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Steve, Katherine, and Norah | profile | all galleries >> Sierra Nevada Backpack July 2020: Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks >> Day 4: Kaweah Basin to Roaring River via Colby Pass tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Day 4: Kaweah Basin to Roaring River via Colby Pass

Day 4: Kaweah Basin to Roaring River via Colby Pass

~ 16 miles, 1570/4570 feet elevation gain/loss

Day 3 was short on mileage and tough on rocks and today was the opposite. We were happy to spend most of our day on trail again - no more rock treadmills or watching every single step like a hawk - but in return we had a lot of miles to cover and that made for a long day. This day initially was to be shorter, but we had to make up the miles from yesterday and also there were no suitable campsites until we reached Roaring River. So 16 miles it was.

We had camped in a pretty meadow after we descended from Pants Pass on the Kaweah Peaks Ridge. This area doesnít really have a name on the map - it sits below Triple Divide Peak and at the northern end of Kaweah Basin - but we figured Mosquito Meadow was as apt a name as any. We broke down camp in record time and didnít dilly dally as the mosquitoes were feasting on us. Despite the warmer temperatures, we had on full layers and Norah and I even hiked in headnets. We made good time through the meadow and crossed the Kern Kaweah River to hook up with the trail to Colby Pass. We had a steep climb through the trees and emerged into a beautiful basin with views of the pass. Eventually the mosquitoes tapered off as we climbed higher and we could remove our headnets.

Our elevation gain to the pass was around 1500 feet and wasnít too bad - this side was certainly not as steep as the other side going down. The pass is at the border of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks and we enjoyed a break here to take in the views and luxuriate in mosquito free time. We didnít tarry too long though because we had ~12 miles and a 4570 feet descent to reach Roaring River. We marveled at the trail construction coming off the pass - a series of switchbacks on the steep mountainside and then it was a cruise down to Colby Lake. Beautiful lake! Would be a wonderful spot to camp some day. We had to keep moving, eventually reaching treeline and passing through two pretty meadows: Big Wet Meadow and Cement Table Meadow. Big Wet Meadow in particular was scenic with the views of Whaleback, which we thought looked more like a sharkís fin. While the mosquitos picked up through the meadows, overall the descent wasnít too bad and we were pleasantly surprised, and actually a little baffled, to find our campsite at Roaring River mosquito free (fortunately the worst of the mosquitoes was behind us - the rest of our trip would be fine).

We were making decent time, but inevitably as the hike went on there was a slow down and some major gripes from certain members of our hiking party. We kept an eye out for campsites in case we didnít think we could make it to Roaring River before dark, but didnít see anything suitable (mainly, no easy access to water although we could consistently hear the river to our left). Luckily we did make it to Roaring River with about an hour of daylight to spare and we were all happy to reach camp and collapse in the tent.

In a nutshell, Day 4 of our trip was one of those days you realize your family could never be on the Amazing Race. We handled being a mosquito buffet okay and we loved the views from Colby Pass and Colby Lake. But 16 miles, even if most of that was a descent, was probably four miles too much. We were lucky we all rolled into camp that evening in one piece and nobody stabbed anyone else with a hiking pole. Viva family vacations!
Mosquito Meadow
Mosquito Meadow
Mosquito Meadow
Mosquito Meadow
Hiking with our headnets
Hiking with our headnets
Final ascent to Colby Pass
Final ascent to Colby Pass
Almost there
Almost there
Colby Pass view into Sequoia National Park
Colby Pass view into Sequoia National Park
Colby Pass
Colby Pass
Colby Pass
Colby Pass
Colby Pass
Colby Pass
Colby Pass
Colby Pass
Colby Pass view into Kings Canyon National Park
Colby Pass view into Kings Canyon National Park
Colby Pass
Colby Pass
Starting our descent from Colby Pass
Starting our descent from Colby Pass
Starting our descent from Colby Pass
Starting our descent from Colby Pass
Colby Lake
Colby Lake
Colby Lake
Colby Lake
Colby Lake
Colby Lake
Whaleback from Big Wet Meadow
Whaleback from Big Wet Meadow
Whaleback from Big Wet Meadow
Whaleback from Big Wet Meadow
Roaring River campsite
Roaring River campsite