Traverse of Great Western Divide

cover photo
Sep 01, 2018 - Sep 05, 2018

A damn fine cross-country hike. Circumnavigates summits of North Guard, Mount Brewer, South Guard, Thunder Mountain, and Mount Jordan while crossing the Great Western Divide and the Kings-Kern Divide.

The cross country is over loose talus and brush or glaciated granite slabs. 4 passes require class 2 scrambling. Offers a unique and definitely not well-travelled path; some of the passes are not even on the map. A+ for solitude. Once back on the PCT/JMT trail, traffic increased dramatically - not surprising for Labor day weekend.

Fun facts

Stung on the nose by a rude bee

Hiked through the remnants of a still-smoldering fire above the Sphinx Trail junction. Spoke with a firefighter and hiked past one for their staging camps.

Took the wrong bearing just before Thunder pass and had to backtrack for an hour after figuring out the error. There was nowhere to go but straight up 1000 ft walls, so pretty obvious that I was off track. Still managed to only use map & compass on the entire x-country leg though.

Broke yet another trecking pole on the talus boulder traverse.

Ascended a very steep chute to McLeod Pass. Wish I had a helmet for it.

Saw quite a few bears. One climbing down from a tree in the parking lot(!), one cub/yearling in the bushes next to the trail, and a couple across a river.

Saw a fox and possibly coyote not far from each other

Just missed a rattlesnake or two.

Next time I will bring a fishing rod - all the lakes were jumping with fishies!

DifficultyClass 1 & 2 (15.8 miles x-country w/ 4 passes)
Distance53 miles
Highest ElevationForester Pass (13180 ft)
JurisdictionKings Canyon National Park
MapTom Harrison Maps Kings Canyon High Country, Mt Whitney High Country
TrailheadRoads End, Kings Canyon National Park