The Kaweahs 2015

Last August, C. and I took a trip to the southern Sierra Nevadas for a ten-day trek around the Kaweahs. The Kaweah Peaks Ridge is an imposing line of peaks in Sequoia National Park that forms a wall between the western portion of the park and the Kern River. The Kaweahs dominate the landscape in this part of the Sierras; wherever you go, you can usually spot one of the peaks.

Kaweah Peaks Ridge from Little Five Lakes

Kaweah Peaks Ridge from Little Five Lakes

Black Kaweah is a picturesque, toothlike peak visible from the top of our first big climb at Colby Pass.

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The Kaweah Peaks Ridge from Colby Pass – Black Kaweah is the tallest one, center right

There were a few distinguishing features of the trip, besides the Kaweahs:
– The Great Western Divide, which is a larger formation that meets the Kaweah Peaks Ridge at Triple Divide Peak. We crossed the Great Western Divide twice, at Colby Pass and Sawtooth Pass.
– The smoke. We started hiking just after the Rough Fire began, and the skies were clear for the first three days.

More fires started in Big Arroyo - we found one burning near the trail and doused it the day before.

More fires started in Big Arroyo as we were leaving.

Starting on the fourth day, we had clear mornings, and the smoke settled in at around noon. The smoke built up until mid-afternoon, and things were very hazy until late at night. We even saw a small fire that had started along the trail and doused it in water, only to see more smoke there the next morning. There were signs about fires in the area when we left, so it’s unclear whether we found a new fire or not.
– The logistics: we started out alone, then met C.’s parents on the third day. We spent three nights together, before heading out to meet my parents. Both meetings happened in the backcountry, without aid of cell phones or radios, and everything worked out, which seemed almost miraculous at the time.
– Pants Pass, which we crossed via a trail-less route from east to west. The route was steep and loose, but even so, it seems like it would be harder going from west to east.

All in all, it was a memorable trip, and I’m sure I’ll revisit the area before long.


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