SHR Day 1 – Copper Creek (1), Grouse Lake (2), Goat Crest (3)

Roads End to Glacier Lake

We wake in Clovis at 4:00am, load up the car and head for Kings Canyon. Even in the dark we can feel the bark beetles destroying the forest. Logging trucks and wood chippers are parked along the road. Free anniversary day or not, there is no one at the gate as we enter the park. We arrive at Roads End, use a seated toilet one last time, and say goodbye to Terri. A little before 7:00am, we head up the monstrous climb to Copper Creek pass.

In his guide book, Roper describes the various trees and ecosystems passed on this steep climb. We pretend to care, but focus on moving rather than being moved. We rest occasionally, but manage to keep up a reasonable pace.

We only encounter a few descending hikers, including a condescending ranger. She asks to see our permit. If you have ever made a purchase at Costco, Walmart, or Fry’s Electronics, you know the feeling. It’s that awkward moment when the security employee asks for and stares at your receipt. What exactly is the employee looking for? The true test is that you can actually produce a receipt at all, and after that the terse stare and head nod is simply for show. In the ranger’s review of our permit, she stares politely for the appropriate amount of time, but does not notice that Kevin’s red ULA circuit, described on the permit, is now a much larger black Mountain Hardware.  I am pretty sure she is thinking about what she is going to have for dinner.

I ask the ranger about any stretches with limited water, but she is not familiar with the route, so instead recommends we simply carry a lot. She then asks if she can answer any more questions. I politely fail to point out that to answer more she needed to have answered a previous, which she had not. We smile and wish her well.

Grouse Lake Pass

Grouse Lake and Grouse Lake Pass

By noon we reach the summit and turn off trail for the first time. We scramble up a semi-social trail to Grouse Lake. We see a lake, but not a single grouse. We rest for about an hour before tackling Grouse Lake Pass. Roper describes it as easy, which says more about his skills than ours. At the pass, we try to follow his instructions to traverse and stay high. We are not sure he would be proud of our route, but we manage to make it up to Goat Crest Saddle.

The route down towards Glacier Lake is steep and we are tired. We followed Roper’s advice to stay left, but with so little snow on the pass this year, there may have been an easier way. At Glacier Lake we are spent. We have completed about 11 miles, and probably 8,000 feet of climbing. We pitch our tents, have Indian curries and rice, and collapse in bed. Tomorrow, like every day on this trek, will be a big day.