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ROCK CREEK PACK STATION (760)872-8331
KERN RIVER LOOP
TRAIL RIDE

Trip Details

Duration: 10 days

Group size: 4-12 participants

Trip Rating: Moderate

Price: $2300 per person

Date: July 19-28, 2017

Horseshoe Meadow to Horseshoe Meadow

  1. OVERVIEW
  2. ITINERARY
  3. PHOTOS
  4. HIKER INFO
  5. RIDER INFO
  6. MAPS
  7. TRAIL RIDES
  8. HIKING WITH STOCK
Trip Overview:

Arrive at Cottonwood Pack Station by 7:00 AM where your gear will be weighed and you will be served a hearty breakfast. Your personal vehicles will be left in the Cottonwood Pack Station parking area.

Begin and end at Horseshoe Meadow

The Sierra wilderness is a region of contrasts. Naked granite and deep forests. Powerful cascades and gentle meadow streams. Desolate terrain and areas teaming with wildlife. This trip encompasses all of these. First, you will experience the abundant wildlife, long meadows, and solitude of the Golden Trout Wilderness. We camp near the three creeks that comprise the native habitat of the golden trout, providing ample opportunity for anglers to catch these beautiful fish. Leaving the Kern Plateau, we drop 2,000’ through ancient lava flows into Kern Canyon, entering Sequoia National Park. Dense forests and lush meadows are framed by streams cascading down steep canyon walls to join the Kern River. We eventually leave the tranquility of this remote area as we climb up to the John Muir Trail, to travel below the tall granite peaks of the Sierra Crest including Mount Whitney and beautiful Miter Basin.

Hikers should be able to walk 12 miles, 3,000’ elevation gain and loss. You should acclimate to at least 8,000’ to 10,000’ for 1-3 days prior to the trip.

Distance: 36 miles with a total gain of 6,450 feet, and a total loss of 9,200 feet.

Elevation Profile: 69.3 miles, 10,460’ total gain and loss on moving days

GENERAL:This trip requires many stream crossings and some may require wading. Hikers should be prepared with trekking poles as well as sandals or water shoes to ford creeks.

Moving Day 1: Horseshoe Meadow over Trail Pass to Golden Trout Creek
11.2 miles, 1,035’ gain, 2,200’ loss
The path drops 100’ from the pack station to the junction with the Cottonwood Pass trail. Continue straight toward Trail Pass to cross Horseshoe Meadow toward Trail Pass. In one mile, the path will merge with a trail running along the east side of the meadow is it continues up 600’ through forest to 10,500’ Trail Pass and the junction with the Pacific Crest Trail. Enjoy views of the Golden Trout Wilderness before continuing straight, to drop 1,150’ in 2.3 miles through open forest to the trail junction at Mulkey Meadow, a favorite lunch spot. Turn right at the Mulkey Pass/Tunnel Meadow trail junction toward Tunnel Meadow. The trail skirts the northern edge of Bullfrog Meadow before climbing a low ridge and then descends along the South Fork of the Kern River, our first native golden trout creek, along Tunnel Meadow. Watch for the abandoned airstrip as you pass through the meadow and an unnatural dip in the trail at the end of the meadow where it crosses a collapsed tunnel dug in the 1880s to divert water from Golden Trout Creek into the South Fork of the Kern River. Go straight toward Little Whitney Meadow at the Golden Trout Creek Trail junction at mile 10.6. In another 0.3 miles, stay to the right at the Ramshaw Meadow junction and then watch for camp on the left within 0.3 miles as you approach the Bear Meadow junction.

Water is readily available from Mulkey Meadow to camp in normal water conditions.

Moving Day 2: Golden Trout Creek to Little Whitney Meadow
When one thinks of the Sierra, one thinks of granite peaks. The uplift that brought the granite to the surface also created pathways for magma to reach the surface, creating volcanic cones and basalt flows. Both routes, listed below, pass by the Groundhog Cinder Cone and miles of ancient basalt flows on their way to Little Whitney Meadow.

Via Groundhog Meadow (route 1) 3.9 miles, 25’ gain, 525’ loss. This short, relatively flat day offers anglers the opportunity to fish Golden Trout Creek. Return to the Little Whitney Meadow trail and turn left. Go to the right at the Volcano Meadow junction, mile 0.6, always following the trail signs to Little Whitney Meadow. The path follows Golden Trout Creek through Groundhog Meadow and past Cinder Cone and ancient lava flows before arriving at Little Whitney Meadow. Cross the meadow from the junction or navigate around the end of the meadow to our camp on the west side of the meadow. Watch for the rustic cabins of the historic Little Whitney Cow Camp at the north end of the meadow.

Via Volcano Meadow (route 2) 6.2 miles, 600’ gain, 1,000’ loss. An alternate route is through Volcano Meadow. According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, “The Volcano Creek strain of California golden trout is considered to be the most genetically pure population within the native range.” This infrequently visited area of the Golden Trout Wilderness offers spectacular views and a high probability of wildlife sightings. Due to the lack of visitors and fishing pressure, the beautiful golden trout of Volcano Creek are plentiful and willing to bite. Return to the Little Whitney Meadow trail and turn left. In another 0.6 miles, at the Volcano Meadow junction, turn left onto the lightly used Volcano Meadow trail. Cross Golden Trout Creek and then climb 300’ over the saddle to the south of Cinder Cone before dropping 450’ to Volcano Meadow. Follow Volcano Creek almost to the junction with Golden Trout Creek before the path turns north to trace the western edge of the lava flow to the south end of Little Whitney Meadow. Cross Golden Trout Creek and travel north along the west side of the meadow to our camp.

Water is readily available throughout the day in normal water years.

Moving Day 3: Little Whitney Meadows to the Kern River
10.9 miles, 500’ gain, 2,300’ loss.
The route continues past signs of ancient volcanic activity. In 2.7 miles, the trail passes over a natural bridge. Geologists believe the bridge was created when mineral rich spring water heated by the slowly cooling lava flows left travertine deposits on surrounding gravel that later eroded away. The path soon begins a 1,600’ descent to the Kern River. Watch for basalt columns created when the lava flow was quenched by the ice and meltwaters of the glacier that filled Kern Canyon. The path traverses a dry, dusty patch for about Ό mile as it parallels the river south. The route finally crosses the Kern River on a bridge at mile five to a junction on the west side of the river. Turn right. A favorite lunch spot nearby is a soda spring close to the river. Watch for a path off to the right, shortly after the junction. The trail now undulates gently through forest and meadows as it follows the Kern River north for 5.7 miles to gain an additional 300’ of elevation. Camp is Ό mile below the Rattlesnake Creek crossing on the east bank of the Kern River. Anglers will have ample opportunity to enjoy the world class fishing of the Kern River.

Water is available at several creek crossings and at points along the Kern River in normal water years.

Moving Day 4: Kern River to Junction Meadow
12.2 miles, 1,800’ gain, 300' loss.
The remarkably straight Kern Canyon was formed as the river followed an inactive 80 mile long fault. Glacial ice from both the Sierra Crest and the Great Western Divide merged to flow down the canyon, widening and straightening the watercourse to create a steep-walled canyon several thousand feet deep. Our route continues up this canyon, following the Kern River to Junction Meadow. Anglers will enjoy exceptional fishing along the route.

The day starts by fording the Kern River to rejoin the trail and then crossing Rattlesnake Creek in Ό mile. Go straight at the Rattlesnake Creek junction to follow the Kern River. The path continues through forest and across meadows crossing Big Arroyo on a bridge at mile 1.8 and arriving at the High Sierra Trail Junction at mile 2.9. Continue straight to join the High Sierra Trail, crossing Funston Creek and then Chagoopa Creek at mile 3.9, before crossing the Kern River on a bridge at mile 4.3.

The Kern Hot Springs are 0.4 miles past the bridge crossing. After a nice soak in the hot springs, continue an additional 7.5 miles up the steep-walled canyon through forest and meadows, crossing numerous streams, to our camp at Junction Meadow. This is a long day that can be divided into two days by camping near the Kern Hot Springs.
4.7 miles, 450’ gain, 150’ loss
7.5 miles, 1,350’ gain, 150’ loss

Water is readily available at numerous creek crossings in normal rain years.

Moving Day 5: Junction Meadow to Wright Creek
5.6 miles, 2,800’ gain, 50’ loss
We have travelled along the bottom of Kern Canyon for two days. Today, the trail climbs up the east wall of the canyon, offering views down the U-shaped valley. Go to the right at the Colby Pass junction to climb out of the forest through manzanita-covered terrain to the Kern River Trail junction, mile 1.2. Turn right to follow Wallace Creek up 1,600’ in 3.1 miles, first through manzanita-covered slopes and eventually into open forest and meadows to the junction of the John Muir Trail. Turn left onto the JMT to ascend a 250’ ridge in 0.4 miles and then climb gently through open forest for another mile to our camp at the edge of Wright Meadow with stunning view of the Sierra Crest.

We recommend spending at least one layover day at the Wright Creek camp to enjoy the beauty of the area and fish Wallace Lake or the Wright Lakes. See the Layover Day Trips in the next section for a detailed description.

Water is available at the Wright Creek crossing below the JMT junction, at the JMT junction, and at the Wright Creek crossing on the JMT.

Moving Day 6: Wright Creek to Lower Rock Creek
11 miles, 1,750’ gain, 3,100’ loss
Return to the John Muir Trail, turning south toward Wallace Creek. The path crosses the creek and climbs 600’ in 1.6 miles before dropping gently to skirt Sandy Meadow and then ascends a 200’ ridge to the junction with the Pacific Crest Trail. Go straight on the Pacific Crest Trail, dropping 400’ in 0.6 miles to the Crabtree Meadow junction. Check your water here, because there is little reliable water for the next 5.6 miles. The trail climbs steadily to gain 500’ in the first mile and then traverses the hillside on a sandy trail for 2.3 miles, dropping 200’ before climbing 450’ to Guyot Pass. Twisted foxtail pines frame views of Red Spur across the Kern Canyon. The path then drops 1,400’ in 2.5 miles to Rock Creek. Camp is a short distance to the right on the north side of the creek. There is little reliable water between the Crabtree Meadow junction and Rock Creek.

Moving Day 7: Lower Rock Creek to Upper Rock Creek
3.7 miles, 950’ gain, 50’ loss
Return to the John Muir Trail and go to the right to cross Rock Creek, climbing out of the drainage to the Rock Creek Trail junction in 1.1 miles. Go left at the junction to follow the creek through forest and meadows for 2.6 miles to Rock Creek Lake. Camp is in the trees at the east end of the meadow surrounding the lake.

This is a short day to allow a trip into Miter Basin. See the Layover Day Trips in the next section for a detailed description.

Water is readily available throughout the day.

Moving Day 8: Upper Rock Creek to Horseshoe Meadow
10.8 miles, 1,600’ gain, 1,935’ loss
Follow the trail up to the Soldier Lake junction, 400’ in ½ mile. Turn right and follow the path past the junction of New Army Pass, mile 1.0, to the Pacific Crest Trail at mile 2.1. Go left at the junction toward Cottonwood Pass to travel through open forest past Chicken Spring Lake to the pass, mile 6.7. Leave the Pacific Crest Trail toward Horseshoe Meadow, dropping 1,300’ in 3.7 miles to the pack station.

The only reliable water is at Chicken Spring Lake.

While the riders and packers will follow the Cottonwood Pass route, an alternate route for hikers is over New Army Pass, 12.5 miles with a 1,750’ gain and 2,100’ loss.

SUGGESTED LAYOVER DAY TRIPS

Safety, trail conditions, weather, group interest and other factors play a part in determining the final route for this trip. Many options exist.

UPPER ROCK CREEK CAMP
Miter Basin
6.0 miles, 1,100’ gain and loss
There is an unmaintained trail that follows Rock Creek into Miter Basin from near the small lake. The trail climbs through open forest to a large meadow and then continues up the basin to a mix of slick rock and meadow where you are surrounded by 13,000’-14,000’ peaks, about two miles and 700’ elevation gain. You can follow the drainage up an additional mile and 400’ elevation gain to beautiful Sky Blue Lake. Other lake basins and Crabtree Pass (12+ miles round trip, 2,400’ gain and loss) are options. Your distance depends on how far you elect to venture into the basin.
Water is readily available in Miter Basin in normal rain years.
      OR
Summit Mt. Langley
11+ miles, 3,700’ gain and loss
To travel to the top of Mt. Langley, return to the Rock Creek Trail trail past the Soldier Lake junction and then turn left at the junction to New Army Pass. Ascend toward New Army Pass, watching for an unmaintained trail to (Old) Army Pass on the left. Turn north and ascend the scree and gravel on the south slopes of Mount Langley. The slope gets steeper towards the end. The easiest route is found by skirting the summit plateau slightly to the left to avoid the steep rock straight ahead. Once the plateau is reached, travel straight north, and when you reach the steep North Face of Langley, turn right and head west toward the summit. The summit is an unimpressive platform of sand and rocks, but the views in all directions are amazing. Source: http://www.summitpost.org/army-pass-normal-route/156296.
Water is available to Soldier Lake and may be available part way up the New Army Pass Trail.

EXTENSIONS THAT CAN BE ADDED TO THE BASIC TRIP
UPPER KERN
Allow at least one additional day.

The Upper Kern Lake Basin can be added to the section between Junction Meadow and Wright Meadow. This remote, spectacular area is very lightly used and is known for excellent fishing. This extension deserves at least one layover day to explore Milestone Creek or the lakes of the Upper Kern.
There is reliable water from the Kern River, side streams, and lakes both days.

Day 1: Junction Meadow to Milestone Creek 5.3 Miles, 2,400 gain, 0 loss
The route to our camp near Milestone Creek is a steady climb. The trail ascends the east wall of Kern Canyon, offering great views down the U-shaped valley. Go to the right at the Colby Pass junction to climb out of the forest through manzanita covered terrain to the Kern River Trail junction, mile 1.2. Follow the Upper Kern River trail to the left. The route follows the river north, passing an abandoned cabin before crossing Tyndall Creek at mile 1.9. The trail follows the Kern River, moving in and out of open forest before entering a wildflower and fern filled dell and soon arriving at our camp near the confluence of the Kern River and Milestone Creek.

Day 2: Milestone Creek to Wright Meadow
Option 1 – Via Upper Kern Loop Trail (Lake South America)
10.4 miles, 2,900’ gain, 1,950’ loss

The trail follows the Kern River, rising steeply 600’ in the first ½ mile before ascending more gently across slick rock to the junction with the Upper Kern Cut-Off Trail. The path continues straight toward Lake South America across open terrain passing along the eastern edge of five lakes as it ascends 1,300’ in 3.1 miles to the spur trail to Lake South America. Go left for 0.2 miles to the outlet of the lake. To continue the route, return to the Upper Kern Loop Trail and go left to climb 200’ over a saddle before dropping steeply for 500’ and then descending more gently along the east side of a long, rocky meadow to the eastern junction of the Upper Kern Cut-Off Trail. Go left to descend 350’ in 0.6 miles to the junction with the John Muir Trail. Turn south to cross Tyndall Creek in Ό mile and then climb 600’ over 1.6 miles to expansive views from Bighorn Plateau before descending for a mile to our camp at the edge of Wright Meadow.

Option 2 – Via Upper Kern Cut-Off Trail
7.3 miles, 2,100’ gain, 1,150’ loss

The trail follows the Kern River, rising steeply 600’ in the first ½ mile before ascending more gently across slick rock to the junction with the Upper Kern Cut-Off Trail. Go right to climb 700’ in two miles across sections of meadow and rock to a ridge with spectacular views of the Great Western Divide. The route then drops down a rocky trail for 0.6 miles to the eastern junction of the Upper Kern Loop Trail. Continue straight to descend 350’ in 0.6 miles to the junction with the John Muir Trail. Turn south to cross Tyndall Creek in Ό mile and then climb 600’ over 1.6 miles to expansive views from Bighorn Plateau before descending for a mile to our camp at the edge of Wright Meadow.

MOUNT WHITNEY
Allow one additional day. Summiting Mount Whitney can be added to the trip section between Wright Meadow and Rock Creek. Day 1 replaces Moving Day 6 and Day 3 replaces Moving Day 7.

Day 1: Wright Creek to Guitar Lake 8 miles, 1,800’ gain, 1,150’ loss
Return to the John Muir Trail, turning south toward Wallace Creek. The path crosses the creek and climbs 600’ in 1.6 miles before dropping gently to skirt Sandy Meadow and then ascends a 200’ ridge to the junction with the Pacific Crest Trail. Go left to follow the John Muir Trail toward Mount Whitney. Continue straight in 0.8 miles at the Crabtree Meadow junction, leaving the trees at Timberline Lake and finally stopping at our camp above Guitar Lake. Mount Whitney towers 3,000’ above the lake to the east.

Day 2: Guitar Lake to Mount Whitney and Crabtree Meadow
12.6 miles, 3,300 gain, 4,350 loss
There is no reliable water between Guitar Lake and the top of Mount Whitney.

Day 3: Crabtree Meadow to Upper Rock Creek
10.4 miles, 1,850 gain, 1,900 loss
Follow the trail 0.6 miles to the junction with the Pacific Crest Trail. The trail climbs steadily to gain 500’ in one mile and then traverses the hillside on a sandy trail for 2.3 miles, dropping 200’ before climbing 450’ to Guyot Pass. Twisted foxtail pines frame views of Red Spur across the Kern Canyon. The path then drops 1,400’ in 2.5 miles to cross Rock Creek before ascending 400’ in 1.3 miles to the Rock Creek Trail junction. Go left at the junction to follow the creek up through forest and past meadows to the Rock Creek Lake and Stringer Meadow. Camp is at the east end of the meadow.
There is no reliable water between Crabtree Meadow and the Lower Rock Creek crossing. Water is readily available for the balance of the day.

DISTANCES AND ELEVATIONS

Location Daily
Distance
Cumulative
Distance
Elevation
Cottonwood Pack Station/Horseshoe Meadows 0.0 10,065
Cottonwood Pass/Trail Pass Junction .3 9,950
Junction from Eastern Trailhead 1.3 10,120
Trail Pass 2.3 10,472
Templeton Meadows Trail Junction 4.6 9,350
Big Whitney Meadows Trail Junction 10.6 8,930
Ramshaw Meadows Junction 10.9 8,920
Golden Trout Creek Camp 11.2 11.2 8,910
Bear Meadow Junction 11.4 8,910
Volcano Meadow Junction 12.0 8,915
Johnson Creek Trail Junction 14.7 8,440
Little Whitney Meadow Camp 3.9 15.1 8,400
Natural Bridge 17.8 7,900
Kern River Bridge 20.1 6,300
Ranger Station 20.3 6,455
21 Inch Camp/Rattlesnake Creek 10.9 26.0 6,580
Rattlesnake Creek Crossing 26.2 6,580
Rattlesnake Creek Trail Junction 26.2 6,580
Big Arroyo Creek 27.8 6,640
High Sierra Trail Junction 28.9 6,730
Kern River Bridge 30.3 6,820
Kern Hot Springs 30.7 6,880
Whitney Creek Crossing 36.0 7,840
Wallace Creek Crossing 37.9 8,030
Junction Meadow Junction12.2 38.2 8,080
Upper Kern Junction 39.4 8,830
John Muir Trail Junction 42.5 10,405
Wright Creek Crossing 43.3 10,680
To Wright Meadow Camp5.6 43.8 10,880
Wallace Creek Crossing 45.1 10,395
Whitney JMT/PCT Split 48.5 10,774
Crabtree Meadow Junction 49.2 10,332
Guyot Pass 52.5 10,915
Lower Rock Creek Camp 11.0 54.8 9,536
Upper Rock Creek Junction 55.9 9,949
Miter Basin Junction 58.4 10,445
Upper Rock Creek Camp 3.7 58.510,400
Soldier Lake Junction 59.010,720
New Army Pass Junction 59.5 10,940
Pacific Crest Trail Junction 60.6 11,060
Sequoia National Park Boundary 61.5 11,366
Chicken Springs Lake Outlet Creek 64.6 11,220
Cottonwood Pass 65.2 11,160
Trail Pass Junction 69.0 9,950
Cottonwood Pack Station/Horseshoe Meadow 10.8 69.3 10,065
Please note that this represents the planned itinerary. Weather or other factors may affect the choice of campsites and daily travel. All decisions are made by the Head Packer with attention to the safety and comfort of guests and stock.

EXPECTED CAMPSITE LOCATIONS

Day To Elevation Latitude N Longitude W Miles Gain Loss
1Rock Camp8,91036.359118.29211.21,0352,200
2Little Whitney Meadow 8,400 36.373118.348 3.925525
321 Inch Camp 6,600 36.418118.41010.95002,300
4,5Junction Meadow on the Kern8,100 36.578118.41412.21,800 300
6Wright Creek10,85036.606118.370 5.6 2,800 50
7Lower Rock Creek Crossing Meadow9,50036.500118.33611.01,7503,100
8Rock Creek Lake and Stringer Meadow10,400 36.495118.2803.7950 50
9Cottonwood Pack Station 10,065 36.451118.17210.8 1,600 1,935
Total 69.3 10,460 10,460
*Mileage, gain, and loss based on Guthook’s PCT Guide.
PHOTOS...
Sheep at Soldier Lake
Guitar Lake
Timberline Lake
Rock Creek Meadow
What you need to know…for riders
(TRAIL RIDE, ALL EXPENSE, AND BASE CAMP INFORMATION)

OUR SERVICES

We supply horses, saddles, food, kitchen and eating utensils, and camping equipment. Dormitory tents will be provided for men and women. Private tents for couples or singles will be reserved by request. Food will be plentiful and deluxe in quality. We provide the preparation of meals; any help is appreciated but not mandatory. Those desiring to learn how to pack may participate in making up loads and packing the mules.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

  1. Check-in time is 7 a.m. at Rock Creek Pack Station except when OTHER LOCATION is specified.
  2. Free parking for guests' cars at pack station.
  3. Breakfast is served the first day while the mules are being loaded. The last meal furnished is lunch the last day.
  4. We provide a small saddle bag for trail necessities. Please do not bring your own saddle bags or day packs unless they are pocket size. Participants may not carry large camera cases with extra lenses on the saddle. If you have extra camera equipment, it can be packed in your duffel or in a safe place on mules.
  5. You will be limited to 3 lbs. in the saddle bag, which includes your lunch. Your jacket and rain gear are not included in the 3 lbs. and may be tied on the back of the saddle. No day packs allowed on riders' backs.
  6. Each person is assigned a horse for the duration of the trip with regard to the guest's weight, height, and ability.
  7. Dunnage limit is 30 lbs. per person (this includes sleeping bags, fishing equipment, liquor, etc.). There will be a surcharge of $3 to $10 per pound on dunnage in excess of the 30 lbs. You may bring your own tent if under 10 lbs. which will not be included in 30 lb. weight limit.
  8. Trip fee does not include alcoholic beverages or lodging night before and after trip.
  9. Gratuities are optional and a personal choice.
  10. Trip will terminate in the late afternoon of last day.
  11. Free shuttle back to Rock Creek Pack Station for trips terminating at other road heads.
  12. Reservation form must be accurately completed. The information on age, height, weight and riding ability is used to assign riding animals. Failure to provide accurate information may result in the participant being denied going on the trip with loss of trip fee.
  13. We advise guests to purchase cancellation and trip travel insurance.
  14. Participants will be sent an assumption of risk and a liability release form. All guests must assume the risk and sign the forms before using Rock Creek's service. Our forms have excellent guidelines for riding safety that we ask you to study.
  15. The pack station does not boil or treat water. Campsites are remote enough that we feel safe in using the water. It you want to purify water bring your own filter pump or purification tablets.

PERSONAL CHECK LIST

Bring belongings in stout canvas or nylon duffels; side zipper recommended, ideal size approximately 14" x 32". It is a good idea to use a large plastic bag INSIDE of the duffle to protect contents from external moisture.

Sleeping bags can be in separate duffels --again, line the inside of the duffle against rain.

Place all cosmetics, soaps, medications, etc into small plastic containers with close-fitting caps, THEN into sturdy resealable plastic storage bags. If anything breaks or bursts from altitude changes, the plastic bag contains the spill.

When possible, it is a good idea to transfer alcoholic beverages to sturdy plastic bottles with well fitting caps - it will save weight and protect against breakage.

Check in fishing worms and bottle goods separately; don't put in duffel. Place fishing rods in metal or plastic cases.

You will be given a small saddle bag that goes on your saddle horn to carry your lunch and a few personal items. (Weight limit 3 lbs - including lunch).

Remember - try to minimize the weight of your dunnage by packaging only the amount of any item you will need (like soaps, lotions and medications).

RECOMMENDED ITEMS:

  • Sleeping bag with a comfort range of 20 to 60 degrees and a moisture proof ground cloth.
  • Air mattress or small 1/4"-1/2" foam hip pad recommended - your night's rest will affect your next days enjoyment. Bring the best sleeping pad you can manage.
  • Broad-brimmed hat is essential for protection from sun at high altitude. It must have strings to keep from blowing off.
  • Sunglasses (RX glasses) - high altitude sun is BRIGHT!
  • Coffee mug (plastic for camp)
  • Pint water bottle for your horn bag
  • Pocket knife or small multi-tool
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Camera and film (sturdy strap)-- if using digital - don't forget an extra battery and card
  • Rain jackets and pants or slicker (rolled up you can tie them to the back of your saddle)
  • Hat protector (to keep your hat dry)
  • Light jacket (windbreaker)
  • Wool or fleece pullover/sweater (layers will keep you comfortable)
  • Heavy jacket
  • Bandana
  • Woolen cap (evenings can be cold)
  • Gloves (recommend gloves for riding, may want warm gloves for evenings)
  • Socks
  • Riding boots
  • Shoes for camp (moccasins, athletic shoes, etc)
  • Shirts and pants (long sleeved shirts offer sun, bug and branch protection)
  • Underwear
  • Bathing suit
  • Bath towel/wash cloth/soap (try a multi-use bar or liquid for use on hair, body and laundry. Biodegradable choices are available.)
  • Insect repellent such as Cutters
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste
  • comb/brush clips/pins/ponytail holders
  • Shaving kit (a small mirror is helpful)
  • Sun Screen (lotion, cream or stick)- use liberally for sunburn and chapping prevention.
  • Chapstick with sun protection SPF 15 or better
  • Moisturizer (cream or lotion - altitude and sun can be dry and chap skin)
  • Prescription medicine (if required - if you have any allergies, remember to bring appropriate medication)
  • Band-aids, aspirin, ibuprofen, eye drops, moleskin for any blisters
  • Baby powder/Talcum powder (helps to relieve any raw or irritated areas from boots, clothes or saddles)
  • Kleenex
  • Jogging suit (sweats are comfortable for after-swim and campfire lounging)
OPTIONAL ITEMS:

LOW-IMPACT GUIDE FOR THE WILDERNESS USER

We are dedicated to conducting our trips so that others following us will find the country unspoiled. Livestock is a natural part of the wilderness and when properly managed enhances man's enjoyment of our unmechanized wilderness area. Today, just as it was when the entire west was mostly wilderness, the horse and mule remain our companions and servants in wilderness travel. We practice and expect you to observe the following during your trip.

  1. Keep horses on trail; do not cut switchbacks (corners).
  2. Tie horses 200 feet away from streams, trails and campsites. At camps, horses and mules are tied to picket lines, stretched between trees on granitic soil.
  3. If you can't tie animal to picket line use a tree greater than 8" in diameter, not on grass. Tie high and short (2-3 ft.) so horse doesn't get foot caught in rope.
  4. Choose a tent site at least 100 ft. from water (THE LAW) where drainage will not be a problem, avoiding the need to trench. No tents or camp area allowed on grass or meadowlands.
  5. Utilize pre-existing fire rings where possible. Don't surround fires with rocks! Dig a hole in sand and cover when finished. When you leave camp, bury ashes from fire rings. Leave existing fire rings clean for the next user.
  6. When breaking camp, return the spot to its natural state and broadcast a covering of needles and cones. Scout the area to make sure nothing will be left behind. Remove the smallest pieces of aluminum foil and trash.
  7. Pack out all trash. Don't bury garbage, scatter organic wastes or leave foil in campfire pit. Burn cans and flatten. On our group trips we have a bag for cans and aluminum foil.
  8. Don't use soap (even biodegradable) in streams or lakes, Wash yourself, clothes and dishes away from water sources.
  9. Bury human waste 200 ft. from water, campsites and trails. Dig a hole 4-6" deep and after use tamp with sod.
  10. Don't pick flowers or cut branches from live trees. Use only downed wood for fires.
  11. You are required to keep bears from getting to your food at all times. Please ask for current regulations and suggestions on how to prepare for your trip.

What you need to know…for hikers
For pack stock supported hiking trips (HWPS)

Dunnage limit is 30 lbs. per person (this includes sleeping bags, fishing equipment, liquor, etc.)

You may bring your own tent up to 10 pounds that is in addition. The PCT 28 day trip allows 35 pounds of duffel.

PERSONAL CHECK LIST

Bring belongings in stout canvas or nylon duffels; side zipper recommended, ideal size approximately 14" x 32". It is a good idea to use a large plastic bag INSIDE of the duffle to protect contents from external moisture.

Sleeping bags can be in separate duffels --again, line the inside of the duffle against rain. Place all cosmetics, soaps, medications, etc into small plastic containers with close-fitting caps, THEN into sturdy resealable plastic storage bags. If anything breaks or bursts from altitude changes, the plastic bag contains the spill. When possible, it is a good idea to transfer alcoholic beverages to sturdy plastic bottles with well fitting caps - it will save weight and protect against breakage.

ESSENTIALS

  • Footwear. For this trips a medium-weight pair of hiking boots. We do not recommend lightweight hikers or tennies since they give little ankle support and the soles are often thin.
  • Camp Shoes. A lightweight pair of tennies or Tevas to wear in camp. This will reduce vegetation damage at our campsites.
  • A day pack. It should be large enough to take water, extra clothing, rainwear, camera, etc during the days.
  • Sleeping Bag. Most summer trips are warm and a bag rated to about 25°F will be plenty warm enough. We much prefer down bags, and good quality ones at that. Your bag should weigh in around 3 pounds.
  • Sleeping pad. A 3/4 or full length closed cell foam or Thermarest. If you bring a Thermarest also bring a repair kit to fix pesky holes!
  • Coffee mug (plastic for camp)

CLOTHING

  • 2 pair synthetic liner socks.
  • 2 pair heavier synthetic or wool blend socks.
  • Long underwear top. Capilene, some other synthetic or the new pure Merino wool types.
  • Long underwear bottom.
  • Warm pants. Tights or Expedition Weight Capilene.
  • Warm shirt. Synchilla or R2 weight works well.
  • Another fuzzy sweater top or pile jacket of some sort
  • GoreTex Jacket and Pants. A lightweight set is sufficient and heavy bulky clothing is unnecessary. Side zips on the pants should be long enough to slide over boots. Jacket must have a hood. Do not skimp on your rain gear. Nylon ponchos are not acceptable.
  • Shorts for on the trail
  • Tee shirt for on the trail
  • Lightweight capilene or similar gloves.
  • Warm hat. Synthetic or wool.
  • Sunhat

ETC.

  • Sun glasses.
  • Water Bottles. Two quart (1 liter) wide mouth bottles and/or a hydration system holding up to 50oz. (2 liters). Don’t bring bike bottles or any bottle that doesn’t have a wide opening.
  • Headlamp. --and a spare set of batteries!
  • Pocket knife. Swiss army style.
  • Personal toiletries. It is not necessary to smell like a rose each day so do not over do it.
  • Ear plugs are great to have in a noisy tent.
  • Personal Medical Kit. The guide will carry a large kit so yours will predominately consist of foot repair items, mild pain killer such as Advil and bandaids.
  • Sunscreen and lip screen. SPF 30+. A 1oz. bottle will be enough. Make sure the lip stuff actually contains a sunscreen.
  • Bug repellent.
  • Camera. A spare battery and card are good backups
  • Ski/trekking poles. These are not essential, but can be handy on the trail. It is your choice, but they do save wear on the knees.
  • Plastic trash bag. Handy for keeping gear in outside the tent should it rain.
  • Optional reading material, etc. OPTIONAL ITEMS:
    • Small notepad and pencil
    • Collapsible plastic wash basin (optional)
    • Solar shower (optional)
    • Water filtering pump (optional)
    • Liquor (be sure to check in with the packers to see that your liquor is packed safely)
    • Fishing equipment (optional)
      • CALIFORNIA FISHING LICENSE. Please note that fishing licenses are NOT available at or near the pack station. Be sure to get one BEFORE you arrive for your adventure. You can find information on California fishing licenses and online purchase at TakeMeFishing.org. You can purchase them at a Bishop sporting goods store, as well.
      • Rod/reel/line (a rod that breaks down into 3 or more pieces is recommended)
      • Compact metal rod case to carry on saddle
      • Canvas creel (no tackle boxes)
      • Leader material (1-3 lb.)
      • Flies: black gnat, mosquito, grey hackle, brown hackle, & royal coachman (No. 12-14 hooks)
      • Bait: worms & Pautzke red eggs
      • Egg hooks, worm hooks (No. 10-14)
      • Split shot
      • Lures (personal choice)
      • Pliers

TOM HARRISON MAPS.

Tom Harrison Maps, paper or download onto phone/tablet:

  • Golden Trout Wilderness
  • Mt. Whitney High Country

Apps for Smartphone/Tablet, download applicable areas prior to departure:

  • Gaia GPS
  • Topo Maps

Click on the map to see a larger version