Sequoia High Divide

September, 2000

Part 2

Paul and I hike out north of the divide.

[Part 1]

Day 6. 9/11/00

Gain: 1640 ft, Loss: 3680 ft. 8 hours. Weather: clear and warm.

Exit basin on Kern river trail, hike to junction meadow. Take Colby pass trail to ~2,900mtr, and camp.

All of Kern headwaters with Kaweah mountains in the distance

The ramble through the basin to pick up the trail is beautiful. The trail, initially, is rocky. I tell Paul that this is no better than a tallus slope. Them we get down into the forest and the going is much smoother. I manage to become completely lost in thought, rambling along on the trail when Paul asks if I would like to stop for a break.

Trail in Kern Basin.

Train in Kern Basin.

Trail in Junction meadow. Notice how big the trees are.

There is a lot of horse shit on the trail. The trail is also dusty. As Paul walks ahead of me he kicks up the dust with each step. I can only think f the horse shit that must be in that dust. Why is it ok for horses to shit on the trail but people have to bury it 6 in deep, 200 ft from water?

I hate doing extra walking. I notice that a little cross country travel (well, a mile) could save us a couple miles AND 600 ft of elevation loss and re-gain. But it is hard to say if the more difficult walking would really be a savings. We get to the turn off option, and decide not to. 100 yards further on we see the actual terrain we would walk through and decide it looks easy. We head back toward the turn off. Then I consider the vegetation, which looks difficult, so we turn around again and head back down the trail.

The Colby lake trail is less traveled. It ascends a gully to the right of a hump of stone. At the top of the gully, when my altimeter said we were close to our camp elevation, the trail descends. I cursed the person who located this trail. It goes down a steep set of rock steps and is actually quite fun.

Steep steps on the trail to Colby Pass.

Beautiful ferns in a lush section of the valley.

We camp SE of the river, near 2,900 meters. After dropping our packs we go for a dip in the river. We find a beautiful pool which turns out to be warm enough to bob around in. I go in with all my clothing on because it all needs a rinse.

The pool. first empty, then with me doing laundry, then with me soaking.

Day 7. 9/12/00

Gain: 2360 ft, Loss: 610 ft. 5.5 hours. Weather: high clouds thickening mid afternoon, then thinning in evening.

We hike E, up slope toward the lowest lake in Picket creek. We arrive on the granite rim of the lake and look across at an idealic setting of trees, white granite, and a gentile stream. Rounding the lake we find one of those unbelievably beautiful camp sites that can exist only in the Sierra. When ever I come across such a beautiful site early in the day I'm in a quandary: can I pass this up. We agree to break till noon, thin move on into the upper basin. Latter Paul comments on how beautiful this lake was.

The beautiful lake at the edge of Picket creek basin.

I think this is Picket Creek basin.

Kaweah basin is wide and has some sparse forest up to ~11,300 ft. We camp in the trees to the N of the river. I take a nap in the tent while Paul explores the upper basin. At 6pm he is not back. I begin to worry and hike up a ways then begin to call his name. It is a large basin-if he is hurt I'm not sure I can even find him. Turns out that he just missed camp on his way back down and ended up wondering around in the forest below.

Day 8. 9/13/00

Gain: 2190 ft, Loss: 2490 ft. 6.5 hours. Weather: high clouds, cooler, windy, clearing in the evening. Camp at 10,730 ft.

Hike up to the NW of Kaweah basin. Ascend to col on easy ramp to saddle S of center. On the far side there should be a chute leading down diagonally through the cliffs. If not then you are in the wrong spot.

Paul tells me that "Kaweah" means "crap" in the native language. I imagine some early native climbers saying "what a bunch of Kaweah that route was." North of the col is the Kaweah Queen which has one route described as having "loose rock" and another as having "extraordinarily loose rock."

Upper Kaweah basin with the Pyra-Queen col. The ramp we used to cross the col is left of the obvious notch in the center.

The ramp up on the east side of the col.

Kaweah basin. I think that Mt. Whitney is one of those bumps on the ridge.

The west side of the col is of ordinary loose rock. We take a short cut through a weakness in the cliff bands, then up to the col on a brad ramp.

The east side is of extraordinarily loose rock. The steep, diagonal chute is bad and so is the whole slope down to the lake (we take refuge on the snow for a ways).

The extraordinarily loose ramp on the west.

The ramp is obvious in the upper rock band. The whole slope is uncomfortably loose.

The best way to see Kaweah basin is to camp at the lowest lake in Picket creek for two nights and to day hike into the basin. The lake can be reached via the slopes to the north or east.

Our camp in 9 lakes basin.

Day 9. 9/14/00

Gain: ft, Loss: ft. hours. Weather: Clear and warm.

We climb Eagle Scout peak from Kaweah gap then hike down the trail to Bearpaw.

Big Arryo valley.

Paul on Eagle Scout Pkg.


Looking west down the Kaweah Valley

Eagle Scout Ok from the north. We were standing on that block on the right of the summit.

From the summit of Eagle Scout down to Kaweah gap I smell a new odor: something thick, almost industrial. As we drop into the Kaweah river basin I realize the odor is mostly coming from the vegetation as it bakes in the sun, though some may be wafting up from the Kaweah valley below. We have been in the pristine high alpine for so long that the vegetation is suddenly a new smell for me.

Paul says that this is a 6 mile hike, but he didn't measure the switch backs. The trail is carefully graded, which means a lot of horizontal work to drop elevation. It also means that by the time we reach Hamilton lakes I'm tired and a swim feels great. We still have 4 miles to go to Bearpaw.

Paul walking past the lake below the north face of Eagle Scout.

The Angle winds. There are some hard climbs on the north face (which we see).

I was standing on a beautiful new bridge and looked over the railing to see what remained of the old bridge.

This trail is cut deeply into the rock at some of the steep gullies.

Day 10. 9/15/00

Gain: ft, Loss: ft. hours. Weather: Clear and warm.

Hike out to Wolverton.

Paul also said that this would be a 6 mile day. We start out on the High Sierra trail, which goes to the Crescent meadow TH. After 5 miles we turn off and take the Over The Hill Trail. This ascends 1,500 ft then descends again to Wolverton, 6 miles further on. On our way up I notice that ALL the other prints on this trail are from horses. Here we are humping heavy packs up hill in the heat of the sun like a couple of pack horses. Despite our big brains

We finish the day with another meal in the Wuksachi Lodge.

Day 11. 9/16/00

See the sites of Sequoia Park.

General Sherman, the largest living thing by some measure or other.

The Senate Group. Considerably more noble than the other Senate.

I drove our rental car out onto the "Auto Log"

Crystal Cave tour.

The beautiful trail up onto Mono Rock.

The top of Mono Rock.

That evening we drive out of the park and all too quickly we are back in the commercial world. We stay in a motel a couple hours from the park. The next day we drive back to the San Jose Airport.

[Part 1]

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Page last modified:  Feb 01 00:49 2003  by  Tom Unger