Middle Kings - the Hike

Golden Gate Bridge - sightseeing instead of Upper Cherry...
After listening to stories and reading trip reports, kayaking through the gorges of Middle Fork Kings was something I planned since my last stay in California in 2013. The MFK is supposedly one of hardest multiday runs in the USA, adding a brutal hike-in, having to cross the Sierra Nevada over Bishop Pass.
This year the snowpack looked more promising than the last years that were historical droughts in California, and therefore kayaking season was very short and over early. 

Manuel is on school holiday schedule so he took of from work one week early and we booked our flights for 1st of July. Our plan was to meet up with Rok Sribar and Darin McQouid to catch Upper Cherry Creek and then go to MFK.

Alcatraz Island
Long story short, Manu made it to UCC on time and I missed out because of a series of unfortunate things that happened...
Then we started our plans for MFK. The team originally consisted of two more guys, Michael Wutti (who was on UCC) and Manfred Stich (who arrived late without lugagge), but after some drama they decided to pull out the morning we left for different reasons. Mandi got sick and Michi had a close call on UCC and didn`t feel like going on another multi day as serious as MFK right away.

So we hit the road for Bishop a little late, Rok had organized that Paul Gamache would drive our car back to takeout (a shuttle almost 242miles and 6 hours long), thankfully Kevin Smith opted to get our permit in Mammoth and we picked it up on our way down. Fun thing to see Kevin, who boated with us in Europe a few years back, taking the Ambulance to bring our permit ;)

Six Seven Kevin is the Ambulance that brings the permit
We wanted to start our hike in the evening so we could get some work done before the next day, so we drove up to Short Lake and started hiking at about 9pm after everything was prepared and packed.
Thankfully three friends helped with some of the equipment. Our plan was to hike one whole day and paddle out in four or five, so bags with food and stuff were pretty heavy...

We all slept around Long Lake at about 9800 feet (ca. 3300m) elevation and got up early the next day. The path is very good to walk and only really steepens up the last switchbacks up to Bishop Pass at 11972 feet elevation (ca. 3700m). 

Early morning views at 6am
First view of the pass on the left
Manu working his way up, if you look closely you see a green boat going up the pass
The trail steepens as you come closer to the highest point
Breakfast in the first morning light
there was a group behind us, do you spot the kayaker?

The scenery is stunning and air definitely thinner. I had a hard time breathing the last meters up to the pass. 

Manu on the last meters up
finally on top of the pass

Up on top Manu and I took a short break and then began our decent down to LeConte Canyon. The first part is relatively flat and the views are amazing. 

our way down through the Dusy Basin
nice views everywhere you look

As the shoulders really start hurting before the switchbacks down into the Canyon start. We took a long lunchbreak before, which resulted us walking down the switchbacks in the biggest heat of the day. 

tired yet?
First look into LeConte Canyon where our river waits

Everybody told us the way down is harder then up, and boy were they right. So after approximately 2100 feet (700m) up, over 3000 feet (1000m) down and nearly 13miles (20km) of hiking we finally arrived at the river.
Our initial plan was to camp at put-in but as we arrived we heard that plans had changed and we would go down the river for a couple of miles to set camp. 

First meadows before we put up camp

All that I can say about this very low volume part of the river is that I would portage most if I wouldn`t have carried my kayak for the whole day before...

Camp One

cheers, re

coming up - day one on the river