Living in Three Rivers we hike in the South Fork Kaweah on a regular
basis, it's a great place to get away from the park crowds. After my
first time up the Garfield Grove trail to Hockett Meadow I was curious
about the river canyon below Hockett. Maps showed steep consistent
gradient, while Google Earth showed more of a gorge. As scrambling is
easier going up than down, it made sense to approach from the Ladybug
trail. After some google searching I was more inspired by this thread on HighSierraTopix.
Aptly named trail.
It was tempting to camp here as I had not gotten an early start, but
there were still a few hours of sunlight left and the camp was swamped
The trail would vanish for long sections then suddenly reappear.
Maybe a mile past Trails End this could make a nice emergency camp. Down by the river is a nice campsite with fire ring.
Shortly after leaving the downed Sequoia the river was in a steep
canyon that I'd almost call a gorge. Trying to get down to water would
be no easy task, so I was surprised to find this campsite that had been
used over the summer.
I came upon another campsite that had not been used in years. Perhaps
in non-drought years there would be access to water, but no such luck.
I just ran out and would have loved to setup camp. Instead it was
either turn back or forge ahead and hope to find water and a flat spot.
In the below photo I hoped to climb a little and traverse to river
level, hoping for a flat spot before the South Kaweah makes that right
turn and hits a headwall.
It sure gets steep up here! To this point there has been no bad bushwhacking or too steep of scrambling.
Sunset on another dead tree.
The traverse is actually rather terrible bushwhacking and scrambling.
Not fun stuff. I get lucky and find a flat spot next to water and call
it a night, exhausted.
It's a tough year for bears, this guy was very curious about my
breakfast and I can't blame him, he looks malnourished and not ready
for the winter.
he wasn't too curious and after making some noise he turned around and
ambled up the south side of the river. Upstream the river flows through
a gorge and hits a headwall of very steep gradient. Brush on the sides
of the river and cliff bands would make passage quite difficult. I
decided that alone the riverbed would be too much risk. From camp at 7,000'
I climbed up about 1,000' through lots of brush and steep
scrambling to a saddle still 1,200' below Cahoon Rock. Here is the
route as tracked by my GPS.
First view of the river as I neared a saddle by Hockett Lakes.
Looking back down the South Kaweah you can see where the gorge and headwall make passing at river level a dubious affair.
Near the saddle I was surprised to see some garbage and it took me a few minutes to figure out what it was.
Debris from a plane crash are scattered over a large area. I'd imagine
an engine is up here somewhere, but a large part of the area is a chest
deep manzanita field and I wasn't that curious.
took a break and debated my options. Over the saddle to Hockett lakes
and the trail, or cross country up the South Kaweah to the trail
crossing? I decided going to the South Kaweah both avoided more brush
and stuck to the original plan. Less than a hour later it was lunch at
the Garfield Grove trail crossing and a long painful downhill slog back
to the trailhead. I can't say this loop is something I'd do again, but
it certainly was entertaining with only a few miles of bad bushwhacking.