In order to prepare for a climb of Mount Fuji in July, 2007, I decided to bag a peak I have been meaning to climb for the past 20 years. Besides the fact that Mount Kaweah or Big Kaweah is the tallest of the peaks of the Great Western Divide and its spurs (13,802 ft, 4207 m), it lies next to the High Sierra Trail, which travels through some of the finest country in the Sierra Nevada Range.
I started the hike in Crescent Meadow, one of my favorite trail heads. It was a beautiful day with a clear view of the Great Western Divide.
Great Western Divide and Little Blue Dome
I arrived at Hamilton Lake and found that the upper campsites were full of boy scouts so I put up my tent in the overflow area.
The next day remained beautiful and soon I was at Precipice Lake.
I stayed there for a while, enjoying the reflections of the cliff behind the lake and the changing colors of the water. Soon I was at Kaweah Gap and looking into the Big Arroyo.
Big Arroyo from Kaweah Gap
It remained clear as I descended the canyon and soon I was at the Big Arroyo Patrol Cabin and beginning my climb to the Chagoopa Plateau. I was concerned about finding water, but there were a number of streams that crossed the trail. Unfortunately, none of them had nearby flat areas until I got about a mile from the plateau. I found a great camp spot next to a nice stream and had a great night's sleep.
The next morning, I was excited about the climb. I soon found a small lake on the plateau where I left the trail and began the ascent of Mount Kaweah.
Lake on Chagoopa Plateau where I left the trail
I managed to avoid sand much of the way up. Alpine gold was abundant on the slopes above tree line.
Alpine Gold was abundant above tree line
Finally, I made the summit
Bench Mark on Mount Kaweah summit
with its views of the Kaweah Basin
Kaweah Basin and Kaweah Pass from the summit
and Black Kaweah.
Black Kaweah from the summit
After an hour or so on top, I slid down as much of the slope as possible until reaching the foxtail pines
at tree line.
Foxtail Pine forest at tree line
I took a parting look at the summit and returned to my camp.
Mount Kaweah from Foxtail Pine forest
I slept in and didn't get on the trail until a little after eleven. As I approached Kaweah Gap, I realized that I had never hiked up the Big Arroyo before, so I got a shot of the pass for a souvenir.
Kaweah Gap from moraine in Big Arroyo
I stayed overnight at the middle penthouse camp at Hamilton Lake and made it back to the trailhead the next day a little after five.