AsABat's Pacific Crest Trail - California Section F

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February 13-16, 2003, the PCT Section set out to hike Section F from Highway 58 near Tehachapi to Walker Pass. The drive up to Walker Pass Camp the night before was an adventure in itself: A two hour wait for Cajon Pass to open after a mud slide, flooded dips on Highway 395 going across the Mojave Desert, and then dense fog. The next morning we could see snow on the hills and realized the storm was colder than anticipated, and the storm was threatening to continue. We also found some dirt roads to trail heads washed out. We therefore rearranged our schedule a bit to accommodate weather and road conditions. Therefore, the photos here are in a peculiar order. To follow chronologically, click here, then follow the links.
February 14, 2003, we drove up Jawbone Canyon Road to the trail. The road's switchbacks up Geringer Grade were severely eroded from the previous day's rain, and even with 4-wheel drive we had to make some road improvements before getting to the trailhead.

Once on the trail, we had only patchy snow, but spent most of the day walking in the clouds and getting damp. There should be great views from this trail, but we had to enjoy the trees and rocks at hand.

Windmills in the mist. A frozen wonderland at Golden Oak Spring
As we continued south, we heard a strange noise up the hill above us. At times it sounds like a very long train, or some strange contraption. Finally the clouds lifted for a moment, and the windmills came into view. Hurrying on, we arrived at Golden Oak Spring just before dark. The spring was covered in ice, but the pipe had a trickle to get water from. The skies cleared as we enjoyed a hot dinner.
Dancing in the sky down the rolling hills to Tehachapi View down to Mojave
February 15, 2003, the clouds had lifted, and we enjoyed great views all around. Unfortunately, I couldn't get any good pictures of the views north to the Sierra, but we saw many snow-covered peaks. The trail soon began a long descent to Highway 58 at Tehachapi.
Mountain views. We had some great views of the Sierra today, but I couldn't get a good picture. Walking along the freeway at the south end of Section F
... The final mile of trail followed the freeway. Here we had several large mud and water puddles attempt to keep us from our destination.
Rainbows are always nice to see after a storm Untracked snow on the trail
February 16, 2003, we headed south from Kelso Valley Road under partly cloudy skies. As we walked, a bright rainbow led the way. Approaching Harris Grade, the trail was almost entirely covered in untracked snow. We enjoyed the sunshine and the snow covered hills. We returned to complete the final leg of Section F on March 8.
Views north from Kelso Valley Road Views south from Kelso Valley Road
February 13, 2003, our trip began at Kelso Valley Road heading northbound. We had expected rain, but it stayed away from our route. ...
Heading towards Bird Spring Pass The road to Bird Spring Pass was washed out, so we had an extra three mile hike to our ride. (Next day)
We had originally planned on walking from Bird Spring Pass to Walker Pass the first day. Because of the threatening storms and the washed out roads, we put this off, and ultimately decided to finish Section F on another trip on March 8.

The day before, I drove up Bird Spring Pass to check out the road. The road (SC65 to SC106 to SC120) was in good shape, with just a little soft sand and small bumps, and I saw one small passenger car going up. At the top, I drove my truck up Wyleys Knob to see the views we missed in the fog the month before. From the top I looked back over the trail to the south.

Looking back from Wyleys Knob
Looking north from Wyleys Knob
Driving back, I looked down on Bird Spring Pass and the hill we would climb tomorrow.
Water cache sign Water cache
About a quarter mile before Bird Spring Pass, a sign marks a large water cache. There were ten 5-gallon jugs containing about 40 gallons of water on March 7, 2003.
Another water cache Road
Another cache of four 1-gallon jugs of water was on the trail just past Bird Spring Pass Road. The road west of Bird Spring Pass had two washouts which removed about half the road. My full size truck just made it through, but it wasn't real comfortable. Without major repair work, another good rain could close the road. I thought the road from Highway 14 to the east was much easier.
Early morning climb Wyleys Knob
We started the day with a stiff climb. The day was bright and sunny, so we were able to enjoy the views we missed which hiking in the fog and clouds last month.
Looking south back to the PCT First views of the High Sierra
Reaching the top of the ridge, we saw the High Sierra in the distance.
Views Views
Bear Views
We didn't see many mammals, and didn't have much snow to cross, but did find some prints of a bear cup in the snow.
Views Fire and stream
A fire burned through part of this area a few years ago. The contrast of a few small streams with the burned trees was interesting.
Fire recovery Descent
Finally, we had to descend to Walker Pass. The trail loops around the hill in this picture.
Walker Pass is in the center of this picture, with the campground in the hairpin curve to the left. The trail north climbs the slopes up and right from the pass.

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