Elk/Kings/Little Kings trifecta 10-May-2011

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VanMarmot
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Elk/Kings/Little Kings trifecta 10-May-2011

Post by VanMarmot » May 10th, 2011, 5:01 pm

This was my third try at this loop this year. Did Little Kings and Kings on April 3 but was turned back by rain squalls. Then on April 9, I did Elk but was unable to make Kings because of way too much snow on the steep traverse below Kings. Today, finally, everything came together and I was able to do a grand loop of Elk, Kings, and Little Kings, plus a nice section of the Wilson River Trail. It was still cloudy when I left the TH but by the time I reached Elk, the clouds had started to lift – although Kings was still hiding.

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The trail down from Elk was snow-free until it became the old road on the NE side of the ridge. But the snow was pretty consolidated and easy to walk on – only about 12” deep, no need for snowshoes.

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The snow got a bit deeper further west along the ridge/road but remained easy to walk on. Shortly before the junction with the Elk Creek Trail, the clouds lifted completely and Kings came into full view.

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Still a fair amount of snow in sight and I was getting anxious about the traverse. There’s still snow at the junction with the Elk Creek Road but it's going fast.

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When I finally got to the traverse, I found that most of the trail was either snow-free or could easily be seen through what snow remained.

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However, the last section of trail, where it switchbacks steeply up to Kings, still had a lot of snow on it. I’d been following an old, but fairly consistent set of tracks, but at this point tracks started going in all directions. I traversed across at the arrow.

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The last section was mostly all snow and, as soon as I saw daylight on the crest of the ridge, I just headed straight up. Snow in this area was firm and allowed for kicking good steps so I didn’t need the microspikes I’d brought along.

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Descending this section, as if you were trying to go from Kings to Elk, would be a lot more confusing than ascending it because the trail is almost completely snow covered and there are few clues as to when to start traversing. But short sections of the trail are starting to show and it should be pretty clear in 1-2 weeks (that is if it doesn’t start snowing again!). After the traverse, it was a short stroll to Kings,

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and then down and over the diminutive summit of Little Kings (under the arrow).

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I suppose this sign is more daunting if you haven’t already climbed over Elk and Kings to see it.

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“Bucolic” best describes my walk back to the TH via the Wilson River trail – sunlight, warm breezes, birds singing, insects buzzing, etc., etc.

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Great day! - triple crown loop completed, snow defeated, honest work avoided (11 mi, 4200’ total gain).

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mayhem
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Re: Elk/Kings/Little Kings trifecta 10-May-2011

Post by mayhem » May 10th, 2011, 5:32 pm

Damn! Just missed you again.... By 40miles & 10hours....I'm sure you passed me on the highway:)


Thanks for sharing... Just a teaser for me another couple weeks :)
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Crusak
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Re: Elk/Kings/Little Kings trifecta 10-May-2011

Post by Crusak » May 10th, 2011, 5:39 pm

(picture that kid from 'Home Alone' - hands on his face, mouth agape - that is my expression at the moment)

WOW nice work! I have to say it looks much more difficult to complete that loop than what you described, given the current conditions. But I suppose that is all a matter of perspective. I know that plenty of others on this site do similar hikes routinely, but to me it's still amazing.

So the snow was present, but not bad enough to need traction? No postholing? And of course, blue skies on VanMarmot Tuesday.
:)
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VanMarmot
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Re: Elk/Kings/Little Kings trifecta 10-May-2011

Post by VanMarmot » May 10th, 2011, 6:58 pm

Crusak wrote: So the snow was present, but not bad enough to need traction? No postholing? And of course, blue skies on VanMarmot Tuesday.
:)
I've done the loop a few times before but never with snow so late in the year. No postholing unless I got too close to a snow covered tree. The traverse is too steep for snowshoes and, unless you got there real early in the morning, too soft for microspikes. Give it a couple of weeks and you can probably give it a go without snow.

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Re: Elk/Kings/Little Kings trifecta 10-May-2011

Post by Eric Peterson » May 10th, 2011, 7:58 pm

Nice work and adding the scramble over to Kings JR too!

I noticed on Sunday there was a lag bolt/screw missing on the Coronary Ridge sign. Will
have to dig through some of my old pictures to see how new that is, I was even touching
the sign and the other lag screw to see if someone has been trying to remove the other one.

I'm going to have to get this work out in again, that's a lot of elevation gain really, with
that up and down return trip along the sometimes dull Wilson River trail. I tried to avoid
that stretch myself if I can help it.

Next up: West Ridge of Kings, traverse to Elk, descend West Ridge of Elk then up the SE Ridge
of Kings and back down Kings to your car!

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Re: Elk/Kings/Little Kings trifecta 10-May-2011

Post by Crusak » May 11th, 2011, 5:21 am

VanMarmot wrote:
Crusak wrote: So the snow was present, but not bad enough to need traction? No postholing? And of course, blue skies on VanMarmot Tuesday.
:)
I've done the loop a few times before but never with snow so late in the year. No postholing unless I got too close to a snow covered tree. The traverse is too steep for snowshoes and, unless you got there real early in the morning, too soft for microspikes. Give it a couple of weeks and you can probably give it a go without snow.
* collective cheers from the crowd! *
great news... and now I'll have to start seriously looking at doing the Elk Mtn-Kings Mtn loop for the first time. Probably first part of June, I'm guessing. Although I admit that I find the thought of doing that it a bit intimidating. :)
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Re: Elk/Kings/Little Kings trifecta 10-May-2011

Post by mayhem » May 11th, 2011, 7:50 am

Crusak wrote:
VanMarmot wrote:
Crusak wrote: So the snow was present, but not bad enough to need traction? No postholing? And of course, blue skies on VanMarmot Tuesday.
:)
I've done the loop a few times before but never with snow so late in the year. No postholing unless I got too close to a snow covered tree. The traverse is too steep for snowshoes and, unless you got there real early in the morning, too soft for microspikes. Give it a couple of weeks and you can probably give it a go without snow.
* collective cheers from the crowd! *
great news... and now I'll have to start seriously looking at doing the Elk Mtn-Kings Mtn loop for the first time. Probably first part of June, I'm guessing. Although I admit that I find the thought of doing that it a bit intimidating. :)
Crusak, if you have not done Kings recently you really should do Kings a couple times or something similar to get used to what the whole loop is about...up & down:). I got your back my friend
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Re: Elk/Kings/Little Kings trifecta 10-May-2011

Post by DennisTheMenace » May 11th, 2011, 9:59 am

VanMarmot

Damn hard hike. Job well done.

Hopefully within a month I will do the loop.

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Re: Elk/Kings/Little Kings trifecta 10-May-2011

Post by DennisTheMenace » May 11th, 2011, 10:00 am

Eric Peterson wrote: Next up: West Ridge of Kings, traverse to Elk, descend West Ridge of Elk then up the SE Ridge
of Kings and back down Kings to your car!
That should be interesting


For any of you gunho types(I think I mentioned this Mayhem for
a future hike if he wants to do himself in. LOL!!) you might want
to try this.

Start from the Elk Creek Camp and then take the Wilson headed
to Kings instead. Then once you summit Kings continue on to
the 3 way junction then down the Elk Creek Trail. Then once you
reach Elk Creek campground get back on the Wilson but then
immediately take the trail to Elk Summit then continue back to the
3 way junction again and then back to Kings summit again. Then
continue down the Kings trail but then crossover to Kings Jr. once
you reach that .8x mile to Kings sign. Then from Kings Jr head
down back to the Wilson and then from Wilson back to the elk
creek campground.

Now I'm not gunho enough to try this at least yet maybe
someone else is? Any takers? Mayhem? LOL!!!

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VanMarmot
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Re: Elk/Kings/Little Kings trifecta 10-May-2011

Post by VanMarmot » May 11th, 2011, 12:28 pm

DennisTheMenace wrote:Start from the Elk Creek Camp and then ... from Kings Jr head
down back to the Wilson and then from Wilson back to the elk
creek campground.
Eric Peterson wrote: Next up: West Ridge of Kings, traverse to Elk, descend West Ridge of Elk then up the SE Ridge
of Kings and back down Kings to your car!
The West Ridge of Kings looks interesting all by itself but you & Eric (& Mayhem?) are on your own regarding these heroic loop trips. I'll enjoy your efforts by reading your trip reports as an armchair hiker.

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