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Colby Pass trail at Kern River question

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Re: Colby Pass trail at Kern River question

Postby mattherrington » Sun Aug 21, 2011 4:31 pm

Crossed 8/17 and it was ankle/calf high. Don't be me and put your boots back on after the first crossing south bound though. There's more than one separated by ~30 yds.



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Re: Colby Pass trail at Kern River question

Postby Cross Country » Sun Aug 21, 2011 8:20 pm

Mike M and mattherrington
It makes me really happy to hear this. Now everyone can enjoy one of my favorite areas. I only hiked in here on 3 trips, but they were trips of 9, 10 , and 16 days. I advise everyone: GO THERE. It's almost like being in another world. I would call this world "Paradise" One thing that makes me (probably) prejudice is I always had great weather. It least it was great weather from my point of view. The first time I was there in late August with (saint) Diane and Iowa Joe. We had taken a fishing day hike to the lakes under Mt. Williamson. Interesting fishing. Fun too. Di waited for us at Lake 12002 at the summit. The second day we were hiking to the Upper Kern on the Tyndall Creek trail where we encountered a snow storm at about 4PM. What luck. We ran across (just below the patrol cabin) a Shorty Lovelace cabin. He certainly was short. We made the obvious choice to stop for dinner and cooked it in the fire pit in the corner of the cabin. The weather cleared and I went out to fish the creek. What a great surprise and treat was in store for me.

Before the trip I had read in Sierra South (printed circa 1970) about this area. In SS Thomas Winnett wrote about the Upper Kern River trout. The next day I caught some hybrid Rainbow/UKR trout in the Upper Kern. I regress. Back to this day close to the cabin. The creek was full of the UKR trout. Someone had obviously transplanted them. They were really different from rainbows and goldens. They were (to me) an obvious sub species of rainbows (and appeared to my untrained eye to be really pure bred) like Goldens are but more (much more) rare. What a treat it was to have experienced this. I'll bet these fish no longer exist. The creek (Tymdall) was small and at times must have dried up. About 10 or 12 years later I fished the Upper Kern and there was absolutely no sign of these rare and so special fish.

This trip was actually very much more eventful than this and I may one day write more.
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Last edited by Cross Country on Mon Aug 22, 2011 1:47 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Colby Pass trail at Kern River question

Postby NancyM » Sun Aug 21, 2011 9:30 pm

Thanks so much for the crossing conditions. I still don't have current conditions on Colby Pass. Hope to get current information from the Rangers tomorrow.

In the meantime, I'll post a pic from my trip last year. The Great Western Divide and Kern Canyon are truly amazing! I have been there a few times now, and I am sure I'll continue to go back and explore. Really special!
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Re: Colby Pass trail at Kern River question

Postby NancyM » Sun Aug 21, 2011 9:35 pm

Kaweah-Kern Drainage - Web Version.JPG
This is a view coming down on the east side of Colby Pass through the Kaweah-Kern drainage. Incredible descent from almost 12,000 ft to the Kern at about 8,000 ft.
Kaweah-Kern Drainage - Web Version.JPG (46.92 KiB) Viewed 152 times
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Re: Colby Pass trail at Kern River question

Postby Captain Slappy » Mon Aug 22, 2011 7:47 am

Terrific pic, Nancy.

I am going to be looking to hook up with the trail on the eastern side of Colby Pass after I cross Triple Divide Pass and work my way over a nearby shoulder at 12,000 ft. Any idea how faint the Colby trail is on the eastern side and whether I will have a difficult time locating it? Thanks.
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Re: Colby Pass trail at Kern River question

Postby NancyM » Mon Aug 22, 2011 9:13 am

I don't recall having any difficulty following the trail last year. We went over Colby Aug 31st and had no trouble at all. Of course no telling what it's like up there this year. I'm going to contact the rangers to see if there is any updated information on Colby. The latest posting on trail conditions is Aug 8th, and it said there was still a lot of snow above 10,500 ft. in the Kaweah-Kern drainage/Colby Pass area. Will post what I find out.
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Re: Colby Pass trail at Kern River question

Postby DoyleWDonehoo » Mon Aug 22, 2011 10:35 am

Below is one of the best reasons to go over Colby Pass. When I went over that pass a few years ago, everything trail-wise was clear and obvious, with the trail going through the expected places and being well defined all along the route. It even looked like it had been maintained (horsepackers?) in the steeper places. The only trouble I ran into was an unexpected Blizzard on Colby pass, but even then I had little trouble following the trail. This last year could have changed things a little, but that trip is well worth the risk. Thanks to contributors here for the pictures of the trail down to the Kern River since I have not done that segment. I had been down the Kern River Trail on an earlier trip.
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Gallats Lake in the morning near camp.
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Re: Colby Pass trail at Kern River question

Postby NancyM » Mon Aug 22, 2011 1:37 pm

I spoke with the Wilderness Office in Three Rivers this morning. They are going to ask the backcountry rangers during their daily check-ins tomorrow about trail conditions over Colby, etc. Will let you know if/when they call me back with an update. I'm sure they will update their website as well. Stay tuned!
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Re: Colby Pass trail at Kern River question

Postby mardav » Thu Mar 19, 2015 7:56 pm

I have a question about Colby Pass. I am planning a loop trip this summer, which starts and ends at Onion Valley. We will cross Kearsarge, go north on PCT over Glen Pass to Woods Creek, then Southwest down Paradise Valley to Bubbs Creek, then south over Avalanche Pass to Roaring River, then SE thru Cloud Canyon to cross Colby Pass. We will descend to the Kern River , take the Wallace Creek trail back to the PCT, go north over Forester Pass and exit over Kearsarge.
Our party consists of two old but very experienced hikers and 3 or 4 llamas. We've been told by some that Colby can't be navigated by livestock, but most people don't know much about llamas, and how surefooted they are.
We have been over all the other passes with llamas, but not Colby. I keep hearing about "the slot"about a mile and a half above the Kern, and I wonder if I am being foolhardy in planning to cross Colby with llamas. Can anyone who has been there give me their opinion on my venture? It's not too late for me to plan an alternate route. But I have long had a desire to do Colby, as I am running out of new places to explore in the Sierras after a lifetime of hiking.
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Re: Colby Pass trail at Kern River question

Postby Mike M. » Thu Mar 19, 2015 9:47 pm

I believe you can navigate your way up or down "the slot" with your llamas. The short, steep section has fairly well constructed switchbacks. Unless your animals are nervous by nature, they should have no problem. Upstream, above Gallats Lake, the trail swtichbacks steeply up a forested shoulder. This section is badly eroded in places but easily navigated by sure-footed hikers and by llamas. The trail on both sides of the upper sections of the pass is in much better shape than reports would have you believe. Sounds like a great trip!

Mike
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Re: Colby Pass trail at Kern River question

Postby Mike M. » Thu Mar 19, 2015 10:09 pm

I have a photo of the slot and its switchbacks, but can't post it because the website is acting up. There is no exposure to speak of.

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Re: Colby Pass trail at Kern River question

Postby oldranger » Thu Mar 19, 2015 10:30 pm

Colby pass should not be an issue unless there has been a recent slide on the north side, which means a section of the trail could become a talus field of jagged 3-4 ft diameter rocks. I rode my horse and took pack stock over the pass several times when the Roaring River Ranger. However the "slot," going e toward the Kern it is a brief, steep uphill section that can be dicy and conditions vary from year to year--usually deteriorating. One year after the Kern trail crew spent weeks restoring the trail in the slot their stock pretty much destroyed their work as they rode out. I once rode about a third of the way up when I decided it was not worth the risk to my stock. I wouldn't hesitate to do it on foot and I suspect that llamas will do just fine especially if they have become accustomed to more that just easy forested trails.

Mike
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