Hockett Peak From Jerky Meadows Sierra Club I Provisional

  • Updated: June 10, 2018
  • Post By: Matthew Hengst

June 9th & 10th, 2018
Hockett Peak (8,552')
Day 1: 8.7 miles, 1,800'
Day 2: 16.8 miles, 4,300'

Hockett Peak is a named peak on the USGS topo that is located in the Southern Sierra along the Kern to the west of Jordan Hot Springs.  After passing by it a number of times over the years Kristen Lindberg and I led a WTC trip to climb it in 2017 to great success.

Hockett towers above Trout Meadows which is one of those incredibly green and scenic meadows you find all over in the Southern Sierra.  It's full of nice camp spots with legal fire pits, ample wood, and multiples options for access to water.  The best trailhead is Jerky Meadows, aka the same trail we used for this years Massacre trip and one that opens reliably early every year.

This was also another Sierra Club provisional this time an "I" rating for Victor Gomez.  The I rating is for cross country travel so we had to do something that had a decent amount of it and where the navigation wasn't obvious.

Hence why our summit day for Hockett would be a little more circuitous than the route we took last year.  Instead of climbing the western flank we'd come around from the south and hit a few points along the way.  This would make for a fairly long day considering we had to return to camp, pack up, then hike out which involves an uphill climb to the cars.

Victor also had us camping at the Trout Meadows FS Station after verifying with the Kernville rangers that it was ok.  This gave us a reliable water source, a nice fire pit, logs for sitting, and even two rather nice outhouses.  It was almost too comfy...

We left at our usual 7 pm and drove north along the 5, across the Grapevine, and up the slow windy road north of Kernville.  Even with a 30 minute coffee and food stop we made the trailhead a little after midnight and sacked out in one of the open hike in campsites at the top of the trailhead lot.

Our plan was to meet at 7 am and be hiking by 7:30.

We soon found the rest of the participants camped in nearby sites or sleeping in cars.

And by 7:30 we were off!

Jerky is a nice trailhead but it does have some hills near the begining.  After 3/4 of a mile you have the option of making a right and going up a steep hill over to Jerky Meadow or going straight and getting to the same place via a slightly longer trail.  We did the shortcut which was a good way to warm everyone up.

Once to Jerky it's about a thousand feet of gentle descent down to the Little Kern where there's a rather impressive bridge.

Which is a perfect place to swim or fill up water.  There's normally a good number of people camping here but once again it was empty except for a single party off to the north.

We reached Trout Meadow early and took a side trip off to the south to visit a small homestead at the end of the meadow before following the indistinct trail that curves back to the north across a few stock fences before rejoining the main trail near the FS station.

The FS Station was quite nice.  To the right of the fire area there was a metal spigot that gushed cold water from a captive spring above.  The fire pit was sizable and the furniture numerous including a park bench.

People spread out in bare patches of ground with most a bit to the north of the station where there was another nice fire pit and an old foundation.

Even taking our time and going the long way around the meadow it was only noon when we arrived.  People setup tents and then everyone took it easy in their own way going for short walks, napping in their tent...

...doing yoga...

...or in my case breaking out the Pat's Backcountry Beverages beer kit to see how the end result tasted.  For more on that see the review here.

The ambient temperature was fairly warm but there was a cold breeze that had people in and out of their down.  So everyone was appreciative when we lit the fire a little before 5.

We had a suitably filling happy hour complete with ham (straight off the hock-ett) and some excellent backcountry pizza which was only partially ruined when Kristen flung two separate pieces at different people.

Everyone was enjoying the fire until 9 pm or so when we realized Victor was going to have us up in a little over 6 hours.

Victor delivered an enthusiastic wakeup call at 3:30 am and after a chilly breakfast (during which we briefly stoked the fire back to life for warmth) we started hiking at 5 am.

Victor took us across the meadow and to point he had identified as a camping option when he scouted the area.  If you look at the map the waypoint Alt Camp is really nice with ample camping spots and running water.  It also felt a lot less civilized than the FS Station so I'd strongly recommend camping there if you're thinking about doing this trip.

From there we climbed through dense forest as Victor aimed for the first of several points he had to nav to.

The group was very supportive.

Once we got up to the ridge the views opened up quite a bit.

Victor on point 7564

Looking over at Hockett Peak during the descent from point 8344T

The route up Hockett along the southwestern ridge is easy going except for one short section where we had to watch for rock fall.

We made the summit by 9:45 am.

As it turned out (at least according to the summit register) the last group up here had been us last year!

From the summit we had a view of the scar left by the 2017 Lion Fire that we found decimated Deep Creek when Jen Black and I came down that way during the Memorial Day Massacre trip a few weeks back.  For a look at what it looks like at ground level see here.  (And just to reiterate if you want to do Coyote and Angora you probably don't want to go that way at least for a few years)

We descended to Hockett Meadow to visit the remains of an old packer camp and Victor took us straight over to the last two nav points.

After that we just angled down the western slope and Victor descended as he found passable terrain.  There are a few scattered cliff faces or steep areas but the further south you go the better it gets.

We made it back to the ranger station around 1:30 pm and quickly reassembled our bags and filled our water for the 7 mile ish trek out to the cars.

By 3:10 pm we were back at the Little Kern bridge and we took a short but pleasant break with most of us taking the opportunity to cool off in the water.

We made it back to the trailhead at 6:15 pm which fortunately meant we had plenty of time to get back to Kernville before the Kern River Brewing Company closed at 9:30 and enjoy some well earned burgers and beer.

After a relaxed dinner our car ended up getting back to OC around 1:30 am which felt surprisingly rough for our carpool.  I must be getting old...

Now I was back in town for four days before I'd be heading out once again this time to the east side to get some real altitude in!

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