Deadman Canyon Loop


On the way to twin lakes these exfoliated steps can be seen, and if it is an early season hike, there will be water in it.

The First Steps...

Deadman Canyon Loop - By D.W.Donehoo (All rights reserved)

I love backpacking. I love everything about it. I love the crunching sound my boots make when walking on gruss. I love the sweat and toil of working towards a high pass. I love retreating to the tent and my warm down bag on a frosty night after enjoying the last heat of a dying camp fire. I love setting off down the trail on an early spring morning, feeling the
world coming alive as if it had been newly created. Heck, I even like heading off into the woods armed only with a trowel and roll of toilet paper.

Waiting to go...

This, at last, was my group getting ready to hit the trail at the trailhead.

I love it all. And my first introduction to a real multi-day backpacking trek into the heart of the mighty Sierra was the Deadman's Canyon Loop, which married my love of the Sierra with backpacking. A year or so before I did this trip, I happened to be at the Lodgepole trailhead to witness a scene that burned itself into my memory. Oh, it was nothing spectacular: a group of about four backpackers were lounging around on the granite apron near the trailhead sign, their backpacks sitting here and there, each backpacker in his own thoughts, when another of their group arrived. Without a word, they all rolled to their feet and began shouldering their backpacks to the music of snapping buckles and dancing that dance backpackers do when they are trying to settle in that heavy load on their backs. Then they set out down the trail single file and were soon out of sight.

I wanted to go with them so bad I could taste it.

I have always had a bit of the wander lust, always wanting to know what was down the road, what was around the next bend. Those backpackers were going places I have never been to, would see things I had never seen and could not imagine and I wanted to go with them to experience it all. Little did I know that events would soon conspire to set my feet on that very same trailhead for my first expedition longer than 4 days into a prime part of the Sierra. After that trip, I was a true backpacking fanatic.

The Deadman Loop Backpack could be done in five days (or even four days from trailheads near Big Meadows), but you would have to give up some side trips and layovers that would rob you of some of the true wonders of Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks.

In general, the trail starts at Lodgepole in Sequoia NP, and heads north over Silliman Pass at 10,165 feet. The trail then descends to the Sugarloaf and the Roaring River drainage to the mouth of Cloud Canyon and Deadmans Canyon. The trail then heads south up Deadmans Canyon and over Elizabeth Pass (at 11,380 feet!) to Bearpaw Meadows and down the High Sierra Trail to Crescent Meadows and Lodgepole. This trip is a little over 51 miles, not counting any side trips. The trailhead is popular, particularly on weekends, so getting a wilderness permit in advance is recommended. Those not comfortable with wet stream crossings should avoid an early season start. (A "wet crossing", a term used among experienced backpackers and in this text, refers to a stream, creek, river crossing or ford where you cannot cross by bridge, log(s), or rock-hop, which means you have to get your feet wet crossing on foot. A wet crossing is potentially THE most dangerous activity in the backcountry and a questionable crossing should never be attempted alone, or without alot of careful thought. In 1995, 60 people drowned in National Parks, and is by far the leading cause of deaths. In second place is car accidents. Be careful out there.)

DISCLAIMER: This is a good place as any to say this. Hiking in the backcountry necessitates unavoidable risk that every hiker must take full responsibility for and must be aware of and respect. The fact that this trail is described in this text does NOT represent that it will be safe for you. If you use this text for a guide, you use it entirely at your own risk and the author assumes no responsibility for the text, your actions, the actions of others, actual trail conditions, the weather, acts of God, Nature, people, or anything in connection with this text. Use this text of this guide at your own risk. That being said, I have gone to great pains to make this text as accurate as humanly possible. Trail conditions can change from day to day due to weather and month to month due to rebuilding, rerouting, or natural events such as rockslides or washouts. Other factors will affect your wilderness experience and success on the trail, such as your strength, agility, endurance, experience and your ability to make good decisions. Risk on the trail can be minimized by being knowledgeable, prepared, properly equipped and alert. At the end of this text is some resources for you to refer to and sources that I have used to supplement my own experiences.

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