Kings Canyon NP and John Muir Wilderness BP - July 2-6, 2014

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Kings Canyon NP and John Muir Wilderness BP - July 2-6, 2014

Post by hikerbot » February 5th, 2015, 7:30 pm

I'l admit, I don't post TRs often. Recently, I have received some inquiries about my wanderings in the Sierras, where I logged about a third of my hiking miles in 2014. So I figured I'd start here with a five day "tour bus" backpack through parts of the John Muir Wilderness and Kings Canyon NP. A full day and a half of our trip was cross country, thus the reason for placing it in "off-trail" trip reports.

Opening shot:
Rainbow Lake.jpg
We decided to get an early start on July 4th weekend. I had flown into Fresno the evening of July 1st, and was ready to get out of town!

July 2nd - 10.7 miles, 2376' EG
We stopped by the ranger station in Prather, CA to pick up permits on the way up to the Maxon TH at Courtright Reservoir. The first part of the trail is along the Dusy Ershim Trail, a popular jeep route. Luckily, since it was mid-week, there were no vehicles in sight. It was almost noon. We were starting at above 8000ft, and it was about 80F, so the first day was a bit slow going due to altitude and heat. The first day was all below treeline. We passed through Post Corral Meadows, which is a popular backpacking destination (I'm really not sure why). Somewhere short of the trail to Fleming Lake, we found a place to camp and decided to call it an evening.
Granite Dome between the Dusy Ershim trail and Courtright Reservoir

July 3rd - 10.5 miles, 3022' EG
The next morning, we broke down camp and headed out before 9am. Less than a half mile down the trail, we found several marshy areas along the trail, which explained the large number of mosquitos (not to mention early July). As we continued toward the Red Mountain Basin junction, the trees started opening up to views of meadows and granite peaks.
We stopped for lunch at Disappointment Lake. We were able find a fantastic rock outcropping, and a nice rock about 10 feet from shore, which made a great place to soak our feet. Even better, we had the place to ourselves, as there was not another single person in sight. I would say far from a disappointment...
disappointment 2.jpg
After a bit of lollygagging, we shouldered our packs and continued towards Hell for Sure. The trail between Disappointment Lake and Hell for Sure Pass is dotted with small lakes.
The last one before the pass is Hell for Sure Lake. If this is hell, then I'd be perfectly happy to end up there.
hell for sure lake.jpg
Then over the LeConte Divide via Hell for Sure Pass
hfs pass.jpg
Looking back from the top of the pass.
top of hfs.jpg
Our first view of Goddard Canyon as we descended down from the pass.
Goddard Canyon and the South Fork of the San Joaquin River from near our second night's camp.
goddard 2.jpg
Day 3 - 6.1 miles, 2190' EG
From our camp along the San Joaquin, we continued following the trail until it faded out and then continued cross country to Martha Lake.
The San Joaquin and the LeConte Divide. Confusion Pass, where we'd cross back over the LeConte divide later in the day is on the right.
san joaquin.jpg
We finally reached Martha Lake, which is one of the sources of the San Joaquin River.
Martha Lake is also a spawning ground for fish.

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Re: Kings Canyon NP and John Muir Wilderness BP - July 2-6,

Post by hikerbot » February 5th, 2015, 7:59 pm

Then it was time to head back over the LeConte Divide via Confusion Pass. This took awhile, picking our way up the talus slope.

Looking down towards Goddard Canyon
and back at Martha Lake
Close to the top
Confusion Lake, at the top of the pass
By this time, it was getting later in the day, so we decided to descend to Rainbow Lake for the night. For the first night, no mosquitos. No other people either.
Day 4 - 9.4 miles, 1153' EG
The next morning, we continued descending towards Blackcap Basin, with the intent of taking Blackcap Pass back over to Bench Valley and eventually our return trail.

Navigating our way around Rainbow Lake
around rl.jpg
Looking back across Rainbow Lake. Confusion Lake is at the top of the long slope.
Looking into Blackcap Basin. We'd end up hiking along the perimeter on our way to Blackcap Pass.
Getting over Blackcap Pass from the East Side was easy.
Looking back
Up some more

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Re: Kings Canyon NP and John Muir Wilderness BP - July 2-6,

Post by hikerbot » February 5th, 2015, 8:27 pm

Our first view of Bench Valley from Blackcap Pass. Now to find a way down!
After a bit of scouting, we were able to find a safe route down. A couple shots from our descent into Bench Valley.
The mosquitos were there to greet us when we arrived at Guest Lake and the trail out of Bench Lakes. This is looking back at Blackcap Pass.
Our lunch stop
McGuire Lakes and more mosquitos
Back in the trees
Then back on the trail by the Kings River. We could have taken a trail into Blackcap Basin, but that's not nearly as much fun!
The North Fork of the Kings River
Maxons Meadow
Maxons - An old pack station
Day 5 - 13.9 miles, 1711' EG
Last day. The sky was overcast, so we decided to head out quickly in the case the cloudy skies turned into afternoon thunderstorms. There were still a few sites to see on the way out.

Snow Surveyers Cabin
A few miles later, we connected with the trail we had taken on the way in. It wasn't until we were back at Post Corral Meadows that we saw the first person we'd seen our entire trip. It was a packer with several horses. He advised us that his clients would be coming behind him. Shortly after him, a solo backpacker wearing a hard hat. Then finally the packer's clients, a group of teenage girls who were on a soccer team building trip.

Best July 4th weekend ever. It provided a quick overview of several Sierra basins, which we will at some point, have to go back and explore some more.

Link to Map: ... NUIGmd0yHs
Last edited by hikerbot on February 6th, 2015, 10:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

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retired jerry
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Re: Kings Canyon NP and John Muir Wilderness BP - July 2-6,

Post by retired jerry » February 5th, 2015, 9:59 pm

You can load a gps track the same as a picture

There's some way to load it and display as a map, I forget how

Great Sierras pictures. One of these days I'm going to get there

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Re: Kings Canyon NP and John Muir Wilderness BP - July 2-6,

Post by Bosterson » February 5th, 2015, 11:29 pm


Now I want to go to Hell for Sure! :D
#pnw #bestlife #bitingflies #favoriteyellowcap #neverdispleased

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Re: Kings Canyon NP and John Muir Wilderness BP - July 2-6,

Post by kepPNW » February 6th, 2015, 7:47 am

Bosterson wrote:*drool*

Now I want to go to Hell for Sure! :D
Oh yeah! Would dearly love to laugh with the sinners there, too!
Back on the trail, again...

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Re: Kings Canyon NP and John Muir Wilderness BP - July 2-6, 2014

Post by benthompson » June 30th, 2020, 4:00 pm

Thanks for the 411. I've been on trips in adjacent areas and would like to do this one to 'fill in the gaps.' Looks like Hell For Sure Pass, 'Confusion Lake' Pass, and Black Cap Pass are all pretty tame for experienced cross country trekkers. Your photos helped convince me that I can do it.

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