p.m. on August 6, 2013 (EDT)
TOP 10 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
3,426 reviewer rep
1,234 forum posts

  Heroic!  Well done! 

9:50 a.m. on August 8, 2013 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
724 reviewer rep
677 forum posts

Good one gents! Nice to see Trailspace making for these long-distance connections!

5:59 p.m. on August 8, 2013 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
450 reviewer rep
189 forum posts

Great report!  The pictures are amazing!

September 22, 2014
Quick Reply

Please sign in to reply

 
More Topics
This forum: Older: Cohutta Wilderness Georgia - Beech Bottom Trail - BEAR! Newer: Sawtooth Wilderness Trail Creek Lakes
All forums: Older: Why I like mystery ranch Newer: Images