Coyote Peak, Angora Mountain
By: Sara Wyrens
This three-day trip to the Great Western Divide started at Lloyd Meadows Trailhead (5,840í), 23 miles north of Johnsondale where our group of 13 started off. They were: Reiner Stenzel, Randall Danta, Dea Denton, Donna Specht, Joe Stack, Warren Ngo, Eric and Lori Beck, Susan and Bill Livingston, Rob Jorden, Harvey Ganz and myself. This trail moves its way North East and continues to the Little Kern River Bridge where our group stopped to have an early lunch and to share this lovely rest stop with several other people, horses and dogs. This was a relatively uneventful morning until a dog fell into the fast flowing river and, for all intense purposes, looked like it would drowned. Ahh, but not to worry; the very gallant Randall saved the day and jumped in to rescue the canine. Way to go Randall! It surely would have ruined my day to have started off watching a dog drowned. But the trip continued on and we had other challenges to deal with beside dogs in water.
The first issue is that the trail system indicated on either the Forest Service or the topos, are not necessarily accurate and true to form. Many trials break off here and there, and the Forest Service map shows a trail breaking off near White Mtn saddle heading North East in a gully towards Coyote Lakes. We found the gully but not trail; well not where it is indicated on the map anyway. The trial actually heads sort of North West. All of this is talked about in the SPS archives and backpackers/climbers are warned. This maze of trails is not as ambiguous as it seems, and actually, all trail veins end up on a main trail eventually. However, it is strongly suggested that this trip be scouted before taking up groups to avoid detours and delays.
At any rate, our group continued on from Kern Bridge winding around and eventually coming upon a 4-way trail junction (this junction is actually on the map). From here looking towards the North, the saddle between White Mtn and Angora dominates the view. This is where we will camp which brings us up to yet another issue; water or the lack thereof.
The saddle from the trailhead is slightly over 3,300 accumulative gain and 11.5 miles. It is necessary to get at least as far as this saddle on the first day in order to bag both peaks for the weekend; day two being 16 miles and 5,000 accumulative, mostly xc.
When looking at the topo, it shows that Deep Creek runs out just about the area most convenient to camp. As we backpacked up the last very steep 800 feet towards the saddle, we knew there would be a possibility the water was dried up, what with low rain fall. Turns out, it was almost dry with small pools with slow trickling water, barely big enough to make do. But again, not to worry, Reiner suggested a dam could be made so he and Randall proceeded to do so. Thanks again to both of these guys!
Day two: The group went first for Coyote (10,892í). It is best to break from the trial at about the 9,600í contour line xc and traverse around the ridge rather than taking the trail all the way. This saves miles, gain and loss. The ridge will let you off back on the trail to continue on towards Coyote Lakes and Peak. Coyote proved to be a fun class two peak, the route being obvious following another convenient ridge. Angora (10,198í) was bagged on the way back to camp. The route being xc to saddle, hop on ridge and scramble to top. After the tiring day, Harvey made us a homemade pie in the ground using coals that he packed in. What a treat! This went very well as breakfast the next morning.
I went back two weeks later to the area to explore the Trout Meadow Springs area which is East of the Little Kern. To get there, one takes a right at the 4-way junction (above mentioned) instead of left as I did with my group. This is a decent trail that leads to a flowing creek and forest service station (Iím was told by a horseman is broken into by bears on a regular basis). I also went to take the alternative route towards the peaks on the trail and avoid the ridge/divide. This area is very desolate down the steep broken trail that fads in and out and dissolves into the various meadows surrounding the creek. I had to xc back to the crest as I was not able to find the trail at one point. Hence, the ridge route is the best way to bag Coyote. I camped again at the saddle and found our beautiful dam of sticks, logs and earth had almost evaporated but was still usable, luckily because of the small trickle of merciful water still flowing.
Hikers/peak baggers and the like donít get up into this area much. The last person to sign in the Coyote register was in 1999 and we saw not another soul after the Little Kern; water, of course being a main issue; but actually, the remoteness of this area is a personal attraction for me.
Despite all the challenges confronting us, what with drowning dogs, vague trailways and unreliable water, this was a wonderful trip.
Thanks to all who made it so!
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