Sierra Nevada, 2014

Wednesday, August 20, 2014
After 3 weeks of letting my feet heal at my parents' place in Ocean Beach, I took the train up to Vista to visit my sister Marie and her family.

Friday, August 21, 2014
Marie, Kate, and I drove to Bishop to visit Bob and his family.

Mammoth Lakes Predicted Weather
Saturday, August 23 - 69-42F, Sunny, 0%, SW at 8 mph
Sunday, August 24 - 69-43F Sunny, 0%, SSW at 9 mph
Monday, August 25 - 70-45F, Sunny, 0%, SW at 9 mph
Tuesday, August 26 - 72-46F, Sunny, 0%, E at 5 mph
Wednesday, August 27 - 73-46F, Sunny, 0%, S at 8 mph
Thursday, August 28 - 72-46F, Sunny, 0%, SW at 9 mph
Friday, August 29 - 70-45F, Mostly Sunny, 0%, WSW at 10 mph
Saturday, August 30 - 69-42F, Mostly Sunny, 0%, WSW at 10 mph
Sunday, August 31 - 68-41F, Sunny, 0%, SW at 10 mph

Saturday, August 23, 2014
After running the dogs and kids at Reds Lake on Mammoth Mountain, we said our goodbyes atop Minaret Summit. I walked down the trail to Starkweather Lake, followed the road and PCT to Devils Postpile, had dinner at Reds Meadow, and walked to Upper and Lower Rainbow Falls.
Miles: 7
Camp: South of Reds Meadow
Maps: 34, 45

Sunday, August 24, 2014
I had breakfast with several big time long distance hikers at Reds Meadow, including Dutch Apple Pie of PCT 2003. The conversations centered on improvements and increased traffic on the CDT, AZT, and PCT over the last decade or so. I had a little headache and nausea from Altitude Sickness. There was a nice swim in Summit Lake at Agnew Pass.
Miles: 9 16
Camp: West of Gem Lake
Maps: 34, 33, 22, 206
Route: Agnew Meadow, PCT, 26E14 / 26E10 Middle Fork San Joaquin River, 25E05 Clark Lakes Trail

Foot Issues
A few weeks ago, I got off the Oregon Coast Trail due to Plantar Fasciitis and Neuroma. After a week of walking flat, hard sand and highways, both feet, especially my right foot, had considerable pain under the arch. On my right foot, my middle toes stayed numb for over 12 hours during one hotel / rain stay. The few week rest seems to have done its job, with neither the numbness nor the plantar pain after two days of hiking. However, on my right foot, at the front of the heel bone, there is a pain that seems to be diminishing in intensity over time.

Monday, August 25, 2014
Two Mule Deer were interested enough in me that they approached within 15'. I saw two Coyotes and several hawks. I barfed from altitude sickness on Koip Peak Pass (~12,300').
Miles: 9 25
Camp: South of Parker Pass
Maps: 22, 206
Route: Gem Pass, Alger Lakes, Koip Peak Pass

Tuesday, August 26, 2014
I saw an excellent sunrise and ~10 Mule Deer Bucks in velvet, antlers perhaps half grown. I listened to some nice coyote song and later saw a Coyote. In the Tuolumne Gorge, some lizards had brilliant blue patches, and a garter snake had such brilliant yellow and black stripes that he must have recently shed.
Miles: 19 44
Camp: West of Return Creek Confluence with Tuolumne River
Maps: 22, 12, 11, 206
Route: Parker Pass, Tioga Road, Tuolumne Meadows, Glen Aulin

Wednesday, August 27, 2014
I saw a Western Diamondback Rattlesnake, a garter snake, and many lizards. There were two quail and many Stellars Jays. I swam twice.
Miles: 17 61
Camp: East of Harden Lake
Maps: 206
Route: Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River

Thursday, August 28, 2014
I walked through the recently extinguished Dark Hole Fire (1080 acres, lightning ignited July 17, centered at the junction with the trail from the campground). Many trees were burnt to the top. I saw several White-Headed Woodpeckers Picoides albolarvatus.
Miles: 15 76
Camp: North of the Eagle Peak Trail
Maps: 206
Route: Lukens Lake, Old Tioga Road, Yosemite Creek Campground, Yosemite Creek

Dark Hole Fire Map

Friday, August 29, 2014
I resupplied in Yosemite Village, and gorged on pork tamales, onion rings, olives, ice cream, and buttermilk. Vernal and Nevada Falls were nice, but from dry black areas on the wall, you could see the flow was very low. Upper Yosemite Falls was completely dry.
Miles: 9 85
Camp: Little Yosemite Valley Backcountry Campground
Maps: 206
Route: Yosemite Falls Trail, Merced River

Saturday, August 30, 2014
There were some mineral springs on ascent to Washburn Lake.
Miles: 18 103
Camp: Triple Peak Fork, Merced River
Maps: 32, 206
Route: Bunnell Cascades, Echo Valley, Merced Lake, Washburn Lake, all on Merced River

Sunday, August 31, 2014
I heard a Pika at Isberg Pass and saw a Mule Deer.
Miles: 18 121
Camp: Granite Creek Campground, nice hostess
Maps: 32, 43, 206
Route: Isberg Pass, Sadler Lake, Cora Lakes, Isberg Trailhead

Monday, September 1, 2014
Rattlesnake Lake is surrounded by a wide band of reeds. Heitz Meadow Patrol Cabin is fairly dilapidated. The trail is in poor condition between Cassidy Bridge (Middle Fork San Joaquin River) and Heitz Meadow Patrol Cabin. South of the cabin, the west trail branch is in poor condition, where the east branch looks good and has recently been cleared of blowdowns. The sign says it's 13 miles to Lake Edison. Shower, laundry, and pie, here I come.
Miles: 16 137
Camp: South of Heitz Meadow
Maps: 43, 206
Route: 4S060, Clover Meadow, 25E30, 24E03/CRHT, Cassidy Bridge, Rattlesnake Lake, Heitz Meadow

Heitz Meadow Cabin

Tuesday, September 2, 2014
I walked into VVR by 1pm and took a lazy afternoon with JMT and Sierra High Route hikers. VVR (37.37654,119.01266) is not in my gps location database.
Miles: 13 150
Camp: VVR
Maps: ?
Route: Trail, Bear Meadow, Road, Fawn Meadow, Road, Onion Spring Trailhead, ATV road

Vermillion Valley Dam and Lake Thomas Alva Edison
Vermillion Valley Resort sits next to the large dam and reservoir of Lake Edison. It is part of the Big Creek Hydroelectric Project, as is Florence Lake (near Muir Trail Ranch), and many other reservoirs and diversion dams west of the PCT and these two lakes. Water from Mono Creek, Bear Creek, and the South Fork San Joaquin River enters the Ward Tunnel, produces electric power at Portal Powerhouse, and flows into Huntington Lake, far to the west. PCT or JMT hikers may run across these facilities while resupplying at Florence Lake or VVR. The Portal Power Plant can generate 10.8 MegaWatts, has 230' of head, and generates 47.4GWh annually. The entire Big Creek System has over 1 gigaWatt of generating capacity, 27 dams, nine powerhouses, and 560,000 acre feet of water storage.
Dam Reservoir Drainage Capacity
acre feet
Elev Year
Vermilion Valley Lake Thomas A. Edison Mono Creek 140,000 1,910 7,643' 1954
Bear Creek Diversion - Bear Creek - - 7,350' ?
Florence Lake Florence Lake South Fork San Joaquin River 64,600 296 7,328' 1926
Big Creek 1, 2, & 3 Huntington Lake Big Creek 89,800 1,440 6,950' 1913

Wednesday, September 3, 2014
I sometimes know how much extra salt is in 'town' food because salt in sweat dripping from my forehead burns my eyes. My fish and chips and chili yesterday and steak and eggs this morning must have been very salty indeed. After the 7 Gables Lakes trail was the crossing of my 2003 mosquito story. Thigh deep in '03, it was a rock hop today. Lake Edison is at 5,000 acre-feet of 125,000 capacity: really just enough to fill the low spots in the reservoir bottom. VVR had much bigger bear problems in the past because Yosemite released its worst offenders nearby. Multiple just released bears would trash the place every night.
Miles: 18 168
Camp: between 28E08 Seven Gables Lakes Trail and 28E24 Lou Bevevery Lake Trail
Maps: 64, Florence Lake
Route: Lake Edison Road, Bear Creek Jeep Road and Trail, PCJMT

Thursday, September 4, 2014
Perhaps due to allergens or altitude, I didn't feel like I was at 100% strength. I saw a deer, and met a hiker who lives near and is very interested in the Pinhoti Trail.
Miles: 16 184
Camp: After the switchbacks and ford in lower Evolution Valley
Maps: 64, ?
Route: PCJMT, Selden Pass

Friday, September 5, 2014
I experimented with caffeine on ascent to Muir Pass: I had instant coffee for one cup, a caffeinated Clif Bar, and a serving of iced tea. Though I was breathing hard, I kept a good pace and got neither a headache nor nausea. A trail crew had actually blasted rock this summer on descent. That's probably the first freshly blasted rock I've seen on a trail. I saw a couple of Pika on ascent and my first Yellow Bellied Marmot of the trip on descent. There were many frogs in the last on trail lake on descent. There were just a few patches of snow above the pass. Koip Peak Pass is the only other place with near trail snow. There were many deer with fawns in the Evolution and Kings Valleys.
Miles: 20 204
Camp: A mile above the Palisade Creek Trail Junction, Grouse Meadows
Maps: 71, 78, 79
Route: PCJMT, Muir Pass

Saturday, September 6, 2014
Today's route was well traveled and easy to follow, but physically demanding. After leaving the PCT, all side routes, including going further down the Kings, appeared little traveled and might be overgrown or hard to follow. Another hiker said that the trail down the Middle Fork Kings to Tehipite Valley could be walked in a day, in spite of little maintenance. There is no water from the Kings to Dougherty Meadow, a long, hot ascent. I saw no one all day.
Miles: 16 220
Camp: Dougherty Meadow
Maps: Marion Peak, Slide Bluffs, 79
Route: PCJMT, Middle Fork Kings River, Simpson Meadow, Switchbacks, Dougherty Meadow

Etymology of Tehipite
Tehipite is an Indian word meaning High Place, refering to Tehipite Dome towering over Tehipite Valley. It was originally spelled Tehipitee and is pronounced tǝ hip' i tê. There is a Tehipite Group of historic tungsten mine claims a few miles southwest of the valley, near Lockwood Creek, on USGS 7½' Wren Peak, section 6, T13S, R29E, Longitude -118.864838° (W), Longitude 36.825249°N. The name apparently refers to the historic 30' topo map Tehipite, on which it would lie, though the copy I saw does not show it. There is no mineral known as Tehipite. There is a current 7½' map named Tehipite Dome.

Sunday, September 7, 2014
It may rain tonight or tomorrow, but after that it should be clear through the 11th, the end of this segment. I saw deer, garter snakes, Steller's Jays, and lizards. 3 guys gave me a gallon bag of homegrown tomatoes, apples, and pears, as well as some food bars, cheese sticks and a bag of chips. Many thanks!
Miles: 19 239
Camp: Junction of Bubbs Creek and Sphinx Creek Trails
Maps: Marion Peak, The Sphinx
Route: Middle Fork Dougherty Creek, Granite Pass and Basin, Copper Creek, King's Canyon Road's End, South Fork Kings River, Bubbs Creek

Monday, September 8, 2014
It rained off and on through the night and day. The trail past East Lake went from once upon a time to pure fantasy: cross country in rain and wet brush and rocks. I quit at 4:30, as rain continued and trees began to look scrawnier, at 11,000'. Harrison Pass is 12,600'.
Miles: 12 251
Camp: 11,000', 1½ miles from Harrison Pass
Maps: The Sphinx, 90, 95
Route: Bubbs Creek Trail, East Creek Trail, cross country towards Harrison Pass

Shelf Fungus

Tuesday, September 9, 2014
The rain ended yesterday evening and the first freeze of this trip set in. It froze my shoes and socks, but not too badly, and it also froze much loose sand in place. Harrison Pass (class 2+) was too hairy for me. Steep enough to crawl on all fours for 500 yards, many hand and footholds, whether in sand and loose rock, or in crumbling bedrock, simply broke away. The slope, at the angle of repose for the sand, is steep and long enough to really get hurt. The sun was freeing rocks to roll towards me, as would other hikers were I not alone. Two parties suggested I try Lucys Foot Pass (class 3) or Millies Foot Pass (class 3) next time. There is a class 2 route from Lake Reflection to a rise between Mount Ericsson and Mount Genevra. One guy told me the High Sierra Trail has a bridge over a 500' gorge, and two tunnels. Two guys had been on the Circle of Solitude, which sounded interesting.
Miles: 17 268
Camp: Junction of the PCJMT and the northern most trail (JMT) to Mount Whitney
Maps: 95, Mount Kaweah, 99
Route: Harrison Pass, Lake South America, PCJMT

Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Last night was another freeze: perhaps the lowland bugs that buzzed around my mouth and nose will be killed off. In Old Army Pass, a Bighorn Sheep festooned with multiple ear tags and radio collars walked within 40' of me. A Black Bear near my campsite ran off when I showed myself and made some noise. The trail down the east side of (Old) Army Pass to Cottonwood Lake 5, not shown on the 7½' maps, was good but occasionally required the use of hands.
Miles: 17 285
Camp: Cottonwood Lake 4, the long skinny one
Maps: 99, 103, 100, 104
Route: PCT, Crabtree Meadows, Guyot Pass, Rock Creek Trail, Army Pass, Cottonwood Lakes

Thursday, September 11, 2014
I walked to Horseshoe Meadows, and helped someone shuttle a car to Whitney Portal to get down the hill. I bought maps and planned the next segment of the trip. I got in touch with Jim, coming off a Green River, Utah kayak trip. Rain and wind made his trip tough.
Miles: 6 291
Camp: Hostel, Lone Pine
Maps: 104
Route: 35E16, 35E16A, Cottonwood Creek

Rendezvous with Jim Luschen
On September 11, Jim and Claudia came off the Green / Colorado Rivers and drove a few hours west. To get in touch with him, I exited to Highway 395 and stayed in a Lone Pine September 11. That way, we connected by cell phone and I told him what town I would be in September 12, when we will meet. We will pack 10 days of supplies and pick a suitable route. We should check fire reports and long range weather. After our trip, Claudia may pick us up and drop me off at Agua Dulce, from which I would hike to Campo on the Pacific Crest Trail.

Mount Whitney Ranger District Predicted Weather
Thursday, September 11 - 90-62F, Sunny, 0%, NE at 6 mph
Friday, September 12 - 93-63F, Sunny, 0%, E at 7 mph
Saturday, September 13 - 92-63F, Sunny, 0%, SSE at 9 mph
Sunday, September 14 - 92-62F, Sunny, 0%, SSE at 9 mph
Monday, September 15 - 93-62F, Sunny, 0%, SE at 9 mph
Tuesday, September 16 - 93-62F, Sunny, 0%, SE at 10 mph
Wednesday, September 17 - 91-63F, Mostly Sunny, 10%, SE at 10 mph
Thursday, September 18 - 89-62F, Sunny, 10%, SE at 7 mph
Friday, September 19 - 89-64F, Sunny, 0%, E at 5 mph
Saturday, September 20 - 91-66F, Sunny, 0%, E at 4 mph

Friday, September 12, 2014
I walked south of Lone Pine to the visitor center for permits and resupplied. Jim showed up mid afternoon, resupplied, and we drove up the hill. After saying goodbye to Claudia, we hit the trail
Miles: 6 297
Camp: A mile west of the PCT or Trail Pass
Maps: 104
Route: Trail Pass Trail, Mulkey Meadows Trail

Saturday, September 13, 2014
We walked west to the South Fork Kern and Tunnel Meadows, exploring old corrals, fences, ranger huts, and weather and snowpack monitoring stations. We then summited Kern Peak, enjoying views of our intended route and the ruins of the lookout tower. There were old ground loop radio telephone lines along most of our route.
Miles: 15 312
Camp: On descent from Kern Peak
Maps: 104, 103, 107
Route: Bullfrog Meadow, 34E04, South Fork Kern, Tunnel Meadow, 34E13, Kern Peak Lookout

Jim at Kern Peak Lookout

Sunday, September 14, 2014
We turned around after half way descending Redrock Creek from Indian Head towards Jordan Hot Springs due to slides and thorny brush on the trail. I found partial arrowheads and two collapsed, roofless log cabins in Redrocks Meadows. There were lenticular and dark cumulus clouds, and it rained for 10 minutes.
Miles: 10 322
Camp: Redrocks Meadows
Maps: 107
Route: Cross country to Pass, 35E07 Templeton Cow Camp Trail, 34E18 Redrock Creek Trail

Monday, September 15, 2014
Two Coyotes were hunting in Cold Meadows. One unsuccessfully pounced on something. There were a few dark clouds, but no rain.
Miles: 17 339
Camp: Johnson Creek, Little Whitney Meadow
Maps: THGTW, NGTI205, 107, 103
Route: 34E16, Cold Meadows, West Stringer Saddle, Left Stringer, Volcano Meadow, 34E11, Malpais, 34E10, cross country

Tuesday, September 16, 2014
We saw no one since crossing Trail Pass at the beginning of the trip until the spring fed creek on ascent to New Army Pass. There were many Yellow Bellied Marmots on ascent to the Army Passes.
Miles: 16 355
Camp: between High and Long Lakes
Maps: THGTW, NGTI205, 103, 104
Route: cross country, 34E09, Salt Lick Meadow, Johnson Creek, Big Whitney Meadow, 34E07, Siberian Pass, New Army Pass, 36E10, High Lake

Wednesday, September 17, 2014
I took a leisurely pace, and stopped to laze by babbling creek crossings, and to watch deer and fawns graze, ducks swim, and squirrels chase each others around trees. I resupplied for a couple of weeks and gorged; a big fried chicken, potatoes and salad meal, a burger, watermelon, avocado, potato salad, olives, carne asada plate, and popcorn. Jim headed home with Claudia.
Miles: 6 361
Camp: Lone Pine Hostel
Maps: THGTW, NGTI205, 104
Route: 36E10, Cottonwood Creek, 35E16, 35E16A

Sequoia NP Predicted Weather
Thursday, September 18 - 63-37F, Sunny, 0%, WSW at 11 mph
Friday, September 19 - 62-40F, Mostly Sunny, 10%, SE at 8 mph
Saturday, September 20 - 63-39F, PM ThunderStorms, 40%, SE at 10 mph
Sunday, September 21 - 63-40F, Mostly Sunny, 20%, W at 7 mph
Monday, September 22 - 67-42F, Sunny, 0%, SW at 8 mph
Tuesday, September 23 - 67-43F, Sunny, 0%, SSW at 8 mph
Wednesday, September 24 - 65-38F, Sunny, 0%, SW at 9 mph
Thursday, September 25 - 59-35F, PM Showers, 40%, W at 8 mph
Friday, September 26 - 62-36F, Sunny, 0%
Saturday, September 27- 66-43F, Sunny, 0%, NW at 6 mph

Thursday, September 18, 2014
After obtaining a permit and a PCT guidebook, I headed out over Cottonwood Pass. A two stage hitch took 10 minutes in town and 45 from the Alabama Hills Community. But it was the first car coming through that stopped, so no complaints. I photographed some Wooly Sunflowers in Big Whitney Meadow. A ditch diverted Golden Trout Creek to its east flank where the trail fords the creek. The trail then runs close to the ditch, and was probably once the maintenance path. The ditch is filled or blown out in places. Trees sometimes are bigger on its banks or more dense in filled areas. Where I camped (Tunnel Meadow), a major blowout may have eroded through a ridge: major geologically recent erosion is evident.
Miles: 17 378
Camp: Junction Tunnel Meadow and Golden Trout Creek Trails
Maps: THGTW, NGTI205, 104, 103, 107
Route: 35E05 Cottonwood Pass Trail, 35E09 Stokes Stringer, 34E05 Big Whitney Meadow, 34E07 Golden Trout Creek

Tunnel Meadows Water Diversion History
Tunnel Meadows has odd topography. Even when I was hiking with Jim week before, and didn't have time to pore over the maps, the big blowout stuck out like a sore thumb, and at some point I was astounded to realize that Golden Trout Creek and the South Fork Kern, in spite of flowing within a couple hundred yards of each other in the same meadow, flow to different places. Golden Trout Creek cascades steeply west to the Middle Fork Kern, whereas the South Fork bends south and east. In the 1880s, farmers further down the South Fork Kern tunneled to capture the water in Golden Trout Creek for their use. Later in this trip, I found the South Fork dry in places in Monache Meadows, so capturing extra flow made sense. But the tunnel collapsed fairly quickly. Perhaps then the ditches were dug. Lawsuits ended the water diversion scheme. But the collapsed tunnel is still clearly visible as recent erosion, and the ditches are easy to follow.
Wilderness Journals of Everett Ruess, Tuesday, July 25, 1934
"We crossed the tunnel, where the south fork of the Kern and Golden Trout are only a few yards apart. The cattlemen on one side had stolen the water from Golden Trout, but the ranchers blew up the tunnel in revenge."
Tunnel Meadows Airfield History (36.38°N, 118.26°W)
A ~2000' airstrip was built in 1931. Soon after, then Col Hap Arnold crashed on takeoff probably due to high afternoon temperatures and the 9100' altitude. A pack station / resort often operated at the field through its history. The airfield was in use as late as 1985, but it closed when the wilderness was established. Military pilots still practice approaches (not touching down) to hone their high altitude, mountainous terrain skills. There are unique rocks in historic photos of the the strip, which I think I recognise from my hike. So I'm sure I could find and walk the old runway. Maybe some of the old camps and corrals Jim and I stopped at were part of the operation.

Friday, September 19, 2014
The natural bridges were a lava flow over soft dirt. The stream eroded under the lava sheet. The soda springs had great tasting water: I had a quart with lunch. Most Sierra soda water is too mineral tasting to drink more than a mouthful. I saw 2 deer and many small lizards. Annoying flying bugs are much reduced compared to earlier low altitude parts of this trip.
Miles: 18 396
Camp: Beyond Rattlesnake Creek
Maps: THGTW, NGTI205, 107, 106, 102
Route: Groundhog Meadow, Little Whitney Meadow, Golden Trout Creek, Soda Spring, Funston Meadow, Rattlesnake Creek, first switchbacks of Big Arroyo Trail


Saturday, September 20, 2014
I saw Mule Deer, Pika, and Steller's Jays. A log ranger cabin where I joined the High Sierra Trail was rustic. The gorge where the current tunnel and former suspension bridge were was impressively steep. In Kaweah Gap I walked through the bottom of the building storm clouds. I had just a few drops during the day, but after setting my tarp at camp came thunder and more rain.
Miles: 20 416
Camp: Hamilton Lakes
Maps: NGTI205, 102, Triple Divide Peak?
Route: Big Arroyo Trail, High Sierra Trail, Kaweah Gap

Sunday, September 21, 2014
Old Bridge
Old Bridge, Cut Away and Dropped Hundreds of Feet Into the Deep Gorge of Lone Pine Creek
The Mule Deer at my camp this morning were tame enough to browse 30' away, including one fawn. I saw some Yellow Bellied Marmots. It was cloudy and cool all day, and a few drops of rain fell. Yesterday afternoon and today were in spectacular, deep canyons.
Miles: 17 433
Camp: bottom of Colby Canyon
Maps: NGTI205
Route: High Sierra Trail, Elizabeth Pass Trail, Deadman Canyon, Ranger Meadow, Cross country to Colby Pass Trail

Monday, September 22, 2014
The weather was clear and sunny, but brisk - very pleasant for hiking. From this evening's camp, the Wallace Creek Trail, across the Middle Fork Kern Gorge, seems a very impressive traverse.
Miles: 17 450
Camp: 2 miles short of Junction Meadow
Maps: NGTI205
Route: Cloud Canyon / Colby Pass Trail, Colby Lake, Colby Pass, Kern-Kaweah River, ¼ mile past Rockslide Lake

Tuesday, September 23, 2014
I took a long soak in Kern Hot Springs with a German guy, one of two people I met today. (Both eastbound on the High Sierra Trail.) The canyon and its trees were pretty. A type of dark grey lizard had iridescent blue belly coloring.
Miles: 21 471
Camp: A mile south of the Golden Trout Creek / Kern River Bridge and Ranger Cabin
Maps: NGTI205, THGTW, Mount Kaweah, 102, 106
Route: Kern-Kaweah River, Middle Fork Kern River Gorge, Junction Meadow, Kern Hot Springs

Wednesday, September 24, 2014
I saw no one, and there were no recent boot prints on half my route. Fording the Middle Fork Kern at a wide spot was easy, but I could see it being impossible in spring or in a wetter summer. Cold Spring was boxed and flowing nicely into a trough.
Miles: 21 492
Camp: junction with the trail up Cold Creek (Same burn as with Jim)
Maps: THGTW, 106, 110, 111
Route: Kern River, Kern Lakes, Devils Staircase, Willow Meadow, Trout Meadow, Cold Spring, Doe Meadow, Middle Fork Kern (upstream), Ninemile Creek, Soda Flat (Private Cabin, outbuildings)

Thursday, September 25, 2014
Jordan Hot Springs was excellent, with a big, deep, warm pool, though murky. A six foot long, 2" diameter Western Diamondback Rattlesnake surprised me on a brushy section of trail. I saw several deer, and two hawks, one almost catching a small bird. There were bluebirds and a Meadowlark. I found mint in bloom in the headwaters of Snake Creek. There were no birds living under the South Fork Kern PCT bridge, though many mud swallows live there in the spring. The South Fork Kern was sometimes dry, and where flowing it had a muddy taste. Beyond Casa Vieja Meadow, the trails were all in poor condition.
Miles: 19 511
Camp: South Fork Kern a mile north of the Hiawee Pass Trail
Maps: THGTW, 111, 112, 113
Route: Ninemile Creek, Jordan Hot Springs, Casa Vieja Meadow, Little Dry Meadow, Snake Creek, Monache Meadow, South Fork Kern River

Friday, September 26, 2014
South of Wildrose Meadow the trail was in good shape. North of that, an old burn and lack of use had the trails in poor condition. Yesterday and today, far more bears than people were using the trails. There wer many bear prints. The fresher the scat, the more seeds and other high energy foods, as the bears are entering hyperphagia to prepare for winter. There were several flowing springs on the Wildrose Trail. I met a couple of USFS motorcycle patrollers at the trailhead. One was in great pain from probable testicular torsion. I had a burger and an Italian Sausage sandwich at Kennedy Meadows for lunch, resupplied and sent home a bear barrel with Sierra maps, a found water filter, and my hammock, all for $68. Not too bad. I lucked out and arrived on Friday, so there was a big happy hour seafood layout. I enjoyed conversations with a couple of section hikers and other patrons. When the excitement died down, I hiked a couple miles south on the PCT.
Miles: 16 527
Camp: South of Kennedy Meadows
Maps: 113, 116, 115, Rockhouse Basin
Route: South Fork Kern River, Wildrose Trail & Meadow, 36E01, Kennedy Meadows Road, PCT

Once, while walking through Tuolumne Meadows, I met some retired ladies who had in their younger years been backcountry rangers. In a long conversation, one asked me if I had ever seen PCT blazes burnt directly into trees, as that was one of her jobs. She had a mule with a propane tank and a combined torch and PCT blaze template, and travelled the PCT burning these blazes. She thought it was the stupidest task she had done. I had to admit then that I didn't remember seeing one. But then, I wasn't looking. I'm pleased to report that I've now found one. Now if I can just find that lady and let her know... Wood Burner Blaze

End of Trip Notes

Wildfires were a significant planning factor, even though none were burning or caused closures when I walked through. Before I left, the Portola Fire was burning outside the west entrances to Yosemite, as was a fire near Lake Isabella and some on the south flank of the San Gabriels. The Deep Hole Fire had recently been extinguished and the area partially reopened on my route Thursday, August 28. Though I was long gone, a fire near Half Dome resulted in the helicopter evacuation of many hikers. I had several messages about that fire from friends on my phone when I reached Lone Pine. In this third summer of drought, fire was a major concern.

It was hot and dry. I swam multiple times per day where I found enough water. On this trip and its continuation to San Diego, I never wore long pants except to do laundry.

Low Water Conditions
Many springs and creeks were dry or nearly so. However, this being the Sierras, there was always enough to drink.

The mosquitoes of spring were long gone, but in the lower elevations I visited to the west, there were many flies who buzzed in a cloud near my mouth and nose, and who were fairly often inhaled. For another trip in this season, I'd want to bring along a strip or triangle of bug mesh to wear bandit style around my mouth and nose.

It was the goal of this trip to visit many areas of the Sierras about which I'd heard good things but which I'd never seen. It occurred to me that my knowledge of long distance hiking and of resupply points would allow a continuous exploration if only I had enough maps and route information. I'll probably do this again some time so below is a list of potentially useful maps for zig zagging east-west along the Sierras from Tahoe south to Kennedy Meadows. I prefer NGTI maps over THM, but you may not. Some were chosen because that's what was for sale at the little store. More or less, I'm saying these are not necesarily the best maps, just the ones I have or may buy... The commercial maps often don't extend east to the US395 resupply towns familiar to PCT hikers: I navigated there by the topo atlas below. Following the north-south list of large (1:80,000 or 1"-1.3 miles - 1:63,360 or 1"=1 mile) maps are the 7½' topo maps I used, in the order of first use for this n-s trip. The 8½x11 Inyo NF 7½' Topo Atlas (1"=1 mile) is handy for the eastern Sierra, US395 area and towns, and the White Range, east of the Sierras.

Source Map Name Map #
NGTI Sierra Buttes / Donner Pass 805
THM Lake Tahoe & Tahoe Rim Trail -
NGTI Carson-Iceberg, Emigrant & Mokelumne Wilderness Areas 807
NGTI Yosemite 806
NGTI Mammoth Lakes / Mono Divide 809
NGTI Sequoia Kings Canyon National Parks 205
THM Golden Trout Wilderness -
7½' Mammoth Mountain, California 34
7½' Crystal Crag, California 45
7½' Mount Ritter, California 33
7½' Koip Peak, California 22
7½' Mount Dana, California 12
7½' Tioga Pass, California 11
7½' Merced Peak, California -
7½' Mount Lyell, California 32
7½' Timber Knob, California 43
7½' Squaw Dome, California -
7½' Balloon Dome, California -
7½' Sharktooth Peak, California -
7½' Florence Lake, California -
7½' Mount Hilgard, California 64
7½' Mount Henry, California -
7½' Mount Darwin, California 71
7½' Mount Goddard, California 78
7½' North Palisade, California 79
7½' Marion Peak, California -
7½' Slide Bluffs, California -
7½' The Sphinx, California -
7½' Mount Clarence King, California 90
7½' Mount Brewer, California 95
7½' Mount Kaweah, California -
7½' Mount Whitney, California 99
7½' Johnson Peak, California 103
7½' Mount Langley, California 100
7½' Cirque Peak, California 104
7½' Kern Peak, California 107
7½' Kern Lake, California 106
7½' Chagoopa Falls, California 102
7½' Triple Divide Peak, California -
7½' Hockett Peak, California 110
7½' Casa Vieja Meadows, California 111
7½' Monache Mountain, California 112
7½' Hiawee Pass, California 113
7½' Long Canyon, California 116
7½' Crag Peak, California 115
7½' Rockhouse Basin, California -
Notes on Maps
THM Tom Harrison Maps
NGTI National Geographic Trails illustrated Map
7½' United States Geological Survey 7½' Topographic Map
Page Numbers given for Inyo National Forest Atlas.

Route Information and Permits
Asking many people sometimes resulted in good information on trail conditions. Fire information in particular is perhaps best requested at ranger stations. The permit system used in the Sierras does not allow rangers to enter most backcountry areas. As a result, most nights your permit allows you to stay at a random spot somewhere in the Sierras. While this is great for hiking freedom, no one reading it would have any idea where you were. So tell someone your route some other way.

Some GPS Locations
Minaret Summit, 9265 Ft 37.656326 -119.060383 No Water -
SpringOnTrail 37.656077 -119.064918 Water Source -
+Trail MinaretSummitRoad 37.663991 -119.073295 No Water -
PCTbridgesSFkSanJoaquinR SodaS 37.653777 -119.080003 Water Source UpperSodaSpringsCG Trailhead
+PCT JMT DevilsPostpileTrail 37.632957 -119.089099 No Water -
+Trail MinaretRoad NearRedsMed 37.619847 -119.076788 No Water -
+RiverNorthTrail ClarkLakesTrl 37.718715 -119.140617 No Water -
+ClarkLakesTr25E05 2642 37.732180 -119.143033 No Water -
+TrailOldRoadBearMeadow 37.447436 -119.128747 No Water -
+OldRd2StringMdw Tr2RockCrLake 37.425830 -119.116936 No Water -
Vermillion Valley Resort 37.376545 -119.012656 Water Source NotInGPSdatabase
+BearCreekTr PCJMT 37.368226 -118.888540 No Water -
WestStringerSaddle+34E16 35E09 36.313383 -118.320721 No Water -
+Trails RightStringer? 36.267964 -118.410797 No Water -
+Trail HoleInTheGroundRoute 36.245116 -118.413779 No Water -
Trail33E10 BoxedSpringTrough 36.181191 -118.406245 Water Source KernFlat4.5 JordanHotSprings11 TroutMeadow2.5
+ColdMeadowTrail 36.231447 -118.335761 No Water -
JordanHotSprings 36.229743 -118.302391 Water Source -
Pre Trip Planning
Trail Segment Map Name Map #
Lake Mary to Reds Meadow
buy bread, cheese, etcetera
- -
Devils Postpile tourist route - -
Middle Fork San Joaquin River Trail 2610 NGTI Yosemite 206
Clark Lakes Trail 2505 NGTI Yosemite 206
Tioga Road to Tuolumne Meadows
buy bread, cheese, etcetera
NGTI Yosemite 206
Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River NGTI Yosemite 206
White Wolf Trail NGTI Yosemite 206
Yosemite Creek Trail NGTI Yosemite 206
Yosemite Valley
Full Resupply to Kennedy Meadows
NGTI Yosemite 206
Merced River to Isberg or Post Peak Pass NGTI Yosemite 206
South and East to PCT NGTI Yosemite 206
Goodale Pass Trail to Vermillion Valley
Pie and burger
- -
Bear Ridge Trail to PCT/JMT - -
PCT/JMT to confluence of
Middle Fork Kings River and Palisade Creek
- -
Middle Fork Kings River 7½' Slide Bluffs
7½' Marion Peak
Horseshoe Creek 7½' Slide Bluffs
7½' Marion Peak
Middle Fork Dougherty Creek, Granite Pass 7½' Marion Peak -
Kings Canyon Road End, South Fork Kings River 7½' The Sphinx -
Bubbs Creek 7½' The Sphinx -
Sphinx Creek 7½' The Sphinx -
Cloud Canyon to Colby Pass need -
Kern Kaweah River / Gallats Lake to Confluence Kern, Wallace - -
Kern River Gorge - -
Kennedy Meadows - -
PCT to San Diego Wilderness Press Guidebook
notes for current closures
Trail Segment Map Name Map #