Waterfalls and cascades abound!

A helpful sign points the way.

Left.

Andre points his camera upwards and considers the significance of the name "Mineral Ridge."

Still at the top of their creek-fording game, Andre and Sarah make quick work of this crossing.

Piney needles up close.

About halfway up the trail to Franklin Lakes, Andre takes a break from switching back and surveys the tree situation.

Sarah's sweat.

Sarah just got a pair of waterproof boots, though her goat-like boulder-hopping abilities negated any need for them.

Fartsy shot of roots and rocks.

Sarah Carsman proudly endorses Gregory backpacks.

Andre and Sarah had to stand to the side of this steep and narrow trail to let traffic past. As the horses and their rider went by, the two hikers found themselves longing for the rich, flavorful taste of a Marlboro cigarette.

A deer trying to be sneaky.

Confusing sign. It's difficult to see in the picture, but "Franklin Lake 1.9" appears to be both to the left and the right. What a world!

The terrain becomes noticeably more treacherous as our heroes make progress in altitude.

Almost to the lake...

So... I think there might be some kind of metal in the rocks. Whatever it is, it sure is pretty!

Sunset break, about a half-mile before camp. Sarah remains in high spirits.

Franklin lake sunset...

...and sunrise the next morning. As you might have gathered from the previous two pictures, we didn't get to the lake until after dark. We found one bearbox—indicating a camp site nearby—but had heard tell of a better campsite with a crapper. We looked around in the dark for a while, but couldn't find it. Turns out it was a ways up the hill. We found the toilet in the morning, and though the structure wasn't much to look at, it was by far the best dumping-view I've ever seen.

The lake was actually a lot bigger than it looked. See below for a better perspective of our campsite.

The view from the open-air crapier.

Incredibly clear water. The whole lake had this same beautiful turquoise tint. Despite the frigid temperatures (you can see the snow patches that feed the lake in the picture above), Andre couldn't help jumping in numerous times.

The mighty marmot!

Sarah at camp marmot, surveying the lake.

We hiked up to Franklin Pass on Tuesday. Our original plan was to take off and head to a different lake that day, but Franklin was so great, we decided to stick around for a while. After a long day hike (click here!) up the pass and over to Upper Franklin Lake we returned to our tent sweet tent. It don't look far, but the lovely Sarah is indicating exactly where the trail to the pass lead about 2.5 miles uphill. (Andre forgot to bring his camera on this little side trip... otherwise there'd be a whole bunch of vista shots.)

Great red sunset courtesy of the filter of Fresno's smog.

Ditto, mountains. (Florence Peak on the left.)

Our campsite, perched on a large boulder above the lake.

Yet another shot of Sarah hiking away from a dilly-dallying Andre.

The dam that made the whole lake possible. Despite the dam, the lake doesn't seem man-made at all.

Spot the Sarah.

With their hike almost completed, and his memory card almost full, Andre gives in to the tempting yellow flowers along the path.

Coming back out of Mineral King, there was this one neat-o creek where the water flowed down a big, slick, rock from pool to pool...

...and this poor little dude was trapped in one of the pools.

Thanks to some serious road work along the Generals Highway, Sarah and Andre had a chance to get out and stretch their legs (for about 45 minutes).

The branches sticking up in the background at the center of this photo, are at the top of the General Sherman Tree, supposedly the largest living thing on earth (though Sarah has her doubts).

Greenpeace Sarah.

An irresistible photo opportunity!

Conservation is sacrificed for the sake of art as the camcorder-wielding gentlemen on the left demonstrates that the only way to truly capture the majesty of the Giant Forest is to move in for a closer shot of his chubby-legged wife (who also seems to have ignored the signs) at the base of a giant sequoia. (Seriously, there was one of these signs about every three feet along the path.)

A not-so-helpful plaque informing the curious visitor about something.

Realizing he has space for one last shot on his memory card, Andre defies the laws of aerodynamics, sticking his arms and camera out the window of a moving car to snap this shot of the sunset along Highway 41.

A map of the hike. Click on the sucker if you want to mess around with the real map.

Trip stats:

Total mileage: 17.92 mi.
Total elevation gain: 3884 ft.
Switchbacks: 83
Marmots spotted: a whole mess o'
Streams forded: 11
Granola bars eaten: 8
Bears encountered: 0.5 (we saw a cub running across the road)