The Circle of Solitude in Kings Canyon National Park was first written about in Mike White’s guidebook to Kings Canyon. He describes a loop around the Kings-Kern and Great Western Divides that follows trail and avoids the highways of the John Muir Trail and High Sierra Trail. Also described are some off-trail variations. Many people who hike this loop take the promise of solitude to heart and include some cross-country travel.
When I planned our August backpack, I didn’t realize that I was planning a variation on his loop. But I ran into a few people on the trail who called it that, so I’ve decided to call this trip the “Circle of Solitude Variation”. We certainly found solitude, seeing only one other person in the distance during the middle four days of the trip. Our itinerary was as follows:
- Day 1: Onion Valley to Kearsarge Lakes
- Day 2: Kearsarge Lakes to East Lake
- Day 3: Mt Brewer dayhike from East Lake
- Day 4: East Lake to Lake Reflection (rest day at Lake Reflection)
- Day 5: Lake Reflection to Upper Cunningham Creek via Longley Pass (with a climb of South Guard from the pass)
- Day 6: Upper Cunningham Creek to Sphinx Basin via Cinder Col and Sphinx Pass
- Day 7: Mt Francis Farquhar attempt and Sphinx Lakes dayhike
- Day 8: Sphinx Lakes to Juntion Meadow (along Bubbs Creek)
- Day 9: Junction Meadow to Kearsarge Lakes
- Day 10: Kearsarge Lakes to Onion Valley
We were out from August 6 through the 16, right in the perfect window between the crazy weather we had in July and the terrible smoke from the Rough Fire. And although we had some smoky and cloudy days, it never hampered our trip. I don’t think we could have timed it better with this year’s conditions.
It’s a long trip to write about so I’ll break it down into a few posts that will be published in the coming weeks. In the meantime, I have already posted all my photos and they are linked to above. Enjoy some High Sierra solitude from the comfort of your computer!