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Steve, Katherine, and Norah | profile | all galleries >> Sierra Nevada Backpack July 2020: Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks >> Day 6: Elizabeth Pass to Buck Canyon tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Day 6: Elizabeth Pass to Buck Canyon

Day 6: Elizabeth Pass to Buck Canyon

~ 10 miles, ~2000/4090 feet elevation gain/loss

Elizabeth Pass was not in the original plans and it would have been a shame to miss this part of our hike. The views from the pass were great, but what was really beautiful, and unexpectedly so, were the views on the descent back to the High Sierra Trail. We were constantly stopping to admire the views and take pictures - it was gorgeous!

Because we had done half the elevation and more than half the miles the day before, our climb to Elizabeth Pass was not bad at all. We had about four miles and 2000 feet to the pass and it was a nice trail; low grade and long switchbacks. Elizabeth Pass is at 11,370 feet and like Colby Pass, sits on the border between Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. As we began our descent we were once again in Sequoia National Park. The descent was much steeper down this side. After the initial steep descent the trail leveled out and we walked through grassy areas and a traverse along the mountainsides. This part was really beautiful. A big series of switchbacks took us down the steep, bushy mountainside to the junction with Tamarack Lake. It was only three miles from the pass to Tamarack Lake but it seemed longer - maybe because we were stopping to take so many pictures.

We took the cutoff trail to return to the High Sierra Trail above Bearpaw Meadow. We had about 400 feet to go up, then a descent down to the HST. There were a few open spots on this cutoff, but we were mostly back in the forest. This is also where Steve saw a bear. The bear took off running when it saw Steve and the bear was long gone by the time Norah and I caught up to Steve. We had initially thought about camping at Merhten Creek to make our hike out on our final day shorter, but descending from Elizabeth Pass took longer than anticipated, so we settled for hiking an extra mile to Buck Canyon to camp for the night. There are a few campsites here and a bear box and one was available when we arrived. This canyon has some nice pools of water if one was inclined to take a dip. No open views like the previous night, but it worked for us and we settled in for our last night on the trail.
Heading to Elizabeth Pass
Heading to Elizabeth Pass
Alpine shooting star
Alpine shooting star
Columbine
Columbine
A look back
A look back
A view from the Pass (Steve was there well before we were)
A view from the Pass (Steve was there well before we were)
Final climb
Final climb
We made it!
We made it!
Elizabeth Pass
Elizabeth Pass
Elizabeth Pass
Elizabeth Pass
Elizabeth Pass
Elizabeth Pass
Elizabeth Pass
Elizabeth Pass
Starting our descent down Elizabeth Pass
Starting our descent down Elizabeth Pass
Looking back up at the pass
Looking back up at the pass