The Medium SEKI Loop – (The Long Way Around the Parking Lot)


When I described this trip to my husband he dubbed this trek “The long way around the parking lot”, I call it the Medium Sexy Loop.

This trek starts at Road’s End in Sequoia King Canyon National Park starting on the North side of the parking lot, and completing 144km later on the South East side.  Quite novel to say the least!  The trek is dubbed as the Big SEKI loop, this is a shortened version (there are a few, I went with the middle in size option).  Much info around the web can be found for the “SEKI Loop”.

I really enjoyed this loop and soloed it in 7 days. It has enough solitude on the early Copper Creek Trail, then a ton of socializing up on the JMT, and  since it is a loop you don’t have to deal with logistics of getting too and from the trail head, or a boring out and back.

Next level goals – you can make this trek down past Whitney to Kern River and back across the HST through Bear Paw Meadow and out Bubbs Creek aka The Big SEKI Loop (googling this has lots of resources). This was my original goal but I had an awful cold for most of this trip and decided one week out in the wilderness was perfect.

The trek is harder than the JMT, in my opinion (some map reading/basic route finding when the trail gets a bit hard to follow on day two and three), but still I found it super easy from the mental perspective, so a perfect one to solo.

The Trek

Park: Sequoia King Canyon

InfoLoop details and caltopo

Total Distance: Approximately 88 miles (141.5km)

Starting at Roads End, Copper Creek Trail head. Looping up to the JMT and out lower Rae Lakes Loop at Bubbs Creek.

Time: 7 days September 2nd – 8th.


The Gear

Base weight: 14lbs (stupid bear canister…)

Food weight: 13lbs

Lighter Pack: here

Forgot my spoon in my checked bag, oops… melted the end of my toothbrush handle into a flat spoon like shape. I guess that is a pro for not cutting off your toothbrush handle 😉

Probably not full on UL (Ultra Light), but solo traveling so had some extras. Loved my ULA Rain Kilt, that was a new addition to this trip. It made for a great “porch floor” next to my tent in the evenings.

Day 1 – Copper Creek Trailhead to Granite Basin

Distance: 11 miles(17.7km)

Elevation Gain: 6700ft(2042m)

Day one is kind of the worst. Bad sleep from being in the campground the night before on Labour Day weekend, full pack weight, 50+ switch backs, hotter than hell, little shade or water. Up, up, up… Water was a bit more scarce this year than previous years so I actually ran out of water on the lip down into Granite Basin. Where I expected there to be water there wasn’t, but fortunately Granite Basin was only another 20 minutes and tons of water to be found :).  I recommend 2L from the water source on the map on the way up, until you are in Granite Basin.

The view into Granite Basin – nice to see some water!

I found a secluded camp on a dusty patch near the lake, and it felt amazing to soak my feet in the water. The location felt super private but I did see a guy in the morning on the other side of the lake. Woke up to three deer walking through camp, not bad for day one!

Home sweet home at Granite Basin

Day 2 – Granite Basin to Simpson’s Meadow

Distance: 14 miles (22.5km)

Elevation Loss: 4700ft(1430m)

Day two was beautiful. Had a spring in my step, made it over Granite Pass fairly early, it’s a super easy pass, and down through Lake of the Fallen Moon area which is one of my favourite areas on the trail.  Sunbeams like to peer through these small meadows and there are almost no people in this part of the park.

Spring in my step going through these trails

Crossed the Middle Fork Dougherty Creek which last year I took a spur trail just before and was off trail for a good 45 minutes – this year it seemed so obvious… Ran into three people coming out from State Lakes which was nice to have some human interactions with, only ones of the day!

Made it down “The Bitch” which is what the switch backs are called in the Kings Canyon Pack Guide… many many switch backs and 4000+ feet of down down down – you get here in the early afternoon and it feels like you are so close to Simpson Meadow but this section seems to drag.  I cursed the pack gates as I am not very big and had a hard time opening and closing them.

Oh how I loathe you pack animal gates – you are heavier and more unruly than you look!

Made it past Simpson Meadow – note it is not signed and there are a few spur trails through the meadow. I hugged the right one that follows the granite rock slope and that is the one that is correct. I assume the other ones go to stock camps. I hiked about half mile or so past Simpson Meadow and found where the river was fairly close to the trail and setup camp.

This is such a bomber of a wee tent!

Wandering through the woods near camp there was an old drift fence in the trees, so I guess this had been setup a bit more in the past.  I had to tie a guy line to my pot to collect water, as the bank was about a four feet steep drop to the river but it was fine. Quiet night here, no wildlife or people seen, however a big storm rolled in early so I just had a bars for dinner and it was a bit spooky.

What a way to start your morning

Day 3 – Simpson’s Meadow to Glacier Creek

Distance: 12.6 miles (20.2km)

Elevation Gain: 3000ft(914m)

Day three was also one of my favourite days. I had a bit of apprehension because I did this section of trail last year and found it to be a bit of a challenge. The trail itself isn’t particularly long or difficult elevation wise, but it is not well maintained and gets quite overgrown. I had heard there was a washout somewhere past Cartridge Creek, and last year was a huge snow pack year and the Palisade Creek Crossing was challenging. Though so far the water sources were pretty scarce, so that worry was quickly squashed!

Do these pine cones make my feet look small?

Climbed up and and up, this section is filled with grand views, hanging meadows, and stunning granite vistas. About half a mile before Devil’s Washbowl I was in extremely over grown brush and making the occasional bear call. All of a sudden I hear crunch crunch above me just off trail and sure enough about four feet away, a huge healthy black bear and I make eye contact. This was the closest I have ever been to a bear (even living in bear country). I talked to the bear calmly, “Oh why hello black bear, nice to see you today…”. He looked at me as if to say “what the fuck are you”, and slowly ambled off. It was a great experience overall and he seemed to have a healthy disinterest in humans.

Squint you may see a bear!

Devil’s Washbowl up to Cartridge Creek was stunning and uneventful, then I hit the washout about 1-2 miles before the JMT and there were actually trail crew working on it. One of the crew members mentioned that it won’t be fixed this year, but from what I could see they were doing a great job.  I was able to just hike up the side of the washout 4-5 feet then scramble across, it really was no big deal. Up the rest of the trail to Palisade Creek the crossing was super easy this year. Managed to rock hop 90% of the way then had to take two above the knee steps into the water to get over to the bank. Dried out, had lunch it was only 1:30PM!

Why hello!

Feeling quite pleased with myself, it was now time to hit the major freeway that is the JMT and prepare to get overwhelmed by all the socializing. I hiked the remainder of the evening to Glacier Creek, just before the Golden Staircase. In hindsight I should have just busted my ass another hour up to Palisade Lakes, would have made for a more enjoyable day four.

Sensory overload on the JMT!

Day 4 – Glacier Creek to South Fork King River

Distance: 12.2 miles (19.6km)

Elevation: Approximately 3000ft to Mather’s Pass (914m)

Golden Staircase views!

Day four was a bit of a slog for me. Golden Staircase flew by but the trek to Mather’s Pass felt unending. There was some dicey weather rolling in and I really didn’t want to be caught out high on the pass. I kept questioning if I should keep moving up the pass or hunker for a bit, finding solace in the cheese snacks I picked up at the SEKI store at Road’s End as an impromptu buy, I decided to keep on.

I am actually on the moon here

The trail after Mather’s shlepped through the forest down down down, and it started to rain. I found a campsite down low by the South Fork King River and ended my day early around 3:30 PM. This area was a bit sad as I reminisced the fact that a lovely young PCT’er passed away earlier in the year at one of the river crossings.

Once the rain finally let up, it turned out to be a fun night as I met some awesome folks from the UK and US, built a fire and we had some laughs.

Hiding during the rain, love this Park’s Canada buff!

Day 5 – South Fork King River to 1.5 miles before Dollar Lake

Distance: 14.3 miles (23km)

Elevation: Approximately 2000ft to Pinchot Pass (600m)

Pinchot my favourite pass – what a breeze!

Day five was fantastic, I loved Pinchot Pass!  It wasn’t a slog and I had great views! The other side of Pinchot was never ending lunar landscape of arid terrain.  I even met the superintendent of the Park who took my picture for me at the top of the pass, we had a nice chat and shared a snack.  I took a very leisure day (the kilometers don’t show it but it truly was a saunter) and just slowly trekked through enjoying the sights. I made it past the suspension bridge and saw the zoo that is that first campsite with a lot of familiar faces over the last couple days.  I decided to keep going as I really don’t like the busy areas with the toilet paper messes and the loudness in nature.


My stretch goal was to make Dollar Lake, but I got lazy and decided to pick a kind of shitty camp spot just above this wooded meadow (which in hindsight had nicer camp spots but I was too lazy to walk back down the way I came up because that just feels wrong!).

The nature, of nature.

This camp spot had no water, and was on mostly granite so pitching the tent was a bit trickier but I was getting much better at it.  Another bar only night, but it was peaceful and a deer roamed through camp right before I went to bed.

Day 6 – 1.5 miles before Dollar Lake to Junction Meadow (Lower Rae Lake Loop)

Distance: 12.5 miles (20km)

Elevation: Approximately 2500ft to Glenn Pass (762m)

Day six, Rae Lakes are gorgeous and a great place to have second breakfast 🙂 Climbed up Glenn Pass, which I felt was a more mentally challenging than Mather’s Pass mostly due to the fact that you can see everyone on top of the pass and they look like ants the whole damn time.

So nobby!
This picture gives me PTSD – the people are up there, the size of 1px x 1px!

I have a mental ‘game’ where I tell myself I can take a drink of water every 5 or 10 switch backs (depending on how exhausted or thirsty I am, and barring how much water I have at the time). That game definitely helped me on this pass!

Once over the pass down and back into the woods towards Charlotte Lake, the trail crews were doing some blasting. aI was fortunate to be the last hiker through before the blast so I didn’t have to wait 30 minutes! Phewf!!  I wish I had spent some time exploring Charlotte Lake  and side trail in hindsight as that area was gorgeous and I felt a bit rushed.

Stunning sounds of water!

Finally veered off on the Bubbs Creek Trail at Lower Vidette Meadow and said goodbye to the John Muir Trail. Down towards Junction Meadow, to the left there is a fork to go to East Lake, there are some great camp sites near the river.  The river crossing itself looked a bit gnarly however some people were crossing upstream.  Apparently the other side is where the bear bin is located, but if you have a bear can it is irrelevant.

If you want to push on a little further the next good sites are around Charlotte Creek another two miles down hill.

This night was a sweet campsite as I was first to arrive.  Also some good company with the two Steve’s who were brother in laws were there.  I had met the one Steve earlier in the day on the other side of Glenn Pass, and we had chatted and had a good laugh.  This evening we all ate dinner together. Steve 1 was a song writer/poet and rapped me an amazing song about hiking, it sounds cheesy but it was the coolest fucking thing I had heard all trip and was legit pro. Honestly I wish I had recorded it!

Curious what this sounded like when these rocks landed here!

Day 7 – Junction Meadow to Roads End

Distance: 11.5 miles (18km)

Elevation: Back down to 5000ft from around 7000ft

I woke up at five AM with excitement for an upcoming shower today and broke camp by 6am. I loved walking down Bubbs Creek Canyon, the grade was easy. I saw six trail runners with day packs coming up the trail, those guys are hardcore – curious if they were doing Rae’s Lake Loop?! Passed through the Bubbs Creek Fire burn zone from a fire earlier in the summer. Right as I finished this I saw (no offense bear), this ugly, scrawny, scrappy adolescent bear. He had zero interest in moving off the trail and I wasn’t sure if he still had a momma bear near by or if he was on his own – tween bear… I was yelling at the bear and backed up slowly. He gave zero shits about me and went right on foraging. Finally after 15 minutes he fucked off, and I was able to move on. I mentioned it to a ranger that this bear might need a hazing… and the ranger seemed to know the culprit.

The view of civilization down there (and showers)!

Down some last sets of switch backs the midges became annoying – first time on the trip that bugs were… bugging me.  Finally, the long flats back to Roads End with all the day hikers passing you, it’s only 1-2 miles but feels like it goes on forever… I just want that damn shower!! (Talk about a motivation). Exited around 1PM not a bad 18km downhill haul!  Showers ended up being free for some unknown reason so I was able to take as long as I wanted – talk about luxury!!

I am surprised these people got close enough to me to take a picture.

Woo hoo loop completed! Hope this was mildly interesting 🙂 Happy Hiking.

Obligatory tourist picture of this HUGE FUCKING TREE!!!


The Big Sexy Loop (The Big SEKI Loop) – 2017

Note I have revisited this trip in 2018 a Medium SEKI loop post here!  Please use that one as it is more updated and detailed:)  I recommend reading it to plan your camp sites as it follows the same route as over half the Big SEKI Loop!

This has been a real tetris of an endeavour.  How do I fit 12 days of crap in a bag that is only designed for maximum 30-35lbs.   Last time I checked, I eat a lot of food in 12 days! Now I have to add a shelter, clothing, toiletries, sleep system, cook system, fuel, water, first aid – oh my!

I spent a lot of time tinkering for this particular trip.  Weekend trips are easy… if it’s under 10lbs without water it’s light! But I turned into a total gram weenie and measured *everything*.  I even cut all the tags off of everything… it’s kind of embarrassing.  The very first day of this trip is just over 5000ft gain to get to the lip before you drop into Granite Basin.  I really didn’t want to lug up anything unnecessary with a full load and 12 days of food.


Pack – ULA Circuit – 40oz

Liner – Trash Compactor Bag – 2oz

TOTAL: 2.63lbs

Sleep System

Tent – MSR Hubba Hubba NX2 with poles and stake bags removed – 3.18lbs

This is heavy and since I am traveling alone unnecessary but I love free standing tents at this point in my backpacking life, and I cannot afford a super ultralight silnylon anything 😦

Sleeping Bag – ZPack 20F – 15oz

Sleep Mat – Therm-a-rest NeoAir XLite Sleeping Pad – Womens – 12oz

Sleep Pad – Goassamer Thinlight Foam Pad – 1/8″ – 2.4oz

Sleep Liner – Sea to Summit – 8oz

Pillow – Sea to Summit – 2.8oz

TOTAL: 5.7lbs

Sleep Wear

Hat – GooseFeet Gear Down Balaclava – 1.5oz

Socks – GooseFeet Gear Down  Socks – 2.6

Base Layer Pant – Ice Breaker Leggings – 8oz

Mittens – Wool Hudson Bay Canada – 2oz

Base Layer Top – REI base layer – 8oz

TOTAL: 1.4lbs

Cook System

Stove – Pocket Rocket 2 – 3.7oz

Fuel – MSR Fuel 16oz – 23 oz

Cup – Sea to Summit XCup – 91g (sorry for the mixed conversions I am Canadian and switch a lot)

Pot – Toaks Titanium 750mL (also my bowl) – 3.84oz

Spoon – Titanium Spoon – 12g

Bear Canister – Bearikade Expdition 36oz

Multi Tool – Gossamer Gear Branded mini tool – 22g

Lighter – 12g

Extra Clothing

Puffy – Outdoor Research Women’s Virtuoso – 10oz

Rain Poncho/Pack Cover – Nature Hike – 190g

Socks – Injiji Toe Socks – 31g x 2

Wool Sock – Smart Wool – 2oz

Underwear – Ex Officio Give N Go 0.9oz x 2

Rain Pants – Outdoor Research – 6oz

Flip Flops – Walmart – 3oz


Pants – REI brand hiking pant – 8oz

Sun Shirt – Under Armour Sunshirt with hood  – 156g (I LOVE THIS SHIRT NO STINK!!!)

Boots – Solomon Hiking Boot 2lb

Socks – Injiji Toe socks – 31 g

Wool Socks – Smart Wool 2oz

Bra – Under Armour 3oz

Underwear – Ex Offico Give N Go 0.9oz

Baseball Cap – 2oz

Thin Liner Glove – 2 oz


Toilet Paper – (bidet life limited tp) – 0.5oz

Trowel – Deuce of Spades – 14g

Moon Cup – 21g in pouch

Hair Ties – x2 1g

Lip Balm – SPF 15 (stored in bear can) 0.15oz

Dehydrated Wipes – 0.1oz

Camp Soap -12g

Pack Towel – 10g

Ziplock – 5g

Toothbrush – 8g

Toothpaste – 18g

Hand Sanitizer 0.5oz

Pee Rag – lol best thing ever – 6g

Disposable Razor – luxury item #1 – 10g

Bidet Bottle 1.5oz (diner style ketchup bottle)

TOTAL 0.53lbs

First Aid

Medications (Sumatriptan Succinate, Advil, Pepto, Anti-biotics) – 20g

Second Skin Blister Relief – 40g

BandAid Sheet – 10g

Polysporin – 9g

Tensor Bandage – 80g


Phone – Android – 168g

USB Cables – 1oz

Battery Pack – 8.3oz

InReach – 6.8oz

Head Phones – 13g

Solar Panel – Anker 15W – 12.5oz


Map 92g

Compass – 5g

Hiking Poles – 1lb

Head Lamp – 100g

ID – 51g

Boot Laces – 20g (I have had these break before)

Tape – 15g (on hiking poles)


Food for Trip – 15lb

Day 1 out of bear can food – 1lb


1L Soft Bottle – 25g

Smart Water Bottle – 37g

Water – 3lb

Sawyer Mini – 63g

SmarTube Inline System – 40g

A very handy guide that is itemized and a fantastic planning website: (NOTE: I am re-planning this trip so it’s been updated with lighter gear as I am expanding my collection!!!)

The Adventure

I flew into Fresno, met up with a friend for some pizza and a beer, then rented my car out to Roads End.  I arrived in the dark which was a bit overwhelming as I was by myself – not quite sure where to park, getting turned around in the camp ground.  I stayed at the Sentinel camp ground out there which was super rowdy.  I actually got no sleep even with ear plugs.  I set up my tent but spent a few hours sleeping in the back seat of my rental car as it was a bit more sound proof.  There was a fight in the tent across from me resulting in an altercation and I believe some folks were arrested.  Wasn’t a great night overall.

Next morning I met a lovely woman I had been chatting with on forums. We agreed to start the journey together in a non-committal way that we weren’t required to stick together, and see how it would go.  I am always a bit socially awkward and nervous meeting new people, but she has a lovely sense of humour and we were both super nervously excited for our upcoming journey.  She was awesome and even rented my bear can ahead of time, picked up my fuel (as you cannot fly with isobutane) and got some beta the day before from a ranger.  We synced our inreaches so we could communicate and off we went.

Roads End Trailhead, Cedar Grove – 5035ft – mile 0

Day 1 – Setting forth:

Day one began after we finally introduced ourselves to eachother, we hurried over to the rangers station at 9am, got our permits, briefed ourselves with the ranger, then parked at Road’s End.  I was a bit apprehensive as my pack was super full and heavy and I knew we had this looming 5000ft climb ahead of us with over 40 switch backs.  We started out and it was very grueling, but fortunately we were just getting to know each other so lots of conversation helped ease the suffering.  Danielle is the strongest most power house woman I have ever met, in both body and mind.  We clicked pretty much instantly and it was a match made to hike.

We reached just before Granite Lake junction about 10.5 miles, and set up our tent on some granite just past a water source.  We got to see what we thought was a good “bear distance” away from our tents for our bear cans, cook dinner, laugh and watch a beautiful horse and mule train go by during dusk.  Exhausted, accomplished, and happy!


Day 2 – A day of blunders:

Granite Pass 10673 Mile 11.2

Next Day I really wanted to make Simpson Meadow as the time line for the loops was a bit aggressive.  We headed out in high spirits and over Granite Pass.  Was nice and early in the day so energy was high and the views were grand.  Descending Granite past Lake of the Fallen Moon area was gorgeous and almost fairy tale.  Getting into some of the granite there was a bit apprehensive as it was easy to lose the trail for a few moments.  Being my first time in the area that would always get my heart rate up a bit.

Coming down over Granite Pass these gorgeous meadows appeared.

We headed past this one area where you were supposed to cross the creek (in hind sight). We stayed the left, on the wrong side of the creek as the trail was not easy to follow and a spur trail continued on, resulting in an hour of us bumbling about trying to read our Inreach/Map/Compass, though it’s a gorgeous area for a camp site when I go again!   I think this was around the East Fork Doughtery Creek.  We finally back tracked and crossed this creek the correct way and started heading up, we were a bit miffed that we had made such a blunder but we were happy to be on track.  About half a mile from the creek we checked our map and realized that was the last water source for a few miles so we had to back track to refill – even more miffed!

We headed up and up and then finally started our big drop into Simpson Meadow.  It was already getting late and Danielle being the powerhouse ninja that she is, excelled on the down hill trek.  So we agreed off she would go, and I would meet her at the junction.  Little did we realize, dropping almost 4000ft would take longer then we would anticipate.  Almost an hour and a half later as the light was growing thin we met up.  We were both very tired as we had trekked 12 miles, our packs still very heavy with the full load (and remember our one hour bush-wacking wrong turn endeavour)!? We were a bit worn thin but found this super cute meadow next to a creek and hunkered down.  Had a good laugh and patted ourselves on the back for being strong and capable, and went to sleep.  Mile 22 – 5990ft

Just past Simpson Meadow Jct.

Day 3 – Why Hello Mr. Bear:

Heading Up Middle Fork Kings River

Day 3 was our “easy” day.  Lots of miles but not crazy elevation.  We set out from Simpson’s Meadow, walking about half a mile further from our camp ground we found some even choicer camp grounds (fire rings, flat, shaded) – little did we know we would utilize them on the return trip… Our goal today was to reach the JMT! We headed out in great weather.  We were in some open areas that were nice and warm after Simpson’s Meadow, with great water sources, we spent an hour having a “bath”, drying out, and just in general soaking up the sun.  Once we were well rested we continued on past Cartridge Creek over a wooden bridge up towards Devil’s Washbowl.  We sat there for some time taking pictures of the beautiful river carving through the granite.  Here we saw two other travelers, our first since Day 1 and had a lovely chat.


Walking farther up the canyon, we saw our first bear! It was getting close to dusk and our pace was hurried (there is no good camping spots from Cartridge Creek up just before the JMT junction).  You could camp at Devil’s Washbowl but it really isn’t ideal.  Mr. Bear was happily munching on some berries about 30 minutes from the river crossing just before the JMT.  We yelled and made a lot of noise he sauntered off a few meters and we continued on.   It was exhilarating and nerve wracking meeting a bear as we had felt pretty alone, but he was so at ease in his habitat.

Danielle captured Mr. Bear! About 1.5 miles before the Palisade Creek Crossing

We trekked on for about 30 minutes and decided to camp just off trail.  We were about 15 minutes from the water crossing (in hind sight just push to the water crossing there is a good camp sight just before it).  We had good access to water but camped on granite.  Mr. Bear did not bother us that night.  Just Before JMT – 30 miles – 7800ft

Day 4 – Welcome back to ‘civilization’:

First thing in the morning we packed up and knew we were about to hit the *looming* Palisade Creek crossing.  This crossing had been deemed “unpassable”  by the rangers just weeks before we headed out, due to the huge snow pack of 2017.  It was late September now and just was deemed passable.  It was scary.  I removed my insoles and put my hiking boots back on.  Untied my pack and slowly shimmied across the river/creek.   It was mid thigh in the deepest section (I am 5’6) and boy was it strong.  The scariest part is that the water was so turbulent that I couldn’t see the bottom to check the footing.  Shuffling side to side and moving my hiking poles so I always had three sturdy points of contact was helpful – facing upstream as I went.  Even moving the poles I could feel the strong rush of the current.  Danielle and I shouted encouragement to each other as we crossed.  We were successful and had some huge spikes of adrenaline.

It really looks so innocent in this picture with the sun shimmering… but it was up to my mid thigh in the middle!

Lots of laughing and I might have even had a tear of joy. I know we both faced a lot of fear doing that crossing and we were cautious and extremely proud in our success!  I think it made us even closer as a duo as shared experiences can often do.

We finally hit the JMT!

Hitting the JMT was almost a smack back into the world.  Within about 10 minutes of hitting the JMT we met probably 8 people. In 3 days on the Copper Creek Trail we met 3.  It was very jarring!  Onward we trekked up to Palisade Lake.  Up Up Up Up Up!  The first 5 miles were really relaxing through open sections and forest following Palisade Creek.  The last 2 miles were a bit “staircase-y”. We met some packers with horses and mules and some folks studying the mule’s and horse’s grazing habits – super chatty and nice to talk to some folks.  We set up camp near Palisade Lake and chatted up those folks before the pass.  Enjoying the last bit of sun I wore flip flops and warmed up on the granite. 40miles – 10000ft

Following the creep up towards Palisade Lakes

Day 5 – Am I back in Canada?:

Uh what month is this?!

My tent has a ton of snow on it WTF?!?  Where did this flip flop weather go? Fetch weather on the Inreach – ensue disappointment with the results.  Some hikers were going on, some were turning back, packers were waiting, I wasn’t feeling too optimistic with the weather results.   In hindsight we could have just kept going or hunkered down, but that is what hindsight is all about.  Knowing our 12000’er Mathers Pass was right in front of us going into a blizzard felt like a ‘poor life choice’.  I made the decision to turn back and Danielle agreed with me.  We were already sleeping on the cooler side at nights, and knowing between Mathers and Pinchot there weren’t any bail out options we were worried if it got worse before it got better we would be in for a crappy time.   A bit of sadness and some repetitive reassurance we were making good choices, we headed down.

We had a hard time following the trail down as it was covered in a lot of snow.  The first 1.5 hours was a struggle, not quite white out conditions, hard to follow trail (even having walked it the day before so having somewhat of an advantage).  We came across a PCT’er who had yoyo-ed to finish her final section. She had 20 odd miles to go but was hunkered in a tarp tent looking very dejected and ill-prepared for the weather change.  We offered her snacks and said to play it safe – I hope she finished.

We boogied back down to Palisade Creek feeling a bit sad but talking ourselves up in having made the best choice with the knowledge at hand, knowing we could sleep easy having made the “safe” choice, we were still a bit cold and damp.  We decided to cross Palisade Creek that day, it was slightly higher then it was the day before due to the snow fall but a) we were tired and just wanted to get it over with and b) I was worried the recent snow fall would make it even higher over night.  Harrowing but successful.  I know my husband was happy to get my Inreach message, and agreed it was a good call.  We camped just on the other side of the creek in the woods and snow fell on us that night at Palisade Creek junction, such a juxtaposition to the night before! 51miles – 8000ft

Day 6 – Drying out:

Woke up to frost, my boots were still frozen from the creek crossing.  We hiked down the towards the washbowl and saw Mr. Bear again! Hey Mr. Bear!  Decent spirits and having been over the terrain already, life was great despite the few inches of snow on everything!   After a few miles the over grown bushes had sagged over the trail and we could no longer see where were going (despite knowing down via the canyon along the river).  We ended up getting up on a boulder field and slogging over it, literally climbing through and over the saggy bushes til we met up with the trail again, about a 30 minute detour.  My anxiety/alertness was up during this time, any time the trail is lost I feel a bit on edge especially when it is dense, despite knowing the direction I needed to head and having many tools at my finger tips, there is something soothing about following a trodden foot path.

Back on the trail we boogied as it warmed up lower and lower.  Time to dry out all our gear!

Danielle keeping toasty and basking in the sun!

We got through Simpson Meadow and back to our area with the bitchin’ camp ground.  A fire ring was there, we shall make fire!

Danielle made an amazing fire and it was so nice to truly dry out all our gear.  Also nice to have the smell of camp fire my clothes instead of hiker stink.  This was the best sleep I had at all the camp sights so far. We shared some whiskey she brought and looked back on our journey thus far.  Simpsons Meadow – 59miles – 5990ft


Day 7 – Winding down and a bit of homesickness:

Well rested and ready to go we headed out.  Up that stupid switch back section was grueling.  I am the uphill queen so I headed off to find myself on the 30-40 switch backs up up up.  I had a bit of a nap at the top as we met up for a mid morning pre-lunch.  Getting over the hump towards that creek crossing where we got lost on the way in.  This time we decided to make a little arrow out of sticks in case anyone else was going the other way, so they would not get lost :).

Simpsons Meadow


As we headed towards Granite Pass through lake of the fallen moon we were both getting pretty tired.  We saw this meadow open up to us in the evening sun light.  It called to us to make a camp sight, we happily obliged. I was feeling a bit homesick for some reason, maybe a bit sadness I wasn’t doing my original plan, and maybe just being lost in my head despite the excellent company.  Was a bit of a down day (no pun intended), but some gorgeous highlights.  69 miles – 8500ft (guestimate)

This meadow was perfect and out of the cold trees!

Day 8 – Homeward Bound:

Spirits were very high as we knew we had a good chance of hitting civilization ie. a shower today. We first scrambled over Granite Pass (and a nice long pit stop here for some photos and contemplating what we had accomplished).  Past Charlotte Lake then up one last time before our final switch back hell towards Roads End.

Granite Pass looking a bit different this go around

As I am much slower on the down hill terrain, this welcome message from Danielle at like switch back 25 was a welcome surprise.


We popped back out into civilization and I remembered I had some Buffalo Bleu chips in the bear can I left in the bear locker!

Woo hoo! 81 miles – 5035ft

We returned our bear cans and took off to find a shower.  Feeling about as clean as pretty gross NPS showers can make you feel, I said good bye to my new forever friend.  We had such an amazing adventure together, and to go from strangers to having such a profound experience, I will be forever grateful.

Was it what I had intended? No.  Was it amazing? Yes. Did I learn a lot? Yes.  Did I make friends? Definitely! Will I be back again? You betchya!

I know this overview was very light-hearted, if you actually want further details or specifics just hit me up in the comments or contact page!

I drove back to Fresno and met up with my good friends to have some amazing tacos at Ophelia’s (highly recommend for cheap fantastic post-hike mexican food!). I then drove to Mountain View to spend the last few days of my original itinerary to spend with some friends there <3.  I had an amazing trip and cannot wait to try the Big Sexy Loop 2.0!!!

Well that is out – where to go next?

PCT Section, OCT, Timberline Trail, JMT, WHW, TCT, WCT – alphabet soup!  I have read so much information on each of these treks some of it starts to mix together.  They are all on my bucket list to complete.  I wanted to pick something that would be personally challenging, not too difficult to get a permit, and fairly safe/easy access.

Time of year.  I got two weeks to play with in September, this limits some of the hikes

Pacific Crest Trail section – I was looking at doing some of the sections in Washington.  One was to hike towards the Canadian border then start heading SOBO.  Two reasons this seemed like a good idea – 1) my husband could drop me off and pick me up  2) If I ever wanted to section the whole thing, that one is kind of a pain to start.  I chose against this route though as it would be later in the season, and I wanted a loop if possible.  I was also looking at Section J in WA but some logistics with rides was daunting and I knew my husband did not want to drive 8 hours just to drop me off.

Oregon Coast Trail  and West Coast Trail – I decided I felt I was more longing for a mountain trek and wanted to stay away from the coast.  September can bring more rain, and being on the coast was not what I had in mind.

West Highland Way – Is definitely on my short list of treks to do, but the urge to keep air fare low, and there is so much to do on this continent.  Adding it to the bucket list though!

Teton Crest Trail – This one is also on my short list!  I believe I passed on this one just purely due to accessibility and I will be honest I wouldn’t be able to tell you where Wyoming was without looking at a map.  I hope as I learn and grow as a backpacker that this is one I will be able to one day see!

John Muir Trail – After going through permit anxiety, I did not want to deal with that all over again.  Such a high snow year in the Sierra I knew that there would be more pressure on late season permits.  Yes there are always walkups however I don’t like the idea of buying a plane ticket and not knowing if I will be able to do the hike (see my post about permits :P).  While looking at options in this area around the JMT I stumbled on this beauty of hike:

Big Seki Loop – this trek is around 155 miles and is a full loop,  no need for pesky drop off/pick up shenanigans!  Permit system is easy, and a chunk of the route is on the JMT! I was sold!


Blog at

Up ↑