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SHORTEST WAY TO KERN HOT SPRING

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Re: SHORTEST WAY TO KERN HOT SPRING

Postby jsbrown14 » Tue Oct 25, 2011 1:57 pm

Rich, it depends on where you're starting in Siberian Outpost. For one starting point, here's a rough sketch of how to go. The lines I've drawn are way too straight to be practical, and you shouldn't use them for GPS waypoints or anything, but it gives you the general idea:

(sorry, I couldn't figure out how to embed the image, so you need to click through)
http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=5158385

Alternatively, if you're starting close to the confluence of Siberian Pass creek and Rock Creek, you should probably go west down Rock Creek until the Forgotten Canyon confluence, then turn southwest, staying at roughly constant altitude until you intersect the final line I'm showing on the descent into Kern. I haven't hiked this route, but I suspect the SW traverse is fine. Avoid lower Rock Creek -- it looks gnarly on the topos and I think it requires technical climbing.

I'm still working on the photos. Hopefully (!) this week.



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Re: SHORTEST WAY TO KERN HOT SPRING

Postby richlong8 » Tue Oct 25, 2011 3:17 pm

Thanks for taking the time to put that together. I have never been to Funston Lake, and was always hesitant because I assumed I would go the long way around thru the fishless Rocky Basin Lakes. But coming in from Cottonwood, following that branch of Siberian Creek Ck makes sense- . Maybe next year I will try a little 3-4 day trip. Cottonwood Pass to PCT, Siberian Pass, then it looks like easy crosscountry. Those little lakes/tarns before you cross over the ridge into Funston might even have some fish. Thanks again. Jensen's old Kern Peak/Olancha Wilderness Press hiking guide talks about Forgotten Canyon- supposed to be nice in there, and rarely visited. Might be interesting to leave that way and loop back to Cottonwood.
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Re: SHORTEST WAY TO KERN HOT SPRING

Postby jsbrown14 » Tue Oct 25, 2011 6:22 pm

You're welcome. The routes you describe are all good options. We entered Cottonwood pass and spent the first night in Big Whitney Meadow. Second day we hiked toward Rocky Basin lakes, but went on past them to camp at Johnson Lake. The third day, two of us went down into Kern Canyon and back (my earlier long post). The fourth day we hiked through Siberian Outpost and even stopped to fish those small lakes east of Funston (sadly, no fish, no bites, and no clear explanation; one Inyo ranger said something about removing the trout due to an endangered frog (?), but who knows). The last night we camped on the far eastern end of Siberian Outpost, and the final morning we hiked out the PCT to Cottonwood pass.

The off-trail travel across Siberian between the PCT and Funston lake is really pleasant. We didn't have time to poke around Forgotten Canyon, but it also looked inviting and untraveled.
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Re: SHORTEST WAY TO KERN HOT SPRING

Postby jsbrown14 » Tue Oct 25, 2011 6:30 pm

Finally uploaded some photos.

Our first view of the lower section of canyon, looking down the stream that drains Funston Lake:
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Getting down toward the shoulder of the valley, where it starts to get steep:
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Continuing down:
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Chagoopa falls, getting lower:
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The river, at last!
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Emerging from the swamp (see previous post about crossing the valley floor):
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I was too tired to take photos on the way up...
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Re: SHORTEST WAY TO KERN HOT SPRING

Postby Cross Country » Tue Oct 25, 2011 9:39 pm

I believe the easiest way to KHS is over Franklin Pass from MK. I've never been this way but plan to return to the Kern in 2012 with GKaz and anyone else interested in going in early August. We plan to fish the Kern for several days to just below Kern Lake(s). Ahhh, warm days and cool nights and low enough elevation to do on a beta blocker at 69. Here's hoping that everything goes well enough with my health to do it. I believe it will, but then I've always been an optimums.
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Re: SHORTEST WAY TO KERN HOT SPRING

Postby richlong8 » Tue Oct 25, 2011 11:01 pm

Catching those Kern river rainbows is worth the effort. I have been down to the Kern via Trail Pass and Little Whitney, and also come up from the south via the Little Kern River bridge trail. Personally, I might choose the southern route over Franklin Pass and Rattlesnake Ck. The mileage is not that much different, and it is a lot flatter and easier to come in from the south. Almost no elevation gain in or out. That is the way most of the packer traffic goes. Good luck jcarter. Sounds like you deserve a return trip!
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Re: SHORTEST WAY TO KERN HOT SPRING

Postby richlong8 » Tue Oct 25, 2011 11:03 pm

Great pictures of a tough route. you got some huevos, my friend!
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Re: SHORTEST WAY TO KERN HOT SPRING

Postby AvFan » Mon Oct 31, 2011 10:28 pm

I hiked the High Sierra Trail the past two summers and wondered if the route described even existed. This August I skipped the throngs at Whitney and exited at the Cottonwood Lakes trailhead via Rock Creek and Army Pass. As I came down into the Kern from the Moraine Lake/Sky Parlor Meadow area the Rock Creek drainage, Mt. Guyot and the Kern trench were laid out in front of me. I too wondered if there was a way to go immediately east and avoid the slog up the Kern to Junction Meadow and up Wallace Creek to the PCT. Where I was going to cross Rock Creek in a couple of days couldn't have been more than 3 or 4 steep miles from Kern Hot Springs. I took a very brief look up Rock Creek and it is vertical almost from the HST crossing. This was also my first decent length solo trip so cross country adventures were not in the plan so I continued north. From the earlier posts it looks like it might be possible for those in very good shape and decent navigation skills supported by a GPS to climb east. Thanks to those who posted an easterly route is possible. Would you come out of the Kern via this easterly route with a full pack?

Also, I agree the swamp at the bottom of the route described is really nasty. The main trail squishes through a portion of it and I wouldn't like to cross it. IMO that 1+ mile portion of the HST is probably the worst. Either you are slogging along through a humid mosquito filled bog or though a really hot rock debris field before crossing the bridge over the Kern. The hot springs are a welcome reward at the end of the day.
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Re: SHORTEST WAY TO KERN HOT SPRING

Postby jsbrown14 » Wed Nov 02, 2011 3:19 pm

Av, tough call on hiking it with a pack.

The first 2000 vertical feet is a lot of steep, loose rock. Make sure you're comfortable balancing on shifting, softball-sized rocks while wearing your pack. Walking down was great: you could surf/slide each step to cover 4-5 feet. Walking up would be slow: in some places, for each step you'd probably slide backwards 3/4 of a step on the loose gravel. And you might be doing a bear crawl for balance in spots, which is really tiring with a pack.

The upper 2000 feet widens out and becomes softer forested ground. It's still steep, but not as steep, you won't be surfing the scree, and you could start doing honest switchbacks.

Overall it can be done if you've got good balance and are willing to work really hard. Just mentally prepare for the bottom half to be *very* slow, and set a modest goal for the day (say, schedule a whole day to climb from Upper Funston Meadow to Funston Lake). And carry a lot of water. Depending on season, you might not see water until Funston Lake itself.
Last edited by jsbrown14 on Fri Nov 04, 2011 6:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: SHORTEST WAY TO KERN HOT SPRING

Postby AvFan » Wed Nov 02, 2011 9:41 pm

js:

Thanks for the reply. Climbing steep scree with a full pack doesn't sound like much fun but if it had to be done I'm pretty sure I could manage. It is good to know to allow a full day to pull directly up and easterly from the Kern. FYI, I think you can see the scree chutes between the cliffs south of Rock Creek and the creek coming out of Funston Lake using google earth. Just clarifying; Is that where you came down?
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Re: SHORTEST WAY TO KERN HOT SPRING

Postby jsbrown14 » Thu Nov 03, 2011 7:29 am

Av, you're welcome. Your google earth description is exactly right.
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Re: SHORTEST WAY TO KERN HOT SPRING

Postby merlynnmann » Mon Mar 19, 2012 10:10 am

Just to clarify my route down from funston lake to kern valley floor and eventually kern hot springs, I leave funston lake going north trying to stay as best i can at the same elevation for about 1 hour (carrying 62 lb pack slows me down alot).About a mile+ head down west looking across the canyon to "spy"two marks.Across the canyon try to see Chagoopa Plateau. Near the south end, a trail follows funston creek drainage.To the right try to see Chagoopaa falls. Descend between these two landmarks. You will be coming down one of several scree shoots of which none are easy.Since I make this hike at the end of june crossing the Kern is impossible at that point.You are right about staying on the east side of the river.Old topo maps have a bridge
near where the descent ends.Remnents of the original trail still exist(many uncleared fallen trees so keep a sharp eye).The trail will wind through trees and then manzanita bushes and meet with the existing trail yards from rock creek crossing.
As to ascending, I did it very early in the morning with eight days less (stuff) in my now lighter pack.Leaving early allowed me to hike the hard part in the early morning shade that the canyon walls provided. It is about six hours of torture to funston lake and six more to my car.I did make a mistake of not retracing my steps back over to siberion outpost and went out to forgotten canyon.This added miles(2+) and needless descents and ascents.At the time i was in good shape for a 56 year old.But it was HARD.The next time i did it i fished at the lake for a couple of hours and got as far as the western most part of siberion outpost.I figured the route is about 18+ miles. I did it twice by myself and i took a couple of friends in one time who refused to come out the same way.We went out by the southern route to the bridge by the southern border of sequoia n.p and went up through LITTLE and BIG Whitney meadow. Questions? merlynnmann@yahoo.com
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