22-23 June 2020
Mineral King to Windy Gap/Franklin Lakes Trail junctions and back
(8 miles, +2,000/-2,000 feet).
Ahhhhh. Another trip to Mineral King!
My buddy MixMaster has never been here before, and I was eager to show him how beautiful it is. We planned to meet in Visalia and then from there carpool up the crumbling Mineral King Road with its 200 curves. It was hot down below but by the time we reached the trailhead it was in the 70s with just the slightest breeze. A perfect day!
I’m not sure there is a more iconic part of Sequoia.
Since MixMaster and I both live at Sea Level, we thought we would acclimatize with a short day up and over Windy Gap to a campsite in the valley on the other side. But about 4 miles in we could really feel the elevation and we decided to take a break.
After a while I was feeling better but MixMaster was not. Between the heat and the climb and allergies and the altitude, he was really not feeling well at all. I offered to descend but he said he wanted to try sticking it out for the night.
The silver lining to this situation is that we found a lovely breezy-and-bug-free campsite just below the trail junction to Franklin Lakes.
I set up my camp chair and chilled for a while and then went exploring. On the other side of the creek I found an old weather station wrecked by an avalanche.
I also found a snow course marker. It’s always so strange to come across these off trail….
When I got back to camp MixMaster was still feeling rough so we rested and made a plan to return in the morning. A pair of marmots played in our campsite and occasionally posed for the camera.
The return trip in the morning was uneventful.
By the time we reached the trailhead MixMaster was feeling much better. On the drive back we made a plan to try again in September. I can’t wait!