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Trip report - Kearsarge to Baxter Pass

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Trip report - Kearsarge to Baxter Pass

Postby jackie_s » Sat Jul 14, 2012 12:31 pm

This is a follow up from post, "Baxter Pass trail conditions?" that I posted on June 22.

Our first leg started at Onion Valley up to Kearsarge and over Glen Pass and staying the night at Rae Lakes. The second leg was from Rae Lakes to Baxter Lake and then the last day was over Baxter Pass and out. We had two 13-years-olds with us who did really well. Sorry I couldn't post any pictures - lost my camera :(

Finding the path for Baxter Trail from the JMT immediately after Dollar Lake wasn't too hard as there is a sign for Baxter Trail. Remaining on the trail is a different story entirely! The trail is pretty visible until you get a few minutes into it. We lost the trail which headed northeast up along the mountainside. After a few minutes, we found a boulder with cairn and got back on track. The trail was visible on the dirt for awhile then it goes through rocks along the mountainside now heading north. There are cairns every so often to help guide the way. I must say that without the cairns, we'd still be out there trying to find our way! The cairns were a life saver and I'm really thankful to whoever put them there. The boys were really good at finding them which made for an adventure for all of us. Heading along the mountainside for about a mile, we started descending a bit then veered right and headed east meandering through Baxter creek. We made two creek crossings, the first dry and the second crossing was running (about a foot or so deep) and then the path heads over granite where we lost the trail again. It took us about 10 minutes to find the path again which was a bit to the north. Since we had a late start, we didn't make it to Baxter Lake until late in the evening but we did have a bit of daylight left to prepare dinner and have a little nightcap!

Next morning we headed along the southside of Baxter Lake and east up to Baxter Pass. We crossed a dry creekbed of dark rocks where a cairn of lighter-colored rocks served as a beacon for our way. Glancing up along the ridge of Baxter Pass, we spotted about 20 Bighorn Sheep! This was truly one of the highlights of our trip! We were thrilled! They were pretty far away but just being able to see them was really amazing for us! According to the map, they were right on the boundary of the California Bighorn Sheep Zoological Area. We were hoping to get a better view of the sheep once we reached the top of the pass but no such luck.

Once we crossed the pass, the descent was pretty steep and definitely hard on the knees. Following the north fork of oak creek, the first creek passing (north to south, creekside) was just past Summit Meadow (where I left my camera while checking my water supply, boo-hoo!). Two logs made it possible to cross without fording. It was about 2.5 feet deep and the current looked a bit strong. The second creek was much easier as it was only about a foot deep. The third crossing was trivial.

Once we reached the car we were pretty tired but all in all, felt great! We saw no one on the Baxter trail at all but when we dropped the car off before we started, we did see two vehicles at the trailhead. I thought Baxter was beautiful and well worth the effort. I plan on doing another trip soon only this time in reverse and maybe heading up to Sawmill or Taboose.



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Re: Trip report - Kearsarge to Baxter Pass

Postby cgundersen » Sat Jul 14, 2012 1:57 pm

jackie,
Incredible fortune with the sheep! It's great to know that there's still a herd up there, but even so, I'm still not sure I'm ready for Baxter anytime soon. I still remember being almost completely shot the last time I went over.
But, you might put out a plea on HST that if anyone heads up there, maybe they can recover your camera?
And, what is a nightcap for 13 year olds?
cg
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Re: Trip report - Kearsarge to Baxter Pass

Postby jackie_s » Sat Jul 14, 2012 2:17 pm

No nightcap for the boys- just for us Moms! The boys did get some Apple Cobbler, though!
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Re: Trip report - Kearsarge to Baxter Pass

Postby maverick » Sat Jul 14, 2012 4:18 pm

Thanks for posting your TR. Sounds like you all had a fun time, expect for the camera
being lost. Seeing Bighorn Sheep is very special, congratulations.
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: Trip report - Kearsarge to Baxter Pass

Postby windknot » Sat Jul 14, 2012 4:19 pm

Thanks for the report!
A few backcountry fishing pictures: http://wanderswithtrout.wordpress.com/
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Re: Trip report - Kearsarge to Baxter Pass

Postby BigMan » Fri Jul 20, 2012 4:33 pm

Thanks for the great report.

Was there any stinging sagebrush?

I might being hiking the Baxter Pass Trail soon. If I do, I'll certainly keep an eye out for your camera. Any more info about where you left it?
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Re: Trip report - Kearsarge to Baxter Pass

Postby jackie_s » Fri Jul 20, 2012 5:02 pm

Hi BigMan-

It's a great hike! I really hope you get to see the Bighorn Sheep, as I said in my report, they were roaming around the top of Baxter Pass. Will you being going up or coming down Baxter? I never was able to identify any stinging nettle although I think maybe there might have been some near the second creek crossing so I'd definitely wear long pants. Also, the trail is pretty steep at times so be careful. I took Advil and wore an ace bandage on my knee just in case!

As for my camera, that would be great if you could keep an eye out for it and I'd really appreciate it. I left it in a small wooded "nook" on the left side of the trail (north side) I was coming down Baxter. There was a downed tree in a kinda shady area in Summit Meadow (if memory serves me correctly, but it could have been just right before the meadow) where I had set my camera down. It's in a small, black camera bag and there were some batteries in the front pocket. Thanks!

Hope you have a blast,
Jackie
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Re: Trip report - Kearsarge to Baxter Pass

Postby BigMan » Mon Jul 30, 2012 10:16 am

Hi Jackie,

I was in Summit Meadow yesterday. I looked for your camera, but I didn't find it. :(

I'll post a trip report soon.
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Re: Trip report - Kearsarge to Baxter Pass

Postby jackie_s » Mon Jul 30, 2012 4:52 pm

Hi BigMan,

I hope you had a great time and I'm looking forward to reading your TR. I guess my camera is gone for good, but thanks for watching out for it.

-Jackie
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