Four of us set out on Friday, 9/22/95, for Kings Canyon to climb Mt. Harrington. The participants were Jim Gardiner, Greg McDonald, Jeff West, and Paul Magliocco, the trip organizer. The plan was to meet Steve King, who was driving up from his house near Fresno, at Road's End on Saturday morning.
We stopped for dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory on the north side of Highway 180, just a short distance east of Highway 99. This is connected to the Old Spaghetti Factory in San Jose, for those of you who like the place.
After entering Kings Canyon National Park, we started the proverbial Friday night discussion of "where should we crash for the next few hours without getting hassled by rangers." Well, we think we found a great spot. To get there, go 4.4 miles past the sign that says Grant's Grove Village (toward Cedar Grove). You will come to a dirt road on the left with a sign listing three trailheads. Take the dirt road for about a quarter mile until it splits three ways. Take the middle fork about six-tenths of a mile to a bend in the road where there is a big flat area to park and sleep. This is National Forest land, so it's supposed to be legal to sleep there. No noise, no traffic, no hassles.
On Saturday morning, we found Steve at Road's End and drove back to the Lewis Creek trailhead. Starting at about 4,400 feet, we took off for Frypan Meadow at 7,800 feet. About a mile up the trail, we came across a rattlesnake that we estimate was about five feet long. He slithered slowly off, so we did, too. The trail from Frypan Meadow to Grizzly Lakes is steep and not maintained, disappearing in a few places. We finished the trudge to camp around 4:00 PM and relaxed, taking in the great view of Mt. Harrington and the Canyon below.
We woke up Sunday morning to a sky completely filled with a light cloud covering and to equipment completely covered with lots of condensation. Packing wet gear, we moved our packs toward Mt. Harrington, dropping them near the trail, and continuing on toward the peak with day packs. Mt. Harrington has an impressive final 300 feet of granite, looking very steep from all angles. The plan was to go up the class 3 north ridge. We ascended the gentle valley to the east of the summit, climbed over the ridge connecting to the final 300 foot summit block, and proceeded up the class 3 rock. The rock was superb, as was the exposure on the east side, making the climb very enjoyable. We were on the summit a leisurely 1.5 hours after dropping our packs.
The view from the top is absolutely spectacular. We could identify peaks from Milestone Mountain to Banner and Ritter. This peak (or nearby Kennedy Mountain) is a must for all serious peak gazers. Best of all, the peak looks like it is climbed only a few times a year.
We descended from the summit, dropped directly out of the notch below the summit into the gentle valley we had ascended, grabbed our packs and headed out through Wildman Meadow, exiting at Deer Cove around 3:45 PM. This is about 1.5 miles from Lewis Creek along Highway 180. The Wildman Meadow trail offers much better views than the Lewis Creek trail, both of Mt. Harrington and of the Great Western Divide. We didn't see any other people from the time we left our cars Saturday morning until we returned on Sunday afternoon. It was a nice trip late in the summer season.