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#36409 - 05/11/14 10:05 AM Kern River Loop 05-03 to 05/10.....unseccessful
Paul Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 182
Loc: Santa Clarita, CA
Quick report......no pics...camera lost while crossing Wright Creek.

My intent was a loop.

Basically, left Horseshoe Meadows on May 3rd, over Trail Pass, thru Mulkey Meadows, Tunnel Meadows and down to the Kern River. Up the Kern, enjoy the hot springs to Junction Meadows, and up Wallace Creek to the junction of the JMT.

At that point, snow was total coverage, and waist deep. Returned the way I came in.

The weather was the pits...snow while at the hot springs (only about a quarter inch), but interesting. The temps stayed cold both during the day, and so cold at night. Oh, windy every day!!!

All rivers were very easy to cross. For those interested, the Wright Creek crossing has been revamped by the trail maintenance crew. When I made this trip last June, it was the old crossing, very dangerous during high water. The trail crew, built steps leading down to the river, and up the other side. They removed rocks to make the crossing very easy. Nice job, and kudos to those guys.

Wright was still a pain in the butt though, about 3 feet from the shore ice extended, snow all over the water fall, and 3 to 4 inch ice build up on rocks and all. I figured that once I stepped in, I had a short period to make it across before my legs froze....water about 30 inches deep.

Anyway, nobody for 5 days except "smokey the bear: at the hot springs....big guy on the trail and when he stood up, I click my poles and he ran off. Also, mister rattler next to the trail...nasty guy...hissed.

paul

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#36411 - 05/11/14 11:06 AM Re: Kern River Loop 05-03 to 05/10.....unseccessful [Re: Paul]
2600fromatari Offline


Registered: 10/18/10
Posts: 452
Loc: San Diego
Sounds like a successful trip to me. I'm surprised snow is still waist deep from looking at the Whitney cam. Also surprised you met a rattler. Thanks for the TR and info on conditions.

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#36412 - 05/11/14 12:28 PM Re: Kern River Loop 05-03 to 05/10.....unseccessful [Re: 2600fromatari]
Paul Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 182
Loc: Santa Clarita, CA
All south facing slopes were pretty much snow free, hence the climb up out of Junction up Wallace creek, the trail stays on the south side, while the north side contained snow.

I suspect that if I could have somehow climbed out of Wallace toward Crabtree, the snow, once on the ridge (more sun)would have been a lot less. The JMT going north at Wallace was snow free.....go figure.

As for Mr Rattler...... he is the first that I have encountered during my some 12 Kern River hikes. I have heard people talk about encounters, but this is my first. The same goes for the bear.....it's been 10 years since my last bear sighting.

I am going to head up to Center Basin the second week in June, hopefully with a new camera. I like the Junction Pass route both for views of Tyndall, Williamson and Forester Pass.

Thanks

paul

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#36425 - 05/11/14 10:52 PM Re: Kern River Loop 05-03 to 05/10.....unseccessful [Re: Paul]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7444
Loc: Fresno, CA
Paul, glad you returned safely. Did you fall in Wright Creek, or how did you lose the camera??? Sounds like more to the story there. I DON'T think I would have wanted to cross any creek that was 30" deep with layers of ice along the shore.

The weather was definitely chilly and windy here on the west side last week.

And I am curious where you planned to go if you headed north on the JMT to Wright Creek.

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#36437 - 05/12/14 09:39 AM Re: Kern River Loop 05-03 to 05/10.....unseccessful [Re: Steve C]
Paul Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 182
Loc: Santa Clarita, CA
Hey Steve....yes, there is always more to a story and this is no different.

The camera fell in the water on my return trip after reaching the JMT when I decided (or had to) return the way I came in.

So, the story is, on my first crossing, there was ice covering a pool next to the shore and then flowing water. The same on the other side.

I put on my running shoes and took my first step on the ice, breaking through, then the other foot. By the third step I entered the flowing water. It was cold and about 2 inches above the knee. I continued to walk and as you know, the water is usually deeper in the middle part.

As I mentioned, the trail crew removed a number of big rocks in the path across the stream, making it fairly level.

I know you have crossed Wright before so you know how dangerous it can be. To be honest, I wasn't sure, prior to reaching the creek whether I could cross it, safely. I was ready to turn back if the creek proved dangerous. Luckily, when I arrived, all the changes that the trail crew made really made me confident of the crossing.

When I exited the other side of the creek, I was exuberant, ecstatic...

Okay, now what happened to the camera. After reaching the JMT and deciding to turn around, I was, well, pissed, disappointed and angry.....so close. Only some 24 miles from the car (now I was looking at a distance of 45 or greater to reach the car) and, from my perspective, the best part of the section.

So descending....very angry. I started the analysis on what I need to do. Number of days to get back to the car, how much food, and other variables. In a nut shell, I at least need to make it back to the hot springs the same day which I estimated at 12 miles (I had already hiked 4.3 miles from Junction to the JMT. It was 11:40 am.

When I reached Wright crossing, I was still angry and pissed.

Just below where I first crossed, there was a series of rocks, a couple barely submerged and maybe one or two at the other end submerged. I really didn't want to take my boots off again and thought I could get away with the crossing.

Okay, just before I stepped out on the rock, in the water, I undid all my straps...... without thinking....still angry and pissed, I forgot that my camera was attached to my waist belt. As soon as I undid the belt I saw the camera slide off the belt and drop into the water. I tried to grab it as it floated, I missed it on my first attempt at retrieval, then, the current took the camera over some rocks and into a foaming pool of water slow. The camera floated for a few seconds and then went under, never to be seen again.

Well, then I realized, I was in water up to my knee....boots soaked.

I should have just removed my boots and put on my running shoes and repeated my first journey across. There would have been no problems. I acted without thinking and paid the price.

I walked the next 12 miles in soaked boots and socks.

An additional price paid, was more extensive blisters and all.

Well, Steve, I bared my soul.....

Paul

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#36439 - 05/12/14 10:23 AM Re: Kern River Loop 05-03 to 05/10.....unseccessful [Re: Paul]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7444
Loc: Fresno, CA
Goodness, Paul! Glad it was only your camera!

Baring your soul? No, more like helping everyone else!! We can all learn, even if it was someone else's experience. Thanks so much for sharing. I'll certainly be mindful now, before I strap a camera holder to a hip belt.

I still have the question, though: Was it Wright or Wallace Creek that you are talking about. Wright would have you heading north on the JMT, whereas Wallace would be the one to cross to head south on the JMT and back to your original trail head.

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#36441 - 05/12/14 11:01 AM Re: Kern River Loop 05-03 to 05/10.....unseccessful [Re: Steve C]
Paul Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 182
Loc: Santa Clarita, CA
Ah, okay, now I see.

I was ascending the HST trail out of Junction Meadow heading toward the junction of the JMT at Wallace Creek.

You can cross Wright Creek, either on the JMT or as you come up out of the Kern River from Junction Meadow.

So, I was heading up on the HST as it parallels Wallace Creek leaving Junction Meadows.

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#36445 - 05/12/14 12:21 PM Re: Kern River Loop 05-03 to 05/10.....unseccessful [Re: Paul]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7444
Loc: Fresno, CA
Oh, my misunderstanding. I missed that you had to cross Wright Creek on the HST before it joins the JMT.

So what you're saying is that you chose not to tramp through lots of snow on the JMT/PCT, Wallace Creek - Crabtree - Rock Creek - Cottonwood Pass.

What a pain retracing all those miles!

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#36446 - 05/12/14 12:37 PM Re: Kern River Loop 05-03 to 05/10.....unseccessful [Re: Steve C]
Paul Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 182
Loc: Santa Clarita, CA
Yes........

To have to backtrack is not what I wanted to do. The trail out of the Kern River, up Golden Trout Creek is a huge pain. Unmaintained, overgrown with sharp bushes, lots of rocks and debris....and in the afternoon, very hot.

I am up at the Portal for a week during Memorial Week and will probably do some significant day hiking.

I am going to head up to Center Basin the middle of June.

Paul

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#36464 - 05/13/14 08:57 AM Re: Kern River Loop 05-03 to 05/10.....unseccessful [Re: Paul]
Hobbes Offline


Registered: 03/28/14
Posts: 124
Loc: The OC
Paul, what a godsend. I have all kinds of questions for you since the Kern river canyon is still on my bucket list. Hmmm, where to start?

The trail down to the Kern from the confluence of GT & Volcano creeks is overgrown & unmaintained? How was it on the way down from Horseshoe & Trail pass via Mulkey?

How is the trail up the Kern river? Are you able to access the river for fishing? (I would go in August during low(er) water.)

You mentioned that you thought the return along the PCT from Wallace to Rock creek to Cottonwood pass was the best part of the trip. This concerns me, because that section of the PCT is my least favorite in the S Sierra.

I much prefer going over NAP, through Miter and up/down the Crabtree watershed. If you think that section of the PCT is nicer than the Kern river canyon itself, then I should probably re-think this entire trip.

My plan was to continue up the Kern river trail to the Milestone basin area, and then head east to Shepherd and down to the Symmes trailhead. (I'd plan on shuttling my car.)

My other concern is how fast I could expect to go given existing trail conditions. My plan would be to hike 15-20 miles day 1 to either the Kern bridge crossing or down GT creek past the Volcano merge.

Day 2/3 would be the next 18-23 miles to Junction Mdw (I calculate 38 miles to Junction from Horseshoe).

Day 4 would be the Milestone area @ 7-10 miles, and the last day (5) would be 17 miles over Shepherd and down to Symmes.

I'm familiar with the upper Kern, so I know the terrain, mileage and my speed/time, having done it before. I guess my concern would be the expected time/effort in the sections I haven't done before.

If I know I'm going x-c, then I plan my time accordingly (around 1mph), but for the main part of this trip, I was thinking more along 3+ mph - especially the 20 miles from Horseshoe to the Kern bridge.

If you think this is unrealistic given the trail conditions, then I might have to shelve this idea. I can't (and don't really want to) go slow(er) and spend more than 4-5 days out. (My last day would entail getting in the car and driving home.)

Any thoughts/ideas/insights would be greatly appreciated.

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#36465 - 05/13/14 09:08 AM Re: Kern River Loop 05-03 to 05/10.....unseccessful [Re: Paul]
Hobbes Offline


Registered: 03/28/14
Posts: 124
Loc: The OC
Originally Posted By: Paul

I am going to head up to Center Basin the middle of June.


Are you hiking out of Onion or Symmes? My son & I are doing the Kearsarge-Portal route starting Jun 16 - maybe we'll see you. Here's the plan:

D1/Jun 16 - drive up, shuttle car, hike up to around 11k above Heart lake. If we feel good, go over the pass to the Kearsarge lakes. If we're feeling really frisky, keep going up to Vidette. (A couple of years ago, I hiked to below Forester before crashing for the night.)

D2/Jun 17 - 11.k meadow below Forester (about 2 miles past the junction to Center basin). If we crossed Kearsarge the day before, we might cross Forester on D2 depending on time/weather.

D3/Jun 18 - Wallace creek or Crabtree mdw.

D4/Jun 19 - Guitar (basically a rest day to fish the creek, Timberline, etc). If we've been cooking and made it to Crabtree in 3 days, then hit Whitney and crash @ Trail camp.

D5/Jun 20 - Portal either way.

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#36467 - 05/13/14 12:53 PM Re: Kern River Loop 05-03 to 05/10.....unseccessful [Re: Hobbes]
Paul Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 182
Loc: Santa Clarita, CA
Don't get me started, I'll talk forever.....my kids get upset with me because when hiking, it may take me and extra hour or two to reach the car.

So, I am happy to answer your questions.

A couple observations: I used to take Cottonwood Pass when heading down to the Kern, then one trip, I decided on Trail Pass. The obvious reason, no trail quota, none!!!! Second, it's about 1 and 1/2 miles shorter via Trail Pass to the Golden Trout junction. The pass is lower and finally, it's only 2 miles to the pass from the trailhead. Trail Pass is fairly easy to hike coming out of Horseshoe, however, I would classify the back side (on the return, moderate).

My first night camping is at Groundhog Meadow (about 12 miles).

Mulkey is sand and open, no trees....your first water is the South Fork of the Kern (about 6 miles in). From there you have water through Tunnel Meadow.

Your question about the trail being "overgrown and not maintained." I was referring to the section of the trail that occurs after the Natural Bridge where it starts it decent into the Kern River. When I say, "overgrown", it's not really that bad.....I just hate it.

Until you reach the decent the GT trail is very well maintained, travelled and visible......a gentle slope on nice ground, through trees with some nice side streams.

Once you reach the bottom, I also hate this, the trail heads down the Kern for about a mile (sand) before you come to the Kern River Bridge.

The trail heading up the Kern is very gentle, heavily used. I will say this, the trail has not been cleared of fallen trees and such last year, and so far this year. Not a problem, easy to get around them.

Please don't get me wrong, the Kern is a very beautiful place where the trail rarely meanders far from the river.

As for my comment about the trail from Wallace to Lower Rock Creek.....take the comment with a grain of salt. I think the reason that I like that section is that, after several days in the Kern, it's time to hike out. So this section is close to the end of the hike and therefore my favorite.

Once at lower Rock, I usually head up Rock Creek and camp at the junction of trail heading up to NAP (most times though, I take Army....why climb so high). And, I always take the South Fork Trail out...saves miles and time.

Also consider the Tyndall Creek trail that breaks off the trail to Milestone. It's about 1.2 miles to the junction of the HST, out of Junction Meadow. There, it's about a mile to the crossing of Tyndall creek and another mile to where the trail leaves the Milestone trail and heads to Tyndall Creek.

When I take this route, I usually hike 12 to 13 miles the first 2 days..... First night Groundhog Meadow (Little Whitney is only 2 miles farther). Second day at the junction of Rattle Snake and Kern River trail....third day at Junction Meadow (when I don't stop at the hot springs). It's 17.5 miles from the Kern Bridge to Junction Meadows. By the way, your calculations are dead on.

An alternative.....head up Wallace Creek...take a couple hours to do this, head back and camp at Wright Lakes....(Wallace and Wales in only a few miles from the junction of the JMT....easy hiking). From Wright lakes and then head over Rockwell Pass to Shepherd Pass.

Hope I am not too confusing....

paul

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#36468 - 05/13/14 01:05 PM Re: Kern River Loop 05-03 to 05/10.....unseccessful [Re: Hobbes]
Paul Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 182
Loc: Santa Clarita, CA
Right after Father's Day....good for you.

Actually that sounds about when I thought about going.

I would hike out of Onion Valley the first day and camp above Vidette Meadows (second bear box). Second day to the lake at 12,000 (above Golden Bear).....as you know, this is the old JMT prior to 1932....heads up and over Junction Pass.

Third day, day hike Forester and back down to Vidette. Fourth day back to the car.

One thing that caught my eye. You mention Heart Lake. Heart Lake is not on the trail, the lake is several hundred feet below the trail. It really is off the beaten track. It just looks accessible from the map....it's an illusion.

Yes, I like that meadow at 11,000....nice jumping off point.

How old is your son? Strong hiker or is dad going to carry most of the stuff? A number of years ago I took my daughter and carried pretty much everything. She carried her clothes and a few things.

Paul

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#36469 - 05/13/14 01:57 PM Re: Kern River Loop 05-03 to 05/10.....unseccessful [Re: Paul]
Hobbes Offline


Registered: 03/28/14
Posts: 124
Loc: The OC
Originally Posted By: Paul
Hope I am not too confusing....paul


Nope, been through many of the various areas a number of times, so I understood your comments.

That's re-assuring to hear about the trail down to & up the Kern. In terms of speed, I could handle some unmaintained sections, but my plan would be dependent on getting to Junction Mdw in 3 days hiking 4-6 hrs/day.

If I got bogged down, then I would have less time to fish @ certain parts of the day. Plus, if I'm gonna get bogged down, I'd prefer do it up @ 12k in clear, cool skies over boulders/talus rather than down @ 8k in a bonanza of hot, dusty bushwhacking.

I get your point about heading up Tyndall to WLB & Rockwell. I'm going on the little HST meet-up @ Wallace in July from Horseshoe to Shepherd via Wallace & WLB:

HST Meetup http://www.highsierratopix.com/community/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=9783&p=82664#p82664

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#36470 - 05/13/14 02:21 PM Re: Kern River Loop 05-03 to 05/10.....unseccessful [Re: Paul]
Hobbes Offline


Registered: 03/28/14
Posts: 124
Loc: The OC
Originally Posted By: Paul
this is the old JMT prior to 1932....heads up and over Junction Pass.


My brother and a friend were interested in looping the old JMT, so a few years ago they went up Center basin over Junction pass down to the Pothole. The next day they went back up over Shepherd to summit Tyndall, then followed that up with a return via the PCT over Forester back to Vidette & Onion.

Quote:

One thing that caught my eye. You mention Heart Lake. Heart Lake is not on the trail, the lake is several hundred feet below the trail. It really is off the beaten track. It just looks accessible from the map....it's an illusion.


Sorry for the confusion. Yes, we'd get water @ Flower, then hike up the trail to the 11k zone above Heart and below Big Pothole. Of course, it may be moot - if we shuttle our cars and get on the trail a little after noon, I'm not sure either us is going to be ok sitting around from 3pm on, so we'll most likely end up on the other side of Kearsarge for the night.

Quote:
How old is your son? Strong hiker or is dad going to carry most of the stuff? A number of years ago I took my daughter and carried pretty much everything. She carried her clothes and a few things.


We've progressed nicely from:



To last year @ 14 yo where I'm not able to keep up with him on the way down:



While he's laughing at the old man who's dying going up trail to Guitar:



This year, he's carrying all his stuff, and in a few years, maybe mine as well. LOL LOL LOL

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#36472 - 05/13/14 03:11 PM Re: Kern River Loop 05-03 to 05/10.....unseccessful [Re: Hobbes]
Paul Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 182
Loc: Santa Clarita, CA
Now I understand......you're a speed hiker. Those days are past me. I can do distance, but at 2 mph....3 mph for you!!!!

Let me say this. You will move so fast over trail Pass and down the backside, thru Mulkey, Tunnel and down to the Kern easily. The only slow part will be the actual decent into the Kern.

Every time I do Junction, I either top out at Shepherd or head on down to Tyndall for the night.

Enjoy your son, they grow up so fast. My oldest is now 32, followed by 28 and my daughter is 25. Now I just solo.

It's funny how easy it is to get to Wallace and Wales. I think it took me 2 hours, and I was having lunch at Wallace at 10:15am.

paul

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#36483 - 05/14/14 09:36 AM Re: Kern River Loop 05-03 to 05/10.....unseccessful [Re: Hobbes]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7444
Loc: Fresno, CA
Originally Posted By: Hobbes
I get your point about heading up Tyndall to WLB & Rockwell. I'm going on the little HST meet-up @ Wallace in July from Horseshoe to Shepherd via Wallace & WLB:

HST Meetup http://www.highsierratopix.com/community/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=9783&p=82664#p82664

Hobbes: What's "WLB"? Lots of abbreviations in that thread. "WB?"
Thanks for the High Sierra Topix link. I am planning a trans-sierra hike (if the stars align properly) from Mineral King: Sawtooth Pass, Columbine Lk, Lost Canyon, Big Arroyo, Rattlesnake Cr, Kern Hot Springs, Crabtree Mdw, Crabtree Lakes, Discovery Pinnacle (or Whitney Pass), Mt Whitney, then the Portal. What is your Crabtree date? Maybe I could plan my trip so our paths cross.

On your HST posts, what are the lakes shown on page 10 of that thread?
What is the lake with the beach on page 9?

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#36491 - 05/14/14 01:02 PM Re: Kern River Loop 05-03 to 05/10.....unseccessful [Re: Steve C]
Paul Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 182
Loc: Santa Clarita, CA
Steve...... question.

I've done the Mineral King over Sawtooth many times, but I am not sure on your inclusion of Rattlesnake Creek. How do you plan to get to it?

Two years ago I travelled up Rattlesnake from the Kern to Forester Lake, Little Claire, down Soda Creek to Big Arroyo, up Big Arroyo to the HST.

Paul


Edited by Paul (05/14/14 01:05 PM)

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#36493 - 05/14/14 02:22 PM Re: Kern River Loop 05-03 to 05/10.....unseccessful [Re: Paul]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7444
Loc: Fresno, CA
Paul,
I don't have the Tom Harrison map yet (but I will soon), but I called SEKI wilderness person yesterday who said that trail exists: One heading all the way down Big Arroyo to within ~2 miles of the Kern River, where it climbs out of the canyon to the south and over into Rattlesnake Creek, and then down to the Kern.

Looking it up on Gmap4, I'm pretty sure I can see it in the satellite views. Here's the "t4 topo high" view of a trace. If you zoom all the way in, switch to Satellite and zoom more, you can see the trail: Gmap4

Here's the satellite view of the junction (about a mile from the Kern) in Rattlesnake Cr zoomed all the way in: Gmap4

They say the trail over Sawtooth Pass is not maintained, but I am sure I can find my way. It was that section in Big Arroyo that is missing on the "t4 topo high" I was worried about, but SEKI says it's there. ...but then the SEKI phone lady was using the Harrison map as the authority. crazy

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#36494 - 05/14/14 03:22 PM Re: Kern River Loop 05-03 to 05/10.....unseccessful [Re: Steve C]
Paul Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 182
Loc: Santa Clarita, CA
Ah, yes......the year that I travelled up Rattlesnake Creek, I tried to find that trail to cut over to Big Arroyo. Never did find where it connected with Rattlesnake, and that is why I kept heading up to Forester Lake.

Okay, I see what you are doing, once at the Lost Creek Crossing, you head on over to Soda Creek, then down to Big Arroyo.

A couple things on Sawtooth. I am assuming you are taking the new trail to Monarch Lakes (verses the old one that was in existence until the 70's). When you get to Monarch, do not head up the sand trail. Look to the left and you will see 2 ribbons of granite that extend up. In between the 2 ribbons is a well pound, solid ground with grass and bushes. It's like walking up steps. It tops out near Glacier Pass and from their, it's an easy, slight grade to the pass.

In the past, I would leave my pack at the pass and climb Sawtooth Peak. Easy climb.......

The backside is a multitude of trails....

Once you reach the Kern River, it's 4 miles to the hot springs, or 2.2 to the HST and another 1.8 to the springs. If you get down to the Kern River, there is a great campsite at the junction....just walk past the row of stones, into the tree. The campsite sits on the bank over looking the Kern. This is the campsite I complained about a couple years ago where packers used it. I was just there last week.

paul

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