27 September 2014

Golden Trout Wilderness tour: Lewis Camp

Sequoia National Forest

Locate the trailhead.

DAY 1 | DAY 2 | DAY 3 | DAY 4 | DAY 5 | DAY 6 | DAY 7 | DAY 8

(Day 8 of 8) A little poking around find the remains of a dead horse left just up the hill from the trail and the trail that cuts across to the Little Kern River from Willow Meadows. Away from the camp, the trail is quite obvious as it climbs steadily, once needing a little switchback. The area is burned at the top.

burned manzanita and unhealthy pines
Coming into the burn area and finding the manzanita almost completely gone.

more burned trees
More burned trees and manzanita.

southern end of the Great Western Divide
The last peaks as the Great Western Divide comes to its southern end.

A sign tells me where I am going and where I am coming from as I cross a trail that comes up from the Trout Meadows Ranger Station and drops down to Burnt Corral Meadows. It might make a nice alternate route back adding on about 4.5 easy miles to get there and then cross the Little Kern River to climb up via Grey Meadow. The threatening clouds, the promised long drive home, the suspicion that I do not want to be out too late on the first day of hunting, and maybe even a touch of the lazies all gang up against taking it. Besides, I am going to figure out where this trail meets the one I came in on.

sign ready to give up pointing
Well, it almost says where I am going.

big clouds over a little granite dome
Threatening clouds over the little granite dome near the beginning of the trail.

canyon of the Little Kern River
Coming down into the Little Kern River.

The trail drops steeply down into the Little Kern River canyon. There is no sign of a fork to drop even more quickly down to the better used trail, but the one I am on is quite quick enough. I arrive at the trail at an unmarked spot on something that looks more like an occasional creek than a bit of trail. It is a short and much gentler drop along this trail down to the river where I bump into a couple of hunters. Surprisingly, they are on their way out as well after catching sight of deer and bear, but getting nothing but fish.

Little Kern Bridge
The Little Kern Bridge stretching across the river.

When I came through before, I noticed a long cable stretching along the large rocks downstream, but somehow managed to miss the mangled bridge supports it connects to. It is a testament to the true power of this little river.

collapsed bridge support
The old bridge supports have been twisted by the river.

There is a split in the trail maybe a tenth of a mile up where the old route follows Fish Creek, a tributary to the north. It seems like a reasonable excursion, although quite short and does give a little different view. From there, it is just a hike past the same trails with no signs and signs with no trails.

sign with nails in it
A sign with no trail pointing out destinations that are far to the south.

distant bald peaks dressed in cloud
Cloud and sun play on the distant peaks to the north.

eastern view
The eastern view.

I started at the end of the picnic area in Lewis Camp, but find myself back at the end of the trailer loop. Over the hill, the clouds are dense fog. The road is lined with hunters and I stop to have a conversation with a ranger that consists of an observation that I am not hunting. The car I had just passed, crawling along the road looking for deer, is probably going to be a much longer conversation. I guess the first weekend of hunting season madhouse is fairly restricted to the roads. It is still nice to beat a hasty retreat.

©2014 Valerie Norton
Posted 6 October 2014

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