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Wildflower Pass - or - "best" way from picket creek to 9 lakes basin

Posted: Sat Jun 27, 2020 3:18 pm
by milkfish
With 2020 affording me zero trips and too much time on my hands, I've been poking around on caltopo and throwing together a 9 Lakes, Kaweah Basin, Picket Creek, Kern-Kaweah, 9 Lakes loop. Maybe a likely candidate for 2021.

I was researching ways to get from Picket Creek up over to the upper Kern-Kaweah with the utimate goal of Pants Pass back into 9 Lakes, then over Lion Rock and maybe down to Tamarack Lake then back to Lodgepole or up over to Coppermine Pass and into upper Deadman, around Horn Col and over Pterodactyl to get into the Tablelands and back down to Lodgepole.

The way I see it there are a couple of options:
  • Pyra Queen Col back to 9 Lakes though this is the least interesting as I'll have come from that way.
  • Drop down to the Kern, follow Colby Pass up to upper Kern-Kaweah, over Pants Pass - this has a lot of extra decline in elevation than ideal, I'd prefer to stay up high.
Another option is Triple Divide Pass, Lion Lake Pass down to Tamarack Creek, in which case I still might prefer Wildflower pass to drop across the lower Kern-Kaweah versus going all the way down to Colby Pass Trail.

Re: Wildflower Pass - or - "best" way from picket creek to 9 lakes basin

Posted: Tue Jun 30, 2020 7:24 pm
by cgundersen
Hi Milkfish,
My wife and I did a variant of your plan going in at Wolverton to Kaweah Gap and over Pants Pass adjacent (referred to by some as Piss in your pants pass) to reach the upper bounds of the Kern Kaweah valley (the TR is on page 149 of the HST backpacking forums and maverick and copeg had done earlier posts). From there we reached Picket Creek valley via the broad shoulder (just a bit above 12,00 ft on your map) that drops down to the uppermost lake in the Picket Creek basin (the lake from which the creek originates). This trip was in early-June with gobs of snow, so we were on white stuff a lot. We worked our way into Kaweah basin and left via Kaweah Pass (not high on my list of passes I'd like to do again, lots of unstable rock) and completed the loop. I did a TR for this back in 2009, so you should be able to find photos there (turns out when I looked at the post that the photo link is all screwed up, sorry). And, 2 years ago, my buddy and I were in the upper Kern-Kaweah and simply ascended the northwestern ridgeline out of the Kern-Kaweah headwaters. That took us to Triple Divide pass which is a good option to stretch out your trip (and avoid Pants pass, if you're so inclined). So, no, I've not done Wildflower (it is off the beaten path), but I have done its cousin, and it was pretty smooth sailing. Regardless, that whole area is gorgeous and very low traffic. Good luck! Cameron

PS. There are good descriptions of Pyra-queen Pass, but I have never done it with a pack on......

Re: Wildflower Pass - or - "best" way from picket creek to 9 lakes basin

Posted: Thu Jul 02, 2020 9:14 am
by milkfish
Thanks - good to know it goes without having to drop down too far. Maybe if I'm feeling it I'll do the pass anyway since there seems to be no beta on it anywhere.

Re: Wildflower Pass - or - "best" way from picket creek to 9 lakes basin

Posted: Sat Jul 04, 2020 12:20 pm
by thegib
Hi Milkfish

If you count low points from Lawson peak moving east we crossed north to south at either the second or third, not the fifth, which you're calling wildflower. I was aiming for the second, which looks easy on the map, but we we're just about cliffed out and struggled to descend. So I've been telling myself we went over the third point, which looks worse on the map. When I do it again I think I'll go for the first from Lawson.

Re: Wildflower Pass - or - "best" way from picket creek to 9 lakes basin

Posted: Sun Jul 05, 2020 9:42 am
by giantbrookie
I recall that Wandering Daisy crossed that pass and reported it standard class 2 and not so bad but perhaps my memory is faulty. I crossed that ridge a somewhat counterintuitive way by going right over the top of Pickett Guard Peak with a full pack (headed north to south from upper Kern-Kaweah headwaters and headed for Kaweah Basin); this was the day after we had crossed Pants Pass from 9 Lakes Basin. The Picket Guard Peak north ridge route had the advantage of very solid rock (including large granitic talus that was stable and unlike the classic Kaweah stuff where everything seems to move). The disadvantage to the Pickett Guard Peak north ridge route for travel with a full pack is there is a short class 3 knife edge section from the top of the N ridge to a bit short of the summit. I am not sure if this bit of class 3 can be avoided by staying a bit east (circling east of the summit region). Anyhow, whereas I enjoyed this route, it seems to me, based on descriptions that Wildflower Pass is easier and preferred unless you want the novelty of going over a summit in lieu of a pass.