Short Mineral King Loop - suggestions?

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Short Mineral King Loop - suggestions?

Post by 2020hiker » Sat Jul 11, 2020 4:46 pm

Heading in on next week for a 2 night, 3 day (yes, big days) for the 27 mi timber gap/blackrock/sawtooth pass. Hoping to push on Friday to little 5 from timber gap, not likely though and will back up plan for Pinto lake

Any recommendations on which little 5 or which big 5 lake to camp? Or a better camp for the 2nd night?

It's a long drive to the trailhead, do most people just camp at the trailhead at night and not get busted by the park rangers? It's a long road into mineral king with minimal pullouts for someone like me who needs a camp spot around midnight till early morning.

I'm planning on marmot proofing my car. Any tips? I have the tarps


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Re: Short Mineral King Loop - suggestions?

Post by SSSdave » Sat Jul 11, 2020 5:47 pm

Backpackers and visitors use the Cold Springs NPS campground. Go to the SEKI NPS site for info.

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Re: Short Mineral King Loop - suggestions?

Post by torpified » Sat Jul 11, 2020 6:17 pm

Right now, NPS campgrounds in MK (there's Atwell Mill as well as Cold Springs) are closed:

I camped a few years ago in the Big Five Lakes basin, at the middle lake (which is what Aristotle would have done), and loved it. The main spur disperses into a braid of use trails, but that just makes it fun to explore. Although I walked out the next (mostly downhill) day, I reckon getting to Big Five Lakes your first day would be ... well, a hike.

Between Big Five Lakes and your exit TH, I feel like Columbine Lake and down canyon are the most attractive options. I haven't camped there, so I have no good leads to offer.

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Re: Short Mineral King Loop - suggestions?

Post by bobby49 » Sat Jul 11, 2020 6:55 pm

At the last time that I parked in Mineral King for any overnights, I first spread out a large blue tarp in the parking lot. It was large enough to be eight feet longer and eight feet wider than my car. I drove my car so that it was centered over the tarp. I locked the car, and then pulled up all of the edges and corners, securing them with some parachute cord and some bungee cords. When I was done, about all you could see was the top eight inches of the car. When I returned after some nights out, the marmots had not scored anything.

Due to the long drive, I had started in early afternoon of the first day. I got through Timber Gap and part of the way down toward Redwood Meadow. On the second day, I went up to Bearpaw Camp. On the third day, I went through Kaweah Gap to the patrol cabin. On the fourth day it was all the way over to Lost Canyon, then up to Columbine Lake. On the last day, I shot through Sawtooth Pass and down to the main parking lot.

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