March 1 Snow Results

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All the rain and snow is sure piling up outside in the Sierra Nevada. The Kern River Basin is no exception. At 169% of normal for March 1, it looks like we will have a great chance of snow being around into June! Time will tell if it hangs around that long though. The even greater news is the amount of water that resides in the Sierra Nevada snow pack is well over 100% needed for the states water needs.

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A Story by Savanna Summers

Savanna was thinking about times past in the Golden Trout Wilderness and wished to share it with everyone. While the wilderness keeps getting buried in snow, which it really needs, sit back and enjoy a story of her time in the GTW. When done, have you experienced anything similar by chance?

For all those wishing it was summer already and the Golden Trout Wilderness wasn’t several feet under snow! I know this chilly weather has me reminiscing!

I remember the first fish I caught on the Upper Kern vividly. At the time, I had only been fly fishing for two summers and the interstate-wide water whispering by was at first, immensely intimidating. Most of my time had been spent on small tributaries, cramped creeks that require little in the way of distance but a decent bit of accuracy and control. The Kern was to become my instructor that summer, fair but forgiving, even to the novice like myself. It was also my first significant exposure to sight fishing; the level of exuberance I had upon discovering the “thrill of the stalk” is rarely displayed for much else in my life, except maybe an excellent meal in good company (also something we specialize in at Golden Trout). I had hardly walked 100 yards upstream when Steve pointed a fish out in the water. It was darting in and out along the edge of a thick mat of vegetation, hungry from a long winter, active in the evening light. It was a mid-distance cast for me, and the shore behind me was free of obstruction so I tentatively stripped out some line, made one false cast and then laid it gently on the water six feet in front of the fish, but easily a foot and a half past it towards the far shore. Like a fairy tale (my kind, at least), the fish swept upward, surfaced and took my stimulator. I can’t honestly remember the next half minute but when I had the fish in hand, I had never seen something so amazing. This was no stocked fish. It was 14 inches, with a vibrant blush along its lateral line. Never had I been anywhere that you could walk 100 yards down the trail, throw a sloppy first cast out and have a 14 inch trout take it like it’s life depended on it. This was paradise. Not all my casts on the Kern ended like that, that’s just not the nature of fishing. But I am proud to say that over the course of the next several months, between serving meals and checking horses, I would sneak away with my rod, find an empty stretch of water and work on increasing my distance. There were plenty of fish ready to take my fly an easy cast away, but it came to be that I preferred a missed fish across the river than a slam from the one right below me. I spent a great deal of time on the Kern, more than most fisherman ever have the chance to do and I recognize that privilege. Experienced fishermen much better than I frequently pulled out 16, 18 inch fish and while I never did I was still able to develop my skill and catch sizable fish. How many rivers are so gracious to so many? If someone asks me who taught me how to cast, my honest answer is, the Kern.

-Golden Trout Pack Trains Packer, Savanna

Golden Trout Pack Train Blog: https://goldentroutpacktrains.com/wilderness-journal

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Off to a Good Start

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The first set of snow surveys are nearly in for February 1, 2019. Thankfully the results are good. As of this posting the Kern River Basin is at 126% of normal! This is great news and definitely a good start for the water situation not only in the valley, but for the Golden Trout Wilderness. I hope this continues to be at or above average, so streams will flow longer and water levels in lakes will be higher.

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2018 Video Recap

Did you miss a video from last years adventures into the Golden Trout Wilderness? Well don’t worry as you can watch them all on our YouTube channel. Click on the video above and watch all 11 short clips of people’s adventures from the 2018 season. In the future feel free to share links to your wanderings in the wilderness. Just remember only clean, family friendly, no foul language videos are posted.

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Merry Christmas

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Merry Christmas to everyone! May your day be filled with laughter, memory making, and dreams of next season’s adventures.

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Website Update: History

Updated the history portion of the website. Now there is an additional section on the page for purchasing historical information. The previous two sections contained a link or two to buy a book. It may have been confusing on which links were free and which were not. Now those are separated out and easier to find. Also added another book recommendation thanks to a user of the website. It is a historical account of the snow surveying that has gone on in the Sierra Nevada for decades.

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Wildfire Update: Fires Continue to Smolder

Amazing on how dry it is in the mountains. The three wildfires continue to smolder even after the Thanksgiving rain/snow. Sounds like the old Soda Fire from a few years ago. Anyway, we shall see what happens after these current storms move through. Here is the latest.

SEQUOIA NATIONAL FOREST, Calif. – Three wildfires, ignited by lightning in early October, continue to smolder in the Western Divide Ranger District, Sequoia National Forest. Observed during an aerial reconnaissance Sunday were burning snags and stumps well within the fire perimeters. “It appears precipitation received in recent storms wasn’t enough to extinguish the fires, however light rain and a dusting of snow in the higher elevations reduces the threat considerably,” stated District Ranger Eric LaPrice.

Another storm is expected over the District Wednesday through Friday. With additional precipitation, the fires will likely be fully extinguished. Fire officials continue to monitor the fires by air and on the ground, weather permitting. Two Forest Service hand crews, helicopters, and overhead personnel are assigned.

The Alder, Mountaineer, and Moses Wildfires, burned in dense timber stands with extensive tree mortality and heavy fuel loading on the ground. “A confine-contain suppression strategy was used by Fire Management personnel” stated LaPrice.  “I made the decision to use this strategy on all three fires to reduce the risks to firefighters from standing dead trees and steep, rugged terrain.”

Additional information, with maps and photos can be found on https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6238/

Tulare County Fire Department and CAL FIRE have been supporting agencies assisting the Forest Service with fire containment efforts.

Alder Wildfire – Smoke can be seen from smoldering downed logs, snags, and stump holes on the Alder Wildfire.

Mountaineer Wildfire – There was a light dusting of snow over most of the Mountaineer Wildfire, however smoke can still be seen. 

Moses Wildfire – The Moses Wildfire burned in this secluded stand of timber near the top of a rocky ridgetop. Even at a higher elevation, this lightning-caused wildfire burned on its own through nineteen acres before mostly being extinguished by recent storms.

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Wildfire Update: All Three Fires Grow

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Source on InciWeb

The Alder wildfire, now 4,503 acres, continues to slowly advance northwest, towards an area burned in the 2016 Hidden wildfire. The Alder wildfire is being held on a strategic containment line in Mountain Home Demonstration State Forest. Fire continues to creep northeast into Jacobson Meadow, and has backed downhill to the west where it is holding along the Tule River.

Recent aerial and hand firing operations were successful in the area of Mountain Home. Containment lines will be secured and monitored for slop-overs. Additional aerial firing operations will be used as needed to secure the northwest edge of the wildfire, depending on smoke conditions. CAL FIRE is a supporting agency assisting with fire containment efforts.

The Alder Wildfire is holding in the southwest part of the fire. Fire resources will maintain a presence in both communities of Doyle Springs and Sequoia Crest to monitor this area. Aerial reconnaissance flights continue to monitor the fire each day.

The Mountaineer Wildfire remains at 1,246 acres. It continues to burn north of Summit Trailhead, northeast along South Mountaineer Creek, and towards Jacobson Creek in the Golden Trout Wilderness. It is located a half-mile east of the Alder Wildfire.

Fire intensity is low as the wildfire burns through dead trees and ground litter. Firefighters will continue to patrol the perimeter lines along the Summit Trail and handlines to secure any potential slop-overs. Aerial firing may be used as needed. Suppression repair will continue on contingency handlines south of the Mountaineer Wildfire.

The Moses Wildfire has reached 19 acres in size. There is visible smoke. It is being monitored by aerial reconnaissance flights. It continues to smolder in a secluded stand of trees, surrounded by rock.

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Wildfire Update: Fires grow slowly and official update pace slows.

Click images to enlarge – From InciWeb

ALDER WILDFIRE   

Location: Five miles north of Camp Nelson above North Alder Creek

Acres Burned: Approximately 2,903 acres

Fire Discovered: October 4, 2018

Cause: Lightning

Containment:  55% contained

Resources: 125 total personnel3 crews, 5 engines, 2 – type 1 helicopters, 2 Heli tankers,1 air attack

Late afternoon yesterday, the Alder fire spotted across Burro Creek, and spread northwest towards Mountain Home Demonstration State Forest (Mountain Home). The wildfire grew an estimated 200 acres, burned through a portion of Mountain Home, and is advancing towards an area burned in the 2016 Hidden wildfire. A contingency dozer line, improved in anticipation of potential fire spread, is in place in Mountain Home. CAL FIRE will continue to support the incident with increased resources to assist the firefighting efforts. An additional small spot fire was contained at the southwest end of the fire. The area was targeted with multiple water drops to eliminate fire threat. Fire resources will closely monitor that area today.  Two helicopters and two Heli tankers will be used for water drops and suppression support. Aerial reconnaissance flights continue to monitor the fire each day. Smoke conditions may limit aerial capabilities throughout the day. Aerial ignition operations will not be used today. Firefighting resources will maintain a presence near both communities of Doyle Springs and Sequoia Crest.

MOUNTAINEER FIRE         

Location:  North of Summit Trailhead, in the Golden Trout Wilderness

Acres Burned: Approximately 1152 acres

Fire Discovered: October 13, 2018

Cause: Lightning

Containment: 50%

Resources: 48 total personnel: 1 Crew and 1 type 2 helicopter 1 type 3 Engine

 The Mountaineer Wildfire continues to burn north of Summit Trailhead northeast along South Mountaineer Creek, and towards Jacobson Creek in the Golden Trout Wilderness. It is located a half-mile east of the Alder Wildfire.  Fire intensity is low as the wildfire continues to spread through dead trees and ground vegetation.  No aerial firing will take place today on the Mountaineer Wildfire.  Firefighters will continue to patrol the perimeter lines along the Summit Trail and handline to secure any potential slop-overs.  Suppression repair is being implemented on contingency handlines south of the Mountaineer wildfire.

MOSES WILDFIRE  

Location: One mile south of Moses Mountain

Acres Burned: 1.3 acres

Fire Discovered: October 17, 2018

Cause: Lightning

The Moses wildfire shows minimal activity, with little smoke seen during aerial reconnaissance flights. It continues to smolder in a secluded stand of timber but is hung up in the rocks. WEATHER OUTLOOKLight, terrain-driven winds are expected today and Friday.  Dry weather will persist into early next week.  Relative humidity values will remain low ranging from 17-23% daytime, 54-57% maximum.

SMOKE OUTLOOK

Activity in the Alder Wildfire is expected to increase smoke levels at locations closest to the wildfire (Sequoia NP, Ash Mountain, and Three Rivers).  Very low wind speed will limit dispersion throughout the entire forecast area, causing smoke levels to remain elevated.   Smoke from the Alder and Mountaineer wildfires is combining with smoke from other large wildfires throughout the state.  This pattern is expected to persist into early next week.  Some smoke relief may occur in the valley in the afternoon as air warms and lifts.  In the evening, smoke is expected to travel downslope and settle back into the valley. Information about air quality and what you can do to reduce the effects of smoke can be found at the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District’s website http://www.valleyair.org/aqinfo/wildfires.htm and https://tools.airfire.org/outlooks/SouthernSierra

Future updates will be posted only if conditions change for the Alder, Mountaineer, and Moses wildfires. Fire personnel will continue to be assigned as needed until the fire threat has subsided. Additionally, the wildfires will be monitored until extinguished by winter weather.

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GTW.org Turns 7

Celebrating 7 years of goldentroutwilderness.org existence on the internet! To date there have been over 300,000 views, many trips completed, maps downloaded, and resources used. Thanks to readers like you for keeping the site going.

Seeing how many people have visited the website over these past 7 years is an inspiration to me. The site began with goals to get others outside, to see a vast wilderness where there are no fees, and to reconnect with public lands. Ultimately, it was a way for people to access FREE information when so many sites charged you for it at the time. I believe it has been very successful in achieving these goals.

Going forward, the information will continue to be free. Some of you have asked how to help or donate. There are two ways to help. The first submitting trip reports and trail information. Super big help there. The second way is with regards to links. Some of the links in “maps” or “gear” will take you off the site and to stores (e.g. Amazon, Sierra Trading Post). If you want to click those links to buy maps or anything else, a small amount comes back to pay for the URL. If not, that is okay too :). I am just happy to know you are using the site and that is enough for me.

Happy anniversary Golden Trout Wilderness.org!

 

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