Heading Outdoors….with Kids!?

Calvin and Hobbes

Another season to get outdoors is upon us. In wake of the 2020 COVID pandemic, there may be even more people wanting to travel and get away this summer. The idea of taking a child outdoors may be daunting for some. Fear not as there is plenty of advice out there to get outdoors for a day or several overnight hikes. One of those sources I found helpful, and think you will to, is from a mother who shares all the details of backpacking with kids. Check out the site below.

I hope you find it very helpful in getting outside with your kids. Do you have any other sources you found helpful or tips to share from experience? Please share them in the comments so others can glean from your experience!

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April 1 Snow Results

Kern River Basin Snow Survey Results for April 2022

The snow survey results are mostly in for the Kern River Basin. It is possible the USFS and NPS will not get these results in by the closing window of April 3. If that data comes in, I don’t see it changing too significantly. However, if it does I’ll update the report. Now back to snow survey results!

Unfortunately it is going to be another hard year for the wilderness. The snow pack for the Kern River sits at 34% of normal. Temperatures continue to warm in the valleys below, which means continual snow melt on the mountains above. Assuming these conditions remain the same throughout the rest of the year, you’ll need to plan accordingly for drier and hotter weather. This means perennial flows and springs will be key spots to refill on water. Earlier season will help out but as we get to mid to late season, that’s where it is likely to become exceptionally dry. Water will be down to minimal levels. Maybe, on the positive side, the insect season will be shorter? Time will tell.

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Road Closures for 2022 – SQF

The Sequoia National Forest just released a news update regarding closures and openings of several recreation areas. As for the Golden Trout Wilderness, the west side will have a road closure due to hazards from past wildfires. The North Road will be closed this season to public use.

The North Road (21S50) will be closed this season to allow hazard tree cleanup and road maintenance, including trailheads at Lewis Camp, Clicks Creek, and Summit. Those traveling into the Golden Trout Wilderness should route their trip through Forest trailheads at Jerkey Meadow, Forks of the Kern, or Blackrock. Shake Camp Trailhead may also be available at Mountain Home Demonstration State Forest. Wilderness permits can be obtained from the Forest website listed above under the “Visit Us” tab. Permits will be issued virtually or in-person where available. Trails leading into the Golden Trout Wilderness should be open by early June.

Sequoia National Forest -> https://www.fs.usda.gov/sequoia

This will effectively close off access to the Summit, Clicks Creek 1 and 2, and Lewis Creek Trailheads for 2022. Users will need to use the Long Meadow Trail in Mountain Home Demonstration State Forest to get to the popular Maggie Lakes area. In order to get into the Little Kern River area, access via the Jerkey Meadow and Forks of the Kern Trails will be available. No word yet of a closure over Farewell Gap, so it is assume that will be the other way through the National Park.

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March 1’s Snow Survey Results

March 1, 2022, Snow Survey for the Kern River Basin

Sorry for the late posting as we are about to get into April. However, I feel it is important to let you know what we had in March before posting April. For starters, you can see just how much has changed that way. Let’s begin!

March 1 have been completed for the Kern River Basin. The Kern River basin is at 44% of normal for March 1! It is looking to be a very dry summer season again. Before to much “doom and gloom,” let’s wait to see what April 1 surveys report for the Kern River Basin.

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A Peak into 2022’s Snow Pack?

Quaking Aspen Snow Survey in 2014

Snow surveys begin in California near the end of December and last until May. Sometimes, on exceptional years, additional surveys will be done for the month of June. Well the December surveys are in for a few basins within the Sierra Nevada. The primary regions are related to the Sacramento and San Joaquin River systems. The large amount of rain/snow we received over the last several days is well needed in the persistent drought plaguing California. As of this posting, the snow pack is sitting at 45% of normal for the January 1 survey. If there are no more storms to bring snow, the state will be sitting at 17% of normal for the important April 1 survey. Examining the data shows a few peeks into where these systems are “dumping” the snow.

The snow data is updated monthly at the California Data Exchange Center. Looking at the January 1 survey, most of moisture coming down as snow was in the Sacramento region (74% to 97% of normal). The San Joaquin River system is bringing the state average down due to it’s 48% of normal for this time of year. However, keep in mind this is a preliminary survey. All the snow survey courses up and down the Sierra Nevada for many river systems will be completed in February. Let’s hope for more “wet snow” so the water content is high, which means closer to normal averages.

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Video: Day 1 of Solo Hiking in The GTW

Golden trout wilderness solo backpacking DAY 1

HikeStad ventures into the Golden Trout Wilderness for a few days. He begins on the eastern side of the GTW and heads south to Trail Pass. Ultimately ends up at Chicken Spring Lake to conclude the first day.

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A Long Fire Season

Image from dreamstime.com

What a crazy wildfire season in California, let alone the local mountains in the southern Sierra Nevada. The western side of the Golden Trout Wilderness was already closed to public access due to the Castle Fire (aka SQF Complex) in 2020. The Windy Fire also kept users out of the general forest later on. Let’s not forget the KNP Fire that is still going and blocking northern access to the remaining part of the GTW (headwaters of the Little Kern River. This is definitely another crazy fire season.

What will next season bring? Hopefully access can be restored to the western side of the Golden Trout Wilderness. I know a lot of users are wanting to get out there and enjoy it, plus see what the fires have done to the area. My visit in 2019 showed a lot of the trails are fading away in time. It would not surprise me with 2020 and 2021 fires entering and burning through the western portion of GTW, that some trails will have post-fire impacts. Time will tell as users are able to venture back into the area. For now, I’ll be posting people’s adventures from the eastern side of the Golden Trout Wilderness as there are several out there from this season.

Assuming the wilderness will be open to the public again, what is an area you look forward to visiting? What month is your favorite to explore the Golden Trout Wilderness? Leave your answers in the comments below on the blog or social media.

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Wildfire: Progress Made on Walker Fire

Official news release:

SPRINGVILLE, Calif. — September 6, 2021Crews are making progress towards containment of the 8,719-acre Walkers Fire, reaching 58%. Growth was slowed over the past couple of days as firefighters were able to tie the most active fires edge into the perimeter of the 2020 Shotgun Fire.

The focus now is along the east side to keep the fire from crossing trail 32E02 in the Golden Trout Wilderness in Sequoia National Forest. The fire is burning in steep and rugged terrain, critically dry vegetation, drought stressed, bug infested, and fire-killed trees, most within the footprint of past wildfires.

Nine hand crews supported by personnel on five helicopters are committed to fully suppress the Walkers Fire. They continue to prioritize firefighter safety recognizing the difficulty faced this season when firefighting resources are limited throughout the state.

All lands in the Hockett Plateau, including the Atwell Mill Trail, Tar Gap Trail and the South Fork Trail above Garfield Grove and the Soda Spring Creek Drainage, near Quinn Patrol Cabin and along the exterior boundary of Sequoia National Park are temporarily closed to all individuals due to the Walkers Fire. https://www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/trailcond.htm

The Sequoia National Forest currently has a full Forest closure in place through September 17, 2021, unless otherwise terminated or extended.https://www.fs.usda.gov/sequoia

Additional Walkers Fire information, closure details, pictures, fire history, and a map of the fire area can be found on Inciwebhttps://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7807/

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Wildfire: Walker Fire Continues to Spot

A message from the Sequoia National Forest.

SPRINGVILLE, Calif. — September 1, 2021On Tuesday, Walkers Fire operations continued to focus on protecting structures and halting the fires spread. Air tankers, hand crews and helicopters continue to slow the fires growth and dampen numerous spot fires. Firefighters on the ground continue to reenforce and construct fireline. The fire is now at 8,304 acres and 52% contained.

Today, fire officials will continue to focus their efforts on the north and west sides of the Walkers Fire. Embers continue to ignite spot fires, making it difficult to reach all of them with limited resources on the ground. Seven hand crews and five helicopters remain committed to fully suppress the Walkers Fire.

The Walkers Fire is advancing primarily to the north/northwest deeper into Sequoia National Park and the Golden Trout Wilderness in Sequoia National Forest. Forest and Park Service personnel are working side-by-side to coordinate fire suppression efforts across agency boundaries.

Firefighter actions to defend Quinn Cabin have so far proven successful. Work continues to strengthen protection of the cabin while the firefight continues. All lands in the Hockett Plateau, including the Atwell Mill Trail, Tar Gap Trail and the South Fork Trail above Garfield Grove and the Soda Spring Creek Drainage, near Quinn Patrol Cabin and along the exterior boundary of Sequoia National Park are temporarily closed to all individuals due to the Walkers Fire. https://www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/trailcond.htm

The Sequoia National Forest currently has a full Forest closure effective midnight August 31, 2021, until September 17, 2021, unless otherwise terminated or extended. Regional Hotline: 707-562-9113 https://www.fs.usda.gov/sequoia

Additional Walkers Fire information, closure details, pictures, fire history, and a map of the fire area can be found on Inciwebhttps://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7807/

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USDA Forest Service Temporarily Closes ALL National Forests for Public Safety

Takes affect tomorrow August 31,2021. Below are the exact words from the closure order

VALLEJO, Calif., — August 30, 2021. To better provide public and firefighter safety due to the ongoing California wildfire crisis, USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region is announcing a temporary closure of all National Forests in California. This closure will be in effect from Aug. 31, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. through September 17, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. This order does not affect the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, which is not in the Pacific Southwest Region.
“We do not take this decision lightly but this is the best choice for public safety,” said Regional Forester Jennifer Eberlien. “It is especially hard with the approaching Labor Day weekend, when so many people enjoy our national forests.”
Factors that led to this decision include:

  1. By temporarily reducing the numbers of people on national forests, we hope to minimize the likelihood that visitors could become entrapped on National Forest System lands during emergency circumstances.
  2. The closure order will also decrease the potential for new fire starts at a time of extremely limited firefighting resources, and enhance firefighter and community safety by limiting exposure that occurs in public evacuation situations, especially as COVID-19 continues to impact human health and strain hospital resources.
  3. Due to state-wide conditions, any new fire starts have the potential for large and rapid fire growth with a high risk to life and property. The Forest Service and our partners are absolutely doing all we can to fight these fires and will continue to do so, but the conditions dictate the need for this region-wide closure order.
  4. Forecasts show that conditions this season are trending the same or worse as we move into late summer and fall.
  5. Although the potential for large fires and risk to life and property is not new, what is different is that we are facing: (a) record level fuel and fire conditions; (b) fire behavior that is beyond the norm of our experience and models such as large, quick

runs in the night; (c) significantly limited initial attack resources, suppression resources, and Incident Command Teams to combat new fire starts and new large fires; and (d) no predicted weather relief for an extended period of time into the late fall.
The following persons are exempt from this Order:

  1. Persons with Forest Service Permit No. FS-7700-48 (Permit for Use of Roads, Trails, or Areas Restricted by Regulation or Order), specifically exempting them from this Order.
  2. Any Federal, State, or local officer, or member of an organized rescue or fire fighting force in the performance of an official duty.
  3. Persons with a Forest Service special use authorization for an electric transmission line, an oil or gas pipeline, communications site, or any other non-recreation special use.
  4. Commercial recreational special-use permit holders and their customers are not exempt from this Order. However, commercial recreational special-use permit holders, under the terms and conditions of their permit, may access their permit areas to conduct administrative functions and to protect property and related assets. Recreation residence permit holders are not exempt from this Order.
  5. Persons with a Forest Service non-special-use written authorization to conduct non- recreational activities, such as harvesting timber or forest products, or grazing livestock.
  6. Owners or lessees of land, and residents of such private landholdings, to the extent necessary to access their land.
  7. Persons engaged in a business, trade, or occupation are not exempt from the prohibitions listed above, but may use National Forest System roads to the extent necessary to carry out their business, trade, or occupation.
    More than 6,800 wildfires have burned 1.7 million acres across all jurisdictions in California, and the National Wildfire Preparedness Level (PL) has been at PL5 since July 14, 2021, only the third time in the past 20 years that the nation has reached PL 5 by mid-July – indicating the highest level of wildland fire activity.

The Forest Service thanks our partners and the public for their cooperation and understanding of this extreme public safety and fire threat. Citizens with specific questions within their area should consult their local forest website or social media pages for more information.

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