Golden Trout Wilderness

June 12-14, 2010
This weekend Greg1062, Greg's friend Carol (CC), Serpicorabbit, and I did a
two-night trip in the Golden Trout Wilderness.  We had originally planned to go to
Chicken Spring Lake this weekend, but snow and 17* low temps were forecasted
so we headed a little further south in this same large wilderness area instead.  
The southern end of the GTW is lower in elevation and a great place for an early
summer hike.

We began our journey at the Jerkey Trailhead, which takes a long time to drive to
due to its remote location and winding roads.  We drove part of the way on Friday
night, meeting at Walker's Pass Campground where we stayed the night.  We
drove the rest of the way on Saturday morning, stopping once when we heard a
clanking noise that ended up being a bolt falling off CC's truck step - ooops.  We
also stopped at the Kernville Ranger Station to get our wilderness permit.  The
front desk employee issuing the permit recognized me from my website, lol.

On up to the trailhead we were amazed at how much water there was flowing down
the Kern - more than any of us had ever seen.  Finally we reached the Jerkey
Trailhead and from there we hiked up 1,000' to the top of Lewis Ridge where
fantastic views of the snow-clad Great Western Divide unveiled themselves to
our north.  We ate lunch on the ridge, dodged a couple of raindrops under the
threatening skies, then descended to Fish Creek where the sun came out again.  
Serpicorabbit and I took one trail down to the creek while Greg and CC took
another.  No worries, both trails ended up pretty much the same spot.  We
crossed the creek and then hiked up a steep ridge and then down to Gray Meadow.
I'd hiked to Gray Meadow before, but never from this direction.  Mtnmnslady and
I did a trip here back in July 2005 but we hiked here via the Click's Creek Trail.  
Gray Meadow was as pretty as I remembered it being - emerald green with great
views of Angora Mountain.

We decided to hiked past Gray Meadow to Burnt Corral Crossing.  Here, when
water levels are low enough, you can ford the Little Kern River.  Water levels
right now, though, are very high so we couldn't cross.  Fortunately there was a
great campsite on the south/west side of the river.  So we stayed here the first
night.
In the morning we explored some nearby rock piles and then packed up and headed
back towards Gray Meadows.  We then went off trail for a little ways to cut off
the diagonal to the trail leading to the Little Kern River Bridge.  Once back on the
trail it was pretty easy going until we reached Fish Creek and had to cross it on a
skinny log then hike steeply out of the drainage.  By the time we reached the
Little Kern River Bridge we were ready for lunch and relaxing on the "beach".

I'd hiked to the Little Kern River Bridge and Trout Meadow before, back in June
2004, but again from another trail - the Lewis Camp Trail.  So it was fun coming to
it from the northwest instead.
Snowplant
The northside of the Needles
Angora Mountain
Florence Peak and Farewell Gap
Crossing Fish Creek
Huge gnarly cedar
Huge gnarly Jeffrey Pine
Grey Meadow with Angora Mountain behind
Burnt Corral Crossing
We then decided we'd drop our packs here and set up camp at the bridge, rather
than at Trout Meadow.  But we still decided to dayhike up to Trout and back.  This
ended up being a good decision because it meant an easier 3rd day.  Plus the initial
climb out of the Little Kern on the way to Trout is hot and dry and steep and I
was glad to do it sans big pack.

Trout Meadows is a very welcome sight - you hike 2.2 dry dusty miles from the
bridge, round the corner, and boom - it's there - brilliant green and cool and
welcoming.  On the way we got passed by a couple of pack trains and by the time
we got to the meadow the riders had let their horses loose in the pasture and the
horses were rolling in the green grass and looked quite happy - we were tempted
to do the same, lol

We hiked to the historic Trout Meadow Guard Station, refilled our water bottles
at the spring located there, and sat for a spell and spotted many birds - Western
Tanagers, Mountain Blue Birds, and White-headed Woodpeckers are just some of
the birds that call this beautiful meadow home.

As the afternoon waned we hiked back to our campsite at the bridge.  I took a
dip/bath in the little creek near our campsite and felt very refreshed.  We ate
dinner and retired early, so we could leave early to climb back out of the river
bottom.

We left by about 7:30 that next morning.  Wise choice as the day would soon
become warm and we wanted to get the climb out of the way in the cool morning.  
We made good time hiking along Lewis Creek and stopped at Jug Spring - the very
old sign there "A Good Place to Smoke" always makes me laugh.  We ate lunch at
the top of the ridge then made our way down the last 3 miles of trail to the
Jerkey Trailhead.

I had a great time - great scenery, wildflowers, and company :)

Link to the rest of my photos here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/tarol/sets/72157624288324482/


Hike to Gray Meadow July 2005
Hike to Trout Meadow June 2004
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