As we continued higher we passed through the 2008 Clover Fire burn with the expected fire loving species like Hairy Woodpecker, Chipping Sparrow and Western Bluebird. Anywhere there was a trickle of water from a spring or seep had a singing Lazuli Bunting.
|Clover Fire burn with Kern Peak in the distance|
We reached 8,000 feet elevation, a short distance below Haiwee Pass and turned and dropped elevation toward the South Fork of the Kern River. In this drought year, even with the recent rain and snow in the high country, the Kern was hardly more than a trickle.
|South Fork Kern River|
The climb out of the river canyon at 7,400 feet to the ridge was long and hot. We passed through Dutch John Flat where a pair of Williamson's Sapsuckers knocked about in a stand of Jeffrey Pines. A Calliope Hummingbird perched from a willow near a seep. As we moved higher toward the top of the ridge, the view east toward the Sierra crest opened up.
|Dutch John Flat and the Sierra crest. Haiwee Pass is the lowest notch just right of center. Olancha Pass is at the left end.|
We reached the the ridge at 8,600 feet and started the descent to the PCT where we reentered the burn. The tree skeletons had a ghostly look.
It was a long hot descent down the PCT to Kennedy Meadows with very little shade inside the heat trapping canyon. The recent heat wave and lower elevation made for some slow going. It is near the peak of PCT thru hikers passing this way going north so we had lots of company as we moved downhill. We crossed the Kern one last time two miles from the Kennedy Meadows campground. A mile and a half road walk from the campground to the car at the Wildrose trailhead was a punishing end to a long day.
Distance: 22 miles
Elevation gain/loss: 3,600 feet