Packsaddle Cave North of Kernville


I found out about this cave by accident coming across it on a topo map while looking for a new area to spend a few days backpacking through for the annual Memorial Day Massacre trip.  It ended up being a multi day loop with a car shuttle on Highway 99 hitting the cable crossing at Durrwood Crossing and then swinging south to visit Packsaddle Cave.  The writeup for the entire loop can be found here but I thought this was interesting enough to deserve it's own writeup.

Getting There

You can get to Packsaddle multiple ways.

From Highway 99 Near Fairview Campground - Roughly 5 miles and 2k gain round trip

From Brush Creek along Sherman Pass Road - Roughly 4.4 miles and 1800 ft gain

From the south passing Salmon Creek - 8.7 miles and 3500 ft gain

If these three I've done hiked the second and third.  The Brush Creek route is dry and hot but the southern route is beautiful passing through heavy vegetation and with views of some spectacular waterfalls.  These trails are also dirtbike accessible if that's your thing.

The trail to the cave is marked with a duck in the middle of the trail and is located just a few hundred feet from where the Packsaddle Cave Trail meets the Rincon Trail.  There's a footpath that runs a short distance up the hillside to the cave entrance which you can pick out from below.

The Cave

The cave has suffered vandalism as is unfortunately almost the rule with open caves like this.  You can see multiple places where people set fires or spray painted the walls but it's still well worth exploring.

It's deep enough you're going to need a headlamp and be ready to do some crawling if you want to explore all the way.

The Massacre

For more about our particular visit that included crossing the Kern at the Durwood Cable Crossing and hiking most of the Rincon and the rather nice armed gentleman we ran into in the cave see the full trip report here.

Memorial Day Massacre 2016: Durrwood Rincon Edition

May 28th to 30th, 2016
Mount Durrwood (5,851')
[Pics] [Map]

Memorial Day is the first long weekend of the year where it's reasonable for me to get into the Sierra.  And as it's also soon after the end of the amazingly fun yet exhausting Wilderness Travel Course and Advanced Mountaineering Program courses I volunteer for I always look forward to doing something big.  A combination of aggressive plans and early season weather challenges have led to some...memorable trips over the years hence the name the Memorial Day Massacre.

This year my recovery from the microfracture surgery I had on my right knee in November kept me from making any big plans and in the end I decided it was better to stick to the three days I had off work vs trying to pull off the usual 4 or 5 day epic.

We did do one of those also this year but not until the 4th of July when we redid the weather aborted 2015 Massacre.

For this weekend we were looking at more snow up high than we'd seen the last few years so we decided to stick to the south.  After some casting about we settled on a a route a bit north of Kernville that was low enough to be snow free, contained an interesting looking cable crossing of the Kern, had a wild cave, and even allowed campfires.

Lloyd Meadow to Sagebrush Gulch Post Knee Surgery Two Day

May 7th & 8th
[Pics] [Map]

Trip season at last!

The first and last parts of the year I dedicate a decent amount of time to volunteering with the Sierra Club Wilderness Travel Course and Advanced Mountaineering Program.  These are both amazing programs and I really enjoy all the new people I get to meet every year.

However they do keep me in town and out of the mountains a little more than I need to stay sane so when Spring AMP wraps up I'm always gunning to get out of town and start climbing.

This year AMP wrapped on May 1st so this was the first chance to really get out.  And it was also my first "real" backpack since having a microfracture on my right knee last November.

Advanced Mountaineering Program (AMP13) - Spring 2016

The Sierra Club Advanced Mountaineering Program or AMP was started in 2009 by Dan Richter and Pat McKusky to teach basic and advanced mountaineering skills with the goal of promoting safe climbing and train a new generation of club leadership. While it's primarily targeted to WTC graduates and Sierra Club leaders anyone is welcome. It's run twice a year in the spring and fall and staffed by an array of hard working volunteers.

This post covers the Spring 2016 AMP class. More posts about AMP can be found here. More information on AMP and instructions on how to sign up can be found here.