Backpacker Tony headed out into the eastern side of the Golden Trout Wilderness. He never saw one hiker once out of the Horseshoe Meadow area. Read his trip report below.
I returned earlier this week from a week-long loop trip out of Horseshoe Meadow. I headed over Trail Pass on 10/8 and returned via Cottonwood Pass on 10/14.
I am no spring chicken–I’m 60 years old, so I usually take my time, minimize my daily mileage, and enjoy layover days. I saw no other hiker at all, nor any indication of recent hikers, once I was outside of the Horseshoe Meadow “bowl.”
I spent my first night on the trickle of water that was the seasonal remains of the creek below Trail Pass, adjacent to Mulkey Meadow. After that, there was no shortage of water anywhere. I camped on the South Fork of the Kern at the McConnel Meadow Trail junction, and then along Golden Trout Creek near the Barrigan Stringer Trail junction, and then at a spot near the Siberian Pass Trail just above Big Whitney Meadow that I like. There was an unavoidable foot-soaking ford of Golden Trout Creek, but all trails were in superb condition with no downed trees blocking the route. I visited the old Tunnel Station, too, which is a landmark I always enjoy saying hello to.
Plenty of firewood; tons of water; great camp spots; low temps around 20ish I suppose each night; days in the 50s and low 60s; clear, cloudless skies. I carried a Kelty 5500 Super Tioga as an experiment, and loved it. Much easier to pack and to lug than an overstuffed Gregory Baltoro. An internal frame pack would be preferable if not too heavy and for a shorter trip, but for over-packed me out for a week, it was great. I also experimented for the first time with a Banks Fry-Bake pan, and made biscuits in it on several occasions, and otherwise just used it as my frying pan. If you haven’t heard of it, you should check it out on-line. I recommend it.
Lastly, a shameless plug for the book, “Log of a Snow Survey,” which is funny and beautifully written, and covers the GTW. I had a great week. It is hard to find solitude along the John Muir Trail Freeway, but it’s everywhere in the GTW–especially after Labor Day. I’m already looking forward to my next trip, in the Spring.
Thanks Tony for the report! There is still time to get outdoors this fall. Just keep an eye on the weather forecast and plan accordingly.