Day 6: A Long Day Back

Big Arroyo Junction to Crescent Meadow Trailhead
(22.5 miles, +2,200/-4,500 feet).

Today was a tale of two hikes.  The first part of the morning was wonderful with a short climb up to Kaweah Gap and then back down to Hamilton Lake to take a lovely swim.  After that it was a long, muggy, and, for the first time on this trip, buggy hike to finish things up.

As we packed up in the morning we got our last glimpse of the full-ish moon that had filled our skies for the whole trip.

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Good night, moon

We had about 1,200 feet to climb up to Kaweah Gap, but in the cool morning air it was perfect.

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Stream-side flowers
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Shuffling towards Kaweah Gap
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Morning light on Kaweah Gap
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The Not-So-Big Arroyo
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Kaweah Gap Panorama
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Nine Lake Basin
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Group Photo at Kaweah Gap

We then started our descent to Precipice Lake, passing through beautiful alpine meadows below Eagle Scout Peak.

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An Eagle Scout and his Peak
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Alpine meadow below Eagle Scout Peak
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Tarn below Eagle Scout Peak

Soon we were back at Precipice Lake, where — once again — we took a long break to soak in the the scene.

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Precipice Lake
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UltraShuffle pontificates on the value of tortillas…
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…and then promptly falls asleep.

We then headed down to Hamilton Lakes, with excellent views of Valhalla.

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Departing Precipice Lake
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Valhalla looms above Upper Hamilton Lake
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Upper Hamilton Lake
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Wildflowers by the trail
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Valhalla and Lower Hamilton Lake
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A colorful water stop
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Back through the Hamilton Gorge Tunnel
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Switchbacks below Valhalla
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More wildflowers

It was about 11am when we got down to Big Hamilton Lake, so we decided to take a swim.

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Ultra-waves in Big Hamilton Lakes

Refreshed, we continued our journey down to Bearpaw Meadow.

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Last view of Valhalla
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Trail to Bearpaw Meadow
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Beautiful berries

We had already done this part of the trail, but it was towards the end of our first day when we were tired and trying to make it to Hamilton Lakes by dark.  This time we saw lots of things we missed before, like dozens of bushes full of blackberries and raspberries.

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Mmmmm….  Berries!
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UltraShuffle eyes the berry bushes

We were also better able to appreciate the views up and down the Middle Fork of the Kaweah River Valley.

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Down the valley
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Up the valley
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Bridge over Pine Creek gorge
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Lovely traverse

By the time we got to Bearpaw Meadow, the sky had filled with hazy clouds.  I wished it would rain on us, but all we got was a hot hike through what felt like a sauna.

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A muggy Sierra afternoon

The wind completely stopped, and it was promptly replaced by clouds of midges that wanted nothing more than to sample our eye juice.  UltraShuffle was very patient with them.  He said “I hope these little guys following us find their way back to their families.”  I said “I hope they, and all their families, DIE!”

I think that exchange says A LOT about differences between us.  The last 5 miles were really tough for me, but UltraShuffle was just fine.

By the time we neared the end of the traverse, it was extremely hazy.  There wasn’t’t much to see at Eagle View.

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Move along, nothing to see here

We made our way back down into the sequoias, where we found the paved end of the trail.

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I think it grew a little since Monday
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Hey, this is pretty easy!

 

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Yes, we just hiked to Whitney and back!

We jumped in the car and headed down to Visalia where we found a cheap hotel, a shower, and — importantly — beer!

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Cheers to a great trip!

 

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. UltraShuffle says:

    JimmyJam, I feel that I have been immortalized by your High Sierra Trail blog, particularly since you gloss over my struggles with altitude for almost three days trying to keep up with you. I am looking forward to our next trek. I will again bear the burden of an alcohol stove for morning coffee should you care to imbibe.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. JimmyJam says:

      I’ll bring the Nido so we can make lattes!

      Like

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