Leggett Creek

Background

Last year at work I heard about a landslide happening at Leggett Creek. I wanted to go check it out, but the summer was busy and it wasn’t a priority. Vocal reports came in from various people about how Leggett Creek had abandoned its current stream location and was forming another one. I knew that next year I would go check it out. It was going to be a long hike to get there, but I figured it could be doable in a couple of days.

As the following summer approached and events in life changed things, I would never have guessed that I would be spending a work weekend with Diana. What started off as a weekend work trip earlier in the year soon became our first weekend backpacking trip. Getting to spend a weekend with Diana, go backpacking, and get work done at the same time, I was pretty excited about it.

Saturday – June 27th

Awake at 6AM and picking Diana up at 7AM, we made our way up the mountain. We arrived at Lewis Creek trailhead around 930AM. We had to accomplish approximately 11 miles that day, which ended up being 12 miles with the reroutes, and the first 4 miles was all down hill. The beginning of the trail offered views in all directions. To our north we could see Farewell Gap and some of the peaks in Mineral King. To the south we saw the Kern River and Needles Look Out. To the east, down the trail, we could see the ridge line we needed to get to by early afternoon.

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We made our way down the trail and had our first experience with a rattlesnake. I walked right by it and it never buzzed or did anything. Diana coming down seconds later triggered the rattlesnake. She quickly moved away from the sound and had a good adrenaline rush for a bit. We figured I must have startled him and he saw her coming by under the bush. Nothing like a little bit of wildlife to get your heart pumping in the morning!

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Around 1130AM we made it down to the Little Kern River. There was a bridge there and we saw written in cement a date regarding when it was built. The bridge was built back in 1957. Made of steel frames and with wooden planks, it must have been something to install years ago. Horses and mules that came behind would make the bridge sway back and forth. It was quite a sight to see. Fishermen were camped along the river enjoying a weekend of fishing. We had lunch about 15 minutes later on a “cut off” trail.

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After a mile of going uphill we came to a cross roads. Apparently a lot of the signs are not longer maintained out in the wilderness or we were not on a commonly used one. Either way the signs were horrible. There was one up in a tree and it was probably intended for people on horseback to notice. As we progressed onward there was not water or springs to be found. It was a warm and long stretch to hike through.

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Around 2PM we arrived in the upper portions of Trout Meadow. A cow camp was established to the west of the trail and was pretty elaborate. We continued up the trail for another 15 minutes till we found a smaller campsite with a spring. Before we found made it to the spring we stumbled upon another rattlesnake. The same scenario happened, but this time Diana was able to see it in the log. We waited for the snake to go back in its whole and she made her way pass. Once at the spring we rested, hydrated, and snacked on some food before going on. We were going to have to make our last uphill pull for the day, but at least it was going to be a gradual one.

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Around 330PM we arrived at the divide between Trout Meadow Creek and the Kern River. It was a rewarding feeling to have a change of scenery. The river was tucked down in a canyon meandering its way down. Mountain peaks loomed in the distance still covered in snow. We could help but smile at what we saw. Our uphill climbs were over, but our last downhill was about to begin.

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Around 415 PM we arrived at Leggett Creek. The Kern River was rushing along side to the east of us. I checked out the landslide, took enough photos of the area, and came up with a solution for the trail. Once the job was completed around 440 PM, we setup camp in an existing camp site. A fire ring was already created, clothes line hung, metal table tops and counter tops were there from previous inhabitants of the area. We cooked dinner, got our bedding setup, talked away, and cleaned up with a “sponge bath” to get some of the days work off of us. I brought some Neapolitan ice cream along for the trip. Yes it was freeze dried but it was still good after some beef stew Diana brought from REI. We went to bed early hopping to hit the trail a lot earlier then we had that day.

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Sunday – June 28th

Breakfast was oatmeal and we broke camp at around 7 AM. The first half of the trip was quick. We were familiar with landmarks and could gauge how far away we were to the next landmark. We had three big uphill pulls to do and getting out of the Kern River area was one of those. It wasn’t that hard though and the cool temperatures made it a comfortable climb out.

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Once out of the Kern River area and into Trout Meadow, we stopped again at the spring to take a snack break. After the mosquitoes found out about us, we hastily put on our gear and made our way to the second pull of the day. Our second pull was taking the cutoff trail back to the Little Kern River. This time it was warmer out than when we had climbed out of the Kern River area, but not too bad.

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We arrived at the Little Kern River around noon. Tired and hot, we rested underneath the bridge. We ate our lunch, hydrated, and took it easy for a bit. Our final pull out was the longest one of all. Not difficult per say, but the length of the pull and the time of day was going to be taxing.

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As we left the Little Kern River the sun was pounding on us and taking its toll. There was no water anywhere during this 4 mile hike so water consumption had to be regulated. We were getting tired and warn out from the sun, so we took a break for awhile. The clouds came in as well as a stronger breeze to help keep us cool. Ready to go again we put on our bags and around 5 PM we made it to the top.

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The last ten minutes of the trip was a race. Diana bet me that if we could finish the last part of the trail less then ten minutes, I would have to take off her boots and socks. I must have been more tired than I thought because I agreed and didn’t have any conditions for her if we didn’t make it up to trailhead in less than 10 minutes. Anyway, we pushed hard and I must admit we made it in 9 minutes and 32 seconds. Removing her shoes and socks, loading up the truck, and grabbing a little bit of trail mix we made our way back home.

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