Trip Report: Lewis Camp to Willow Springs

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Kevin and 6 of his friends went out into the GTW earlier this month. His goal was to get away and find some solitude. Here is what he has to report.

On the weekend of Oct 5th-7th six friends and I hiked from Lewis Camp Trail-head to Willow Springs and back. Our original plan was to make it to little Kern Lake but the trail was so rough in the section marked in red that we did not make it. It looked like the trail had not been maintained in a long time. There had been a forest fire in the not so distance past. While much of the ground cover has recovered there were many many trees blocking the trail. Some were easy to step over as per example in the photo, but some would take you 50+ feet off the trail to get around.  It made for a tough day and we did not have the energy to push on to Little Kern Lake. We decided to take Trout Meadow on the way back and it was much more traveled.

That small section was not able to ruin our trip though. We stayed at the old Livestock Camp at Willow Springs on Friday night. It had not rained in quite a while but we were still able to filter water at Willow Meadow Springs. We were greeted by six free range horses, who were not shy at all.  It was dry that night but dipped into the low 30’s. We took Trout Meadows to meet up at the Little Kern River again. We tried our luck at fishing but barely got even a nibble. It didn’t matter because the area was just so beautiful. It rained on us on Sat night while we camped near the bridge at Little Kern River and woke up to a beautiful morning. We later found out that it had snowed at the trail-head while it rained on us. The rain packed down all the loose dirt on the trail from the pack animals and made the hike out just a little easier.

My goal for the hike was to not see another soul and we only saw a pack mule with rider and two hikers in the last mile on the way out on Sunday morning, so I would say mission accomplished. We did see the horses, a few deer, and a few snakes (one gopher snake?, and two young rattlers).

Thanks for the report Kevin. Glad to hear you and your friends enjoyed it despite a change in your plans.

 

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Wildfire: Mountaineer Fire

In case you were heading out along the Summit Trail or on the Mountaineer Trail, you may want to read this:

The Mountaineer Fire is about one and a half miles east of the Alder Fire. It is located north of Summit Trailhead, in the Golden Trout Wilderness, in Western Divide Ranger District of the Sequoia National Forest. The cause of the Mountaineer Fire is under investigation.

A reconnaissance flight will continue to check the fire daily. It is estimated to be one acre in size. The fire is inaccessible on foot. No structures or improvements are threatened, and a confine-contain suppression strategy is being used. The Mountaineer Fire is burning in timber, with heavy fuels lying on the ground.

Two crews are working on reopening and improving existing fire lines and trails on the Mountaineer Fire.

The Mountaineer Fire produced minimal smoke today, with smoldering and creeping fire behavior.

An area closure is in the process of being established for the roads and trails surrounding Summit Trailhead and the Mountaineer Fire on the Western Divide Ranger District.

For additional information, please call the Western Divide Ranger District (559) 539-2607, extension 2292.

Source: InciWeb

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Trail Report: Clicks Creek to Little Kern River at Sagebrush Gulch; then to Soda Spring Creek and Parole Cabin Meadow

User Dan Hall did a recent trip into the GTW. It sounds like quite the hike. Here is what he has to report. Make sure to check out a link to his photos.

On October 8, 2018 I started my backpacking and hiking trip at the Clicks Creek Trailhead located on Forest Service Road 21S50. I spent three nights camped by the Little Kern River at Sagebrush Gulch and spent some time exploring, including hikes up into the areas near Soda Spring Creek and Parole Cabin Meadow.

Below is a version of the trail report that I provided the Forest Service. In addition, there is more detail about the trails and other things in the captioned photos posted at http://tinyurl.com/y9f2o27x

TRAIL 32E11: Clicks Creek Trailhead to Trail Junction for Grey Meadow

There are 3 blow downs in this section before the wilderness boundary and they range in diameter from 6 to 18 inches. After entering the wilderness, there is 1 more blow down and it is 30 inches in diameter. Hikers and stock are getting around all of them without significant problems or environmental damage and, regarding the tread, there are no catastrophic slides, collapses or ruts, but erosion is starting in a few of the steep sections.

TRAIL 32E11: Trail Junction for Grey Meadow to the Campsite Where Sagebrush Gulch and Mountaineer/Alpine Creek Meet the Little Kern River

There were 20 blow downs in this section ranging in diameter from 6 to 36 inches. Hikers and stock are getting around all of them without significant problems or environmental damage and, regarding the tread, there are no catastrophic slides, collapses or ruts.

TRAIL 32E08: The Campsite Where Sagebrush Gulch and Mountaineer/Alpine Creek Meet the Little Kern River to the Trail Junction Near Parole Cabin Meadow

There are no blow downs across the trail, nor, regarding the tread, any catastrophic slides, collapses or ruts. However, after about a 1.25 miles the trail runs through burn area and then drops into a wet area near a meadow. The official trail is mostly lost in the brush south of this meadow while numerous other “trails” have been created that lead nowhere useful.

TRAIL 32E08: The Trail Junction Near Parole Cabin Meadow to the Ridge Overlooking Soda Spring Creek

First, it looks like a bear got the new trail sign. Also, there are over 2 dozen blow downs ranging in diameter from 6 to 24 inches. Hikers and stock are getting around all of them without significant problems or environmental damage and, regarding the tread, there are no catastrophic slides, collapses or ruts.

TRAIL 32E10: The Trail Junction Near Parole Cabin Meadow, Through the Meadow and toward Mowery Meadow

The trail is fine from the trail junction to Alpine Creek and through Parole Cabin Meadow. Then the trail runs out into the heart of the burn area and the conditions change.

There are dozens of blow downs across the trail. For the first half a mile, hikers and stock are getting around all of them without significant problems or environmental damage and, regarding the tread, there are no catastrophic slides, collapses or ruts.

After about half a mile, however, the trail begins to run across steeper ground. The post-fire erosion has caused soil to flow onto the trail and now new brush is growing on and over the trail, thereby obliterating it. The trail is essentially gone. I went almost to the junction with trail 32E12 (to Grey Meadow), but did not reach it.

Thanks so much Dan! I am sure many fall backpackers will benefit!

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Video: Upper Kern River Fly Fishing

A group of three head out the Forks of the Kern TH and hike up the Kern River for some fly fishing. Check out there catches and views along the way. With the fall weather, who’s ready to get outside and catch a big one?? Thanks Matthew for the share.

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Video: LABC 4th of July to Chicken Spring Lake

Come along on another overnight trip to Chicken Spring Lake. This time it is a group of folks from LABC who head out. Enjoy the views and clear skies from their 4th of July trip this past season.

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Video: Overnight to Chicken Spring Lake

Catherine and Julie head out to do an overnight trip to Chicken Spring Lake. The trip was early August, so you will get to see some of the smoke haze from the Ferguson Fire. Don’t let that stop you from watching this 18 minute video. A surprise weather makes the second day even better!

Note: There is one quiet “A” word used at 7:30. Otherwise clean.

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Poll: Drones

Do you think drones should be allowed in the wilderness? Many see it as mechanical use by a small machine. The noise level takes away from the wilderness experience. Others say they should be allowed because they are no different then a battery powered device that makes noise (i.e. smart phone, music player). What is your take and why?

 

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Video: Day Hike to Kern Peak

About an 8 minute video showing a solo day hike up to Kern Peak and back from the Black Rock Trailhead. The guy walked 27 miles! Curious what he saw along the way to the peak? Check it out!

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Trail Report: Summit Trail

User Shane and company went on a recent pack trip to Maggie Lakes. He was surprised at what he found. Here is what he had to report about the condition of the trail.

Trees falling across the trail in such high numbers that it is difficult to impossible to find the trail again. Dead trees ready to fall very close to the trail and in one area where the trail crosses a cliff if the trees fall and block the trail people with stock animals will not be able to turn around putting their lives at risk.

After Griswold Meadow the trail conditions become so bad that it becomes easier to blaze our own trail but someone who is inexperienced would try that and get lost. Many side trails and branches are unmarked showing no indication of which way to go. The few locations where there are markers or signs they are either in such poor condition that they cannot be read or they are simply signs laying on the ground. And the worst part of all is the rocks. In some places the rocks are so bad that there is no Trail. The only indication are the stacks of rocks that hikers leave behind indicating which way to go.

Once we got to lower Maggie we stopped because our horses had been through hell.

Yikes! Sounds like the trail needs a lot of work. If there are any volunteer trips ahead to help clear this popular trail, it will be shared. Thanks for the update!

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Trip Report: Casa Vieja to Big Dry Meadow Loop

dan_hall_2018_casa_vieja_camp

Photo by Dan Hall

User Dan Hall headed out for a loop on the eastern side of the Golden Trout Wilderness. Curious how it all went? Check out the story below along with a link to his photos. Thanks for sharing again Dan!

This was an easy, seasonal backpacking trip, with a base camp and interesting dayhike. For those who find the September temps of Horseshoe Meadow getting too cold and the temps along the Kern and Little Kern Rivers still too hot, and are seeking a place for an easy and seasonal backpacking trip with a nice dayhike, consider replicating this one that is between the elevations of those other two areas.

I started at the Blackrock Trailhead (8,960′) and hiked down 2 miles to Casa Vieja Meadow (8,310′). It was a gentle forested downslope with easy acclimatization to the elevation. My camp was in the wooded north side of the meadow for two nights.

On the layover day I did a 7 mile loop hike that had a maximum elevation gain of about 450 feet, and that was gradual. I hiked from Casa Vieja Meadow, through the rock formations and thick forest, to the creekside trail junction in Long Canyon. Then I went up Long Canyon by the creek to the trail junction at a meadow and private inholding (8,590′). Long Canyon Creek was the last water source on this hike.

From there my trail went south to Big Dry Meadow (8,720′) and, after crossing the meadow, I found my final trail junction a short way into the trees. From there I headed west on the final leg of the loop back down to Casa Vieja Meadow. The next morning, I did the 2 miles and 650 feet of gain back up to the trailhead.

All the trails were easy to follow and the junctions well marked. Range cattle were near or at all water sources and so water treatment is essential. There is more detail in the captioned photos at http://tinyurl.com/yd4fydwt

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