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Thread: Trip Report: Sherman Pass Jeep trail / Monache Meadows

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2007

    Trip Report: Sherman Pass Jeep trail / Monache Meadows

    Originally I was planning on going to SCLR Freeway Ridge trip that Brad had set up a few months ago. Well, that trip got nipped in the bud due to Jefferson's unfortunate roll down the mountain while they were pre-running the trail the weekend before.

    Being that I already had the time set aside to go I still wanted to get out that weekend and decided that since it was up in the same neck of the woods (more or less) that I'd put another trip together to run the Sherman Pass Jeep trail with an overnight at Monache Meadows since I didn't get to finish the former last year when I lead a trip there and the latter was someplace I'd planned on camping out at after freeway anyhow. There had been a few signed up for Freeway and a few others who wanted to go but couldn't due to it being fathers day weekend. In the end it wound up being Scott, his coworker Ryan who rode shotgun with him and myself who went.

    The day started off on the wrong foot for me. My alarm clock was turned off by my lovely wife before it woke me up so I overslept and didn't end up getting on the road until almost an hour and some change after my origianlly planned start time. Since it was just Scott and I going I sent him a text letting him know I was running a well behind schedule. As it turns out Scott had ran into a construction closure and lost a lot of time routing around that. I finally arrived at the Market in Kernville where we had planned on meeting around ten, Scott having shown up around twenty min before I did. A quick chat and I topped off my gas tank and we headed out to the trail head.

    The transit time from Kernville to the trail head is about an hour overall, the first three quarters of the road being along the canyon where the north fork of the kern river flows. After you reach Sherman Pass road you begin the climb out of the canyon to the trail head. We reached the trail head, aired down and proceeded to climb up the hill. For those of you who havent been the first part of the trail is steep and climbs about 1800 feet in two miles of trail that is pretty sparce and rocky with no real shade due to a fire that swept through the area a decade or so ago. Once we got to the top of the climb where it starts to level out and get into an area where manzanita has grown pretty thick on the side of the road Scott jumped on the radio that something on his truck "popped" and needed to be checked out.

    After a bit of listening with the truck stationary it was apparent that something in the compressor for the air suspension had let go. Fortunately Scott was able to pull the fuses and lock the air suspension in the raised position it was already in. In order to diagnose what was wrong the slider would have to be dropped which in the spot we were currently at wouldn't have been any fun. We weren't expecting the trail to any more difficult that what we had already come up so we decided to soldier on. We made it up to the top of Sherman peak just a little past noon where we stopped for lunch.

    After we finished lunch and headed back down the spur road that leads to the peak to rejoin the Sherman pass jeep trail we started off into unknown territory. I had a good gps track of the trail but I hadn't been on this part of it as we had went down the north meadow trail when I lead this trail last year. Off we go and right after the spur road there were a couple of areas with a bunch of medium sized rocks on the trail. I had been trying to keep speed since the tires I had on the truck were regualr old street tires. Turned out that too much skinny pedal was not good in this instance as the sidewall of my passenger rear tire let go. I was able to clear the rocky narrow bit we were in and get the truck into an open flat level spot where I could change the tire over to the spare. Only took about ten min to change out to the spare and we were back underway. The rest of the trail I took the less skinny pedal approach and came out with the rest of my tires intact. I'd say the rest of the trail was pretty moderate overall. There was not anyplace where Scott or I had to stop and spot one another, just careful choosing of your line was all that was necessary. The trail from the trailhead to the end at larger forest service road which lead us back to the paved Sherman Pass road was 15 miles long and took about three and a half hours to run total, including time stopped for repairs and lunch.

    After we finished the jeep trail we took the forest service road past bonita meadows back to pavement. It was ten miles and about twenty five minutes later we arrived at the Black Rock Ranger station to pick up a campfire permit. While we were talking with the Ranger we made sure that we were allowed to have a campfire. As luck would have it fire restrictions were in place in Sequoia NF but not in Inyo NF where Monache Meadows are located. We headed off to the meadow from there. The first eight miles of the road from black rock ranger station are paved and allow you to make good time. After that its eleven miles of unpaved road that goes from pretty good to a few spots that are rocky and broken up but nothing you cant make in a stock 4wd truck with some ground clearance. We were making pretty good time until we came upon a couple of ford trucks that were going pretty slow in the trail. It ended up taking is just over an hour from when we left pavement till we crossed the river and headed up to our campsite

    The campsites in the northern part of Monache Meadows are along the South Fork of the Kern River. Most of the campsites are well shaded and spaced out pretty well from one another. I'd say about 1/3 of the available campsites were being used. There were a few day trippers as well when we got there that had been fly fishing or just playing in the river. We found a nice campsite at the very end of the road located about 50 feet or so from the river with steep rocky walls on either side. We set up our sleeping arrangements, tables, chairs and proceeded to relax. We had made it to camp with plenty of day light left to get everything set up. After a long day on the trail we sat around and had some dinner once it started to get a bit later in the evening and a few drinks around the campfire as it got dark. We were thankful for the fire as the temps dropped quite a bit as they tend to do in high country after dark. With the fire to keep us warm we sat around and BS'd until eleven or so when we decided to call it a night.

    The next morning we got up, made coffee and ate some breakfast and proceeded to pack up our stuff and head out. Scott's air suspension had sank quite a bit over the night, mainly attributed to it being so chilly the night before. We figured once his car warmed up a bit the suspension would raise back up a so we kept it nice and slow on the way out. It did end up raising some but not to the level it was the night before. The slow pace on the way out allowed me to stop and snap a few pictures.

    Even though Scott's suspension didnt raise all the way back up, it was all and well enough. We made it back to pavement where we stopped to air up and get a drink of cold water and wash the dust off our faces with a spring fed cistern forestry had setup at one time or another.

    meadow across from the cistern:

    After we aired up we headed out through Kennedy Meadows and Nine Mile Canyon to 395 to where the 14 starts and proceeded home. Although it was just Scott, Ryan and myself I had a really good time and was glad to be able to finally finish Sherman Pass and make it up to Monache Meadows. Hope to go up and do some more exploring in that area in the not to distant future. Every time a take a trip up to this neck of the woods it reminds me of what great places we have to explore just a few hours from home and that I need to get out A LOT more often.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Nice report.
    1995 LWB
    2004 D2
    2008 E350
    2013 Impreza

    BLR #000
    NCLR #42
    SCLR #592

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