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North Fork Kings Tour - Day Four

DAY FOUR was a transition day in several respects. We were now heading off-trail into Crown Basin, aiming toward Mantle Pass and the upper reaches of Blue Canyon. We were also departing from our 'plans' since the weather and our pace had put us a day behind schedule. Last and not least, Bill was departing from our group, as he had an appointment to keep two days later. The bright morning sunshine dried our gear in good time, and soon we were looking for the path to cross into Crown Basin. Once found, the path led us over a small divide to the uppermost basin, whose waters would drain into the Middle Fork Kings. The trail promptly vanished, but we knew the way well enough from here, and Crown Basin is perfect Sierra Nevada cross-country terrain: sheets of granite, sporadic trees, and water in every draw.
First look at Crown Basin

We unfortunately picked the toughest route to our goal (Hummingbird Lake on the 7' quad), going up the green draw north of the lake. Del and Bill again took the lead, and Frank and I lost sight of them after a particularly steep stretch. We knew where we had to go and continued plodding forward, and crossing the high point we saw Del below us near the lake. Bill had stepped away and was heading east on his own, but we didn't know to look that way for him. When we reached the lake Del had scouted out a few tent sites and informed us that Bill was gone. We would have liked to say goodbye, but he needed to move fast to keep his appointment so clearly he couldn't wait for us. I crossed the creek and found an interesting camp, then counted fish along the shore. This small lake had Halfmoon Lake beat: I could see eight pan-sized trout at one time, prowling the shore for treats! The clouds had gathered yet again, but kept losing strength before reaching us; only a light shower actually reached our camp this day, giving us high hope for the next day's trip through Blue Canyon. As the clouds broke after dinner we remaining three wandered west along the slope, exploring the country in all directions. Del reported the route west from the lake looked much better than the way we had chosen, and we agreed to leave that way when we left on day six.


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