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North Fork Kings Tour - Day Six

DAY SIX found us re-shouldering our packs for the northward walk. We had decided to relocate our camp farther north near Pearl Lake, hoping to day-hike again toward our old goal of Valor Pass in order to see as much of Blackcap Basin as possible. The trip down-creek was as Del had foreseen - other than a few willow-bushes it was a gradual drop to the lower end of Crown Basin. This area is delightfully underrated in the books, given little press but well worth further exploration. We wandered up-basin and reconnected with the path toward Portal Lake. When we reached the intersection we hopped over Portal's outlet stream and continued northeast, following the occasional irrelevant duck toward Peral Lake. A final steep stretch leveled out on a pretty plateau that held the relatively large Pearl Lake, a few whitebark pines, and plenty of scenery. Del and I scouted for camps while Frank recorded the exquisite views, and we found a nice spot for a two-day stay.

Beautiful Crown Basin
We arrived at lunchtime, and the weather was excellent, so we took a quick day-hike over the southern ridge to the triplet of Chapel, Cathedral and Midway lakes. The climb was short and straightforward, and in no time we were ogling the view of Finger Peak and its satellites from the shore of Chapel Lake. This small basin was a genuine gem, and we scrambled to the highest point for the best views in all directions. Southwest over Portal Lake sat Crown Basin, while the North Fork Kings stretched westward below Blackcap Mountain. North from there were the many nameless peaks ringing Blackcap Basin, with only Reinstein Peak acquiring more than a number. To the southeast, Finger Peak peeked over the nearest ridge, with Finger Col and its pinnacle jutting above Cathedral Lake. This was a tough place to retreat from, but our camp at Pearl Lake was more sheltered.

The clear skies and warm afternoon convinced me to spend this night under the stars, and I rolled out my bag in a sheltered spot. The sunset was spectacular, with the sharp western spur of peak 12323 dominating the view. I had hoped to climb the east side of that peak from the other side, but plans change, and I would not have ventured out to that spur in any case!

Crown Basin beyond Portal Lake

Sunset at Pearl Lake

pre-hike - day One - Two - Three - Four - Five - Six - Seven - Eight - Nine - Summary

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