Lloyd Meadow to Sagebrush Gulch Post Knee Surgery Two Day

  • Updated: May 08, 2016
  • Post By: Matthew Hengst

May 7th & 8th
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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.

I'd already been out on the knee during WTC Snow Camp a few weeks back but that was on the easier end and I was anxious to get out and see how I fared on more mixed terrain.  Day hikes of Clipper and Sheep Hole Mountains recently had turned out reasonable well so I was hopeful.

Planning happened last minute due to unforeseen schedule adjustments so Friday afternoon Kristen and I were calling around trying to figure out what trailheads were open in the Kennedy Meadows area that looked interesting for a two day.  We were told Lloyds Meadow had just opened and a few hours later we were on our way.

Friday night during trip season brought to you by The 10 Best Songs About Hating Los Angeles

We were using Steve's directions on climber.org and headed over the Grapevine to enter via the 190 from Porterville.  As it turned out this wasn't the best route for the trailhead we ended up using and if you're reading this thinking of going I'd recommend coming in from Isabella.

But we had minimal research and aimed for the higher up trailhead marked as LEWCMP.  We started down the road sometime after midnight and found a surprising amount of snow covering the road.  Before long there was enough to block our progress.

Back on 190 the campgrounds were closed but we found a dirt road with a pullout and bivyd for the night.

Breakfast was somewhat sparse, just a quick bagel and instant coffee in the morning fog.

This quickly cleared and we had a beautiful day on our hands.

The scattered dead trees in the area are from a bark beetle infestation that's been getting worse the last few years due to a drought.

Heading south we tried NF 22S02 heading towards Last chance Meadow.  It looks like it would meet the road to the traditional Coyote and Angora trailhead and save us some driving.

No such luck.  Locked gate.

Kicking ourselves for not doing better research ahead of time we went all the way around to NF22s87 and followed it to the end of the road.  It's paved the entire way and makes for a fast -ish 23 miles.

This is the trailhead I used for Coyote and Angora back in 2009 for my first official SPS trip.  It's interesting coming back to it now when I had a better handle on where I was relative to other trips.

Basically we were hiking in to the east of Maggie and Moses / Mountain Home and west of Coyote and Angora and the Golden Trout area around Monache Meadows.  And to the north is Mineral King.  So I was looking forward to exploring an area I hadn't been to before.

The trailhead had only just opened and we only had one other vehicle at the trailhead which belonged to a solo hiker carrying a fishing pole who looked surprised to see us when we pulled up.  It's a decent trailhead with bathrooms but no bear boxes.

Eventually we got moving.

The weather looked like we'd likely get some moisture and there were high winds off and on but we seemed to be avoiding the worst of it.

We took the shortcut trail to Jerky Meadow which saves some mileage if you don't mind climbing a hill.  We reached Jerky Meadow and from here it was on to new territory.  (To do Coyote and Angora you turn west here and cross the Kern)

We could see Mineral King off in the distance getting hammered and I fully expected we'd get some as well.

We took the trail descending to Fish Creek and then climbing up the far side before dropping into Grey Meadow.

In Grey Meadow we came across a cow camp.  It was uninhabited but in good repair

The main building was labeled Shannon's Cowcamp est 1917.  More here.

I liked the dog house.

There were numerous outhouses and park benches scattered around the area with camps and firepits.

Grazing meadow
Past there the stream crossing started to get interesting.  There was a distinct lack of logs or rocks so we ended up getting our feet wet.

A little further on we reached Sagebrush Gulch and were faced with another boots off crossing and decided to make camp.

The area had signs of heavy use with multiple established fire pits and camps and a lack of downed wood.  I usually go for a little more remote campsites but this time of year we had it to ourselves.  We availed ourselves of a rather nice packer camp and went about gathering firewood.

The clouds built up on all sides of us and we occasionally got a few drops but the storm that seemed to be threatening never materialized which was a bit of a bummer honestly.

We burned through a fair amount of firewood and went to bed not long after dark.

The next morning.

We did a little more scouting but couldn't find a way across the stream without wading.  We were nominally aiming for the Pine Tree Mine and Camelback ridge and had to cross more than once.

I had my trusty crocs (best river crossing and camp shoe I've found)

Kristen had forgotten hers and so had to use a combination of painful barefoot crossings and boring my crocs when I could fling them back across.

It took a few tries to find the way across.  I actually ended up backtracking across one of the crossings because the main channel just wasn't crossable without full on swimming.

We took the trail northwest along Alpine Creek.

This was the burn area along the way.

Looking at the time it was clear reaching the mine, returning to camp, and then hiking out / driving home wasn't going to be realistic.  If we'd had an extra day there were a number of things I would have liked to do back there but ah well.

A few stream crossings later we were back in camp we packed up and strolled out the 7.5 ish miles to the car.

The weather was just about perfect with mixed clouds keeping the temperature down but enough sun that the crossings were pleasant instead of just cold.

We decided to head out via Kernville and out to the 395.  Sherwin Grade Road was still closed so we dropped down to the 178 and out to the 395.  Sadly by the time we made Adelanto it was rather late so our post hike meal ended up being Del Taco.  We were home in Orange County by 1:30 am.

Overall my knee held up fairly well.  There's occasionally some weird popping which can happen due to the newly formed cartilage not being completely flush with the defect and there was some discomfort which I'm told is expected to lessen over the next 6 months to a year.  But overall there seems to be less pain than before.

Total stats were about 20 miles and 4000 ft gain so it was a reasonable ramp up trip.

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