Day 7, 7:03 AM - 2 hours into the hardest day yet
Return to day page View previous item 2 hours into the hardest day yet The Kings River valley - escape at dawn 3 hours and 40 minutes of strolling gets you this This trail has a name... Approaching Granite Pass Subject at Day 7 - the backpacking Zombie Scanning for Granite Pass Maybe that's Granite Pass? Unknown meadow at 10,500 feet Last look back before crossing Granite Pass Glacier-polished granite split by trees From Granite Pass, down to Granite Lakes basin View next item

This is the South-facing slope of the Kings River valley, officially known as Slide Bluffs, but known unofficially to hikers and rangers alike as The Bitch. Appropriately, it's located only a short distance from a feature (one I never visited) called Gorge of Despair. On the face of it (no pun intended) this is just another steep slope one has to climb, certainly no worse than any of the passes encountered so far. What distinguishes The Bitch, however, is that this degree of difficulty continues for 5 miles, rising 4,000 feet from Simpson Meadow to a rocky plateau, with no access to water the entire way. Even when you reach the top it's another two miles before you can get to any water, so, one has to go prepared. The absence of accessible water becomes a major concern when heat is factored in. As mentioned elsewhere, the temperatures in Kings Canyon have been unusually high, and the prospect of hiking this trail called for a change of tactics, i.e., waking at 4:00 AM in order to start the climb by 5:00 AM.

Note the absence of underbrush or small trees in this photo - evidence of periodic (probably natural) fires.