DARK SIDE OF THE LECONTE DIVIDE, JOHN MUIR WILDERNESS AND KINGS CANYON NATIONAL PARK, CALIFORNIA
Sierra Club Outings Trip # 14140A
Day 1: Our hike begins Saturday morning with a four-mile ferry across Florence Lake. From the east side of Florence, we head south up the Thompson Pass Trail to Lost Lake or Thompson Lake, where we camp at our first alpine lake.
Day 2: We continue to gain elevation as we climb our first pass (Thompson). Shortly after reaching the pass, at about 10,000 feet, we head off trail into Red Rock Basin. We will establish camp at one of the many un-named lakes or tarns of the basin.
Days 3-4: These days are spent wandering the highlands of Red Rock Basin, Reddy’s Hole, Red Mountain Basin and Bench Valley, with camps at beautiful alpine lakes, such as Devil’s Punchbowl and Schoolmarm. Significant portions of our trek will be cross-country and off-trail. We also cross our second pass, named Lucifer’s Saddle by a previous Sierra Club leader.
Day 5: Today we tackle the LeConte Divide. We have two options, and both are spectacular. Hell-for-Sure or Gunsight Pass will take us into Kings Canyon National Park and the wild Goddard mountain region.
Day 6: We layover in the shadow of Mount Goddard. Some will rest, others may explore the notoriously remote and rugged Ionian Basin, and at least a few of us will make an attempt at climbing Mount Goddard, the highest peak in the region.
Days 7-8: We spend two days descending from Martha Lake to our trailhead. The final days will be filled with a variety of scenery. Goddard Canyon is dramatic (South Fork of the San Joaquin River). It leads to a section of the John Muir Trail. On our last day, we enjoy a soak in a hot spring before returning by ferry across Florence to our starting point.
Our hiking schedule is not absolute. How far we get each day and where we camp depends on how fast the group is able to travel, the weather, trail conditions, and other factors outside our control. The route is not rigid, since we will be hiking off-trail during sections of the trek. There may be portions of the route that require scouting during the trip, and flexibility is important. This discovery process, finding new ways through the wilderness, is part of the adventure of off-trail cross-country travel.