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Shepherd Pass Trail - Significant Damage 7/21/2013

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Shepherd Pass Trail - Significant Damage 7/21/2013

Postby orbitor » Tue Jul 23, 2013 10:14 am

We hiked the Shepherd Pass trail to climb Mt. Williamson (TR coming). On Sunday night 21 July we were camped out at Shepherd Pass when a violent thunderstorm hit us. We made it through ok and hiked out on Monday 22 July, but the trail was really affected by the storm. Most damage:
1) Switchbacks right below Shepherd Pass were washed out by rock slides. Negotiating that section with full packs is now pretty unnerving, both up and down.
2) First long switchback right below Anvil Camp has a trail section that was completely obliterated by a huge mud slide. The gash is 10-15 ft across and 10 ft deep. We had to descend into this gully, then climb back up the other side. It's passable, but barely.
3) Shepherd and Symmes Creeks both had torrents sweep the drainages. Uprooted trees and layers of mud extended several feet on both sides of stream beds. The three stream crossings near the trailhead were made difficult by generous amounts of mud deposited by a raging Symmes Creek.

We reported all of this to Inyo NF at the InterAgency VC in Lone Pine, but it might be a while before the trail is repaired. If you need more details, let me know.
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Re: Shepherd Pass Trail - Significant Damage 7/21/2013

Postby maverick » Tue Jul 23, 2013 10:21 am

Thanks for the update Orbitor. :thumbsup: By any chance do you have any photos
of the damage you could attach to your post? Thanks.
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Re: Shepherd Pass Trail - Significant Damage 7/21/2013

Postby orbitor » Tue Jul 23, 2013 10:36 am

maverick wrote:Thanks for the update Orbitor. :thumbsup: By any chance do you have any photos
of the damage you could attach to your post? Thanks.


Maverick,
I have photos, but no chance to process them yet. Just got back yesterday afternoon. Will post as soon as time allows. Thank you.
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Re: Shepherd Pass Trail - Significant Damage 7/21/2013

Postby rscofield » Tue Jul 23, 2013 12:00 pm

Looking forward to the photos, especially of the switchbacks. Would you say it is more of a cross county route now? If so, what class? I have a trip planned up there in September.
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Re: Shepherd Pass Trail - Significant Damage 7/21/2013

Postby orbitor » Tue Jul 23, 2013 12:15 pm

rscofield wrote:Would you say it is more of a cross county route now? If so, what class? I have a trip planned up there in September.


rscofield,
It's not a cross-country route now. 99% of the trail is still as before, but the sections that sustained damage are in bad shape. Between trailhead and Anvil Camp there are numerous places where washouts of various sizes intersect the trail. The worst ones are right below Anvil Camp, culminating with the bulldozer-sized slide that took out everything in its path down to Shepherd Creek.
The switchbacks under Shepherd Pass are deeply cut by runnels, requiring very careful foot placement. Rocks are unstable wherever the slide destroyed the trail.
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Re: Shepherd Pass Trail - Significant Damage 7/21/2013

Postby rscofield » Tue Jul 23, 2013 1:00 pm

Thanks, Yes I was curious about the section just below the pass.
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Re: Shepherd Pass Trail - Significant Damage 7/21/2013

Postby maverick » Tue Jul 23, 2013 1:08 pm

Further flashfloods expected today, so there may be even more damage.
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Re: Shepherd Pass Trail - Significant Damage 7/21/2013

Postby rscofield » Tue Jul 23, 2013 9:37 pm

Tis the season. Lots of thunder here in the desert too.
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Shepherd Pass Trail - Significant Damage 7/21/2013

Postby J ney » Tue Jul 23, 2013 10:08 pm

Wow... Thanks for the heads up! Pics would be great! I saw those storms in the forecast and cancelled a trip out to Mt Sill on Sunday, sounds like I made the right call... Trying again in a couple of weeks.
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Re: Shepherd Pass Trail - Significant Damage 7/21/2013

Postby SenorDingDong » Wed Jul 24, 2013 11:55 pm

I just hiked down Shepherds Pass this afternoon, after completing a loop from Kearsarge.

Monday and Tuesday's monsoonal rains contributed more damage to the trail. The large gully below Anvil Camp is passable, but required some 3rd class moves on loose rock held together by mud. Rocks the size of cars are perched in a loose slurry of mud, and many looked like they could roll.

Aside the large gully, the trail is a mess. Much of the trail is eroded (most of the water bars blew out or clogged), and the footing was a pain. It took us much longer than expected to get down. Both Symmes Creek and Shepherd Creek are scoured down to bedrock, and lost most of their riparian areas.

The trail is completely impassible to stock, and given INF's budget woes, I doubt any serious trail maintenance is in the cards for the Shepherds Pass trail. But I'm sure a Geomorphologist would get a kick out of the hike.

Be safe out there!
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Re: Shepherd Pass Trail - Significant Damage 7/21/2013

Postby maverick » Thu Jul 25, 2013 12:01 pm

Hi SDD,

Welcome to HST! Thanks for the trail update and photos! :thumbsup:
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Re: Shepherd Pass Trail - Significant Damage 7/21/2013

Postby orbitor » Thu Jul 25, 2013 12:27 pm

Sorry for the delay, it's been a busy time at work. Finally got around to downloading my teammate's photos of the trail. This is what it looked like on Monday 22 July when we hiked out. As SenorDingDong noted, more damage was inflicted after the rains of Monday night and Tuesday, so things are looking bad.

Descending the top of the switchbacks below Shepherd Pass
Image

Still on the switchbacks, note the deep gash cutting across on the right
Image

Washout below Anvil Camp
Image

One of the bigger gullies below Anvil Camp
Image

Slide came down from ridge of Mt. Keith
Image

"Bulldozer Gully" - note the human-sized pine tree on the right next to the trail for scale
Image

Climbing down into "Bulldozer Gully"
Image

Path of slide on its way down to Shepherd Creek
Image

Shepherd Creek at Mahogany Flat
Image

Third crossing (from TH) of Symmes Creek
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Team member washing off after falling into mud up to the knees
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