Triple Divide Loop II

by Bill Finch

This trip report is based on the unedited log I wrote on the trip.

8/21/91 10 am Panther Creek
Left Crescent Mdw trailhead at 8:45. Kaweah River Valley is very hazy. I didn't filter the water from Panther Crk. Trail sign says it's 17 miles to Hamilton Lks.

11:35 Tr junction from Wolverton (6.0 mi)
6.3 mi to Crescent Mdw

11:40 Creek
First lunch.

2:25 View from Bearpaw Meadow Ranger Station
Bearpaw RS

3:30 Lone Pine Crk.
Saw couple that I saw last year at the pass into Granite Basin.

4:25 Hamilton Crk

5:10 Upper Hamilton Lk. Hamilton Lake

Preparing dinner. I hope to go on to Precipice Lk. There are a lot of people here and the bear box is supposedly full. I feel much better than I did last trip. That Panther Gap stretch must take it out of you. I'm glad I did not come from Wolverton. It has been a warm, beautiful day. The sky is almost cloudless. I hope the weather holds.

6:10 Finished dinner except for dessert.
Leaving Hamilton Lk for Precipice Lk.

7:15 Bridge site

7:20 Water.
Made pudding.

7:30 Sunset.

8:35 Found campsite at Precipice Lk.
Ate pudding. Set up camp by 9:10. Almost ready for bed. Moon is behind a mountain.

8/22/91 Thursday 7:53 am
Slept hot last night in ultralight mummy. Temp inside tent never dropped below 50's. Sun is up. No clouds so far. No other people here last night. Best camp spots are on S side of outlet stream near the biggest rock. I can see part of the cross country loop out from Elizabeth Ps from here. It doesn't look too tough. Met a trail crew at Buck Creek yesterday. Buck Creek bridgesite An avalanche buried the bridge so they are blasting it out and repairing it. They recommended the Over the Hill Trail for its views. I'm strongly leaning toward taking it because I've never been down the Elizabeth Ps trail on the S side. Looks like I'll be getting a late start at about 8:15.

8:55 Kaweah Gap

10:50 Rest Stop.
1st creek xing on east side of Big Arroyo. Passed a dozen Outward Bounders on their way over Mt Lippencott.

10:45 Trail Junction to Little 5 Lks.
Kaweah Gap 2, Moraine Lk 9, Kern River 12. There is a bear box near here. Now begins the climb up to the Chagoopa Plateau.

11: 15 Lunch by creek.
I stopped by the Big Arroyo Patrol Cabin which is on the Little 5 Lk trail. It was unlocked so I got a peek inside. cabin

1:00 Creek just past little lake.
Trying to decide how to go up Mt Kaweah. cabin Since clouds are building I guess I'll go up Chagoopa Crk and cut up to the top if possible. I'm feeling lonely and apprehensive. I guess I'd better be conservative.

1:55 Trail Junction
Kern River 6, Big Arroyo 6, Kaweah Gap 8, Moraine Lk 3, Sky Parlor Mdw 4

2:00 Left HST for Kaweah Ps via Chagoopa Crk.

3:40 Chagoopa Crk
Maybe I'll do Mt Kaweah tomorrow instead of Kaweah Queen.

4:30 Little Lk on Chagoopa Crk lake

5:55 Kaweah Ps lk. lake at pass

I'm whipped. I should have climbed Mt Kaweah from the south and stayed all night on the Chagoopa Plateau.

6:20 Kaweah Ps lake

8/23/91 Friday
Kaweah Basin
Got to this campspot after the moon was up. I'm not sure what time but I'll guess 8:45. The descent down Kaweah Pass was one of the most difficult I've done due to loose rock. It probably would have been easier if it hadn't been at the end of a long day. The topography in this basin is very immature, making it difficult to get around. There are many glacial features such as moraines and roches moutonnees. The lake on Kaweah Ps still has ice on it. A quicker safer route probably would be found in the east valley, staying away from the rock slides from Kaweah Pk. I'm disappointed that I did not go up Mt Kaweah. I can see now that yesterday I should have climbed it and stayed on the Chagoopa Plateau. Pyra-Queen Col looks as nasty from this side as it did from the other. I guess I'll go check it out today but I'm not sure I'll climb Kaweah Queen. If Pyra-Queen is OK, it sure would save a lot of time in getting into this basin. I would bet that it takes longer to get here via Kaweah Pass than it would via Pants Ps and the Kern-Kaweah River.

9:10 Ready to head up to Pyra-Queen Col.

3:20 Back from Pyra-Queen Col.
The following is copied from notes I took on the margin of the Triple Divide Pk 7.5 min quad. "12:15 pm Pyra Queen Col or Queen Pinnacle Pass as it says in the register in a bandaid can at the top. The register was placed by Bill Schuler, Andy Smatko, Ellen Seigal and Frank Yates on 7/2/67. All but Yates came up again the next day. On 27 July 72 a Sierra Club trip to Black Kaweah (Matt Mahre, leader) brought Ed Finerman up here. Another party came up on 7/1/77 (Carol, Jack and Dan Morrison and Bruce Hunner) Palo Alto people. Mountain Margie and Crazy Steve came over from Kaweah on 7/16/84. It was a 3 hr trip up from my camp in Kaweah Basin. The pass is not as difficult as it appears because a shear zone has left a nice face to climb up for the last part. PK Col It appears the western approach is easier. There is a gently sloping ramp on the south side of the notch. 1:03 Just got back from a quick trip down and back up the ramp. The west side is easier than the east. There's quite a view from up here. To the east the crest is clearly visible and to the west you can see the Tablelands, Alta Peak, Moose Lk and of course Mt Stewart."

Pyra-Queen could be used as part of a four day loop. Day 1-Precipice Lk, Day 2-Kaweah Basin, Day 3-9 Lk Basin via Pants Ps, Day 4-Return to Wolverton or Crescent Mdw.

3:45 It's really clouding up to the east. I think I'll pack up and move down to a lower part of the basin

4:15 Ready to move.

7:20 I have to pinch myself to know I haven't died and gone to heaven. Well, I have gone to heaven even if I'm not dead yet. I got here at around 6 or a little after. I had to do a little campsite construction, something I can't remember having done for years. I hope God and the NPS don't mind. I'm camped too close to water, too, on the northern island of the two island lake in the lower basin. Views to E and W are fabulous. This has been a wonderful day. Since I'm doing so much cross country, I'm considering climbing just one peak, Triple Divide. I'll have to play it by ear.

8/24/91 Saturday 7;30 am
Kaweah Basin, Island in Lake. This must be the most beautiful place on earth. KP Ridge

I woke up at 6:00 and I'll be leaving here in a few minutes for Milestone Creek. Slept well but hot again. The bag must have a vapor barrier in it because I feel wet all the time unless it's cold outside.

10:00 Just finished fording Kaweah Creek and the Kern-Kaweah River. Beautiful cloudless day.

11:00 Just finished lunch at a spring on lower part of Colby Ps trail. A pack train practically ruined a steep section of trail between here and the last entry.

12:15 Kern River crossing.
Just finished a bath in a crystal clear, bubbling plunge pool. The river flows in 2 channels here. It's hot about 80 degrees. The bath cooled me off and I feel great. It's clouding up in a big way, more than yesterday.

12:30 Junction Mdw
Trail sign says Colby Ps 8.5, Kern Hot Springs 7.5, JMT 4.3, Mt Whitney 16.

1:15 Trail junction
Upper Kern Basin, Junction Meadow 1.2, JMT 3.1, Forester Ps 12.5, Mt Whitney 14.8

1:45 Tyndall Creek

3:50 Milestone Basin trail sign

7:40 Milestone Basin
Found a nice camp spot at pipe wrench shaped lake in center of basin. Met two botanists from Humboldt State. One is doing his senior thesis on plants of Table Mtn, the other paleobotany work at Oregon State. They have really been around. The big beautiful full moon is up. The stove was running slow so I haven't eaten yet. Milestone Ps looks like another tough one. Milestone

There are lots of large tadpoles in this lake. I saw water beetles, too. The botanists think Lk 10,212 is a special spot. One is going to do my White-LeConte Loop with a group of 8 and take 2 weeks.

8/25/91 7:30 Sunday
Pipewrench Lk Milestone Basin
Another beautiful day. Full moon last night kept this lovely place well lighted about all night. A little frost on tent. Slept better because I wore polypro underwear. Felt dry instead of wet. Unplugged stove orifice and it works much better now. What a wonderful world God has created.

9:20 Milestone Pass
East side looks harder than west. Six foot boulder almost got my leg. I need to be a little more careful. 11:40 Just below moraine that dams lowest lake in Milestone Bowl Studying route to Triple Divide Pass. If middle route isn't possible, the south point might be.

1:12 Took S route and made it to the top now. Followed ducks for last 200? ft

3:30 Triple Divide Pass Triple Divide Pass

5:25 Just climbed Triple Divide Pk. Triple Divide PeakWhen it looked impossible at a distance, I just told myuself, "It wouldn't be class 2 unless it was easy," and "Keep going until it is impossible." Well it never got that bad. I was the first to sign a new register placed by Bob Meadows the Bearpaw ranger.

8:30 Got to camp in Cloud Cyn at 7:30. Someone had made nice flat spot. Dinner is almost ready. So am I.

8/26/91 Monday
8:32 am Upper Cloud Canyon
upper Cloud Cyn
I think whoever named this canyon made a mistake when he wrote the name down. He meant to call it Cold Cyn. The sun is almost ready to shine on my camp spot. I was going to dry things out in the sun but it didn't get here in time. I didn't say much abt yesterday, probably because I was so busy, but it was quite a day; three cross country passes, Milestone, unnamed pass from Colby Ps trail to basin E of Triple Divide Pk, Triple Divide Ps; and one mountain, Triple Divide Pk. It sounds like fun to visit the feature each quad is named for in the areas I like. I've done several already. It was cold last night, but I slept warm. I need to bring a pair of light sleeping sox for that bag to keep my feet from feeling wet. It's windy in this valley. I didn't see anyone all day yesterday, even though I was on the Colby Ps trail briefly. Cirrus clouds are to the east, less than earlier, and some cumulus building far to the N. The clouds yesterday were different than typical thunder clouds. They formed an extensive grouping that moved from the SW and produced no thunder. They were gone by evening. Must have been part of a large system, i.e. not local. Well, it's 8:47 so I'd better go.

11:20 Coppermine Peak/Pass Coppermine Ps/Pk
Wrote a note for the register, a Cheez Whiz jar filled with papers. Whatever happens to these things when they are full? Absolutely gorgeous view except for valley smog. Time for lunch and then out.

12:00 Leaving Coppermine Ps/Pk

1? Elizabeth Ps

2:45 Taking a break at Lone Pine Crk 1st xing.

3:40 OTH Tr junc

4:40 BP Mdw

5:05 Buck Crk

6:00 Little Blue Dome Crk

6:47 Alta Trail

9:02 Crescent Mdw

Triple Divide Loop II Map

8 April 2006
One Page Version 21 January 2013