Walks With Son continues…
We made a fairly early start up the winding path from our camp in the pine forest. Past Clover Meadow and over a modest ridge the view opened up on the beautiful expanse of Becks Meadow. A wide area of brilliant green surrounded by forested peaks. A few miles away across the meadow the Kern River winds lazily through between yellow sandy banks. Some black cows stand quietly around the bend in the river. In the far distance the bare grey shapes of Cirque Peak and others leading to Mount Whitney. I will leave the trail before I get to those, but there is maybe 4,000 ft of uphill and slightly less downhill to be covered before then.
We stopped for a snack break and Old Corpus caught up. He had left the store before us the previous evening but we must have overtaken him when our ride in the truck bypassed an unnecessary few miles of off-PCT trail. This pattern of being overtaken by the same people more than once occured frequently through my trip. The pattern of getting rides in trucks did not.
We saw Old Corpus again some time later when we crossed the bridge at the far end of the meadow where the Kern River flows out. The underside of the bridge has many brown mud nests and a flock of swallows flitted back and forward adding grass linings to their nests. From the bridge the trail crossed a dry desert-like scrub section and then began the main climb for the day, through pine forests and to the junction with the Olancha Peak trail.
The approach to the Olancha Peak trail junction(s) was a bit steep for me and at one point we encountered an unposted T-intersection which was a bit perplexing as both directions went horizontally away from our upward path. We concluded that we had veered off the true path and had now found it again, but the correct direction was not obvious. Craig and I tried opposite directions but he soon detected Recline’s bootprints going against his direction of travel so he turned and joined me.
We also encountered a bear. Most of the high trail is fairly open with various sorts of pines and big rocks, but in an area with a bit more bushy greenery than most Craig spotted a bear on the next curve of the hill above us. He said it jumped up on the far side of a large tree and then dropped down again and ran into the bushes in approximately the direction that we were headed. Quick as a flash Craig handed me the apple he was eating (the ‘bait’), whipped out his camera and tip-toed forward along the path into the bushes. It took a few minutes for us both to remember that this is not actually the recommended tactic. The path was fairly steep and there was a switchback approximately where the bear had headed but we saw no further sign. There was big pile of boulders that the trail turned away from and I suspect we might have found our furry friend in there had we been foolish enough to press the point. Unfortunately we didn’t get the photo, but I can say that it was about as big as the PT Cruiser I drove up from San Francisco, but black rather than silver and with bloodshot eyes and fangs like a sabre-toothed tiger. On the other hand I didn’t get a very good look at it so I might be slightly mistaken.
A bit further up the hill we were overtaken by Lucky Joe and Tiki. They were not particularly grateful that we had cleared their path of bears.
From the top of the hill we descended 1,000 feet towards Gomez Meadow but it got dark and although we were near it became difficult to be sure of the trail so we camped on an almost level area of granite gravel. I put up my tent but Craig maintained his cowboy camp style, and was rewarded with ice on his toes and an inch of ice in his water bottle.
More photos of this day’s journey can be found at Kennedy Meadows to Crabtree MeadowsDistance today: 7.3 miles. Total distance: 709.1 miles