XSL 2015 ~ Cross Country SEKI Loop ~ Days 1-4

Morning in Kaweah Basin

XSL 2015 ~ Cross Country SEKI Loop ~ 

Nine days of Cross Country travel in Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park

~ Overview Map ~

Click for full size map.

In the spirit of Amy Lauterbach's Big Seki Loop and Mike White's Circle of Solitude I decided to create my own loop through the Sequoia & Kings Canyon area. . . but I wanted to stay off existing trails and use cross country routes as much as possible. At times bad weather chased me down to lower elevation but in the end I crossed 7 High Sierra passes over 81 miles.

Days 1-4: Tablelands to Cloud Canyon

After planning all winter I was excited to get into the backcountry. . . but the forecast was for thunderstorms during the first four days! I figured it couldn't be all that bad so I headed into the unknown. I had rain gear, a double wall ultralight tent and even a new custom backpack. I was ready for the worst possible conditions, and at least I could get closer to the high passes than I would if I just stayed home. It seemed like a logical decision at the time. . . 

XSL 2015 ~ Cross Country SEKI Loop ~ Day 5

The outlet of Colby Lake.

~ Day 5: Colby Pass to Kaweah Basin ~

Starting early in the cirque below Colby Lake I kept a fast pace almost all the way to Colby Pass. The wildflowers along the outlet creek from Colby Lake were beautiful. I took a break at an amazing camp site right above the shore of the lake (mental note: great camp for next time). The altitude, heat and humidity finally slowed me down at the base of the long boulderfield but I made it to the top by mid morning. The trailwork on the way to the top is impressive, much like the switchbacks on Mt. Whitney.

Creek below Colby Lake. 

XSL 2015 ~ Cross Country SEKI Loop ~ Day 6

Morning in Kaweah Basin

~ Day 6: Kaweah Basin ~

This was a beautiful clear day and I spent hours exploring Kaweah Basin and the neighboring Picket Creek Basin. So much classic Sierra scenery in one day!

Awesome view of the Kaweah Peaks from Island Lake in Kaweah Basin.

XSL 2015 ~ Cross Country SEKI Loop ~ Day 7

Cyrstal clear water in Kaweah Basin

~ Day 7: Pyra Queen Col  ~

Lisa, Michael and I got an early start and headed to Pyra Queen Col, one of the few passes that provide access into or out of Kaweah Basin. Pyra Queen Col is a Class II cross country pass and involves steep and loose boulder and scree fields which make for slow going at times. . . but the views are worth the effort.

Michael, Andy & Lisa

Andy & Lisa in Kaweah Basin

Starting the climb to Pyra Queen Col

XSL 2015 ~ Cross Country SEKI Loop ~ Days 8 & 9

Looking across Nine Lakes Basin toward Kaweah Gap

                                             ~ Days 8 & 9: High Sierra Trail ~

Days 8 and 9 were spent exploring some of the High Sierra Trail with a side trip to Tamarack Lake. After many years in the High Sierra I was looking forward to finally seeing Precipice Lake and Hamilton Lake, two of the beautiful lakes along the High Sierra Trail. The scenery didn't disappoint and after some bushwhacking I made camp in the dark along the shore of Tamarack Lake.