Finger Peak, Mount Reinstein, Tunemah Peak
By: Allan Conrad, Scott Sullivan
Seven participants were willing to take on the adventure of a great deal of cross-country travel and the uncertainty of the Sierra snow pack to head for Crown Basin and Kettle Ridge to the interior of Kings Canyon National Park. This route had been described to me by Gene Mauk, who had used it some years ago. We left from the Rancheria Creek Trailhead, south of Wishon Reservoir, and were at Crown Basin 13 miles and 10 1/2 hours later. Generally, the route went to Round Corral Meadow, Indian Springs, Chuck Pass, north of peak 9818 and then to Crown Basin. In retrospect, some of the group felt staying higher (near peak 10751) may have been better than the path we took, south of the peaklet at 10600.
Saturday morning found us leaving camp at 6 am. going over the crest into KCNP east of Hummingbird Lake. Tunemah Peak was reached by 11:45 for the fastest and an hour later by the last climber, who chose a more southwesterly approach and was slower dealing with the false summits. The group headed in the direction of Finger Peak, with more and more talk by some of the group of skipping Finger due to the hour. As we reached the decision point for the climb of Finger, only Scott and Ron Hudson decided to attempt it that day. The remainder of the group was back to camp at 7:40 pm. At 10:40 pm, the duo returned, reporting a successful climb of the steep Class 3 couloir on the SOUTHWEST face.
The group split the next day to allow a return to Finger by Al and Greg and Mirna Roach, who climbed a Class 2-3 route across the SW face. The view from Finger was quite spectacular on this very clear day, with the view down the sheer north face being a real attention getter. Ron and Scott led Elena Sherman and Chris Kerr through the Blackcap Basin to Reinstein. When all were returned to camp by 3:20, a consensus was reached that we would hike out a different route, down Crown Creek to meet the Mountain Meadow trail leading to Crown Valley. This would prove to be more difficult than we expected. Leaving the Crown Basin camp at 4:20, we arrived at a camping spot near a creek about a half-mile north of the Crown Valley trail at 7:30 pm. This statement over-simplifies a hike which included much vegetation thrashing at points and two tough crossings of Crown Creek through beautiful country which reminded some of Tenaya Canyon. Ron well deserved the accolades he received for leading this challenging segment.
On Monday, we located the trail at 7:50 am and 11 miles later were at our cars by 2:10 pm. We walked around or over well in excess of 100 trees which were across the trail. Our path took us past the Crown Valley RS overlooking a verdant drainage, Wet Meadow and Cow Meadow before rejoining our original trail about 1 1/2 miles east of our cars. The wildflowers this late in the year were really appreciated. Thanks to all participants for making this such an enjoyable trip.
One point of information which may be of interest. The previous ranger station in Shaver Lake was closed this spring and replaced by a new facility just east of the highway intersection in Prather. [Phone:209.855.5360]
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