Sunday, October 9, 2016

Backpacking in King's Canyon

Although I have been climbing and bagging peaks like crazy over the past 8 months, I have actually done very little backpacking! So this weekend Teresa and I decided to head into Kings Canyon. 

Originally we had planned to do some peak bagging while back there, but with the strenuous nature of the hike I though it would be best to not burn Teresa out 2 weeks into our training plan, so we were satisfied with just a great hike into some backcountry lakes. 

Mountain lakes - Never gets old
We headed up the Bubbs Creek Trail then onto the Sphinx Creek trail. It was basically 6 miles of continuous switchbacks, gaining maybe 3000' until we broke off the trail to head cross country. The views were fantastic, and with it being mid-October, there were very few people on the trail.

Near the start of the trail

The Sphinx. Who wants to climb this obscure formation with me sometime?

Heading up the endless switchbacks

We made pretty good time on the trail and then we veered off the trail to head cross country up a series cirques and drainages to reach Sphinx lakes. I took a wrong turn and we ended up bush-whacking up about a thousand feet of loose sandy garbage, until I spied off in the distance the correct drainage. Oops! 

We down climbed some 3rd class choss, and then headed up the correct drainage. By this time, we were both a bit tired and disheartened. 

Teresa ascends the correct drainage

The next 2.5 miles gained another 2500' and took FOREVER. It was slow going, no trail, bushwhacking, route finding. I made another mistake by not sticking directly in the drainage and going into the forest. Oh well, live and learn.

We reached the first of 3 lakes, rested a bit and continued up.

Fist lake

In the reeds at the first Sphinx lake 
We followed the drainage up to the second lake
Second lake

Then up a talus field, and finally the 3rd lake. 8 miles, 5500' elevation gain and it took us almost 8 hours. The last 2.5 miles took way longer than I had anticipated!

The third Sphinx lake was beautiful, and we set ourselves a nice camp, about an hour before the sun dipped behind the mountains.

Teresa enjoys a well earned rest!

Camo tent
We made some food, and relaxed. I love sleeping in the backcountry, so city sounds, no one playing music, just birds and the the wind. So very relaxing. The temps plummeted rapidly when the sun went down. Summer is over in the mountains.


We had a very cozy sleep. I LOVE it when its freezing cold outside, and I am in my sleeping bag all toasty, such a nice feeling. We got up a bit late, made some coffee. Teresa really didn't feel like climbing the mountain, and I felt satisfied with just a nice relaxing hike, (plus I don't want to burn her out already!), so we packed up and headed down. On the way down we passed a couple of bucks resting on the ridge. 

packing up

Hi boys!
More nice views on the descent, and soar feet. We stopped at Cedar Grove, got ourselves a beer and a veggie burger. Great weekend!

Goodbye Kings's Canyon!

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