Circle of Solitude

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Introduction

The Circle of Solitude (formally titled “Basins Divide Loop”) is a 60 mile, 7 night, 8 day backpacking trip that originates and ends in the Kings Canyon National Park. The adventure begins at the end of Highway 180 at Road’s End. Elevations range from approximately 5,160 feet to 13,200 feet. The trip will journey along part of the John Muir and Pacific Crest Trails. The middle of our trip will have a day’s rest to enjoy exploring the headwaters of the Kern River at Lake South America. Continuing on our way, you’ll jump onto the High Sierra Trail for a very brief moment in time in the Kern Canyon. We then start making our way back over another pass. I expect this portion of the trip to be “quieter” regarding foot traffic as this is  a route not as well traveled from the previous days. It will be quite the adventure making this loop in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Our journey will take us on a variety of terrain. We will walk in oak woodlands to pine covered mountains to above the tree line where only rock and small vegetation exist. You’ll want to bring a camera too! We will likely see all kinds of wildlife including bear and deer. Expect a variety of wildflowers, meadows, and lakes along the way! Temperatures will fluctuate greatly as our elevation profile changes often. This will be a memorable trip and one to test your endurance, strength, and adaptation to different terrain.

Downloads

Basin Divide Loop Map – 34″ x 48″ PDF 25MB.

Basin Divide Loop KML – Google Earth version of the map.

Photo Album

Over 700+ photos!

The Story

Day 1 – June 26, 2015

I didn’t sleep that great. My mind would not shut off so easily. This typically happens to me the night before an event. The alarm was set to go off at 515 AM. I was already up at 5AM and decided to get dressed. Our gear was laid out by the front door so it would be a simply hoisting of the gear on our shoulders and a slip out the door. Diana and Jaden stayed back sleeping while Brian and I headed out to grab a big breakfast. Since not much is open in town, Denny’s has become a traditional place to grab breakfast. We were asked if we were going hiking by the waitress, which we said yes and elaborated a little more on our plans. She seemed surprised that someone would stay out in the mountains for so long and walk all those miles. Both Brian and I smiled as our minds wondered to the adventure set before us. Our food soon served and devoured, we jumped in the truck and set out to the trail head. It would take us about 3 hours to get there.

Arriving at Road’s End, Kings Canyon National Park, the parking lot already had vehicles parked. We spotted the wilderness permit station and heard the Ranger give his usual talk. Most people were going to Rae Lakes via Paradise Valley. We were doing the Circle of Solitude in a clockwise fashion. With our permits in hand, we headed back to the truck to get our bags. It was about 945 AM when we finally started walking on the trail.

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The first two miles were easy hiking. Our spirits were high too. The smell of the outdoors and full stomachs just spurred us on. Our pace was rather brisk and we were able to walk side by side for most of this section. The trail was about 8 feet wide and likely more in places. It wasn’t till the last 1/2 mile did the trail narrow down. We shortly descended into a beautiful riparian area shaded by conifers. Horsetails lined the trail until the junction with Paradise Valley. We meet four guys who were at the wilderness permit station prior to us. They seemed tired/lost/unsure. However, we asked if they were good and they happily agreed. Their path went uphill and to the left. Ours crossed the river over a bridge and proceeded to climb up and out of the canyon following Bubbs Creek.

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There were several small bridges that followed. We saw an occasional couple or group coming down the trail. The grime, tanned skin, and “wild” look in their eyes said this was their last day. Our was still beginning so up the mountain we went. Several switch backs, about 18 I think, help users climb out of the canyon. Views to the west were beautiful when we paused for a few minutes to grab some water. It wasn’t long and we were soon walking somewhat parallel to Bubbs Creek.

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We encountered our second trail junction about 4 miles past our starting point. We looked south across the bridge and up towards Avalanche Pass. I stated “we will be coming from this way before you know it.” We then proceeded towards Junction Meadow as it was our day 1 destination. Others were heading in the opposite direction we were going, but there was a family or two going east too. We eventually passed them by. It was an overcast day and the humidity was up. Going through riparian areas didn’t help cool things down, per say, but the lush green vegetation was great. The breeze kept the bugs down too as we arrived at our first true break spot.

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Clif Bars were ingested and water gulped down on our first break. I felt some discomfort on my feet and already found a couple blisters. It was my first time in a long time to have some. I was bummed about it, but took out my first aid kit to do some work. Once the task was completed, we continued on uphill towards our destination.

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Camp sites were already set up on the west side of Junction Meadow. We continued on till the actual trail junction that headed south to East Lake. It was only another 5 minutes and we arrived at camp. We set up camp to the north of the trail junction and walked south for about a minute to grab water from the creek. It was a long day and it felt good to be done. The elevation was around 8400 feet and temperatures were beginning to cool down. Mosquitoes were not really there at all, so that was nice. Once camp was established and water brought back, we started cooking our food. Our night would conclude around 830 PM as our day would start at 5 AM the next day, just before sunrise.

Day 2 – June 27, 2015

The first night sleep has never been a good one in my past trips and it would not change this night. It didn’t detour my excitement for the next day as we were going to be closer to Forester Pass. The first morning means getting into a routine to maximize the amount of time it takes to get food made, camp broken down, and bags packed. We were up at 530 AM to start our day, which happened to be sunrise. Birds greeted us with songs as the morning routine began.

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We were on the trail about 7 AM. Not bad for our first morning and neither one of us were rushing. My blisters needed some attending to before ascending the trail anyway. The sunrise continued to light up the valley and peaks surrounding us. The temps were cool and the views were beautiful. In fact we came across Bubbs Creek Falls. Brian took a photo of me by the falls, which with 4 years of drought was more like a slide. We continued to march uphill and was soon surprised by a few visitors along the trail.

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It was a good size bird. As we approached it looked like a type of grouse and she didn’t move much. I quickly took out my camera and zoomed in for a few shots. We continued to slowly walk forward and then out popped three little ones. A few more shots and then we proceeded slowly up the trail. She was very alarmed and likely anxious as to what may happen. We passed by and heard them talking back and forth. A doe would soon come out onto the trail and greeted us shortly after. She was not too afraid of us and we continued to climb up and up.

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Again the views were great and the landscape continued to provide us with photo points. Bubbs Creek would flow by us and the sound of rushing water varied in volume as the trail took as closer and further away. Eventually we arrived at our first break point; Vidette Meadow and the junction with the John Muir Trail and Pacific Crest Trail.

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Our adventure went south on the JMT/PCT. We took a 15 minute break to snack and I checked my blisters. Once on the trail we seemed to be encountering waves of people. Most were through hiking the PCT. We were asked often if we were doing the JMT. We would shake our heads no and state we were on the circle of solitude. This puzzled a lot of hikers and only a few one to know where the route started and finished. At this point we had crossed into the no camp fire zone (aka above 10,000 feet). The trail was much easier at this point too, but my feet were still nagging at me. About an hour later we took another break.

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The rest of the morning provided views that a camera couldn’t fully capture. We continued to gain elevation and had Bubbs Creek flowing nearby the trail. We would pause and turn around to find views of the valley we just walked through. It felt as though every moment could be a photo opportunity as the landscape was opening up as we ascended to our destination. In fact, we were able to see one of the “permanent” ice patches along the rocks. I imagine it was much bigger some decades ago, but the climate change has shrunk it quite considerably.

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We arrived at our destination around noon. There were “pads” off the trail to the west within the Foxtail Pine trees. Nice flat surfaces to put our shelters on. I was looking forward to the rest as my feet were getting worse. Having almost 24 hours of “airing out” would be very helpful. Plus being done before the head of the day was nice. Brian rested while I did some minimal exploring. Mostly to play with my camera.

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What did we do with all that free time in the afternoon? Well we were soon visited by small wildlife. Obviously, he was very comfortable with people and was poking around in our camp. He was shewed away after a photo op haha. Then Brian found a carabiner and PT cord up in a tree. We spend some time tossing rocks, moving branches, and getting the rope to come loose. We were successful and it was entertaining for both of us.

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Dinner time was coming around so we set up our tents and soon enjoyed a nice warm meal. However, just prior to our meal a Park Ranger came walking into camp. We chatted with him for awhile and mentioned other people had come and gone. We found out he was stationed at the Charlotte Lake Ranger Station and had traveled up this way for an overnight. He was patrolling and picking up trash.

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Following dinner and the talk with the Park Ranger, Brian and I decided to head up the trail a few hundred feet. Here the trail becomes pretty flat and one can get a great view of the hike to come as well as done the valley. A small riparian segment with a stream flows through the area. Other people were camping here and we saw the Ranger visiting each of them. The sun was going down and we knew what tomorrow would bring; the climb up and over Forester Pass.

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Day 3 – June 28, 2015

Brian and I woke up around 530 AM. The sun was starting to make its way into the valley. However, clouds were also present as a storm was coming in from Nevada. We had heard it on the radio the night before. Thankfully no rain so getting ready for the day was quite easy. Bandaging my feet was getting faster, but still a eating up time. However, we were out of there a quarter till 7 AM. We were the only ones moving at this point.

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It was nice and cold out, which worked well for an uphill climb to 13,200 feet. The wind made itself known the higher we climbed. A marmot was right by the trail and looked like he needed a cup of coffee. Made a great photo though haha. There are flowers that grow in the rocks at this elevation too.

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The trail grade seemed to come in a series of steps. You would be going uphill and then it would flatten out, relatively speaking, and that was fine with us. It wasn’t until we passed by the first unnamed lake that the climb continued at a fairly consistent grade.

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Each step was getting a little harder, but provided great views. A couple lakes were that glacial/ice colored blue. Absolutely beautiful to see. Some snow was near the pass and one hiker passed by us. I snapped a photo of him as all three of us were making the final ascent to the top. He was just a bit ahead of us.

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Around 835 AM we made it to Forester Pass. The wind was howling as we took off our packs. The views were breathtaking and you could see for dozens of miles in both directions. Excited and a bit cold, we took some photos of us on either side of the sign informing hikers of their elevation and the switching between National Parks (Kings Canyon to Sequoia). We didn’t stay long and soon headed down the other side. Our destination for the day was Lake South America. We were going to do some cross country and ascend another small pass.

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The descent wasn’t too bad at all. I stayed in my jacket for some time too. We chatted with a few hikers on the way down and said good morning to a dozen more. Many of them, again, were hiking north along the Pacific Crest Trail. Along the way down, it was hard not to stop and admire the view of the Diamond Mesa. You could see for dozens, if not hundreds, of miles to the south. A few large lakes resided at the base of the final ascent over Forester Pass which only added to that high sierra feel one gets when above tree line.

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Once at the base of Forester, the trail was a more gentle downhill trek. The temps were still cool and the clouds were dark, but no drops of rain. It was just windy at times. We tried to see Mt. Whitney from certain spots, but eventually realized we needed to trek along a bit more. We took a break near the southern end of a lake. The waterfall across the way was a nice addition to the spectacular views we had all around us.

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After our quick bite to eat, we headed west and said goodbye to the JMT/PCT. We were going to cross country for about 0.5 miles and join up with an un-maintained trail that ran north into Lake South America. On our way across we found some old tree remains. We both were fascinated by it as there wasn’t a tree anywhere for several miles. Either they were cut down during the sheep herding days or changes in climate. We proceeded onward and cut across.

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We saw the trail below going by the lakes, but decided why go down only to go back up? Our cross country trek continued, but this time we essentially contoured our way to the base of a small pass into Lake South America. Although the ascent over the pass was short, it was a hard climb. The loose rock talus and lack of maintenance made it a challenge. Plus I was short on calories by then so that didn’t help. It wasn’t long and we were at the small saddle.

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The sunlight broke through the clouds as though saying, “welcome to the headwaters of the Kern.” A quick bite to eat and we walked down another 0.25 miles to Lake South America. The downhill was welcomed and the view of the lake was great. This was our resting spot and possible destination for the day.

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The waters in Lake South America contained several fish. In fact, as we approached the shoreline they were not afraid of us. Cautious, yes, but they were curious. Brian was bummed he didn’t bring his fishing pole, though you could almost just grab them at times.

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We spent our time resting and exploring the lake. It felt good to walk about barefoot for a bit. Brian decided to go for a dip into the lake. When asked how it felt, he replied, “mountain fresh” and that was the only words he could get out. The cold was taking the air out of him and he soon was out and drying off. I enjoyed took a few “artistic” photos before leaving.

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Unfortunately the darker clouds and nearby thunder encouraged us to leave Lake South America earlier then planned. The backpacks were on again and down to lake 10,660 we went. Our pace was pretty quick considering the trail disappeared at times. Someone before us placed cairns along the way. Without them it would have made travel slower. This portion of the trail is no longer maintained and it showed. The trail was so “primitive” that one could mistake our journey down as cross country travel. Nevertheless, it was fun and we were soon greeted by rain.

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The rain lasted for about 10 to 20 minutes. No thunder or lightning joined in so we hid under a group of fox tail pines. Once the storm passed, we were on our way down. This rain brought in our first encounter with mosquitoes and they were happy to see us. We did not reciprocate their enthusiasm, but our determination was equally shared. Our pace quickened to avoid them and their numbers seemed to grow. Thankfully some breezes would come and the group would go away until the next patch of moist green vegetation. This was our course all the way to lake 10,660.

Lake 10,660 was beautiful. We enjoyed the view and both set up our camp right away. Thunder boomed up where we had come from and you could see the rain pouring down in the basin. We now watched from a distance and soon cooked our dinner. We watched the clouds roll over the divide for dinner and tried to take it all in. Tomorrow as going to be a big day with a good set of miles and a long uphill stretch. We were heading to Gallots Lake, but first had to descend down a canyon.

Day 4 – June 29, 2015

Sunrise came quickly and we were once again breaking down camp. Our day consisted of heading down into the Kern River canyon and then ascending back up to Gallats Lake. I had heard the trail up out of the Kern River wasn’t maintained to well, so that was expected.

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We crossed back over the outlet flow from Lake 10,660 and proceeded further down the trail. The trail was now more defined and used, so it was very easy to follow. The mosquitoes apparently lost us for a time, which was a nice break. It didn’t take long and we could see the “drop off” of where the Kern River canyon begins. It was an exciting moment for me to see it.

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The trail makes it way nicely down hill through small side drainages and riparian areas. When possible, the trail even goes near the Kern River. At one point there was a very cool looking waterfall. A rock pillar stood not to far from the falls making it appear as though the water had sliced down behind the rock and went around it.

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We marched on as the slope gently going down hill. We made some good time at this point and even came across a buck. He was still young and stayed put for a good shot. He quickly left us behind and we proceeded down the trail. It didn’t take long and we came across our first wooden gate. Probably to help keep horses from getting to far up the trail should they escape their owner. We made our way through and snapped a few photos of some moss/algae growing in a creek. The real surprise would soon follow.

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At this point we felt like we should be arriving at the trail junction soon. The canyon was starting to open up more and the river was starting to get steeper. We turned a corner and behold there was an old historic cabin. Of course we had to check it out, so we walked around the cabin area seeing what remained. Apparently some people disperse camp in this spot too, so the original cabin owners had a good idea. We only spent about 5 to 10 minutes tops and then proceeded down the trail. We soon found the junction and thus our snack break.

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Sitting down on a couple large rocks for snack, we took the time to look around. We were now in a drier area as this flat or shelf we were on was full of sage brush. Aspen trees were mixed in as well. It was a neat transition as the higher peaks surrounding us must take most of the moisture. A few minutes later we were heading down the trail and looking across the canyon to where our destination awaited us.

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The hike down to the bottom of the canyon took about 20 to 30 minutes. It was getting warmer as the late morning sun was now shinning through the cloudy skies. The lack of shade on the trail at this pointed didn’t help either. Once at the bottom we were greeted by shade from an old growth pines. The neat part was the brush and grasses were gone. It was a healthy stand of Geoffrey Pine trees. We took some photos before coming to the junction where our uphill climb began.

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I recently read that the Colby Pass trail near the junction with the High Sierra Trail wasn’t maintained. In fact, places were over grown and the trail was there, but harder to follow. While proceeding up the first part of the trail I was beginning to think what I had read was old. The trail was nicely defined. We crossed over the Kern River, which was really easy to do, and started to make our climb. Now the vegetation was closing in on the trail and what I had read was true. The climb was steep and the trail had not seen maintenance in awhile. It was easy to follow though. I guess being used to Forest Service trails made this not a surprise to both of us.

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In order to maintain a steady pace, I stowed my camera away. This was going to be the hardest part of the day and you are pretty much exposed to the sun for the next mile or two. The hike up was hot, sweat collected rushed down to cool my body, but I proceeded onward one step at a time. I did keep track of time and this helped. We arrived at the top of the “big climb” where I we ate lunch, hydrated, and snapped a few photos.

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The climb was a short and steep downhill. We then headed back up but it was nothing like the previous uphill. The trail went by the creek where the water was like glass, the humidity was up, and the mosquitoes greeted us once again. The aspens were beautiful and the occasional breeze made them “quake” as we continued along the trail.

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We stopped once more near the river. I filtered water for both of us and decided to change out my socks. They were wet and my blistered feet could use some drying out. Brian took the opportunity to make an entry in his journal as well as sketch some observations from our resting spot. Two small fish were cautiously curious about us and we fed them those large black carpenter ants. The first really liked it and hung around us while we relaxed.

I believe we stayed there for about 20 minutes until the dark clouds decided to spur us onward. We packed up our gear and it wasn’t long till we meet three people on the trail. The first guy said we were only a few minutes from the lower end of Gallot’s Lake. He was doing a solo hike and trying to make good time. We wished him well and met a couple hiking down to the Kern River for the day. It was a quick talk, as usual, and we arrived at our destination around 3:45 PM. We camped on a large rock outcrop on the upper side of Gallot’s Lake (which is really a large meadow now with large pools of water on the southern side).

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The mosquitoes were horrible here. I had to keep my face net on the entire time just to have some sanity. Long sleeves and our rain/wind jackets were on too. It was the only way to keep them from eating us alive. I personally don’t want to use DEET based on my past experience with it. Anyway, we needed to rinse off for the day so we found a pool to jump into. I scraped a leech off my foot before it took hold, so heads up if you want to swim there. We returned to our site on the rock and saw a nice healthy coyote coming towards us. I was able to get a good zoom in before we were spotted.

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The rest of our evening was enjoying the sunset, trying to avoid mosquitoes at all costs, and snapping some photos. In fact, with the photos, I took some of all the mosquitoes around me. I walked out, aimed the camera into the sky, and snapped a fast photo. I was surprised to count all of them when I would return home in the next few days.

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Day 5 – June 30, 2015

It was a good night sleep this time around. I think all the hiking helped as well as being able to rinse off all the grim from the past few days. As we woke, our friends were happy to greet us with the usual buzzing sounds. This only made us move quickly through breakfast and breaking camp. We were on our way by 7 AM again and our highlight would be Colby Pass.

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The trail provided us a short warm up before the 10 minute pull uphill. Here the mosquitoes were our unofficial cheer leaders. We just had to keep moving because the minute we stopped, they swarmed us. A quick stop was just for a few gulps of water and then we were moving again. The mosquitoes were adding to the feeling of “this is going to be a long day.”

Once at the top of our first pull the trees receeded back and a view of Colby Pass was ahead. The small glacial shelf and valley was beauitful in the sunrise. Marmots ran across the grass and hid in the rocks as we made our way. The mosquitoes were still tagging along, but the views didn’t make it so bad. We both had to stop for a photo or two.

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We continued up the trail and every step we took was another breath taking angle of the views around us. The morning sunrise on the dew covered grasses gave quite a sparkle on the landscape. A crew flowed through the center of this valley adding to the ambiance of our journey to Colby Pass. Another plus was the higher we climbed, the mosquitoes were going away…finally!

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As we left the valley and began our climb to Colby Pass, a snack was needed. Brian shared a Gu packet with me and it was quite tasty. I believe it was the orange and cream one or similar. Anyway it was going to be a steady pull to our high point for the day. Brian also observed how I was walking uphill and recommended a few adjustments. It was a great observation he made and it made the climb easier to do. It was a slow pace but with longer strides. I only had to take a break once and we were there. We had climbed up to the 12,000 foot elevation mark that is Colby Pass.

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As I previously mentioned it was our highlight of the day. We could see the northern side of the Kaweah peaks to our south. Looking north we could see Kings Canyon where we began this journey. The wind up at the pass never ceased and shelter could only be found behind the rocks. We stayed up on the past for about 20 minutes. Brian wrote and drew in his journal while I went around taking panoramic photos as well as a video. We had our jackets on and ski caps. The wind was providing the chill we were feeling.

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The clouds were getting darker and it was time to leave the pass. Our destination was at Big Wet Meadow just downhill from the Whale Back ridge. The trail was all downhill and through a lot of rock. Mosquitoes were pretty much gone and we were both glad about it. The first half a mile or so down from Colby Pass was a lot of switch backs through the rock. The trail was in great condition, which is also what I had read online during the planning stages of this trip.

There is a lake just north of Colby Pass called Colby Lake. It is a very large lake and looked deep. Fish were along the shorelines as we walked passed, so a good mental note on for Colby Lake. The trail continued on and became steeper as we went down hill. Rock was the primary trail bed and we followed the usual cairns at some points. We even spooked a deer resting on the side of the mountain. I kept my camera stowed away as I wanted to save my knees using the trekking poles.

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The clouds were coming in and thankfully we just seemed to be ahead of the storm. We could see how dark it was getting at Colby Pass. Mosquitoes were at some of the stream crossings or riparian areas. However, we were surprised that they didn’t stick around like the day before. We were not complaining either. The only time we felt swarmed is when we actually had to stop by the stream to filter water. They seemed to really enjoy us there as we filtered water for four Nalgene bottles. We were then back on the trail.

Big Wet Meadow as really obvious when we arrived. There was a nice dispersed camping area on the east side of the trail and meadow. The mosquitoes were there, but it wasn’t that bad. We stopped for lunch where instead of a bar, I opened up my bag, grabbed the stove and a Mary Jane’s, and enjoyed a full lunch. It was revitalizing and, after some discussion and rest, we pressed on to Roaring River. This would double our mileage to 15 mile in a day.

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I was in a grove and full of energy. Our paced quickened to about 2.5 to 3.0 miles per hour. We were covering ground quickly and Brian did mention how fast we were moving. The terrain was flatter, so that did contribute to our pace. I kept my camera in my bag and just focused on my pace. Mosquitoes were gone and I believe our spirits were up as a result.

As we progressed closer and closer to Roaring River, the temperatures also were going up. We topped out at 12,000 feet earlier and would be back down to about 7,000 feet at our destination. The mid afternoon walk was warmer, but not uncomfortable. Around 4:45 PM we had arrived at Roaring River. A bridge crossed over where a large group was having a good time swimming. We talked with the ranger there who was a retired park ranger. She was very nice and said she was now volunteering to help out. She told us where some quite spots were that we could use and we headed off to our home for the night.

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There were no mosquitoes here and we were very happy to be able to stay in t-shirts for the rest of the day. We went over to roaring river, filtered water, washed our hands and faces, and then went back to camp. Brian went over to meet the group of 15 or so people. He later returned saying it was a group from back east. They were students at a university who signed up with a professor to come out for about a month in the Sierra Nevada mountains. We then prepared our dinner for the night in which I had two meals. Tomorrow we were heading out and returning to the vehicle, so might as well calorie up for the hike.

It was a quiet evening where we stayed. Only one or two mosquitoes found us, but the forest floor had black ants crawling over it. As we proceeded to go to bed for the evening, I crawled in my bivy only to have ants find me moments later. They didn’t bite, but it was not comfortable at all finding them in my sleeping bag, under my therm-a-rest, and elsewhere. I ended up killing about a dozen and emptying out the contents of my bivy around 9 PM. I shook their bodies off my gear and returned back inside. I double check the zipper to insure I was sealed inside, which I was. After relaxing and not feeling like I was covered in ants, I went to sleep.

Day 6 – July 1, 2015

We woke up earlier than normal. We had 16 miles to go and wanted to get out of the wilderness early enough for a nice lunch and shortly after being home. We were on the trail by 6 AM and it ended up being a smart move. The sun was up early and we were completely covered in clouds. It was an overcast day and the storm had finally caught up to us.

Our day began by climbing up to Avalanche Pass, which is around 10,000 feet. Over the next 5 miles we would be going up hill. With my new strategy of walking up hill, it wasn’t really that bad. Plus we were in the coolest part of the day. We actually made great time and were able to talk about 90% of the time. Our conversations ranged on a variety of topics from how we were feeling that morning to religion to moral standards to green living to finances and more. I really enjoyed it and it made the up hill climb go by quickly.

When we arrived at Avalanche Pass the clouds were definitely getting darker. It was around 830 AM when we arrived. I ate a snack and took a few minutes break. Brian and I sat there looking down at the hike we were about to do. We had 11 miles of downhill hiking to do, so we gathered our things and off we went. I did not take out my camera again and kept it in the backpack. I was thinking it would rain soon and for another hour it was quite. Then it began to pour.

We were down the trail about a mile or two when the rain came in. It started off as a light sprinkle been then turned into a light to moderate rain. I decided not to put on my rain jacket. I was very hot and humid, so keeping that all in didn’t seem like a good idea. I wanted to cool down so I continued on down the trail. Views of Kings Canyon came into view and the trail switched back a lot. We met a hiking heading up the trail. He was from back east and was a marathon runner. He had packed ultra light and was enjoying a quiet hike to Colby Lake. We chatted with him for about 15 minutes before taking off.

As the trail continued downhill, the trail went from a dirt tread to rock. The rock then had deep steps installed to keep the trail intact. It was like walking down flights of stairs. It went on for quite some time and was really cool to look at. Someone had blasted the side of a mountain to install this portion of the trail. It must have been a lot of work and I am thankful for it. Whenever it was put it, it was holding up nicely and had been used by many.

At this point all my clothes were soaked. We both decided to grab a snack under the few oak trees growing along the exposed rock. Thunder was rumbling along as the rain kept coming down. The rocks were getting slick, so we took it easier on our way down. The snack was well needed and we pressed on. Down and down we went until we arrived next to Bubbs Creek. The foot bridge was there to take us back to the other side. We were back at the junction we saw on day one. We paused for a moment and then headed west towards the truck.

We met a few groups of people coming up. Some where in groups of three. An occasional solo hiker or group of four. The rain also disappeared at this point so I began to dry. We walked across several bridges from day one and hit the “flat sandy area” just two miles out from Roads End. We chatted about the pizza we were going to get in Squaw Valley. Big Bear Pizza I believe is what it was called and we couldn’t stop thinking about it…or at least I could not.

There was an older lady who we came across on our way out. She was wondering where the Sphinx was located at. We pointed up to the rock where she then took some photos. She wanted a photo of us and called us her Trail Angels. We smiled and said we were happy to help. In another 10 to 15 minutes we made it back to the truck.

I took my keys out and opened the back in. Everything was as we left it, so that was good. Our packs were set in the back end of the truck where we also snapped a final photo of us both before leaving the Park. It was a great adventure that went from 8 days down to 6. We pushed ourselves the last few days of the trip and I was glad we did. My feet had about 2 to 4 blisters per foot along with some abrasion marks, but it was all good. Now it was time to head down the mountain and order the largest pizza with all the fresh vegetables they had. Another adventure in the Sierra Nevada mountains complete!

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