July 1-4 2006 - Kern Peak in the
Golden Trout Wilderness
11,500' Kern Peak is a pyramid-shaped summit in the center of the Golden Trout Wilderness in the South Sierra. A few of us have talked about climbing it since several years ago, but it's remote enough to make a minimum four-day hike. The main reason the peak doesn't have any name recognition is probably because it's so remote you can't see it from any road.
Area map. Hike in is from the Horseshoe Meadows trailhead, not far from Lone Pine.
Topo for those interested. The whole trip as a loop thru Big Whitney Meadow is about 39 miles.
Hap, me and Alan starting out at the Horseshoe Meadows Trailhead. It's an easy climb over 10,600' Trail Pass but the hike is10 miles today
Kern Peak from the Pacific Crest Trail
Kern Peak from flower-carpetted Bullfrog Meadow
We hiked til about 8:00pm so dinner is along the trail in Tunnel Meadow, with Kern Peak in background.
Second Day: the route to the summit is 13 miles roundtrip. After a little confusion in the woods as to the route (by an unmaintained and infrequequent-use footpath) we break out high on the north face to snowfields. Here's a Quicktime movie of the guys crossing snow, 356kb.
Photo of the summit view, looking north at high peaks in Sequoia NP.
360 Quicktime movie from the summit (1.2mb), starting and ending with the south view. That's a wrecked fire lookout, with the roof cap pushed off, by wind I expect. The big square upright thing is a map table. The wind was blowing strong enough that you wanted to be out of it.
Our summit photo. We found that we were only the 4th party this year to sign the summit register, and in all of 2005 only 15 parties signed.
444kb movie: hiking into Big Whitney Meadow
Photo of Big Whitney Meadow
Day 4: view looking back down into Big Whitney Meadow. I placed a red dot where our camp was.
Crossing back over the crest of the range at 11,100' Cottonwood Pass (movie, 344kb). That snowpack I'm standing on must have been a massive drift before it started melting, because it's been hot for a month now, and it's still probably 15 or 20 ft deep. That's looking toward Horseshoe Meadows at the end.
Quicktime movie (560kb) finishing at Horseshoe Meadows as a storm arrives. It barely let us get to the car without hailing. Driving back down the hill to Lone Pine for lunch at Pizza Factory, we could see the entire range clouded over, and many peaks sticking into the clouds. But of course, it was still cloudless and 102 degrees in the AV upon our return home....