Hikers: Matthew Reagan, Shannon Tracey, Alex Ott, Nik Sarpotd, Carl F., Esteban Licea, Vishal J.
There's an alternative to Yo-Yo-Yosemite. Sequoia/King's Canyon National Park provides plenty of big trees, big mountains, dramatic scenery, and the opportunity to stop in Fabulous Fresno on the way out. We decided to take a long weekend and do the Mt. Brewer loop, a 26-mile, 10,000' vertical cross-country assault on the high country of the Great Western Divide. We tried, at least.
four or five miles of steep on-trail travel, the route leaves the
trail and follows use paths up the Sphinx Creek drainage. Although
many people take this route, some careful routefinding is necessary to
avoid bushwacking and talus scrambles. DEET helps fight off the
plentiful mosquitos, too.
After a cold and damp night (camping by a swamp at
9,700' results in some serious freezing fog), the group split up. Two
people decided to head back early, one person decided to go off on his
own (story later), and four remaining hikers pushed ahead to the upper
Sunrise over Sphinx Lakes.
Sphinx Creek Trail
After about three miles of easy trail, the route heads up
to the hanging valley holding Sphinx Creek. A thousand feet of steep
switchbacks in the hot SoCal sun is a tough way to start the trip.
Like many California trails, this path is groomed for pack animals,
making it a bit too flat for heavy backpacking boots. Travel
After over seven
miles and nearly a mile of vertical rise, we finally found a
reasonable campsite at the lowest of the Sphinx Lakes. This was still
quite a bit below our intended campsite, but fading daylight and tired
hikers made us quit while we were ahead.
new camp was set, we headed up toward Brewer. We realized it was too
late to make the summit, but we figured it was worth checking out the
route to see how far it really was. Here, we look down on one of the
upper lakes in the Sphinx basin.
12.5K'+ pinnacle looms above the pass and the highest lake in the
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