Advice: Mineral King Trip - 2 Nights/ 3 Days

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Advice: Mineral King Trip - 2 Nights/ 3 Days

Post by mbehlen » Wed Sep 13, 2017 6:44 pm


I am back for more advice! You folks kindly helped me plan a trip to Point Reyes in March 17, and two trips to Dinkey Lakes Widlerness just this month! You folks are a wealth of knowledge! So with these three trips under my belt I have my last free weekend of the season and I want to go to Mineral King! I have Friday Night until Monday Night (leave Fresno and get back to Fresno) to spend on the trail!

Could you offer any advice on a hike I can do in Mineral King (or seki) solo? I can do around 8-9 miles a day and I will have be carrying less than 25 pounds (not including water). I think I would be camping at whatever trail head I start at Friday night to get a VERY early start Saturday morning.

My thoughts are this:

Day 1/Night 1: Head to Franklin Lake and setup camp (is the best place to camp?). Do a day hike over Franklin Pass and check out Forester Lake and Little Claire Lake. Maybe camp at upper lake? Should I keep going over the pass and camp somewhere on the other side?

Day 2/Night 2: This is where I need the most help!

Day 3: Hike back to the trailhead.

Thank you so much!!!

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Re: Advice: Mineral King Trip - 2 Nights/ 3 Days

Post by Harlen » Wed Sep 13, 2017 9:15 pm

Hey mbehlen,

I have yet to travel that southern route from Mineral King, but if I had your time, here's what I'd consider doing with it:

You said you would likely stay at Franklin Lake, and I see you'll be in over the weekend; so if it were me, I'd choose to carry on up to the upper Franklin Lake. First, it'll be way less crowded, and secondly, by my maps it looks like it places you in an incredible vantage point, directly under the 1000' cliffs of Florence Peak. But is it a nice place to camp? It sure looks like a lot of open flat country around that lake. Someone who has been there will have to chime in.
I too love long day hikes, so your idea to ramble around up to that interesting up and down Franklin Pass sounds great, and on the way you could choose from a couple of peaks to climb: Rainbow Mtn. to the north of the trail, and then there's that long northeast ridge that leads to Florence, and there's even a third choice- Peak ~11,650 a bit more than a half-mile northeast from Franklin Pass. I'd choose Florence Peak, as it's the highest of these mountains- this generally means the best view, and I like the look of that mile-long, curving ridge route up it. It's a gentle slope on the southeast side, and an exciting steep slope for much of the last half to the northwest. The Roper Climbing Guide calls it Class 2- so it's pretty likely to be a walk-up. The last climb mentioned is the easiest, yet looks like it still gives a fine view east from a perch above Little Claire, and the larger lake to the northwest.
There are enough options to fill 2 days of day hiking and climbing from Franklin Lakes area, and you may feel the hike to Franklin Pass is enough of a climb in itself. Another fun day trip without climbing a peak would be to backtrack a couple of miles and then hike up to Farewell Gap; there and back looks like it would fill your 8-9 mile quota for a day.
So that's what I'll do when I get there Mbehlen, but I enjoy mountain heights and long views from up on them, I have a hiking buddy who is always happiest exploring the forests, other friends love to poke around rocky outcrops, hunting for minerals... so it's hard to advise others except by offering up our own desires. With the short amount of time you've got, I also would choose one camp, and the long day trips from there. If you are keen to have two campsites, I am at a loss looking at the map; there will surely be someone else here at HST who will know other nice areas for a camp. Little Claire Lake is a famous scenic camp, but it would make for a long hike out on Monday. I wonder what "Panorama Bowl" is like? I bet you will have a great time up there. All the best, Harlen.

p.s. My best advice is to just stare at your topos maps till you can see them in three dimentions. With this ability, you will be able pretty well plan your outings by what you see on the maps- and this skill will serve you anywhere in the world.

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Re: Advice: Mineral King Trip - 2 Nights/ 3 Days

Post by RichardCullip » Wed Sep 13, 2017 9:58 pm

It maybe be more mileage than you want to bite off over a weekend but look at heading over Farewell Gap and onto Silver Lake. You can then take Shotgun Pass over to the Rattlesnake Creek drainage and finally head back to the trailhead via Franklin Pass. My brother and I did this route in the mid 70's when we were young and in shape. I still remember a wonderful nights sleep at Silver Lake. The only disappointment was the DFG had just poisoned Silver Lake to prep it for the re-introduction of pure strain Little Kern Goldens. We had hoped to do a bit of fishing once we made camp. Haven't been back since then so I can't speak to the quality of the opportunity to do a bit of fishing
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Re: Advice: Mineral King Trip - 2 Nights/ 3 Days

Post by Wandering Daisy » Wed Oct 11, 2017 7:48 pm

It is nearly mid-Oct and I personally would not do this trip now. Camping at upper Franklin Lake will be very cold as it is in shadows and had no wind cover. This time of year it is better to camp in the trees. I definitely would not camp over Franklin Pass. The sun is really low now and you will have less than 12 hours of daylight to work with. If you want a little more to do on Day 3, take a side trip up to Farwell Gap on your way out. Check the weather report the day you go. Use the NWS website, and key in on exact locations. Low temperatures can be 10 degrees lower than the general forecast at a specific campsite. Check with SEKI- are you sure the road is even going to be open?

Your plan however is a good one for summer.

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