Golden Trout Mini Massacre: Bagging Orphans Left Behind From The 2012 Memorial Day Massacre

  • Updated: June 24, 2013
  • Post By: Matthew Hengst

   Brown Mountain (9,958')
   Kern Peak (11,480')
   Templeton Mtn (9,960')
   Monache Mtn (9,400')
   Deer Island (8,270')
   Anderson Point (8,510')
When: June 21st to 23rd, 2013
Where: Golden Trout Wilderness, Sierra Nevada
Who: Matthew Hengst, Amin Faraday, Jen Blackie
Pictures: [Matt]
GPS Track: [Map]

The 4th Annual Memorial Day Massacre was a beast of a trip.  5 days, almost 100 miles and 20k of gain, lots of bushwhacking, and a final day involving 26 miles and more blister milking than I ever hope to do again.

While it could be called a very successful trip a few minor factors kept us from getting all the inconsequential yet still named peaks we'd planned.  So, as I said in the trip announcement email...

"Don't you hate it when you have a massacre and leave orphans behind?  Join us for the 2013 Golden Trout Orphan Bag..."
And in the end I had two takers.  Maybe it was the talk of hiking dawn to dusk...

Joining me for this was the always dependable Jen Blackie and the similarly self abusive Amin Faraday.

Golden Trout is great since it's non quota and a relatively short drive.  I've done a few different trips into the area including the aforementioned massacre, a day hike of Olancha, and a traverse from Horseshoe Meadow out to Sage Flats.

For this trip we drove up Thursday night after what felt like a very short week in Boise after the buttkicker trip to the Whites the weekend before.

We did have the slightly annoying detour up to Lone Pine (about 30 miles each way) in order to pick up the free permit but I wanted to be legal.

We pulled into Sage Flats sometime around 1:30 am planning to sleep by the slightly creepy at night remains of a house located near the corral.  Only to find it...missing?  We quickly went to bed.

Day 1: Long Haul To Templeton Meadows Plus Brown

After a somber and quiet wakeup our trio got about shouldering packs.

Disturbingly as we'd noticed the night before the structure affectionately referred to as Creepy House which was previously located at the trailhead appeared to have been removed.  And more than just removed there's no clear sign it was ever there.  Slightly creepy...

Olancha Pass is a gentle one.  Unfortunately it's also a stock route that has been so heavily used the trail is beaten into dust which can be slightly unpleasant to breath in.  Still, it goes quickly.

We hustled over the pass and dropped down through Summit Meadow and we started to get slightly concerned at the complete lack of water anywhere along the route.  Depending on how things went we'd toyed with the idea of doing both Round and Olancha from the pass on the way back but if we were going to be carrying all of our water that was going to be a bit questionable.

We dropped down into Monache Meadow proper.  Monache Peak is the bump off to the left of the picture.

You can actually drive into Monache and there are a number of ranches and homesteads but I've never seen many people in there.

We found water at the jeep junction east of the landing strip and we were glad for it.  There were a number of well established sites complete with fire rings and we decided that worse case we'd spend the following night here after grabbing Brown and Templton.

We swung around the eastern side of Brown since we'd hiked around the western on the previous trip.

As it turns out the trail on the eastern side of Brown is much better established than the west though I lost GPS reception pretty solidly through the entire area.

Once at the saddle directly east of the peak we dropped our overnight gear and started up slopes.

Brown itself was somewhat of a non descriptive bump but it went quickly.

Sure enough there was a register placed by the legendary Gordon MacLeod and Barbara Lilley back in 1985.  We recognized a few names in the book among the prone to climbing random bumps peakbagging crowd.

The Brown Cow Camp (marked on most maps) was locked up tight and in a bad state of disrepair with downed trees having taken out some of the structures.

We filled up our water at the Kern crossing and a campsite nearby that came complete with a fire pit.  It was tempting since we'd get a decent night beside a fire and with water nearby by we decided to continue figuring we could do better with a meadow view.

So that wasn't exactly the best idea.  Once again (see the massacre) we ended up spread out searching the trees for campsites we felt just had to exist.  We found a few usable sites but none with a firepit outside of one badly overgrown at the end of the tongue of trees sticking out into Strawberry Meadows.

We were tired and it was quickly getting dark but we continued on telling ourselves each set of trees was going to be the one with out ideal camp.  We'd become rather attached to the idea of having a campfire by now.

We went almost all the way to Movie Stringer (where Jen and I had camped last year after being unable to locate Steve Eckert) and finally decided around 10:30 pm that we'd had enough.  We found a nice flat area in some trees near the trail we'd be taking up to Kern and passed out as soon as we'd eaten.

Incidentally our mistake was not taking the trail junction south at Fat Cow Meadow.  A bit down that trail is a well established site with furniture and a nice fire pit.  But ah well.

Day 2:  Kern, Templeton, and Still No Fire

We slept in as we tend to do on these style trips and got moving after an unhurried morning.

Since we'd carried a fair amount of water in after our fill-up at the Kern we had enough to fill up and get going.

The original plan had been to climb nearby Templeton and then book it back to Monache to grab the other peaks on our plan.  However, the fact Kern Peak was right there, Amin didn't have it, and we knew Paul Garry and Edd Ruskowitz were leading a WTC group up it that very weekend made us decide to go grab it again.

There was an interesting set of structures at Templeton Cow Camp again locked up tight and complete with a fire bin setting on an old mattress.  Perfect for a horror movie.

This was the same approach we'd used for Kern last year except we'd approached the saddle via the trail on the other side and ended up camping on the shoulder of the peak around 11k.

We kept a decent pace and soon found ourselves on top where there are remains of an old fire lookout complete with the Osborn fire finder map cabinet.

I really like Kern as the approaches aren't too difficult and pass through a lot of pretty meadows and the view from the top is one of the best in the southern Sierra.

This trip we couldn't dawdle as we were on a mission.  We backtracked to our camp and retrieved our overnight gear before heading across the meadow to Templeton.

We had to backtrack past the trail junction south of Templeton in order to find water which was badly needed due to the heat.  Golden Trout is best enjoyed a bit earlier in the year than June.

We started up the side of Templeton enjoying a nice view over towards Olancha.

The views up on Templeton were amazing even if the climb itself was somewhat of a slog.  Up top we found another Gordon & Barbara register from 1984 and the sign in from Steve during last years Massacre (he'd left us at Red Hill and decided to head for camp instead of swinging out to grab Volcanic Cone)

Let's do the timewarp agaaaaaain....

We dropped back down and again retrieved our gear already feeling like it was a long day.  We'd hoped to at least make the base of Monache if not get the peak itself but it was clear that was a bit on the aggressive side at this point.

Still, we made a good effort hiking until dark when the already spotty trail on the west side of Brown made us decide that stopped here would be just peachy.

We abandoned plans to head for the springs above Bakeoven Meadow and stopped a bit after 9:45 pm after finding a relatively flat spot only moderately infested with ants.  If you're tired enough minor concerns like that don't get int he way...

Day 3:  Monache.  Lots Of Cows

We woke up and got moving earlier hitting the trail by 7 ish since we had several peaks and a hike out to do.

Many many many miles to go...

We had an easier time following the trail in the daylight but it still all but disappears in several places.

At this point your back amongst the ranches and homesteads and the trails start running along barbed wire fences and grazing meadows.

We dropped down into the meadow and left the trail a right before reaching Bakeoven Dune making a beeline for the slightly less than epic looking bump of Monache.

(As a side note for future trips if we'd made it this far there were multiple camping opportunities in the trees around the meadow.)

We crossed several different fences though only one of the fields was occupied by some exceedingly uninterested looking horses.

Quite impressive until you witnessed the aftermath...
Monache was forested, steep, and unrelenting.

The summit was somewhat unremarkable and we signed in on the back of a sheet of paper in a small register.

Once again we had to push on since we still had at least two more peaks we had to do before jumping back over the pass.  We'd initially planned to swing further to the east but ended up dropping down a bit before Anchor Ranch following easier terrain.

We got somewhat nervous as we walked through the property following a fence.  We could see a vehicle parked by one of the buildings but no one came and confronted us and we were soon strolling down a jeep road.

Exiting the ranch on a posted private road (why do we always end up on the wrong side of those in this meadow?) we came to some very nice camp spots.  A sign also promised some river campsites along the road to the north.  A convoy of vehicles passed us though didn't seem to want to acknowledge we existed.  I guess we smelled that bad.

We took the opportunity to fill up all our bottles at the Kern since we didn't think we'd be seeing water for the rest of the day.

Since we were directly down stream from a rather large herd of cows (and you could smell them quite clearly) we filtered.  We took water directly at the jeep crossing through we had to stand in the middle of the stream to give the filter enough depth.

The jeep and dirt bike convoy came by again and headed for the campsites without so much as a wave.

We followed the dirt roads to the point between Deer Island and Anderson Point.  We were all feeling tired and it appeared we might have some weather inbound but we didn't want to miss these two slightly underwhelming peak specimens for a second time.  (Because then we'd have to come back to this slightly less than wonderful corner of Golden Trout...)

So up we went.  Deer Island was first dropping our gear and climbing up easy slopes.  The western summit was the more interesting and scenic of the two but the eastern appears to be the one listed as the official.  I was actually surprised not to find a Lilly and McCloud register after the last few days.

We dropped back down, grabbed out stuff, and headed up the opposite slopes for Anderson.  The summit was nondescript and there wasn't a register here either.

Rather than do more cross country following the ridge we dropped down a saddle and picked up the PCT.  Our slightly sore feet were appreciative.

Gaining the pass was a slightly painful affair and sadly the combination of weather coming in, the fact we were already looking at 25 ish miles for the day, and the fact we were certainly going to run out of daylight made us decide against the 2.5 miles each way to grab Round.  So another orphan.  *sigh*

We reached the car a little before dark having spent the last hour being buffeted by high winds and blasted by a pleasant combination of dirt and cow dung particles.

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