This trip happened because Bob needs about 20 more peaks crossed off to complete his "SPS List", 247-peak Sierra Peak Section list of peaks
. On this trip, he climbed Glacier Ridge and Whaleback -- they are high points on the west and east side of Cloud Canyon.
At the headwaters of the canyon is Triple Divide Peak. Bob has already climbed it, but I hadn't so I thought maybe I could just try it. The climb was listed by Secor as third class up the ridge from the eastern saddle, Triple Divide Pass.
I didn't take enough pictures on this trip to make a full report, but I'll share what I have.Day 0, Wed, July 5:
Bob and I agreed to meet at the trailhead at 8 pm. He drove from Reno, got really close to missing the permit pick-up at the Seki Grant Grove ranger station, due to construction delays on his 6+ hour trip. But he made it, and got to the trailhead just fine. It's an hour drive from Grant Grove -- head south on the Generals Highway, and make a left turn at Horse Corral road. It goes eastward for many miles into deep national forest land. The Marvin Pass trailhead turns off that road, travels several miles on dirt. There's a private "Sequoia High Sierra Camp" a little beyond the trailhead, so the road is kept in pretty good condition for any car.
When I turned off the paved Horse Corral road, I thought I'd check my InReach gps unit. To my alarm, it was completely discharged
Several days before, I had turned it on to check the battery level, and failed to completely turn it off -- it asks an "are you sure", which I didn't notice. Turns out Bob had the USB charging cable I could have used, but I didn't know that, so I had visions of driving all the way home. I could NOT leave on this trip without my family knowing why I wasn't sending out any track locations. I drove back Horse Corral road, and at the first campground, the second person I asked, had a cable which they handed to me. (mailed it back to him after the trip) Incredible!!! So I drove back up the road to the trailhead, with the unit charging. With enough time, I got the unit up to 100% before we left the next morning. That little emergency only took an extra hour.
We slept inside our cars at the trailhead, got going the next morning.Day 1, Thursday:
Marvin Pass TH to Roaring River junction, 15 miles, 9 hours, 1700' gain, 2700' loss. We hiked south up to Marvin Pass, down to Rowell Meadow, eastward up to the Sequoia N.P. boundary. (8400 - 9100 - 8900 - 9250) From there, descend over many miles to Sugarloaf Creek (9250 - 7100). Then up again to a ridge and down to Roaring River (7100 - 7500 - 7150 - 7400), where there are bear boxes, a ranger cabin, and a trail crew camp. I was extremely tired when we got there -- a nap on my pad helped tremendously. I was pretty well conditioned after the first day.Day 2, Friday: Part 1
: Roaring River to Colby Pass / Cloud Canyon camp: 7 miles, 6 hours, 1700 gain, elev. 9100'.Part 2
: The crazy part... We set up camp, and since it was early, hiked on up Cloud Canyon, where there is no trail. Bob had his sights set on climbing Glacier Ridge that afternoon, and by 3 PM, (elev 9900) we had climbed to the right place where he left the canyon. I felt pretty good, so figured I'd head on up the canyon a ways. After a while I got the idea that I really didn't want to descend only to re-climb the same stuff next day, so just kept climbing. I reached the ridge of Triple Divide about 6:30, hoping to find an easy third class climb to the summit. Unfortunately, it was blocky with lots of exposure on either side. The rounded contours on the topo maps belie the almost knife-sharp ridge. I proceeded up the ridge making slow progress, taking 30 minutes for the first half. Then it became more blocky and more exposed -- at 7 pm, I new there was no way I could make it. I ended the climb, took a panorama of pictures, and headed back down.
Panorama picture from the ridge, Triple Divide on the right, Big Arroyo Canyon on the left. Pants Pass just out of view on the left--I crossed that several years ago.
Here's the panorama picture looking north. Bob's Glacier Ridge point on the left, Whaleback is the low peak in the center.
Our camp was in the canyon beyond Whaleback, where I needed to return to.
Descending was extremely tough. My right knee is toast, all the descending work is done using the good left leg and hiking poles. It turns out descending almost as slow as ascending. Heading up from Cloud Canyon, I didn't realize how extremely steep the slope was. Heading back down took forever. Checking my InReach log, Descent was slightly faster -- until I got into the canyon. Complete darkness (reached the stream at 9:30 PM) made navigation tough, and I was being extra careful. What took 2 hours on the way up took 3 on the way back. As crazy as it was, I felt fine all the way. I drank lots of water from the streams, and kept snacking -- granola bars, nuts, jerky, candy. Total descent time: 5 1/2 hours, 7 PM to 12:30 AM, 3300' loss. Call this one my "Epic Stupid" hike. But I still enjoyed it -- go figure.Day 3, Saturday:
Bob got up, had his breakfast, and headed back up the canyon to climb Whaleback. I slept in, loafed around, dipped in the stream, generally felt great. I caught 6 or 8 small trout, finally kept and fried two -- it was a nice snack. I fried them using my Titanium Wing stove with a titanium plate as a frying pan. Worked out just fine, only you need to keep the plate moving, as titanium doesn't disperse the heat well. The two small fish used about half the Esbit tablet. One of these days, I'm going to get a picture of that setup.
Bob returned, and we started back down the trail about 4:30. We hiked until 7:30 (3 hours, 4 miles, 1000' loss, 9100 - 8100). We met a large group of TSH Challenge hikers, and the group offered us dinner -- they had way too much. We should have eaten, and hiked on -- would have saved us having to cook that night. Bob was pretty tired by the end, I spotted a good camp site near the trail with several flat pad spots, so we called it a day.Day 4, Sunday:
This was a fairly uneventful day. We hiked 7 AM to 5:30, 17.5 miles, 2700' gain 2400' loss, with only a few short breaks. We met several groups going in -- a school teacher from Fresno who had been taking groups of kids across the Sierra to Mt Whitney for a number of years. The kids seemed loaded down with heavy equipment. I met a girl scout group with 4 adult women hiking in as well. One of the many stock gates along the trail was freshly knocked down. Signs at each gate request that it be closed. We then noticed bear tracks on the trail. I'm pretty sure the bear knocked the gate down, trying to get through.
For a diversion, I took an alternate trail at Comanche Meadow that heads north to Kanawyer Gap. It travelsd through a forest fire area (burned 2003). There were logs cut for the trail about every 20 feet. The new growth was pretty, and the area was more wide-open forest than the route through Rowell Meadow. The distance and elevation gain/loss is really close to the same, either way. In my opinion, the Kanawyer route is prettier. Unfortunately, most maps don't show the trail. Only the Harrison map does.