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Kern headwater basins

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Kern headwater basins

Postby SSSdave » Mon Apr 18, 2016 10:22 am

Looks like I'm going up and over Shepherd Pass for ten days on Friday July 29 and then come back out Sunday August 7.

Have been looking at this trip for several years and have extensively planned with my itinerary of camp spots and photography ramblings with hour to hour detail. But did not want to bother making the strenuous effort given the drought the last 4. Before then the notion of carrying my 4x5 gear over the pass had my mind me bailing each time for easier prey. So now this senior citizen seems to be signed up to go.

Checked the end of March CDEC snow data that shows the Upper Tyndall Creek remote weather site with 15 inches of water content in the snow on the ground today April 18. On March 25 nearby site show 15.0 inches of water with a depth of 43.5 inches and the nearby Bighorn Plateau was similar. In other words the depth is slowly dropping but not the water content because it is just absorbed. Thus will guess the snow on sunny exposures will last as per normal winters into mid to late June and then will take a month for green things to make an appearance. Snow pack is in any case just 80% of normal though much better than previous 4 years.

On Recreation.gov was surprised to see the July 28 and 29 dates with just 1 permit available and July 30 filled so decided to commit before that disappeared. So yeah the reservations continue to creep back earlier and earlier each spring. I have another 9 day trip planned for July 16>24 in the silver Divide but that is handled via direct mail to one of the Sierra NF offices and will do that in a couple weeks as a quota issue is unlikely.



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Re: Kern headwater basins

Postby giantbrookie » Mon Apr 18, 2016 5:55 pm

Hi Dave,

It's great to hear you're headed for the upper Kern. I think your assessment of the timing of the thaw should be pretty close. Things may actually thaw out a bit earlier. It's been a terribly long time since I was there (early July 1996) but that year was a heavier than average winter. In early July 1996 all of the major lakes had thawed significantly before our visit, including the two highest lakes we visited: Versteeg at 11952 (7/8/96) and LSA at 11941 (7/10/96). Snowbanks still persisted beneath east and north-facing cliffs, but west and south-facing slopes were pretty bare. The only snow over trails was at the top of New Army Pass and the somewhat hairy snowslope just below the north side of Shepherd Pass; the latter would have felt a bit more secure if we'd had ice axes. By early August this year it is doubtful that you'll have any snowpatch impeding your ascent over Shepherd Pass.

I share your surprise about how early certain entries are filling up on recreation.gov. I recall my surprise last year when trying to get a permit for my LL Valley-North Lake trip (ended up going with first come first serve permit when I couldn't reserve what I wanted). This makes me wonder if a lot of folks all putting in reservations on multiple weeks so that they have choices in the event of a stretch of bad weather during one or more of those weeks. The test of whether this is in fact going on would be to see the percentage of advanced wilderness permits that get cancelled.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Re: Kern headwater basins

Postby SSSdave » Mon Apr 18, 2016 7:48 pm

GB appreciate for your expert assessment. My key element is dates the more showy wildflowers will be making an appearance. Though that zone is not particularly wildflower noteworthy, with some hunting about in meadows and seep areas, they can add color to foregrounds that are otherwise lacking in much color. Generally except when going over Shepherd, I'll be well away from the crest areas and by that time even if there is some snow left at the top of the pass, the foot path ought to be well pounded down to the ground.

Key strategy with 10 day's worth of food going in will to not be in a hurry to get over the top. Thus will enjoy 2 camp spots on the east side before climbing up over the top at dawn on day 3. The area about and above The Pothole has a lot to offer a creative photographer that gets away from the trail. On day 3 ought be at the top in early morning when those no name lakes might just be calm before rambling down that barren wind swept alpine zone on the west side that ought get me to Bighorn Plateau by noon one of 3 base camp zones I'll day trip from. Yes going to be nice during dawn and dusk at that moony pea pond at the top and exploring about for gnarliest foxtail pines.

Decades ago when the quota system was first implemented and there were still no fees, there was a problem of individuals submitting for more permits than they ever intended to use. Thus many no shows. The USFS implemented fees to dampen that trend but for well to do individuals the fees were trivial. If that issue rises again they could certainly institute policy that would penalize submitters if they showed a no show pattern of regularly abusing the system.
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GB, I've had trouble finding geology information describing the various hydrothermally altered volcanic ash deposit badlands in Death Valley NP. That colorful geology was the focus of my trip there last month. I managed to climb from the east side to the top of the Black Mountains behind the Artist Drive area, where few have ever set foot at.
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