04 July 2017

Jennie Lakes: Belle Canyon and Rowell Meadow

Kings Canyon National Park

Sequoia National Forest

Giant Sequoia National Monument

Click for map.

DAY 1 | DAY 2 | DAY 3 | DAY 4

(Day 3 of 4) It was another mild night, but the mosquitoes very nearly vanished early on into it. The sun comes quickly here and the morning golden hour is really quite something. I enjoy it with breakfast and happily the mosquitoes seem to be slow to wake up.

morning sun on Ball Dome
Our northerly view from near camp: the morning sun as it hits Ball Dome.

Ranger Lake
Morning over Ranger Lake.

We head out to the trail again and wander gently downward, still high above the valley bottom. The air seems a lot clearer today and the snow on the far mountains is much more defined.

distant peaks with snow spots
The snowy distances.

over Crowley Canyon
Across Crowley Canyon to the far edge.

water flowing thin and fast across granite
Through the trees, water sheets over the granite.

As we start to circle around the uninteresting end of the Ball Dome outcrop, there is the trail to Lost Lake. A half mile up (and down again) and some miles to get. I decide against going although we have not been able to see it from above anywhere along our route. Some backpackers come down after us stating that it is definitely the most beautiful lake they have been to in their lives, so perhaps it was the wrong decision to forgo just half a mile and some climb.

little water past bright daisies
A thin stream through a meadow of aster or daisies.

carpet of yellow flowers below the trees
Carpets of flowers burst out in seemingly random spots.

Upon reaching Sugarloaf Creek in Belle Canyon, it is clear that all my fancy footwork to stay to rocks and such above water instead of it in has just run out. The creek makes its lazy way through a meadow and there is nothing for a while in either direction to offer a crossing. The only question is do we stop to take shoes off or just plunge right through. My shoes have dried rather well when I accidentally dipped a toe and it is plenty warm, so I elect to plunge.

Sugarloaf Creek looking like a pond
Sugarloaf Creek looks lazy enough to actually be a pond and there are plenty of little fish swimming around to help with the image.

Just across the creek is a trail junction and another choice. My original plan was to continue down to Comanche Meadow, then turn north toward Williams Meadow and swing west to Kanawyer Gap. This is all trail on the old 15' map, but has been dropped from the 1993 7.5' Mount Silliman map, so there is some worry about finding it. Harrison does include it. It will also add something like 4 miles to the route, which it is looking like I do not get to do. We turn up Belle Canyon instead.

purple and yellow flowers that otherwise look the same
The carpets of flowers sometimes are multicolored.

Shortly after is another junction, this one to go up to Seville Lake. This one has a second trail in that would drop us off almost at the top of the pass we are climbing anyway and is only a half mile extra. I am more enthusiastic to go for this one, but cannot get any interest from Martha. At least we should be able to look over to it sometime on the high up.

tiger lilies
Humboldt lilies! Or probably some more common, smaller relative since the Humboldts supposedly do not grow this high.

This area has had a recent big burn killing off numerous trees and leaving just a few islands living. There are a lot of trees to jump and nowhere that feels safe to stop. The group coming down from Lost Lake had mentioned a lot of trees down going to Comanche Meadow making it quite hard work to walk that trail. Perhaps it is just as well we did not go that way. The rocks behind the burned trees do suggest the canyon is well named.

Belle Canyon
A little of the decoration for Belle Canyon, partly hidden by the remains from a severe fire. New little pines are rising to take the place of the old ones.

minute white flowers covering the ground
Plenty of flowers are filling in the spaces.

trees on the trail
New fallen trees joining a few already cut from crossing the trail.

Eventually, we do get trees again as we climb. We never do get to look out to Seville Lake, so it is another one we do not know at all even after being so close. It certainly looks like a nice spot on the topo. We never see the trail up from it either.

green frog the size of the thumb knuckle
We do get to see a couple little frogs including a red and white one and this green one.

There is not a lot of down to get to Rowell Meadow. Lots of trees and meadows and little streams make for a pretty stroll on the way to the next junction. Wet feet? Maybe a little, but they are already wet now.

lumps of snow in the wet meadow
Just a little snow left in lumps about the place.

looking up to a high canopy on a big pine
Found a rather large tree. Not nearly so large as some nearish, but it would still take a friend or two to help hug it.

The junction at Rowell Meadow has no signs, just posts, but is very clear. The trails are all lined by large trees and cuts for at least 100 feet around it. We turn left for Boulder Creek, leaving behind the last chance to go sprinting up the Jennie Lakes Wilderness high point. The route has some very non-wilderness surprises. First we get an actual bridge over one larger creek, then there is a tall cabin used for snow surveys.

tall snow survey cabin
The snow survey cabin, which has some details for when the snow gets particularly high.

Rowell Meadow
And the view of the soggy Rowell Meadow from in front of the snow survey cabin. Quite a nice view. Marker 226 for making snow surveys is to the right.

We get no more bridges as we continue toward Boulder Creek, although they would have been appreciated. After the stomping through the 3rd or 4th creek crossing, my shoes have started to feel slushy and it takes them 10 or 20 minutes to quit it.

Gannon Creek
Crossing Gannon Creek, which has really grown from when we saw it near the pass.

six yellow, waxy petals with small dark spots so numerous they touch often
But first getting distracted by a small flower that is probably a type of lily.

We have one more little climb before a longer down into Boulder Creek. Signs posted at the start warned that this one could be a little dangerous, so we will probably stop at the creek to wait to cross in the morning, when it should be lower. We actually have four crossings coming up, but my guess is the second one will be the hardest, but also have some flat areas nearby.

Boulder Creek
The trail down to Boulder Creek is a narrow thing along a steep hillside. The high white rocks above it are the backdrop to Jennie Lake.

stocky trees on the steep slope
Looking up at the big trees that sparsely populate the slope. We have a few across the trail to hop over, too.

There are two little streams along the way, but neither of these are one of the crossings expected. I ponder stopping at the first for water since I seem to have run out and it is hot, but it is not long before we stop and the hill is steep and the trail is just wide enough for my foot. I may as well get to the hoped for flats. I cannot quite see the joined creek below as it rages behind a layer of trees. There is just a vision of white water.

purple trumpets of the floral kind
The first little stream has a few flowers to decorate it.

The first of the crossings is a bit large and full of white water, but there is a tree bridge. It is a bit rounded and slanted for confident walking, high above the thrashing water, but free of bark and easy enough to shimmy downhill on using hands to steady. The second crossing does look a little tough and is just after a little used, but quite suitable for us, campsite, so that is where we tuck in for the night, surrounded by the roar of Boulder Creek. There does seem to be an alright crossing spot below the trail for our travels in the morning.

rocky white water trail crossing
As the trail crosses, there is one spot that is just a little too far for rock hopping and beside it, the water is deep and rushing.

Continue to the next day ⇒

©2017 Valerie Norton
Posted 10 July 2017

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