Friday, July 26, 2013

Days 976 - 978: Mineral King (Franklin Lakes Loop to Sawtooth Pass) Great Western Divide - Sequoia National Park

Mineral King: Franklin Lakes to Sawtooth Loop
Great Western Divide - Sequoia National Park

  • 3 Days & 2Nights
  • 30.25 Miles
  • Elevation Gain/Loss: +/-8375 Feet
  • Highest Elevation: 11710 Feet
  • Lowest Elevation: 7820 Feet
27 Mile Loop

Friday Morning in Ventura: 53 Pound Pack

Lake off of the 198 heading towards Sequoia
From The Los Angeles Area, take I-5 North to the 99 North.  Go past Bakersfield and exit East on the 198 through Visalia.  Continue on 198 through Three Rivers and then look for Mineral King Road on your right.  If you reach the official entrance to Sequoia National Park then you went too far.  Drive up the long windy Mineral King Road all the way to the end.  The Franklin Trailhead Parking area is 24.2 miles.  This will take you over an hour from the 198 turn off.

I did not notice the "Pay Park" sign which is 11 miles up the road.  You can easily pass this stop.  I figured that I was heading all the way up so why bother stopping here?  Well, the ticket on my car when I returned on Sunday answered this question...

98 Degrees at the bottom.  It cooled off to 87 degrees when I began the hike

Looking over the Kaweah River Bridge

The Kaweah River Bridge built in 1923

Passing Sequoia Trees on the way up

Mineral King Ranger Station: Elevation 9580 Feet
The road for the most part is in good condition.  However, you will only average 20 mph.  Nearing the top you will pass Atwell Campgrounds and Cold Springs Campgrounds which is across from Mineral King.  Between the two camping spots is Silver City Resort.  Silver City closes early but this would be your only spot to stop for a hot lunch.  I heard the food is good and you can take a hot shower there for two bucks.  In the 1960's the Walt Disney Company planned on building a huge resort up here with 23 ski lifts.  It was shot down by the Sierra Club and the entire Mineral King area became part of Sequoia National Forest.  Originally this area was founded in the late 1800's where miners claimed the land looking for silver and other resources.

At the ranger station I purchased a map for $9.95 and picked up a heavy bear canister to rent for $5.00.  What a bulky pain this was to lug around on my backpacking trip.  I secured my permit for $15.00 to legitimately hike through the area.  It would have been nice for the Ranger to advise that I needed a parking pass too!

Franklin Trailhead Parking

Beware of Marmots.  Typically they are known to invade the parking areas in the spring and early summer.  As you can see some cars have tarps and chicken wire wrapped around them.  I took my chances and everything turned out okay.

Eagle - Mosquito Trailhead
 0.25 Miles +/- 25 Feet: From the Franklin Trailhead Parking area, the trail leaving the parking lot will take you to Eagle Lake or White Chief Peak.  Error, this is not the way I wanted to go.  To reach the Franklin Trailhead walk back down the road, cross the bridge and begin on the other side where you will see a fenced in area for horses...

Farewell Gap - Franklin Lakes Trailhead: 7820 Feet

Head South on the Franklin Trailhead

Day #976 * Hike #1244 * New Track #957
Franklin Trailhead to Franklin Lakes
Friday July 19, 2013
My Tripometer: 3.75 Hours * 5.75 Miles

Elevation Gain: +2750 Feet
Elevation Loss: -75 Feet
According to the map, Franklin Pass is 7.1 miles but the sign reads 8.1
In fact, all of the signage for this hike rates the mileage higher than what is printed on the map.  For my calculations I am splitting the difference.  Horses apparently travel this trail quite frequently.  There will be plenty of Manure most of the way - but you won't catch any horses on Sawtooth...

Marmots roaming the fields...

Many water falls along the way...

Stay Away from my Car!!!

So far, so good.  Hot, uphill but not unstrapping the pack

Farewell Gap Junction 4 Miles in - Elevation 9360 Feet
 It took me 2 hours to cover the first 4 miles and +1500 feet gained.  Not many people on the trail.  I unstrapped the pack for a twenty minute rest and then continued west to the lakes...

Waterfalls and Mountains to climb

Franklin Lakes is just over yonder...

First Camping spot with Bear Box...

Franklin Lake and Dam Elevation 10331 Feet

Oh Deer!

I will camp one level up above the Bear Box ~10500 Feet


The Moon rises above the Lake

Looking below at my neighbors

Kyle and McKenzie
Kyle, age 22 along with his girlfriend McKenzie, age 19, plan to hike all the way to Mt. Whitney from here.  Kyle's cousin was with them but napping in his tent.  Their planned route will take them miles to summit Whitney and then back down to the Whitney Portal where there car is.  For Kyle, an experienced hiker, this may be a breeze of cake.  For the other two, good luck to you.  There were already quite sore and fatigued from the altitude.  Hey guys, if you ever come across this blogpost, please write a comment.  Let me know if you ever made it, how it was and how long it took.

No Altitude sickness here :)

Fish jumping in the lake
Kyle said that the fish here have very little to eat.  They are anorexic thin with big heads.  There were a couple of guys fishing on the damn and several more campers closer to the lake.  I did not have the best camp site in the house but my views were still phenomenal.


Dinner Time
On the menu was dehydrated Lasagna!  Yummy!  With a long day planned for tomorrow it was lights out early.  This trip has just begun...

Day 1 Summary: 6 Miles
Elevation Gain: 2775 Feet
Elevation Loss: 100 Feet

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