Mineral King TR

Southern California and far-away places. Hiking, wildlife, cycling etc.

Mineral King TR

Postby Sally » Tue Sep 27, 2016 10:09 am

Yesterday I returned from a 5 day, 40.5 mile backpack trip on the Big and Little Five Lakes loop in Mineral King with my partners-in-crime, Ellen and Marilyn. Last Monday, after the long freeway drive and the insane 25 mile twisty one-lane drive to Mineral King that takes forever to drive, we car-camped and readied our packs for our journey. On Tuesday, after picking up our permit and learning that there was a 20% chance of rain that day and nice weather for the rest of the week, we started up to Franklin Lake. Upon arrival the clouds spat a few drops of rain at us, nothing to fret over.

The next day we headed over Franklin Pass, an other-worldly site with bizarre rock formations on a barren Sandy landscape. We had lunch at Forrester Lake and continued on to Little Claire Lake. Having a little more steam left over, we descended switchbacks to the next valley floor and pitched our tents.

On Thursday we trekked on toward Big Five Lakes. A frightful wind stirred up as we neared the lake, and upon arrival the foremost objective was to quickly find a campsite that offered some shelter from the wind. Then, much to our astonishment, it began to snow lightly! We found a huge downed tree trunk and pitched against it, tying our tents to it to keep them from becoming airborne. When I went down to the lake to gather water there were huge whitecaps and even small breakers slapping the shoreline!

The next morning we were elated to behold that the weather had passed, and headed out for Little Five Lakes. We had a nice lunch on the banks in the warm sun. A kindly ranger made his way around the lake to great us and ask us to keep an eye out for a "late returning" hiker. After lunch we decided to keep on truckin' and head over Black Rock Pass. It was a very hard pull up, but well worth it. When I made it to the Pass it was the happiest moment of the trip for me as my endorphins had kicked in and I was witnessing the grand view of a huge section of the Sierra. Then we travelled back down the other side of the Pass and were ready to make camp in the first available flat spot. We found one, and I went x-country to scout water. I found water in Cliff Creek, but we would have needed 30' of rope to rappel down to it. Duh, THAT'S why it is called Cliff Creek! We continued on to the distant and elusive Pinto Lake where we spent the night.

On Saturday we hiked out. In addition to being one of the most high-mileage days, we had to navigate obnoxious "baby-head-sized" talus forever and had to ascend an extra 2,400' to Timber Gap. It was smooth sailing from there on out with beautiful fall-colored foliage and sighting a deer with her two fawns right as we neared the trailhead.

Beginning our trek on a Tuesday we saw a total of 8 other hikers plus one ranger in the whole 5 days. When we returned to the car on Saturday there were hoards of cars and horse trailers in the parking area. (And, please don't get me started on pack animals and poop!)

I know I always say it after a Sierra trip, but this was the best trip EVER!
Pictures soon to come! Stay tuned!
Last edited by Sally on Tue Sep 27, 2016 10:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Sally
 
Posts: 1030
Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2009 8:27 pm
Location: Temecula

Re: Mineral King TR

Postby Sally » Tue Sep 27, 2016 10:15 am

Pics!:
https://get.google.com/albumarchive/100 ... HE2nGeowlK

These pictures are not even close to chronologic order. It took me years to figure out Picasa, and now Google changed the whole thing and I have no idea how to manage the properties. Dang!
User avatar
Sally
 
Posts: 1030
Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2009 8:27 pm
Location: Temecula

Re: Mineral King TR

Postby zippetydude » Tue Sep 27, 2016 4:05 pm

Some great shots there Sally. I was just wondering on Monday when the next installment of pics from the Gleesome Threesome would be coming forth. I've been too busy at work (which is a good thing, since I love what I do) to get out and enjoy long adventures of late, so I enjoy exploring vicariously through the exploits you three get into. I really like the look of that lake in picture # 16 just below that huge granite knob. I would love to wander on down to the lake and look up at the stunning cliff from below. Also, those pictures of the sandy area remind me of the place just after Dry Lake View on San G where it's all barren sand with only a few rocks here and there. I refer to that section as "the surface of the moon" in my own notes. Anyway, thanks for the post and pics. Keep up the good work!

z
User avatar
zippetydude
 
Posts: 2434
Joined: Tue May 09, 2006 5:40 am

Re: Mineral King TR

Postby cynthia23 » Tue Sep 27, 2016 4:14 pm

OMG some gorgeous shots there. I especially loved the giant yellow flowers. There were a couple of shots where you gals looked COLD, though. It sounds like an awesome trip. Thanks for an excellent TR and photos.
Q: How many therapists does it take to screw in a light bulb? A: Only one, but the light bulb has to want to change ...
cynthia23
 
Posts: 1060
Joined: Tue Nov 07, 2006 3:33 pm
Location: Rancho Mirage

Re: Mineral King TR

Postby Ed » Wed Sep 28, 2016 10:30 am

Sally,

Thanks for the wonderful photos. Brings back memories. The first time I hiked up Franklin Pass was on Memorial Day Weekend, 1971. A massive storm hit the Sierras that weekend, leaving hundreds of backpackers stranded in deep snow, and killing a number of people on Banner Peak. The road to Mineral King was covered with snow. We would have turned back, but there was a young couple in front of us in a VW Bug who said 'We are from Wisconsin, this ain't bad', so we followed them in. We were planning to climb Florence Peak, normally an easy climb, but turned back around the lakes, when we began to encounter howling winds, which we knew would be worse higher up. Saved Florence for another day. Probably a good decision. We found out about the disaster on Banner Peak the next week.
Ed
 
Posts: 339
Joined: Wed Oct 27, 2010 2:04 pm
Location: San Diego Area

Mineral King

Postby Ellen » Thu Sep 29, 2016 9:54 am

Howdy All :)

I am blessed to have wonderful friends such as Sister Sally and Miracle Marilyn.

Image

After a lovely lunch at the Black Bear Café in Porterville, Saint Sally drove us to Mineral King where we camped at Cold Creek campground. A bit of a celebration ensued.

Image

As I went to pitch my tent, I discovered that I had left the tent poles and stakes at home :oops: Marilyn offered to share her two person tent, thank goodness.

Day 1

Nice climb out of Mineral King.

Image

I wanted to hike past Franklin lake, but my sensible friends demurred.

Image

We had a beautiful sunset at Franklin lake.

Image

Image

Image

Day 2

Sunrise at Franklin Lake.

Image

Image

Image

Climbing up to Franklin Pass.

Image

Franklin Pass -- my last time here was in 1978.

Image

Image

Image

Heading down from Franklin Pass towards Forrester Lake.

Image

Image

Image

After lunch at Forrester Lake, we continued on to Little Claire Lake, then dropped down to Soda Creek.

Image

Image

Dinner at campsite near Soda Creek.

Image

Day 3

It took us a while to break camp at Soda Creek -- my hands were freezing and wouldn't cooperate -- even my fellow polar bears were cold. We had most of our clothes on as we hiked down the trail by Soda Creek to the junction with the Lost Creek trail. As we climbed up to the trail junction for Little Five Lakes, the wind picked up. Even with the climb, we were wearing long sleeve Icebreaker shirts -- uh oh :o We dropped down to pass a tarn where we were hoping to clean up a bit but it was too windy. Climbed up a bit, then started descending to the first of Little Five Lakes. By the time we reached the first lake, we were desperate to find shelter from the satanic wind. It started snowing lightly. I was hypothermic and felt useless as Marilyn and Sally pitched their tents against a large log.

Image

Image

Sally took pictures of white caps on the lake.

Image

Image
Ellen
 
Posts: 2266
Joined: Thu Mar 29, 2007 9:38 am
Location: Riverside, CA

Re: Mineral King TR

Postby guest » Thu Sep 29, 2016 11:40 am

Wow ladies,
This is amazing, and almost right in our "backyards"!
Thanks for sharing, keep on hikin like you do, your making some of us look timid!

ss
guest
 
Posts: 541
Joined: Fri Oct 27, 2006 3:27 pm

Re: Mineral King TR

Postby Ellen » Thu Sep 29, 2016 3:52 pm

Day 4

Fortunately we awoke to clear skies and less wind. The vigorous climb up to the next junction warmed us up nicely.

Image

We continued to climb slightly up to Little Five Lakes. We stopped at the first lake and enjoyed lunch and chatting with Ranger Matt. Then we started up to Black Rock Pass.

Image

As we climbed, we looked back on the rest of Little Five Lakes.

Image

Image

As usual, our team photographer Sally was in excellent form.

Image

Sally at Black Rock Pass.

Image

Looking back from whence we came.

Image

Image

Descending Black Rock Pass with a view of gorgeous terraced lakes. The bottom lake is Spring Lake. As we descended, we started encountering rocks and scree -- reminded me of a dry stream bed. We decided to camp by Pinto Lake. What we thought was a 15 minute descent took 30 minutes. We found a nice campsite and bear box but never did see the damn lake.

Day 5

After a leisurely breakfast, we packed up to head out. I discovered that my Camelbak was leaking into my pack, down my waist and into my nether regions :evil: After two more stops, we confirmed that I wasn't leaking -- I just needed to dry out. The descent was a nightmare -- rocky and unstable footing. At one point I felt that we were walking down Mill Creek...forever. We finally entered a verdant forest paradise -- Sally compared it to the Olympics without the rain.

Stopped for lunch at the next junction. On our way out, we crossed Wall Creek and were treated to a waterfall and swimming pool. Argh! Next time. Started the vigorous climb up to Timber Pass (7120 to 9511). It was a relief to reach the pass and start descending. I was so knackered that I missed the deer sighting.

Image

Saint Sally drove us out the miserable road to Three Rivers. Sadly, they did not have accommodations, so we continued on to Visalia. I was so dirty that I wasn't sure they would give us a room. We finally ended up at a minimalist Best Western that served our needs. After cleaning up, we had a great dinner at Marie Callendar's. Had a good night's sleep and went back to Marie's for Sunday brunch. The one way streets in Visalia are maddening at night and day. We finally made our escape and headed home.

Thank you to my amazing friends for a wonderful adventure.

Miles of smiles,
Ellen
Ellen
 
Posts: 2266
Joined: Thu Mar 29, 2007 9:38 am
Location: Riverside, CA

Re: Mineral King TR

Postby zippetydude » Fri Sep 30, 2016 10:45 am

I was wondering what had happened to the rest of your post - it was clear it was cut off in the middle. Thanks for your TR and pics also Ellen. Sounds like the cold was more severe than you had anticipated and it even got a little scary at one point. I'm glad you all made it through just fine and had a great time.

z
User avatar
zippetydude
 
Posts: 2434
Joined: Tue May 09, 2006 5:40 am

Re: Mineral King TR

Postby Ellen » Sat Oct 01, 2016 1:37 pm

Howdy Z :)

Good sleuthing -- I was concerned and a bit frightened by the wind/cold on our third night out. It took me back to the scary hours in my 2008 hiking misadventure. Happily I was with two incredible friends, had adequate shelter and could move to keep warm.

Yesterday the challenge occurred AFTER hiking with Sally and Marilyn. Heading east on the 210 in the fast lane, I felt my right front wheel give way. I crossed three lanes of traffic and stopped on the narrow right shoulder just in time to see my tire fly up into the brush in front of me. Sally was behind me and saw the entire sequence :shock: She got off at the next exit and called to offer moral support and assistance. I was in a very dangerous spot -- even the AAA guy was afraid to get my car off the freeway. I took the car into Honda today as I didn't have confidence in the AAA tire place. The rim is fine and I have a new tire. The tires checked out fine on my 15 K service a month ago.

I think I prefer being challenged by nature :lol:

Miles of smiles,
Ellen
Ellen
 
Posts: 2266
Joined: Thu Mar 29, 2007 9:38 am
Location: Riverside, CA

Next

Return to Outdoors-Related Topics

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron