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Trip 1997, Mineral King, Sequoia National ParkReturn of the Backpacking Home
August 1997, this trip was to the Mineral King area of Sequioa National Park.
We started from Mineral King ranger station, went east to Franklin lakes. These are two lakes nestled in a cirque that over looks the lakes from the southeast. After one cold night there we packed up and went over 11,900' Franklin Pass. We spent a brief night at Forrester lake before getting up early to head to Little Claire lake, then down into the Kern River drainage. We spent one night next to a nameless creek, giving rivers and mountains names doesn't give them any more or less appeal or majesty, and this creek was amazingly relaxing if a little cold to bathe in, which we did anyway. We looped through lost canyon, one of the most beautiful back country valleys I've ever seen.
Unfortunately we were so tired at this point we simply walked through it with our eyes pointed at our boots, a shame really. This experience above all others taught me that we need to take our time and enjoy the majestic surrounding we walk through, instead of just trying to log so many miles a day.
We went up the saddle on the west end of Lost canyon which leads to Columbine lake, an incredibly beautiful blue lake sitting at nearly 11,000 feet. Very cold water and very cold night, but some of the best, scratch some, THE BEST views I've incountered in the back country. The sunset pictures are from Columbine.
Leaving Columbine lake for Mineral King begins with an intense climb up and over Sawtooth pass at 12,000'. Unfortunatly the descent from the pass is anything but well marked, a contingency one must plan for when entering the backcountry. This left us with a simple choice, take the most direct route down or founder about trying to find a trail. We took the direct descent. This section of trail is all loose gravel and sand. One step gains about 3 feet of travel. It is even more exciting when a boulder is just a few inches below the surface, you just grab what you can, which was usually your ass...
This was probably one of our best trips yet, possibly the best. I highly recommend both Forrester and Columbine lakes. Both are high alpine lakes and Columbine is above tree line. Strangely enough though Columbine has the best fishing, as far as size and quantity, of any lake in this area IMHO.
In some of these pictures you'll see some of my
compadres. I'm always having to urge these guys on, prod them forward,
and pep them up every year for this trip, but it wouldn't be the same