Colby Pass trail at Kern River question

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mardav
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Re: Colby Pass trail at Kern River question

Post by 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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Mike M.
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Re: Colby Pass trail at Kern River question

Post by 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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Mike M.
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Re: Colby Pass trail at Kern River question

Post by 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.

Mike M.

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oldranger
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Re: Colby Pass trail at Kern River question

Post by 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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Big Ed
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Re: Colby Pass trail at Kern River question

Post by Big Ed » Fri Mar 20, 2015 12:42 am

I went over Colby in 08, going toward Kern River. One thing that sticks with me is how steep the downhill was going to the river. Steep enough that most trails would have had switchbacks, this went straight down. I was glad I didn't have to go up it. I don't know much about Llamas, but my impression is that they will be okay.

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Mike M.
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Re: Colby Pass trail at Kern River question

Post by Mike M. » Fri Mar 20, 2015 9:31 pm

Here's a photo of the slot. You can see the developed switchbacks and get a sense of the scale and lack of exposure.

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jimmeans
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Re: Colby Pass trail at Kern River question

Post by jimmeans » Sat Mar 21, 2015 11:48 am

Here's a photo looking west (towards Colby) from the top of the slot taken during our trip in 2011 after my original post in this thread. Unfortunately I don't have a good shot looking at the switchbacks coming up the hill. These switchbacks are very short with a few big steps in a couple of spots. Llamas shouldn't have a problem with these.
IMG_1087ds.jpg
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Re: Colby Pass trail at Kern River question

Post by mardav » Sun Mar 22, 2015 4:06 pm

Wow, all of these posts are amazingly helpful. I am so glad I joined this forum. I feel much better about taking this trail with my llamas. Thank you, everyone.

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