Saturday, July 27, 2013

Day 977: (Day 2 of Mineral King Loop) Franklin Lakes - Franklin Pass - Forester Lake - Little Claire Lake - Soda Creek - Lost Canyon

Day 2: Saturday Morning...

I scrambled down 150 Feet to refill my water in the lake

The gentle waterfall across the lake (mild sound for an almost good night sleep)

Day #977 * Hike #1245 * New Track #958
Franklin Lakes through Franklin Pass to Forester Lake
Saturday July 20, 2013
My Tripometer: 3 Hours * 5.5 Miles

Elevation Gain: +1675 Feet
Elevation Loss: -1650 Feet

From 10331 Feet to 11710 Feet down to 10240 Feet...

Rising Above Franklin Lake
I left at about the same time as Kyle and Mckenzie but they took an early break and I walked by. I noticed them in my rears for most of the way up to the pass. The air is a bit thinner up here and the switchback climb is not the easiest at first light. That said, the hike itself was not extremely difficult but it does require a steady uphill course to my highest elevation of the trip, and in my life for that matter...

Franklin Lakes, the 2nd lake drips into the first

Nearing the Pass; Finally!

Ah, Three Franklin Lakes!!!

Reaching the Pass

Before actually reaching the pass there is a chill out spot about 50 feet below. I took a rest here to soak in the 360 degree views.

Mt. Whitney - I believe so anyway in the far off past - my future to climb next month

Forester Lake and Little Claire Lake in the distance

Franklin Pass Elevation 11710 Feet

Jacobus Lake

On your way down from the pass you will notice a lake off the the left. This lake has no name or viable route to get to it. From this moment in time forward, I deem this lake to be called Jacobus Lake...
Its a longdown from the pass - This would not be fun going the other way

Heading down into a strange looking wilderness
Florence Peak rises above at 12432 Feet

10000 Foot Butterfly Club

Natural Graffitti

Waterfall a half mile across (awesome zoom)

Ah, some shade, wandering into the forest
(If there was ever a time to see a bear, I imagine this is where I would see one)

Instead, a wild Chicken?
(I shot some video out here too - This part was kinda funny)
-will share it when I get around to updating it...

Marked, unmarked trail to Shotgun Pass 1.7 Miles
1000 Hikes written in the sand...
Hey Deer - I see you too :)

Finally to the Trail Junction
I will be heading left to Forester Lake. My map calls it at 0.6 miles but the sign describes it at 0.9. From there, I will eventually wander all the way to Lost Canyon. Again, my map rates the hike at 6.3 miles but the sign suggests 7 miles. Honestly, it felt more like 10!

By continuing straight you will follow Rattlesnake Creek to the Kern River. This is a fairly popular route for this very unpopulated area. Kyle will be heading up to Whitney via this trail. At this point, I haven't seen anyone since Franklin. All alone out here, but lets continue...

Closing in on Forester Lake

Cool Campsite

Chill Out by the Lake

Forester Lake Elevation 10354

I finally unstrapped my heavy back and relaxed under the clouds. There was some drizzle and signs of what could be a storm rolling in. I took off my shoes and socks and soaked my feet in the chilled water. Before I did this though I refilled a couple of water bottles :)

The water out here tastes cold and fresh. I added iodine tablets and the equalizer to help save the refreshing taste. For sure better than tap water and better than most bottled water. Next time I will need to get a pump or UV Light watering system to really rellish the satisfaction

Forester Lake would be a great spot to call it a day. If I were with friends, sure maybe I would. But after a half hour stay and many more hours of daylight to go; the journey shall continue...

Day #977 * Hike #1246 * New Track #959
Forester Lake to Little Claire Lake
Saturday July 20, 2013
My Tripometer: .5 Hours * 1.25 Miles

Elevation Gain: +525 Feet
Elevation Loss: -450 Feet

Continue 1.2 Miles to Little Claire Lake...

Begin to climb
Despite the two lakes being similar in elevation, don't be fooled thinking that this short trek will be a flat walk...
Walk around this little grassland
More climbing - the trail is mostly easy to find

Back near 11000 Feet and then back down

Another Amazing Lake - Ne People!!!

Little Claire Lake Elevation 10420 Feet

Storm system coming through...

The clouds were a nice cover because it sheltered me from the direct high elevation sun rays. Little Claire would be a great spot to stop. It was something like 2:30pm at this point. Columbine Lake seemed like it would be too far of a stretch to reach today but looking at the map I imagined I could get to the next trail junction without much problem.

Day #977 * Hike #1247 * New Track #960
Little Claire Lake to Lost Canyon
Saturday July 20, 2013
My Tripometer: 3.5 Hours * 6.5 Miles
Elevation Gain: +1075 Feet
Elevation Loss: -1900 Feet
The Long Downhill From Little Clair Lake...
Trailhead at the end of Little Clair Lake - Elevation 10420

At first I could not locate the trail. I wandered away from the lake looking for the route. I then circled back to the lake and followed the shore to the end. The next stretch begins just over here...

It falls off a cliff!

An hour of switchbacks!

One spot to take a break...
These switchbacks are fairly steep and very long. I can't imagine having to climb up them, especially giving the circumstances that I will discuss later. Overall though, heading down, its an easy trail and no big deal...

Alvin having lunch...

Finally reached Soda Creek
At the end of the switchbacks you will cross the creek and then parallel it at about 100 yards away without having to cross it again. The trail is easy to follow at this point and it will gradually lower your elevation for the next hour. I had not seen anyone since the early morning and I was way back there. If there was ever a spot to encounter a bear, this would be it...

Oh Deer!

The terrain constantly changes

random bridge across the vegetation

Another new ecosystem

Changes - Still going lower this whole time!

Rest area!!!
At this point I could have easily called it a day. The creek isn't far off and the hour was getting old. My shoulders felt like I had done 1000 sets of shrugs. The support straps on my pack were not doing the trick. I later spoke to a guy, Robb, who said his partners had similar problems. However he was using a pack which had some sort of shock absorbing system to relieve the stress on your shoulders and neck.

My legs were fine but I had to take a rest here; first one since Little Claire. I had been walking for around 2 hours and was like, where is that darn junction!

Lost Canyon Junction
What a relief. Of course, now the hard part begins. Turn left and travel 1.4 to 1.7 miles to the next junction. There should be a bear box up here...

Heading higher...

Places to camp but I had the next junction in mind...

You will be following a waterfall uphill

Crossing the water...

The hour was getting old and thunder booms began there deep echo

Trail Junction Campsite!
Well, I hadn't seen anybody all day but when I got to the destination I sought for, this is what I saw. On one hand, it was a welcome relief seeing people. Unfortunately, they took the spot I desired...

Trail Junction
Something about the comfort of that bear box eased my mind a little. Oh well, no big deal... If you turn right at this junction it will lead you to over a dozen awesome lakes. This is a popular route home from here which will have you make two additional climbs over a 15 mile trek. I had an extra night and food supply to stride this way however I had my mind set on Columbine Lake. From the junction I crossed the creek in search for the next campsite...


Home Sweet Home
This was only 100 yards or so away from the other guys. There was a huge rock and stream separating us. I set up the tent and took a nap. I woke up an hour later and it was dark outside. I wasn't too hungry but I let the stove and enjoyed some teriyaki chicken and rice.
It was a restless night. I just don't get a good nights rest out here. Although I was alone, I wasn't that lonely. I departed my family on a good note so that vibe carried through and allowed me to stride with confidence. However, as I write this a week later, I cannot honestly say things are good; but that's another story...
In the morning, Robb from the group of three stopped by my tent. He explained that they were high school buddies, class of 1991 - all turning age 40 this year. They were on the same course I was but their second overnight was at Forester Lake and this trail junction was their third night. They would spend one more night at Columbine. Honestly, they had the right idea. 5 Days - 4 Nights with good friends catching up on their lives is what camping is really about. For me, I was on a relentless mission to cover the same ground in half the time...
Day Two: 13.25 Miles
Elevation Gain: +3275 Feet
Elevation Loss: - 4000 Feet

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