Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Sierra National Forest: Mount Tom Lookout

(Elevation 9,020’)
Dale Matson

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Mt. Tom Lookout
This Is Also A Repeater Location For Forest Service And Law Enforcement Radios

There is not much information on the Mt. Tom Fire Lookout. This is probably because it is a 3 hour drive from Fresno CA over Kaiser Pass. The turn off is about four miles after you go over the pass at the sign that indicates “Sample Meadow”. Follow the signs until you come to an intersection with signs that indicate “Mt. Tom” and “Half Corral Trail”. Turn left and you will soon see the sign for the Mt. Tom road.
I have mixed feelings about giving directions because the last three miles are difficult and potentially dangerous. The road is narrow and one lane only, with only two pull outs along the three miles. This means if you meet a vehicle coming toward you, one of you may have to back up for a mile on a road that is more like an OHV trail. You must be an experienced mountain driver with a high clearance four-wheel drive vehicle. When I came back down from the lookout, I had my truck in 4-wheel drive and low range.
I was fortunate that I did not meet another vehicle on this three-mile section up or down. If I ever go again, I will plan this section as a 6 mile round trip a day hike. Once you turn off Kaiser Pass road, a regular passenger car is not suitable.
When I climbed the last 30’ on the tower stair, I was let in to take photographs, sign the register and chat about the different locations that can be seen from the tower. The Mates were the hosting couple who were on duty. They allowed me to take their photograph and they have the name of my blog where they will be posted along with the other photographs.

I used my Sony A7R2, 24-70mm 2.8 GM lens and an adapted Canon 70-200mm 2.8 lens. The sky was smoky toward the “Eagles Beaks” but clear in other directions. It seems odd but of all the times I have been on Kaiser Peak, I have never noticed the Mt. Tom Lookout Tower, which would be visible from Kaiser Peak. I enjoyed my views and visit but not the 3-hour trip back home with lots of bumps along the way.

Garmin GPS Route

This Is Easier Than Starting At The Twin Lakes Trailhead At Badger Flat
On Kaiser Pass Road.

 Turn Left Here
Note Days And Visiting Hours

 Edison Lake Barely Visible Left Center
 Banner Ritter
 Mammoth Mountain 
 Mt. Hilgard, Mt. Gabb And Recess Peak

 Kaiser Peak

Mt Givens Center
 Mt. Goddard Far Right

 Mammoth Mtn. 200mm

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Kings Canyon National Park: The Mist Falls Day Hike

Dale Matson

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Hike Route From Road's End

The trailhead for this hike is literally at the end of road (Road’s End) past Cedar Grove. It is about a 2.5-hour drive from Fresno, CA on Highway 180 (Kings Canyon Highway). When you get to the park continue left on 180 at the junction with the General’s Highway which heads south. Continue past Grant Grove, past Cedar Grove, past Hume Lake to the end of the road. All the while you will be descending one of the deepest canyons in the U.S. At Boyden Cave you will begin to climb again. The trailhead elevation is about 5,000’ with about 800 feet of gain outbound. The trail is about 8 miles round trip and took me about 6 hours. I was glad to get an early start at 7:30am. Most of the climb is in the last two miles outbound. Don’t stop climbing until you see the sign that indicates “Mist Falls”. If you have a head net, bring it. ‘100 proof Deet’ may do a good job with mosquitos but seems to be a gnat attractant. They were everywhere and made the hike less pleasurable.
The Rough Fire that burned over 85,000 acres in Kings Canyon two years ago is very evident. The fire burned an historic lodge to the ground but Hume Lake Christian Camp was spared. You will notice all the burned trees and logs as you hike along the south fork of the King’s river, which is below and away from the trail.
There is a turn off to the left marked by a sign indicating 2.7 miles to the falls. There is a footbridge worth walking to not far past where you begin the climb. This bridge is at the confluence of Bubb’s Creek and the south fork of the King’s River. Bubb’s Creek and Woods Creek (above the Mist Falls) are major tributaries of the south fork of the Kings River. Gardiner Creek flows in from Gardiner Basin just below the falls.
I have passed this way before coming down from to backpacking trips. This is the most water I have seen in the falls and assume that a month or so ago the falls had a great deal more water yet. The suspension bridge over Woods Creek was damaged and the bridge over the Kings River was washed away this year. Those doing the Rae Lakes Loop have to ford the Kings River.

I you don’t have a means of purifying water for resupply, bring plenty with you. The later you begin, the more you will need.   

 Kings River In Cedar Grove Area
 Along The Falls Trail Climb

 Confluence of Middle Fork And South Fork Kings River

 Wilderness Permit Station

 From The Bridge At Confluence Of Bubb's Creek And Kings

 People At Base For Perspective

 Sphinx Center
 Kings River Below Highway 180
 Highway 180 Descending
 Kings Canyon From 180

Here is a link to a YouTube movie I created with the photographs and video clips.