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.
We had about 1,200 feet to climb up to Kaweah Gap, but in the cool morning air it was perfect.
We then started our descent to Precipice Lake, passing through beautiful alpine meadows 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.
We then headed down to Hamilton Lakes, with excellent views of Valhalla.
It was about 11am when we got down to Big Hamilton Lake, so we decided to take a swim.
Refreshed, we continued our journey down to Bearpaw Meadow.
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.
We were also better able to appreciate the views up and down the Middle Fork of the Kaweah River Valley.
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.
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.
We made our way back down into the sequoias, where we found the paved end of the trail.
We jumped in the car and headed down to Visalia where we found a cheap hotel, a shower, and — importantly — beer!