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TR: Forks of the Kern 11/8 & 9/2014

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TR: Forks of the Kern 11/8 & 9/2014

Postby Thebrenner » Mon Nov 10, 2014 10:21 pm

48 hours on the Forks of the Kern:
Saturday 11/8/2014
Friday afternoon I decided the weather was too perfect to miss out on one last low elevation Sierra backpack. I've gotten in the habit of keeping backpacking food on standby so when I decide to jet out of town at the last minute I can grab and go! I left my house at 4:00 am and after stopping in Kernville to obtain a self registered/issued permit I was on the trail by 10:00.
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I have never hiked this trail before and choose it for that reason as well as the fairly easy access, and the low elevation. At home, studying the map, I trace my finger all along the Kern River until I reach it's headwaters some ...60 trail miles and 6,000 feet of elevation gain deep in the heart of the Sierra. I marvel at how I stood at the head waters of the Kern this summer midway through my Circle of Solitude hike. I fantasize about starting at the Forks of the Kern and hiking all the way to the headwaters....perhaps a trip for another time... but not today!
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Fall Color

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Burn scars from the 2000 fire

There are 8 cars including mine at the trailhead, within 2 hours I will have passed all 7 other parties and the far reaches of the canyon will be mine to explore in solitude. The trail immediately descends 1,000 feet to the Kern and the Little Kern River....The Forks. It is crazy hot and I can feel the sun not only frying my right side but also reflecting of the rock walls and frying my left side. Well, it's good to be even. I cannot imagine the heat radiating off these walls and up this canyon in the summer.
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Wow what a gorgeous day today. In fact it's perfect. Once at the forks I spend some time criss crossing the braided rivers until I find the right trail heading up the canyon. This is a cold, fast and dangerous crossing in the spring and early summer especially in high snow years. Today I only get the toe box of my boots wet. And yes the water is cold.
The black oaks and willows are still showing some nice fall color and provide a stunning backdrop to the Kern. There are campsites and swimming holes everywhere! Sadly at the beginning of the trail there is also a lot of trash. And too much TP! Fortunately the further up the trail I go the more pristine both the trail and river become. I actually stop and jump in the water....yup still cold.
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I find a great campsite next to the river. I gather wood, set up my tent and watch the sunset. By 5 it is dark. I settle in for the long, almost 13 hours long of darkness that accompanies November camping.....as the Kern lulls me to sleep at 8:30, I sigh and smile knowing I wouldn't want it any other way.
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Sunday November 9, 2014
The sun does not reach my campsite until almost 9:00Am. It is COLD down in the canyon. I spend the morning hiking an hour more up the canyon arriving at Kern Flat before I need to turn around in order to make it back to my car before dark.
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Kern Flat

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I sat in the rocking chair and ate a snack. There was even a cribbage board carved into the table!

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This print made me smile. Not sure who it belongs to?

I arrived back at my car at 4pm. The trip was short but it sure beats staying home!
brenner

sole2soulhiking.com



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Re: TR: Forks of the Kern 11/8 & 9/2014

Postby gary c. » Mon Nov 10, 2014 11:57 pm

Looks like a great trip. I love the first shot looking up the road at "The Needles". Your report brings back lots of memories for me. I think I camped at the same place you did last fall and I've camped at the site w/rocking chair multiple times. A buddy and I almost went up there this past weekend but it was the last weekend of deer season here in my locals so we stayed home.
"On this proud and beautiful mountain we have lived hours of fraternal, warm and exalting nobility. Here for a few days we have ceased to be slaves and have really been men. It is hard to return to servitude."
-- Lionel Terray
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Re: TR: Forks of the Kern 11/8 & 9/2014

Postby Annex138 » Wed Nov 12, 2014 9:26 am

Nice report and pictures. You must have passed right by me. My dad, girlfriend and myself were camped not far from the forks along the river. We hiked in Friday night. Left the trailhead at about 10:30pm. Hiked down to the forks and set up camp and was a sleep around midnight. We were in the six moon designs grey haven tarp and green gatewood cape. Your not kidding about getting cold at night. When we hiked in, it was already in the 30s.

Looks like you made it a few miles up river. The farther up river you go, the less trash and people. About 3 weeks ago I hiked up neer the foot bridge about a mile above kern flats and spent 2 days fishing without seeing another person. I would have liked to hike a few more miles in this past weekend but it was my dads first ever backpacking trip and I didn't want to push him to hard.
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Re: TR: Forks of the Kern 11/8 & 9/2014

Postby Cross Country » Wed Nov 12, 2014 12:59 pm

I hiked to Forks of the Kern 10-15 times always in Spring or Fall. For years I hiked in for the opening day of fishing season. I caught 2 really nice browns (their posted on HST) there. In April the crossing of the Little Kern can be almost dangerous. It's worse in May and of course it depended on snowfall and rate of melt the week before your trip.

Also "saint" Diane and I hiked your dream trip in reverse starting at Shepard Pass with side trips to Milestone basin and Picket Creek Lake in 1974.
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Re: TR: Forks of the Kern 11/8 & 9/2014

Postby Thebrenner » Thu Nov 13, 2014 8:19 pm

Cross country: Good to know that April is a good time to head out to the Forks. Always looking for an early season low elevation trip. Yes, I imagine the little fork is swift, furious and COLD as the snow melts in the high country. WOW, you hiked my "dream" trip in 1974! I'd love to see photos of that. I bet you have seen a lot of changes in the Sierra since the 70's.

Annex138: Yes, I saw your camp...but no one was home.Too bad as I'm sure I would've stopped and chatted. Some great campsites along the rive for sure!

brenner
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Re: TR: Forks of the Kern 11/8 & 9/2014

Postby Cross Country » Fri Nov 14, 2014 9:19 am

I'll be home in 2 weeks and I'll look for the pics. I have them.
One time on a high snow year my wife and I crossed the Little Kern as follows:
1. I swam across with nylon cord.
2. With a stone I threw the nylon cord across the river and she tyed it and another to the raft.
3. In a rubber raft I pulled the 1st and 2nd the two packs and lastly her.
4. The packs were easy but for a few moments I was worried about my wife. I didn't anticipate how much the current was going to pull her downstream.
5. When we returned 2 days later the water was a little higher but the crossing angle was better and now I knew more about the current.

On another trip with two friends on the last week of April the trip was considerable MORE of an adventure. Maybe I'll write about it some day.
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Re: TR: Forks of the Kern 11/8 & 9/2014

Postby Cross Country » Fri Nov 14, 2014 9:23 am

In April - June be sure to take tennis to cross the little and pick the best possible place to cross and if it seems dangerous to cross DON'T CROSS. Camp there and fish the two rivers. I've had to do that.
Another good early season trip is hike to the Little Kern where the bridge crosses the river.
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Re: TR: Forks of the Kern 11/8 & 9/2014

Postby maverick » Fri Nov 14, 2014 12:27 pm

Brenner,

Are those tie dye gaiters or pants? Home-made?
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: TR: Forks of the Kern 11/8 & 9/2014

Postby Thebrenner » Fri Nov 14, 2014 8:26 pm

Maverick....why yes they are indeed tie-dyed gaiters.....not homemade by me.... Dirtygirlgaters.com
These are perhaps the most commented on piece of gear I own! Love them!

Cross country: I crossed bear creek in 2011..... With friends and would not have attempted alone. I always lean towards caution around water crossings! Good to know about the bridge crossing of the little kern river thats a good alternative to keep in mind. Thx for the info.

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