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North Fork Kings Tour - Day Eight

DAY EIGHT signalled our farewell to the high country. With about twenty-five miles to reach the car, we had work to do! Our gear dried quickly in the warm sunlight, and soon we were on our way. We had encountered a path at the south end of the lake on day six, and it took us directly to Portal Lake. We continued from there down its fish-filled outlet stream to our third camp, then apprehensively returned to the swampland along the upper North Fork. While still moist, the area had dried considerably in the past five days, but flies and mosquitoes still eagerly pursued us. With the distant peaks unavailable for photos, we focused on closer subjects - wildflowers and the occasional butterfly lined the path and provided intense splashes of color. We reached the gentle incline leading toward Halfmoon Lake, only to find that my mind had deceived me: this was NOT very gentle at all! As we ascended, views back toward peak 12323 and northward toward Bench Valley opened up - even the highest portions of Goddard could be seen above the ridges we had traversed the previous day.

Lupine, Paintbrush
At the junction below Halfmoon Lake we recharged our water-bottles and continued upward to Crown Pass. The views along the length of the Sierra began opening up near the crest, with dark, snow-streaked peaks of Ritter, Banner and southern Yosemite hovering at the edge of sight. Once over the pass, an equally vague impression of peaks south to the Kings-Kern Divide floated over the nearer peaks of the Monarch Divide. We worked our way down to Crown Lake among more wildflowers, shooting as we went. I was walking through a muddy patch when I noticed that the human footprints had some unshod company: I showed the others some rather large bear tracks, and we all turned from the flowers and took photos of the mud. Shortly thereafter we saw a couple of deer, our first animals larger than marmots we'd seen since day two.

We'd come quite a ways by now, and the route showed the path following the stream from Crown and Scepter lakes for a few miles. The actual path chose a higher, drier route, and when we finally encountered the stream we dropped our packs and searched for our last camp. Frank found several small sites above the trail, and we set up among the trees, ate quickly, and passed out in no time.

water break at Halfmoon outlet

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

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