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The Backpack to Nowhere -- TR

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The Backpack to Nowhere -- TR

Postby quentinc » Tue May 31, 2011 4:01 pm

...but some day I'll laugh about it.

I had planned on continuing my exploration of the Kern Plateau by starting from Black Rock trail head (about 15 miles west of Kennedy Meadows) and hiking around Templeton and other meadows. Things got off to a bad start when I learned the road to Black Rock TH is closed. The ranger suggested I try the Jackass Creek trail instead, and no name could have been more apt.

Turns out the roads weren't the only place with downed trees. Here's a sample trail:

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And then there were the trails of snow:

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And then there's the trail system, which reminds me of the freeway system in Los Angeles. Typically, the numbers did not correlate with what the Tom Harrison map said:

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On the positive side, I ended up hiking on jeep roads around Monache Meadows, which is quite lovely before the trio of plagues arrive (jeeps, dirt bikes and cattle). Some views of Olancha:

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It starting snowing Saturday night, flurried (or hailed) most of Sunday, and was insanely cold Sunday night (I'm guessing under 20).

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My hike on Sunday began with a muddy creek fording and continued on a trail to oblivion. It's nice that there's a trail marker here, but what it's marking wasn't clear:

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So I turned around. I tried a different route on the way back, even though it wasn't on my map (the Harrison Southern Sierra map is uncharacteristically awful). Talk about a creek ford. This one looks slow and lazy at least, but it had a fast deep channel in the center:

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One hundred yards later, the trail crossed back to the original side of the creek! I eventually found a good log that worked. Then the trail crossed back to the other side :snipe:. I guess this kind of perversity passed as humor to the trail builders. It turned out the trail crossed from one side to another every several hundred years. I managed to stay on one side the rest of the time, although it required some unpleasant traversing along steep slopes.

On the positive side, I figured I had a better chance of getting out than this guy:

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I knew if I followed Fish Creek the whole way, it would lead back to my car, even if the last few miles were off-map. Things were going swimmingly until I hit this, which was downright barbaric:

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Property is theft! This turned out to be a huge in-holding, with barbed wire for miles, cutting me off from continuing east. This damn thing was like the Border Fence -- amazingly sturdy and well-maintained. It was already 6 p.m. and I was beginning to despair ever getting back to my car. After 30 minutes of walking along the barbed wire, I spotted a road, only there was no way to get to it. However, despair is the mother of invention and, somehow, the barbed wire got breached at this point (honestly, officer, I had nothing to do with it...). This got me back to the Sherman Pass Road, and about 4 miles of pavement-packing. Heck, at least the trail was easy to follow. I got back to my car around twilight.

Well, the worst day of backpacking is still better than the best day at work.



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Re: The Backpack to Nowhere -- TR

Postby maverick » Tue May 31, 2011 4:20 pm

Almost falls into the trip from hell category.
By the way, are those bullet holes on the door of the truck? Maybe climbing over that
fence does have consequences. :evil:
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: The Backpack to Nowhere -- TR

Postby Mike M. » Tue May 31, 2011 6:07 pm

Very nice TR, quentinc!

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Re: The Backpack to Nowhere -- TR

Postby Shawn » Tue May 31, 2011 8:30 pm

Well, the worst day of backpacking is still better than the best day at work.

Exactly!

PS. Nice TR and photos.....
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Re: The Backpack to Nowhere -- TR

Postby TehipiteTom » Tue May 31, 2011 8:55 pm

Shawn wrote:Well, the worst day of backpacking is still better than the best day at work.

Exactly!

PS. Nice TR and photos.....

That's a point on which I would disagree. The worst day of backpacking can sometimes be worse than the worst day at work. I think about a trip on the Monarch Divide when I was young and foolish (as opposed to old and foolish) and got caught in a September snowstorm and was absolutely convinced I was going to die. It's hard to top an experience like that for 'worst'.

I mean, for me that's part of the point of backpacking: the highs are high and the lows are low. It's living.

Just my opinion.

Edit: for the record, I certainly don't disagree with the "Nice TR and photos" part. ;)
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Re: The Backpack to Nowhere -- TR

Postby quentinc » Tue May 31, 2011 9:10 pm

TehipiteTom wrote:and was absolutely convinced I was going to die. It's hard to top an experience like that for 'worst'.


I don't know, I've certainly felt that way at my job at times. ;)
(Seriously, not to make light of your experience -- I know that can be pretty terrifying.)
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Re: The Backpack to Nowhere -- TR

Postby Cross Country » Tue May 31, 2011 9:30 pm

I agree with Tehipite Tom. I was never afraid at work and in general I loved BP.
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Re: The Backpack to Nowhere -- TR

Postby Wandering Daisy » Wed Jun 01, 2011 9:48 am

It is all a matter of perspective. No matter the dire situation we are in backpacking, my husband is calm. Nothing backpacking compares with his old "job" - foot soldier in Viet Nam for three years. He does get flashbacks when we have to muck through swamps so I really try to avoid this when he is with me.

My worst days backpacking have never been as bad as my worst days climbing. Being stuck in a lightning storm on a 6 inch ledge half-way up a 15-pitch climb and then having to bivy because of the delays is pure hell.

But, yes, your trip was quite an ordeal. Adventuresome, but not very pleasant.
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Re: The Backpack to Nowhere -- TR

Postby quentinc » Wed Jun 01, 2011 12:11 pm

Mav, good point about the bullet holes! As I said, I had nothing to do with the sudden unraveling of the barbed wire. :)
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Re: The Backpack to Nowhere -- TR

Postby maverick » Wed Jun 01, 2011 12:18 pm

Q wrote "Mav, good point about the bullet holes!". Yep, maybe the guy was a lawyer! :evil:
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: The Backpack to Nowhere -- TR

Postby Shawn » Wed Jun 01, 2011 9:46 pm

Point taken TehipiteTom , and of course being a prudent man I agree with you as the cliché obviously lacks original thought and isn’t intended to be taken literally. No doubt an attorney has a 30 page detailed version of the same cliché, cleaned up so as not to offend anyone (it just doesn't fit on a bumper sticker too well).

I must admit though, over the course of my career I have experienced some truly bad days which have yet to compare (so far) to my worst day backpacking. Hopefully it’ll stay that way and you guys and gals won’t have to read about me being the subject of an SAR operation with big orange helicopters (LOL).

You comment about highs and lows and living reminds me of this quote:

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and to see if I could not learn what it had to teach and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived- Henry David Thoreau "

And with that, we can resume normal programming…
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Re: The Backpack to Nowhere -- TR

Postby East Side Hiker » Wed Jun 01, 2011 10:09 pm

But the picture of Olancha Pk. is wonderful. Good job.

That's the problem with the southern Sierra - in the past it was open to all kinds of different "recreation opportunities." Thats the NF motto... "multiple uses."

When I first worked in the Sequoia NF, it was the first year that motorized vehicles (motorcycles) were banned because the Golden Trout Wilderness was established. I had a terrible time trying to send motorcycles back, and I packed out so many bags of oil cans etc. I picked out of the bushes (early in the season when the leaves hadn't fully grown out, and you can see them) that the packer came in every week and hauled out tons of garbage...
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