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July 4 - Golden Trout Creek

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July 4 - Golden Trout Creek

Postby krudler » Tue Jul 11, 2006 6:22 pm

I meant to post this before, but what can I say - I'm kind of lazy. Over July 4 weekend we took a trek from Horseshoe Meadow over Trail pass to the remote stronghold of the original golden trout: Golden Trout Creek. Join us on our 4-day trek.

My nephew Chuck flew in from Florida and after an afternoon and evening of catching up and packing we woke up way to early and headed for the trailhead after the obligatory stop at the ranger station in Lone Pine, at its swank new site on the outskirts of town. After the sassy young redhead finally dispensed our wilderness permit we were off up That Road to the trailhead.

Chuckems was stoked to begin his first backpacking adventure:
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After a short while we arrived in Horseshoe Meadow, to a beautiful scene:
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After dodging the frisky marmot along the trail in the meadow we headed up, up, up to Trail Pass. The north side is not bad as Sierra passes go, but we were glad to get to the top. Chuckie took in the view to the west towards Kern Peak, out towards our destination still many miles and hours of hiking off.
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At the bottom of the pass we reached Mulkey Meadow. Even with the large sandy areas the meadow was exceedingly beautiful and full of yellow and purple wildflowers. The pictures don't even come close. I was really surprised just how beautiful it was.
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But, more hiking. After getting through the meadow and up over a small saddle at the far end of Bullfrog Meadow we arrived at the upper South Fork Kern, flowing into a pretty little canyon towards Tunnel Meadow.
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Hiking through Tunnel Meadow was warm and sandy and not all that spectacular, but Kern Peak loomed ever larger in the distance.
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Eventually after about 10 miles of hiking we arrived at a decent campsite, up on a ridge so as to catch some breeze and avoid what mosquitoes we could. This was our view from camp (taken while sitting at the fire pit):
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The S.Fork Kern was in the ravine immediately below us. Chuck was feeling somewhat beat from the hike and the altitude, so while he crashed for a bit I did some quick fishing to check it out. First cast with a Red Humpy I got a nice little golden. And the second, and the third. Unfortunately, down by the water in the lengthening shade the mosquitoes were just SWARMING. After a few more casts I called myself satisfied and headed back up the hill to camp and to escape the bloodsuckers.

The next day we hiked the 1/4 mile down past Tunnel Station to the holy water: Golden Trout Creek. I told Chuckie what to look for, and what might be an effective fly (anything!), and before I could even rig up the kid had his first golden trout!
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Small, but indescribeably beautiful and pure. Soon I would follow with the first of many. Very many.
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These guys were little fighters, too! We moved along the creek, all the water was good and the creek was incredibly beautiful. Golden Trout Creek with Kern Peak in back:
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The next day we decided to follow the S.Fork Kern south a ways and fish it and see what it was like. Before I knew it we had found a nice little section and Chuck was rigging up and scoring again. Dang, who taught this kid to fish? Oh yeah....dang....!
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We followed the river/trail on a ways until it took us through some lava fields and then up to a small saddle. At the top we were pleasantly surprised by a fantastic view of Ramshaw Meadow, with Olancha Peak and Templeton Mountain in the background:
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The picture really doesn't do it. Chuckie's feet had accrued some blisters from the hike, so he decided to head back to camp while I hiked the 3/4 mile down into the meadow to check out the fishing. Here the river was open, slow and meandering.
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Ahh but it was worth the effort, and fishing absolutely alone in a stunning wilderness setting was really the highlight of the trip.

That evening we decided to hike off a few miles in the cooler evening shade back towards the trailhead. We pitched an impromptu camp when we ran out of gas and enjoyed a cool evening without a campfire, sipping some single malt and waiting for the stars to come out. Since I slept in my 1-lb sleeping bag with a space blanket and no tarp or tent, each night all I had to do was roll over and look up at the sky. That last night I saw half a dozen bright meteors in only 15 or 20 so minutes, and enjoyed spotting several star clusters with my binocs.

The last day we huffed it back out. We had intended to stay another day, but there was nothing much left for us to accomplish and I think Chuckems was looking forward to a cheeseburger (as was I). We got an early start to beat the heat. Some pics from the hike:

Flowers in Bullfrog Meadow. Doesn't do it justice:
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More in Mulkey Meadow, again no justice:
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The south side of Trail Pass was less fun than the north side, I think its about 1200' in 2+ miles or something like that. Not the worst but it was a relief to finally get to the top, where it was almost chilly in the shade with a nice breeze. I communed with nature at the top to celebrate the achievement.

On the way down we had good views of the Sierra crest to the north and the Cottonwood Lakes Basin:
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All in all a great trip, good fishing and a good time with my dear nephew Chuck. 20+ miles and 80+ fish apiece, not to mention the excess of memories we'll have for a long time to come.

And that cheeseburger sure did taste good.
"Krusty, you know Bette Midler?"
"Yeah we own a racehorse together - the Krudler!"



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Postby rightstar76 » Tue Jul 11, 2006 7:27 pm

Awesome pictures. I've hiked in the eastern portion of the Golden Trout so I can just visualize all those wildflowers you were seeing. Beautiful wilderness. A great place to go when you want meadows and forests, lots of trees.
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Postby hikerduane » Tue Jul 11, 2006 7:42 pm

Thank you for the pics and info. I'm thinking about heading down 395 in Oct. to spend a week? in the Golden Trout Wilderness instead of the Pinnacles area by Bear Basin. Not sure if I have a map of the whole area, I'll have to check out my maps. Thanks again for the nice photos of Goldens.

How will the water be in early Oct.?
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Postby copeg » Tue Jul 11, 2006 8:27 pm

great photos and tr krudler. Great picture of that golden...
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Postby krudler » Wed Jul 12, 2006 7:20 am

hi duane!

the water should not be too much of a problem, Golden Trout Creek and the S.Fork Kern are both perennial streams (as well as Mulkey Creek in Mulkey Meadow)...the only thing im not sure about is there were some trickles on both sides of Trail Pass that would have been good places to get water had it been necessary (we carried enough), its a good 4 miles or more over Trail Pass from Horseshoe into Mulkey Meadow that at that time could potentially be a waterless stretch. but, on the up side, it will be a lot cooler in Oct :) youll have a great trip at that time!
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"Yeah we own a racehorse together - the Krudler!"
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Postby hikerduane » Wed Jul 12, 2006 6:51 pm

I usually carry enough water for a few hours. When I did Mt. Whitney almost 3 years ago, I hiked in to Chicken Foot Lake/Springs for a warm up hike. I'm glad I did, it showed me a couple spots on my heals for blisters which I went into Lone Pine at the drug store and picked up some Blister Block patches. That place had the only stuff I have found from looking here and there. That trip was the furthest South I have ever been camping, or driven, since the Portal to Portal to the top of Whitney was a day trip not a bp trip.
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Postby ifernau » Wed Jul 12, 2006 9:02 pm

Great story and photos!
Inge
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Unless you’re prepared to expect the unexpected, you’re likely to miss capturing nature’s finest moments.(Galen Rowell)
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Postby krudler » Thu Jul 13, 2006 7:29 am

Thanks Inge, but its nothing compared to your pics...! :)
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Postby Snow Nymph » Thu Jul 13, 2006 12:42 pm

Way to show a newbie a good time! :D From his smiles, he'll be back! :D
Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free . . . . Jim Morrison


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