Hiking Taboose Pass: 3,480m, 11.2km, 1,820m gain
Taboo + se = Taboose! Is it forbidden to talk about my love for this trail? Too bad if it is, I’m here to share the love it deserves because it’s a freakin’ awesome trail into the Eastern Sierra! Let’s be realistic, my feet probably wouldn’t want to make it a weekend regular, but this post is all about the positives of this pretty path.
|Taboose Pass, you can’t see it from the trailhead but it’s there,
waiting to give you a big windy hug!
The trail starts off slowly winding up the right side of a hill, the going is like semi-firm beach sand and doesn’t take long to start climbing. At no stage did I find the trail extremely steep, no calf burning, doubled over, heel blister inclines, but a steady, welcoming degree that invited a good rhythmic plod. The environment down low was dry but interesting, little grey shrubs and dainty little spring flowers here and there speckling some colour about.
|“Oh Taboose, is that for me?” Romance!
(Of course I didn’t pick them!)
Rising from the desert the grey rocks and pine trees of the surrounding foothills provide plenty to look at, be warned though, the Taboose Pass Trail is a little self centered – it’d prefer you pay attention on the rocks afoot! You’ll kiss the creek’s cheek but not cross it, then come to the first water crossing proper.
The creek crossings were, in May, pretty low key – you could do them without changing if you’re wearing boots (though I can’t speak for other years/seasons). I was wearing normal hiking shoes and on the way back just moseyed across and my shoes hardly got wet. However, your feet might thank you for the invigorating rinse so don’t hesitate to invest a few extra minutes to complete a barefoot or Crocs crossing.
|First creek crossing hence last crossing
on the way back – feet rejoice!
Following the creek some camp sites in an oasis of pines keep you occupied as you plod up broken granite blocks and slowly you wind through the shrubs to the second creek crossing (which was more like a slow moving puddle). A lovely waterfall distracted me from my heart rate as did the rocky red spires I’d been watching grow closer from the trailhead.
|Ice! Time flies when
you’re spotting cliff treasures
|The waterfall, the trail skirts
to the right behind these bushes
Though soon you’re feeling the air a little thinner and the lack of green is a good sign the pass is not far away. Being able to look straight at the tops of the red rocks that create what looks like an impenetrable wall from the trailhead is a great reward. There are also caves and couloirs and chimneys to spot.
|Some of the big red spires standing guard before Taboose Pass|
Toward the top there was snow about the place, though not being very experienced with the Eastern Sierra I wasn’t sure if it was a lot, or a little for that time of year. There were suncups everywhere which made it interesting to spot the trail. In fact, most of the time there was no trail we could see, so it was a matter of discerning a general direction and another group of rocks and heading for it! I knew at some point I would see a sign on the crest showing the pass and from there, piece of cake.
An odd furry critter had us guessing as it peered intently at us crossing some snow. Turned out it was a marmot, or a rockchuck as they’re also called, it certainly had us Aussies bluffed!
If unforgiving winds were worshipped, Taboose Pass would be holy. I guess it was a wake up call from the mountains – “You’re here!” they breathed with a chill! For my efforts I was also rewarded with a sweeping view to yet another world, Kings Canyon National Park. Taboose Pass sure knows how to spoil you when you work for it!
|No doubt about it, you’ll be happy to
reach this little fellow