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Southern Sierra Backpacking

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Southern Sierra Backpacking

Postby Foofmcewan » Wed May 24, 2006 11:04 pm

I have four days off this weekend, and want to spend a little time in the southern Sierras. Does anyone have any ideas for a good, semi-challenging backapcking trip?



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Postby markskor » Thu May 25, 2006 6:13 am

The gate to Horseshoe Meadows opens this weekend...The Cottonwoods?
It is the closest southern ...east...395 Sierra adventure.
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Postby ndwoods » Thu May 25, 2006 7:21 am

This time of year every trip is challenging with the snow and high water!:) Go whereever a road is open and you can get in....
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Postby wingding » Thu May 25, 2006 9:09 am

Foofmcewan: Please report back on conditions when you get back from your trip. From what I hear there's a lot less snow in the southern Sierra now than there was at this time last year. I'm not headed up this coming weekend, but I think I'll be going up the following weekend. I'm not sure where yet but I'll try one of the trailheads either in the Lone Pine or Independence area.
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Postby Snow Nymph » Thu May 25, 2006 7:51 pm

E-mail from BobR:

Eric Toler and I hiked to Robinson Lake and also to Lone Pine Lake yesterday to check on the current snow conditions. For the Whitney trail, the snow starts at ~9900', just before Lone Pine Lake. And about the same elevation in the Onion Valley area. It looks like the Kearsarge Pass trail is clear until Little Pothole, then pretty much solid snow from there to the pass.
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Postby wingding » Fri May 26, 2006 11:20 am

Thanks SN - very helpful
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Postby DoyleWDonehoo » Fri May 26, 2006 12:02 pm

Probably too late, but one the best dry early season hikes is from Lewis Creek TH to the Kern River and SEKI. Make sure you have good maps and know how to use them for the first part due to the many unmarked trails. And make sure you have plenty of water. No snow or bad stream crossings, but great views and nice hiking. A subject for a future issue of Sierra Trails.
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Postby Shawn » Fri May 26, 2006 2:34 pm

Hey Doyle -

Your note caught my eye. Can you tell us more about the Lewis Creek TH to Kern hike? Without a topo in front of me I'm a little perplexed on where the Kern is in relationship to the Lewis Creek trailhead. I've been wanting to get up Lewis Creek for a while.
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Postby DoyleWDonehoo » Fri May 26, 2006 3:37 pm

Shawn wrote:Your note caught my eye. Can you tell us more about the Lewis Creek TH to Kern hike? Without a topo in front of me I'm a little perplexed on where the Kern is in relationship to the Lewis Creek trailhead. I've been wanting to get up Lewis Creek for a while.


Well, it is a beautiful drive to the TH, now with all the roads open. I will assume you can get to the TH. (OBTW, there is a nice free car-camp next to the packer station, and many others in the area as well. The TH camp is free as well, but no water.)
Anyway, take the trail near the entrance to the parking lot (the road is paved all the way) and follow it to the junction near Jerkey Meadows. Hang a right past Jerkey Meadows and head for the Little Kern River Bridge. There is a bunch of trails there, some not on the map, so take a 7.5 if you have it. When in doubt, take the well defined trail to the right. That should get you to the bridge. Get your fill of water and fill up the water bottles: no water till Trout Meadows.

Beyond the bridge there is a trail junction: 1) the Left goes to an "X" junction that goes towards Farewell Gap to the left, Trout meadows to the right, and on towards the Kern River center. 2) The Right goes to Trout Meadows, which I suggest you do. The left gains ands loses a lot of altitude.
At Trout Meadows, camp. There is a water spigot from a well, a RS and nice camps. Very pleasant spot. If you are a hairy chest beater type in good shape, do go on! :)
Beyond Trout Meadows the trail is sort of levelish, slowly gaining altitude. Several good camps will be found along the way after a spell, and you will meet the trail of "1)" above, though you will never see it. Beyond that is another excellent camp on the right (small packer) (and some other in the trees on the left, hidden).
After that last camp above, there is not well defined camps till the Kern River. OBTW, As you hike from Trout Meadows towards the Kern, make a lot of noise. Lots of wild bears in the area. They will run if they see you, but you don't want to surprise them.
Eventually you will reach the edge of the Kern Trench for nice views and a good rest stop. Take the trail to the right (not the crappy use trail to the left). The best view of the trip is on the trail leg into the canyon. Once you reach the Kern, there are camps everywhere, mostly packer camps. You could even take the Hole in the Wall trail to those camps (never been there). Great backpack camps at Kern Lakes.
Have fun. This trip is like the only one that can be done in MAY and get you deep into the Sierra past Kern Hot Springs and well past Chagoopa Falls....depending of the creek water levels. Rattlesnake Creek is near impossible to cross early season in a wet year, and this was a very wet year...
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regarding Lewis Creek TH to Kern

Postby taegello » Sun Jun 11, 2006 11:25 pm

i was looking at the map, and couldn't find Lewis Creek Trail Head. What part of the map should I be looking at?
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Postby DoyleWDonehoo » Mon Jun 12, 2006 12:06 am

Lewis Creek, Lloyd Meadow (better), Galic Meadow, all directly south of Farewell Gap SEKI.
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Postby krudler » Mon Jun 12, 2006 8:45 am

I could be wrong (!), but I believe it is the "Lewis Camp" TH, not Lewis Creek. This is accessed off hwy 190 past Quaking Aspen. The Jerky Meadows TH is what you are describing above. Basically the same, except that Lewis starts higher and is all downhill to the suspension bridge over the Little Kern (all up on the way out). The Jerky TH goes up over the ridge, then meets the trail coming from Lewis and goes down to the bridge so you get both up and down on the way in and out.
I've gone both these ways, Jerkey is slightly better (easier) I think but the views from the upper end of the Lewis trail are pretty good. Distance about the same.
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