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TR: Headwaters Kern R

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Re: TR: Headwaters Kern R

Postby sparky » Mon Aug 19, 2013 6:02 pm

Great trip report. Love the pictures of your camps at Milestone Basin and Thunder Mountain Basin. Stunning!

I also like using no clock. Up and down with the sun.

Thanks for taking the time to share this trip!
There is a million ways to be human, all are worthwhile.

True happiness is the absence of striving for happiness.
-Chuang Tzu.



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Re: TR: Headwaters Kern R

Postby freestone » Mon Aug 19, 2013 6:53 pm

Sorry, I need to correct myself in my earlier post. I meant Junction Pass, not Shepherd Pass.
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Re: TR: Headwaters Kern R

Postby giantbrookie » Mon Aug 19, 2013 8:28 pm

Classic trip and report. Quite a fishing odyssey, too. What a great area.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Re: TR: Headwaters Kern R

Postby SSSdave » Mon Aug 19, 2013 8:48 pm

Note for any that are merely interested in reaching the lower Tyndal Creek areas, the net vertical up and down going over Shepherd Pass and returning that same way is about 1620 feet less than out and back from Onion Valley over Forester Pass. This includes a route down to where the Shepherd and Forester passes meet lower down so would not be valid for someone staying up near the top of Shepherd Pass say to climb Tyndal.

Total vertical out and back via Shepherd is 8460 feet that includes 6630 from the trailhead to the pass and another 1170 back up on the west side to the pass. However if one starts at Onion Valley but exits at Shepherd Pass, it is 1325 feet less than Shepherd pass out and back or 7135 feet total up vertical though the mileage is considerably longer. Thus the logic of that popular semi loop though one pays with an extra day of travel.
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Re: TR: Headwaters Kern R

Postby Shawn » Mon Aug 19, 2013 10:57 pm

Thanks for posting the great trip report; it was a great read and beautiful photos.
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Re: TR: Headwaters Kern R

Postby canukyea » Mon Aug 19, 2013 11:11 pm

Since I haven't had a chance to do a significantly long trip this year, it's reports like these that have me salivating! Those are some gorgeous lakes and a route that is top quality fishing.
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Re: TR: Headwaters Kern R

Postby TehipiteTom » Tue Aug 20, 2013 6:20 am

Great report.

I think I camped in the same spot at Vidette Lakes--there really isn't much else around there.
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Re: TR: Headwaters Kern R

Postby KathyW » Tue Aug 20, 2013 7:05 am

SSSdave wrote:Note for any that are merely interested in reaching the lower Tyndal Creek areas, the net vertical up and down going over Shepherd Pass and returning that same way is about 1620 feet less than out and back from Onion Valley over Forester Pass. This includes a route down to where the Shepherd and Forester passes meet lower down so would not be valid for someone staying up near the top of Shepherd Pass say to climb Tyndal.

Total vertical out and back via Shepherd is 8460 feet that includes 6630 from the trailhead to the pass and another 1170 back up on the west side to the pass. However if one starts at Onion Valley but exits at Shepherd Pass, it is 1325 feet less than Shepherd pass out and back or 7135 feet total up vertical though the mileage is considerably longer. Thus the logic of that popular semi loop though one pays with an extra day of travel.


Since that recent flash flood along the Shepherd Pass Trail, there is an extra 100 or so feet gain each way because you have to go up to get around the big gully before Anvil Camp; so add a good 200 feet to an out-and-back trip via Shepherd Pass.

I came up with about 14,000' gain from the Shepherd Pass Trailhead to Milestone Peak and back out again.
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Re: TR: Headwaters Kern R

Postby Wandering Daisy » Tue Aug 20, 2013 8:02 am

My choice of Onion Valley TH had nothing to do with elevation gain. I have never been on the portion of JMT from Vidette Meadow to Forester Pass, had never seen Center Basin or Vidette Lakes and never had spent any time exploring the lakes on the east side of Kearsarge Pass, but had been over Shepherd Pass three times. I always am looking to see new terrain! Although getting to the Kern watershed was a main goal, it was not my only goal. My route choice usually has more to do with where I want to wander in the mountains, not the easiest nor fastest way to get somewhere. My only limitation is how much food I am able to carry. Last year (in the Wind Rivers) I did a 14-day ration but it was miserable the first week. In the Sierra it amounts to what fits in the bear can! A 10-day trip is becoming my new limit - if I fish I can usually squeeze in another day. As for daily mileage - that depends on when my old knees get too stressed.

A good deal of the route decision also was to pick places where I most likely would avoid the smoke from the Aspen Fire. My second trip was a short easy trip up N. Pine Creek/Palisades. It would have been preferable to do the short trip first, but when I drove through Bishop there still was too much smoke - could not even see the Palisades! By the time the Kern Headwaters trip finished, the smoke had cleared significantly.

I like to change plans and adapt to conditions. This is why I seldom reserve permits. So far, knock on wood, I have never had any trouble getting a walk-in permit.

Just a note- there now is a lot of smoke up here east of Sacramento. There is a fire burning near Forrest Hill. We were thinking of going to Desolation this weekend, but decided we have to go farther south to get out of the smoke.
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Re: TR: Headwaters Kern R

Postby BakoGal » Tue Aug 20, 2013 8:18 am

I pulled out my map and really enjoyed “arm chair” travelling with you. Thanks for taking the time to write this up and include those awesome photos!

I smiled at your lower Vidette Lake issue….I was there two weeks ago, also with a very wet Tarptent Moment and no morning sun!
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Re: TR: Headwaters Kern R

Postby Trailguru » Tue Aug 20, 2013 3:58 pm

Wandering Daisy

Great Trip Report.

I love it when someone pieces together a trip from different parts of the Sierra I've been to. Somehow it becomes an entirely new thing to read about as if I've never been there.
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Re: TR: Headwaters Kern R

Postby lostcoyote » Tue Aug 20, 2013 5:31 pm

great trip report.
thank you for sharing & bringing back great memories.
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