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July 21, 2010 Trip Plan: Walker to Kennedy Meadows, to Tuolumne Meadows | High Sierra Backpacker

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July 21, 2010 Trip Plan: Walker to Kennedy Meadows, to Tuolumne Meadows

Alex Wierbinski's picture

By Alex Wierbinski - Posted on 21 July 2010

 What follows is the trip plan that I am executing tomorrow. It is actually my safety report that I sent to a trusted individual who I will contact at my resupply point and at the end of the trip. If I do not report in a timely fashion, they will report this to the proper authorities.

This report includes route and time estimates for each leg of this two-part trip between Rodriquez Flat, on the Eastern Sierra Flank above the town of Walker Ca, on Hwy 395, to Tuolumne Meadows, in Yosemite National Park.

This 100 mile trip includes my entry through the remote Eastern Sierra, which is shortly followed by a seven mile section on the unmaintained trail between Carson Falls and the PCT up the East Carson River. I will follow the PCT to Sonora Pass, then hitch down to Kennedy Meadows to follow the Tahoe to Yosemite Route through the Emigrant Basin to Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite.

I will return on or around August 1st, and I will give you the latest on trail conditions, including snow tongues in Northeast facing mountain flanks, river crossing conditions in the river valleys between the mountains, mosquitoes, temps, Summer Thunderstorm conditions, PCTer traffic density and characters, the various elements of trail culture I encounter, and the expected trajectory of each of these conditions.

Stay Tuned! In the meantime, post your own reports on High Sierra Trail conditions. I'll talk to y'all at the end of the month...

(see the August 1 Trail Conditions Report this trip generated)

Trip Plan and Safety Report

Hey Boo, It's getting late, but I think I'm about packed up. Yeah!   Ok, Part One: Walker to Sonora Pass   This section of the trail is within the Toiyabe National Forest, and is administered by the Carson Ranger District of the Toiyabe National Forest.   Start: Little Antelope Pack Station, Rodriquez Flat. (where you let me off so long ago) Also known as Long Valley, I believe.   The plan is to leave from that trailhead Thursday morning, and take two nights to reach Kennedy Meadows Pack Station, on Highway 108. That would put me at Kennedy Meadows by Saturday.   But the problem with this is I don't know if I will reach the trail head by Thursday morning. I may not get there until later Thursday, and be left with the 8 mile, 3000 foot elevation, hike up to the trail head, rather than a ride there. So, this means that it may take me three nights to get to Kennedy Meadows. That would put me at Kennedy Meadows on Sunday.   In any case, from the trail head I am heading West, crossing the Silver King Creek, crossing Poison Flat, and then following the E Carson River up to the PCT, and then on to Sonora Pass along the PCT.   When I was in this region in early June the runoff had pushed river flows to incredible levels. I scouted out and found safe fords for the Silver King and East Carson, so that should not be an issue, unless I fall off the frkn log above the Carson Falls...but so far so good. The flows should be significantly reduced by now, and the water temps higher, so even if I fall off a log I should be able to self-rescue...   From Sonora Pass I will hitch down to Kennedy Meadows. They have a pay phone there, so I will give you a call then. Cell phones do not work there.   While there I will finish filming and photographing Kennedy Meadows for my trail guide. Cheryl, who does the resupply, had the day off and I missed filming her giving instructions about resupply!  Check out my Kennedy Meadow Pack Station page. It is under construction, but it looks ok. I'll fill it out when I return.     Part Two: Kennedy Meadows to Tuolumne Meadows   Kennedy Meadows is located in the Stanislaus National Forest, and is administered by the Summit Ranger District of the Stanislaus National Forest.   From Kennedy Meadows I will follow the Tahoe to Yosemite trail route up to the Emigrant Basin, cross Bond Pass into Yosemite, where I will then pick up and follow the PCT down to Tuolumne Meadows. I will take the Tilden Lake Loop. (see the map linked to below)   I have packed six days of food for this section. It takes five days for me to cross this section.   So, anticipating that I will spend one night at Kennedy Meadows, which I will confirm with a phone call when I arrive there, I will take six nights to get to Tuolumne, and I will arrive on the seventh day.   So if I arrive at KM on Saturday, I will leave Sunday, and should arrive at TM the following Sunday morning. If I depart on Monday, I will arrive at TM the following Monday morning.   I will call you when I reach TM.   Further Info I have not done the Tuolumne Meadows web site pages yet, so I don't have their info handy, and it is after midnight already. (1am) So if I don't show up at TM, which is highly unlikely, wait a day after my expected arrival date, and then call the Summit Ranger District in the Stanislaus NF, and tell them that I'm a day late arriving at Tuolumne Meadows, started at Kennedy Meadows, and planned to pass into Yosemite through Bond Pass on the Tahoe to Yosemite Route.   This means that I will either be in the Emigrant Wilderness, or somewhere between Bond Pass and Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park. If I don't show up, inform the Summit Ranger District, as that is where I started this section of the trip. If necessary, they should inform Yosemite to send someone up the trail, while they send somebody down the trail.   Again, I expect all river crossings to be fairly tame by now, and if not, I will use the proper protection. I have river crossing shoes, and I will find a good stick to tripod across with. I'm curious about the depth and width of Falls Creek where you cross near Wilmer Lake, but it is not a concern on this trip, as I am taking the Tilden Lake Loop, and I will cross Falls Creek higher up Jack Main Canyon, where Falls Creek will be much thinner. These locations are also on the map linked to below.    A reason to wait an extra day after my proposed arrival date to call the Rangers is that there is likely a Trail Crew Camp at Smedberg Lake. If there is, I will walk over and introduce myself. These guys were there last year. I caught this crew as they were entering the wilderness on the way to set up their camp last year, and they were really cool. if they are set up and friendly, I would spend a night there hanging out with them, if invited. These things happen on the trail. Or not. I always visit trail crew to express my appreciation for their work.   If I do fail to show up on the appointed day at Tuolumne Meadows, wait a day, then call the rangers tell them that I am an experienced four-season High Sierra traveler, well equipped for the range of weather, and that I make good decisions in pressure situations. If I break my leg or fall off the trail, I will likely start a safe, but very smokey fire, to expose my location if at all possible. Accidents do happen, but I will not burn down the forest to bring in a rescue!!   But I figure that I've done this route over 50 times, and it's a heavily used trail...so no problemo. If my knee really fucks up, there is plenty of traffic on this trail, and I packed a knee brace, a mile of sports tape, a huge, wide Ace bandage, and a shitload of codeine and ibroprofen. I'll wrap shit up, drug myself up, grab a big-assed stick, and hobble out. So I'd be more worried about off-trail action than problems along the trail.   Small off trail exploration I am planning one brief off-trail exploration. As a matter of fact, for every expedition I have done in past few years I have always packed extra food to explore side trips, nearby canyons, and interesting locations off each section of the trail I am crossing. On this trip my off-trail exploration will be conducted in Yosemite off of the PCT. It sits at the top of the ridge dividing Stubblefield Canyon from Kerrick Canyon. At the top of the ridge where the trail passes through between these canyons there is a creek draining from the North-Northeast.  This map shows the lake that sits in a basin above where the trail comes through on this ridge. It looks really cool, and I'm going to check it out! The creek drains from this lake. I am going to find this lake, check it out, and maybe camp a night there.   The Stubblefield and Kerrick Canyons are located at the bottom of the map, in the middle of the map's width, where the trail crosses the width of the map from the right side to the left side.   If you look at the map linked to above, and locate the "Stubblefield" and "Kerrick," Canyons, (they are very well marked. And, the lake sits directly under my "fine camps" text notation on the map) you will see where the Pacific Crest Trail connects these canyons. At roughly the halfway point between these canyons, at the top of the ridge that separates them, you will see where the creek draining from the lake I want to explore crosses the trail.   I'm going to probe around this area, find the easiest way to get up to the lake, circle around to the back of the lake and follow the creek that feeds it up to the small lake at the head of this very interesting looking high altitude basin. I bet it will be really really beautiful. I'm going to splurge, and buy an extra set of batteries at Kennedy Meadows so I'm sure to have enough electricty to record it all, in both video and in pictures.   That's my only off-trail exploration of this particular trip, so I figured it was worth mentioning...Ya Think?   Thanks! Thanks! I would have likely told no one about this trip, so I'm glad I called you. I should have promoted it on the sites, and I will likely post teasers on both shortly...sigh...I hate being tired to start a trip. But, I should be able to catch up tomorrow, when the plan calls for me to spend the night at Sonora Pass, at 9600 feet elevation, to acclimate and rest. This plan depends on the rides I catch to Kennedy Meadows, where I am leaving my resupply with their fine staff, and the ride I catch out of Kennedy Meadows. If I get a ride to Walker, I will walk in to my buddy's fine house, and enjoy his, and his whole family's, hospatality. If I get a ride up to the Pass I will be happy. But it could work out any number of ways.   We'll see!   Love Ya,   Alex     Alexius R. Wierbinski
TahoetoWhitney.com: The Trail Guide
TahoetoWhitney.org: The Backpacker's Forum
Berkeley, California

 (see the August 1 Trail Conditions Report this trip generated)

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