By: Patty Kline
The weather was perfect for this 3 day SPS “intro” trip. Not a cloud in the sky and not too hot. It was co-listed as a Wilderness Travel Course, offered by the Sierra Club every winter. All but a couple of the 15 people were associated with “WTC”. It is nice to see a lot of new faces on an SPS trip.
The Blackrock Trailhead started at Blackrock Saddle at an elevation of 8900’. Take Hwy 14 or Hwy 395 to the Inyokern turn off and proceed N on Hwy 395 for 10 miles. There is a left turn to Kennedy Meadows. Don’t let the remaining 45 miles to the roadhead fool you. It takes 1 1/2 hours to drive this on winding mountain roads. It is 25 miles to Kennedy Meadows. Go beyond Kennedy Meadows on 22S05 to Fish Creek (which is a good spot to camp where I paid $5.00). Go beyond Fish Creek to Troy Meadow on 35E07 to the Blackrock (Ranger Station) Information Center, 37 miles from Hwy 395. From here take 21S03 an additional 8 miles to its end at the Blackrock Trailhead. Non-quota permits can be picked up the morning of the trip or the day before during regular office hours at the Blackrock Information Center. A fire permit, which is required for stoves, is issued only in person.
We got underway for the 9 mile and approximately 1500’ gain with the ups and downs at 10:00 am. Aren’t these leisure trips great! 2 miles from the start Casa Viejo Meadows were bright green, as were all the other meadows along the way. We had our longest break at Bear Keg Meadow, which was lunch. It was nice to get off the dusty trail about 5:00 pm to camp at Redrocks Meadows at 8600’. The streams were very warm in and through the meadows. There are a lot of hot springs in the area, the most well known being Jordan Hot Springs, which was too much out of our way to want to go there. There are 2 very well developed fire rings with log benches, one of which is associated with a livestock corral. We chose the fresher area away from the corral with twice as many level areas we needed for our tents.
We started about 8:00 am for Kern Peak at 11,510’ on Sunday morning. After heading N on a nice trail for about 1/10 of a mile it was hard to find a continuation. The only evidence of the trail was from blaze marks on trees, cut about 3-5 years ago. Follow these blazed trees another I / 10 mile until the trail becomes very obvious again, heading NW in several switchbacks in 2 miles from camp to a saddle at 9700’ at UTM 840155. From here leave the trail and take the broad S ridge 2 miles to the top of Kern Peak. The hike is in an open forest until the tree line near the top of the peak. There are the remains of a shelter on top. We sat in and around it for a nice 45 minute lunch and the great views. It was all class 1 except for one class 2 move at the top. The total gain for the day was 3000’ and 8 miles round trip. Monday we retraced our steps from camp to the roadhead, experiencing the 800’ gain from Casa Viejo Meadows to our vehicles.
Both Saturday and Sunday nights we had community happy hours with prizes awarded for the best munchies. Both nights in a row Jane Tirrell got first prize. She won a blue scarf on Saturday night for her salami with cream cheese sandwiched in the middle. By Sunday night we were all so hungry that her horse raddish dip won on its own, Jane getting a mini Nalgene bottle as the reward. Also given away was another mini Nalgene bottle and a carabiner key chain.
This was a very nice trip. Will McWhinney, as always, did an excellent job as my assistant.
Will was in charge of a WTC group in West LA with Bill Oliver this year, and all but 4 in their group came for this trip. The participants were Ron Hohauser, Nimia del Rosario, Bonnie Young, Drew Rothmund, Jodi Saign Vance Handley, Charles Rosenberg, Carla Slepak, Jane Tirrell, Elizabeth Untiedt, Ed Vanderfliet, Lisa Meseke and Ken Jones.
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