Trekking to Triple Divide Peak, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, California

Sierra Club Outings Trip # 13129A, Backpacking

Highlights

  • Hike from the ancient, giant sequoia trees into the high alpine landscape of Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks
  • Enjoy beauty and solitude in spectacular Deadman Canyon
  • Relax on the shores of sparkling lakes below the peaks of the magnificent Triple Divide

Includes

  • Tasty vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals
  • Lightweight cooking equipment
  • Bear-proof canisters

Details

DatesJul 21–28, 2013
Price$695
Deposit$100
Capacity12
Difficulty4 (out of 5)
StaffDave Bugay

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Trip Overview

The Trip

Our journey is a loop hike, a little over 50 miles long, which begins and ends in the forest of giant trees in Sequoia National Park. Slowly but steadily we will make our way into the high country. Heading through Deadman Canyon we will pass by waterfalls and vast alpine meadow, then finally cross the crest of the Triple Divide. A layover day near secluded Tamarack Lake will allow us to explore this spectacular area, before we return along the panoramic High Sierra Trail.

The trip appeals to the experienced backpacker as much as to strong novices who want to enjoy the scenery of Sequoia's and Kings Canyon's backcountry. 

Itinerary

Day 1: We will meet in the afternoon of Sunday, July 21 at the Lodgepole campground in Sequoia NP (at approximately 7,000 feet elevation). We will spend the rest of the day getting to know each other, getting our gear ready and splitting up the commissary equipment before we have dinner at the campground.

Day 2: We start our trip with breakfast at the campground. This first hiking day will be a well-graded 2,800-foot ascent over 7 miles through pine forest. We will make camp along the shores of Twin Lakes, two beautiful alpine lakes nestled just below the cliffs of Silliman Crest (at about 9,500 feet elevation).

Day 3: After a short, steep 1,000-foot climb we reach our first mountain pass, Silliman Pass (at about 10,500 feet elevation), from which we enjoy stunning views across the Tablelands into the peaks of the Great Western and Triple Divide. A gradual 10-mile descent brings us into the forested canyons of Sugarloaf Creek and Roaring River, where we spend our next night (at about 7,200 feet elevation).

Day 4: We make our way back into the high country. After passing the backcountry Ranger Station at Roaring River we head into Deadman Canyon, which was named after a shepherd who died here more than 100 years ago. The forest  slowly gives way to alpine meadows. Waterfalls  plunge down on both sides of the canyon walls. After hiking about 10 miles we pitch our tents at a scenic spot in the upper canyon (at about 9,000 feet elevation).

 Day 5: This will probably be our hardest day. We have to climb out of the canyon to the crest of the Triple Divide, which we reach at Elizabeth Pass (at 11,500 feet elevation). Fortunately the breathtaking vistas will make up for the effort. The long, steep descent into the canyon of Lone Pine Creek is not necessarily a walk in the park either. After a strenuous 10-mile hike, with many ups and downs, we finally settle into camp near the shores of sparkling Tamarack Lake in a glaciated valley below the Triple Divide (at about 9,200 feet elevation).

Day 6: A well-deserved rest day. You can enjoy the stunning scenery by relaxing at camp, swimming, fishing, or joining us for a cross-country climb to Lion Lake (at 11,100 feet elevation).

Day 7: We return along the famous High Sierra Trail, the most scenic east-west route through the High Sierra. We pass the ranger station at Bearpaw Meadows. After about 10 miles, vistas abound and the gently undulating trail reaches Mehrten Creek. Here we spend our last night (at about 7,500 feet elevation).

Day 8: After an easy 5-mile walk, mostly downhill, we reach the terminus of the High Sierra Trail and the end of our trek at Crescent Meadows. A ride on the National Park Service shuttle bus through the forest of  Sequoia trees brings us back to our cars at Lodgepole.

The route and itinerary are a general plan and may need to be changed due to unforeseen conditions or circumstances. Snow conditions, runoff, weather, progress of the group, campsite availability, and other factors may require the leaders to make adjustments. Participants need to be flexible. 

Photos

Details

Getting There

Our starting point, Lodgepole Campground is located at 7,000 feet elevation in Sequoia NP, about 2-2½ hours driving time from Fresno, which is the closest airport. Driving time from either the San Francisco and Los Angeles metropolitan areas is about 6 hours (250 miles). Unfortunately, it is not possible to reach this place with public transportation. Out-of-state participants should plan to rent a car. The leader will periodically send out a roster of approved trip participants well in advance of the trip to assist those who wish to share rides and/or rental cars.

We expect to get back to our cars by early afternoon on Sunday, July 28. However, we cannot guarantee a specific time. To be safe and allow enough time for the drive out, we advise that participants do not plan their return flights before the next day, Monday, July 29.

Accommodations and Food

The trip price includes the first night's (July 21) car camping. The first meal provided will be dinner at the campground that night. Our last meal will be lunch on the last day (July 28).

Our meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks) will be a hearty combination of meat, fish, and vegetables, including soup as the first course of each dinner. We will try to accommodate vegetarians. However other special diets can be very difficult to accommodate on this length of backpack trip. If you prefer vegetarian meals or have other special dietary requirements, you are encouraged to contact the leader to see if your needs can be met. Snack bags are provided for each trip member to carry, so you will always have something to munch on. Every effort is made to include a wide variety of nutritious and tasty foods to fuel our adventure. Trip members take turns serving on cook crews and performing various camp chores. The leaders will take care of the stoves and supervise the meal preparation.

Trip Difficulty

The rating of our trip is 4 on a scale between 1 and 5. Unfortunately, all too often some participants misunderstand the meaning of that rating. It reflects an average and it also needs to be put in relation with the whole spectrum of backpack trips that the Sierra Club National Outings program is offering. The total distance of our trek is about 53 miles. Daily hiking distances range between 5 and 11 miles. Our hardest day contains a rather steep and arduous climb of about 3,000 feet. Our highest elevation will be at 11,500 feet. All of our hiking will be on established trails. Wet creek fords are likely.

Carrying a heavy (40-45 pound) pack for several days, especially on prolonged uphill stretches, is a strenuous aerobic activity and is not suited for everyone. In order to enjoy this trip, participants need to be in excellent physical condition. Regular aerobic exercise (such as treadmill, running, swimming, biking, or hiking) during the 3-4 months before the trip is essential. The best physical preparation for a backpack trip is doing serious day hikes. Make sure your hiking boots are well broken-in. Include in your conditioning plan an occasional long walk, while carrying weight on unstable terrain. As well as endurance, you need leg strength; be able to lift yourself and your pack the equivalent of two stairs at a time.

It is always a good idea to get acclimatized to an environment that is different from what you are used to. If possible, try to arrive a couple of days early and go on easy day hikes in the park. There is plenty to see and do.

Participants who are new to backpacking, but otherwise strong and fit, are encouraged to apply. The leaders will work with you and help with appropriate gear selection and trip preparation.

Equipment and Clothing

In addition to all of the food, the Sierra Club will also provide all cooking gear (stove, fuel, lightweight pots, and pans), chlorine tablets for water treatment, group first-aid kit, tarp, and the bear-proof canisters that we will use to store our food.

The following is a list of the gear and clothing you will need to provide and carry for the trip. More details will be provided in pre-trip bulletins. The leaders will be more than happy to give advice on selecting the proper equipment so please feel free to contact us before you go out and spend a lot of money. Novices who need to purchase all or most of their equipment should be aware that this might be a considerable expense.

Required:

  • Backpack (internal or external frame)
  • Comfortable hiking boots. They should provide good ankle support and need to be well broken-in.
  • Sleeping bag (temperature rating 25 degrees F or below)
  • Sleeping pad (foam or ThermaRest)
  • Tent with rain fly and ground cover
  • Rain gear (pants + parka)
  • Fleece, wool or down jacket
  • Warm hat
  • Gloves or mittens
  • Hiking shorts or pants (1-2 pairs), no cotton (e.g. jeans)
  • Light-midweight long-sleeved shirt (no cotton)
  • T-shirt (no cotton)
  • Comfortable clothes for camp
  • Change of underwear (no cotton)
  • Long underwear (no cotton)
  • Change of socks (hiking socks and thin liner socks underneath to prevent blisters)
  • Sun protection (sunglasses + sunscreen with SPF-20 or above and sun hat)
  • Personal first-aid kit (moleskin or adhesive tape for blister treatment, Tylenol)
  • Personal toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, biodegradable soap). Women should bring extra tampons, even if it is not the time of your regular period.
  • Eating utensils (plate, cup, spoon, fork)
  • Insect repellent
  • Water bottle(s) or canteen (two quarts total recommended)
  • Lightweight headlamp or flashlight

Optional:

  • Sandals or Tevas (nice in camp or for stream crossings); also crocs or lightweight tennies
  • Bandana (handkerchief)
  • Bathing suit
  • Hiking poles
  • Lightweight camera
  • Water filter or purifier if you do not want to use the chlorine tablets that we provide.
  • Fishing gear

All clothing needs to be stored in waterproof stuff sacks or plastic bags. Sleeping bags need to be wrapped in a plastic bag to stay dry. If your tent is not freestanding, we recommend bringing some cord to tie it down, because staking might be difficult in some places. (REI has some great, inexpensive rock holders to substitute for stakes.) If you have a large tent (for more than one person), you might want consider sharing it with another trip member in order to keep your pack weight down.

All participants should try to keep their personal pack weight below 25 pounds (not including hiking boots and water). The weight of the commissary gear is about 15 pounds per person. We will weigh all packs before we start, and people whose personal gear is too heavy might need to leave some non-essential items behind. Please think ahead about what you want to bring.

Please also keep in mind that you must have the additional capacity in your pack for about 1½ large grocery bags. This will be the volume of the commissary gear for each person. Most of it is sturdy (non-compressible).

Your gear will be much easier and safer to carry if it is tucked away inside your pack and not dangling on the outside.

References

  • Tom Harrison Trail Map: Mt. Whitney High Country.
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map Sequoia + Kings Canyon NP.
  • Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks: www.nps.gov/seki

Conservation

Kings Canyon National Park exists as a direct result of Sierra Club conservation efforts. The Club actively lobbied Congress for years for the creation of the park. Some of the biggest names in Club history, including Ansel Adams and David Brower, contributed mightily in this effort, succeeding in 1940 with the initial park boundaries and later with the inclusion of Tehipite Valley and the Cedar Grove area. Eight years later, the Club successfully blocked the construction of hydroelectric dams in the newly protected canyon.

Mineral King, in adjacent Sequoia National Park, is the site of one of the Sierra Club's most important conservation victories. The area's early history involves mining and "claims" of ore, then settlement as a high and remote community. After World War II, the Sierra Club actually proposed that Mineral King should be developed as a ski resort! Fortunately, no developers were interested at that time. Then in the 1960s, Walt Disney wanted to build a huge resort in the valley. After extensive internal debate, the Sierra Club decided to oppose the project. The ensuing lengthy environmental battle eventually was won, and in October 1978, Mineral King was added to Sequoia National Park.

The Sierra Club Outings program provides an excellent opportunity for members to discuss current problems while also celebrating past conservation victories. Trip participants are encouraged to come prepared to discuss issues affecting their home communities.

Sierra Club National Outings is an equal-opportunity provider and will operate under a permit from Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks.

Staff

Leader:

Dave is a relative newcomer to backpacking, having led a group of Boy Scouts through Philmont in 1998. Dave resumed backpacking in 2001 as a Sierra Club participant, and has been on several trips since. Dave has led or assisted Sierra Club trips each year, starting in 2007. Each year Dave looks forward to trekking the High Sierra with like-minded people from around the country.

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