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Kaweah Gap, Black Rock Pass, and Deadman Canyon Figure Eight

Day 5 of 9

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Thursday, August 18th
Timber Gap Creek to Bearpaw Meadow
9.2 miles
2180 vertical feet (ascent)
1680 vertical feet (descent)
7:19


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GPX File

We got a later start today. Our camp was situated under shade of forest so it was easier to sleep in. We took our time and left camp at 10:30am. The trail immediately starts descending through the forest, an extension of yesterday's long descent. The trail mostly follows Cliff Creek.

Cliff Creek

Cliff Creek

While the trail is mostly downhill, there is a bit of up and down. After about 3 miles we walked through a beautiful sequoia grove. At the northern end of the grove is a small sign with the name Gustavis Eisen, listing him as one of the founders of Sequoia National Park. [Note, the sign says Gustavis, though web searches yield Gustavus.]

Honeycomb

Sequoia grove on the approach to Redwood Meadow

The sign says "Gustavis Eisen"

Soon after this grove we reached Redwood Meadow. There are what appear to be stables here and a cabin. There's also the meadow itself, but it's mostly a forgettable place. The sequoia grove we just passed through was much more impressive. Supposedly there are campsites here, though we never saw any. Still, having no other options we settled down near here for a lunch break.

Redwood Meadow

After lunch we continued on toward Bearpaw Meadow. The trail would now cross three creeks - Granite Creek, Eagle Creek, and the Kaweah River. As we approached Granite Creek I could see that we'd be crossing it over a footbridge. I knew I had to refill water and I wasn't sure if we'd cross far above the other creeks, so we decided to go a bit off the trail and down to Granite Creek's edge. We took a nice break here while I filtered water.

View to the west

Mountains to the north

Granite Creek

Bridge over Granite Creek

Granite Creek

After the break we continued over the bridge and then crossed the other two creeks (which didn't have or need bridges, as it turned out). As we crossed the Kaweah River, we noticed someone's backpack and gear near the river. It looked like someone was going to camp here, though we didn't see actually see anyone.

The trail now turns decidedly uphill as it climbs about 1400 feet up to Bearpaw Meadow. It's also quite steep. We climbed through the forest. After about 20 minutes we saw 3 hikers with day packs approach us from above - the first people we'd seen on the trail all day. They asked us if we'd seen any gear and we said we had, near the Kaweah River. They said that was theirs; a packer had dropped it there for them. I was a bit confused by the arrangement, but we told them where to find it. They told us to be on the lookout for a bear cub and mother up ahead.

Soon we reached Little Bearpaw Meadow. It looked like the perfect place for a bear. I looked out over the vast expanse of green and what did I see? A bear, way off in the distance, at the edge of the meadow. We all looked and I took some (distant) pictures. Too bad I hadn't brought my big zoom lens. The trail never got any closer to the bear.

Bear in Little Bearpaw Meadow

Bear in Little Bearpaw Meadow

We continued climbing, and we soon saw a deer buck loping up the trail ahead of us. Then, suddenly, we saw tents and knew we had arrived at Bearpaw Meadow. The backpacker's camp is dark, under shade of forest, on a steep incline. The meadow itself is off to the side, not much to look at. There are pit toilets, bear boxes, and faucets (untreated water). We looked around for a suitable spot for our big tent and only found one spot (well, there was another, but it was about 6 feet away from someone else). We started to set up camp, and some guy camping nearby came over and warned us that he was going to smoke pot. Well, we searched around for another spot, but couldn't find any, so we stuck to our first choice.

I have to say, I think Bearpaw Meadow may be the worst place I've camped in my entire history of backpacking. Despite the fact that it's in a forest, there's no privacy. We talked in hushed tones. It's not a pretty place to be. The only redeeming quality was that our kids were excited to go get some brownies. I walked them up the steep hill for about 5 minutes to reach the store and bought 2 brownies and a bag of chips. Then we returned to our gloomy camp.

The man who had camped near us at Timber Gap Creek was also camped at Bearpaw Meadow. I chatted with him a bit about our plans to hike over Elizabeth Pass tomorrow. He told us he had hiked mostly the same loop as us so far, though at a slower pace (over Kaweah Gap and Black Rock Pass); he said he would probably camp near Mehrten Meadow tomorrow.

After dinner (yes, the kids were still hungry after the brownies), we set the alarm and got ready for a long hard day tomorrow.


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