News just received earlier today from the Western Divide Ranger District office is the Lloyd Meadow Road (22S82) is open! Now users can access both the Jerkey Meadows TH and Forks of the Kern. Other roads are still closed and will likely remain closed into June due to a large snow pack.
As the snow melts and the warmer weather approaches the roads will be cleared. Once cleared of snow, officials need to clear debris for user safety. Don’t forget to keep that in mind during the whole road opening process. Stay tuned for more news here when other roads open!
The final snow survey for 2019 has been completed for the Kern River Basin. April 1 was the big date for the State’s water allocation, so May does not get as much attention in the news. However, for those wanting to head out into the local forest / wilderness, it is a big deal. May gives a picture into how long or short the season may be. A lot of snow likely, but not always, means delays for people accessing trailheads. In the case for the Golden Trout Wilderness, it looks to be that way going forward.
The snow survey results are 178% of normal. Water content is anywhere from 42% to 55%! This means nearly half of the existing snow pack is water. This is great news for streams, aquifers, and the forest’s health. Finding water should be a lot easier this year compared to some of the past years. However, this much snow means you’ll either have to work harder to get out into the wilderness this season.
Typically when the snow pack is well above average, it takes longer to melt (assuming average temperatures). This results in either people not being able to access some of the popular trailheads or needing to change their plans for Memorial Day weekend and the month of June. You can expect to see updated reports here on GTW.org as we get closer to the holiday weekend and into the summer season. Please feel free to share what you discover about road access and trails this season!
The Kern River Basin is doing excellent for the April 1 snow survey. With all stations reporting their results, the Kern River is at 197% of normal! It is a great thing to have so much snow and with so much water content! However, what does this mean for the adventure wanting to travel into the wilderness?
All the snow will impact how soon one can get into the wilderness this season. Assuming the normal average trend it temperature for the rest of spring, one could expect road potentially being closed longer, snow remaining on the ground in higher elevations until July, creeks flowing with water longer and more abundantly. You may want to have a “plan B” for excursions out there this season as a result.
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.
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
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.
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.
Merry Christmas to everyone! May your day be filled with laughter, memory making, and dreams of next season’s adventures.
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.
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.