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[pct-l] Golden Trout trip

Charcholla@aol.com wrote:
>Question: Has anyone else hiked this section north-to-south? Did you
>experience a problem interpreting this 2-direction sign at a 3-trail

   Yeah, I did that (Mulkey to Kennedy) hike 2 years ago - early-season
like you did. Really nice, too, huh? (I always try to visit a different
place every trip, but I think I'd like to do _that_ one again.) I'm
constantly zoning out & "misplacing myself", but I don't think I ever had
any major confusion on the route... 
   In a previous e-mail, you asked me how my (imminent) Golden Trout hike
went: Great! I had 5 days & no particular itinerary in mind; had thought
of heading up toward Kern Peak, but encountered several groups heading
out to/coming back from just such an endeavor, & the Redrock Mdws camping
area had  people swarming around, so I just kept on going - to Cold Mdw -
for the night, which made a tiring day for me. I hadn't had much exercise
for awhile, had gotten a late start driving up, etc etc..
  Light was waning by the time I found the "fair-to-good- campsites
there" (everything else was a dank jungle or loose cliffs) -  they were
occupied by bears! I've never seen non-related bears so close together:
looked like those pictures of Yellowstone garbage-dumps in the 50's.
There had been no one camping this year there, but previous visitors had
buried so much garbage, that the bears were still digging junk up! The
bear I moved from the site I wanted strolled off with a big plastic bag
of slime in his mouth - I shudder to think of him gulping down all that
plastic, but of course, I couldn't "make" him drop it. What a shame!
   Next day I hung around a bit (one of the bears came back to the meadow
with cubs - how could I not watch them?), then groaned up to the ridgetop
(guidebooks are right: no trail, the topo-trail is dead-wrong, even the
occasional duck is badly misleading!), contoured around to the 10,000'+
saddle (enjoyed watching a helicopter-rescue on a neighboring peak), then
_finally_ got a break downhill toward Volcano Mdw. Saw no footprints/the
trail is sketchy in spots & really a mess down by the creek - years of
deadfall, little use/no maintainance, etc. Found myself standing in a
thicket, ankle-deep in mud, befuddled, when I noticed somebody had gouged
an arrow deeply into a nearby tree. What mixed feelings: disgust at the
tacky sign & the insensitive lout that cut it, but relief to have it
there all the same....
   Headed up the unmarked track to Bear Mdw; it soon disappeared (as I'd
been led to expect); map n' compass basically the entire way to
Tunnel/Kern Peak Trail. I found an old cow-camp, & a turn-of-the
century-grave marker. Love that historical s--t! I don't know if I was
lost or not, but I got where I was going. Bear Mdw would be a great place
to escape the crowds in summer, high up, cool, secluded, lotsa wildlife
as the name suggests. Since I never saw anybody from Redrock on, the
seclusion didn't seem so special, but was much appreciated anyway.
  Ambled around Golden Trout Creek/Volcano Mdw, since there was nodody
around (the only enforced fords of the trip - all the other streams
seemed really low, including the Kern River, which was August-level!).
Weather turned threatening, headed down Ramshaw, etc., Mdw; there was a
brief hailstorm & a bit a light rain, that's it. Intended to camp at
Lacey's Cow Camp, but found it to be a gloomy dump - traipsed instead out
to the edge of Fat Cow/Strawberry Mdw to a terrific spot with views of
Olancha Pk (with a whipped-cream-like cloud topping)/Templeton Mountain.
High winds/very ominous/no rain. Dayhiked Templeton Mt in the am, headed
down Long Cyn ( which was filling with clouds/fog) to a loud thunder
accompanyment. Camped early in a cabin-shelter & watched the rainstorm in
(awfully cold, tho) comfort. Hiked out (via Big Dry Mdw) next day.
Seedy-looking teenagers with boom boxes & barking dogs greeted me at the
Blackrock parking area.
  Couldn't believe the summery hiking conditions so early in the season
(even at the low - 8500' to 10,000' - elevation); the ranger assured me
that streams in different drainages are running high/fast like normal, &
I'll take her word for it...
   I don't know if this long tale was informative at all - part of the
hike was on what was the PCT years ago before the present route was
chosen, but not anyplace useful now for hikers on the List.      
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