HIKING TO THE OAK FLAT LOOKOUT IS EPIC!
Back by popular demand is the Oak Flat Lookout 30 mile Day Hike! This is a mostly class 1 hike, with a brief class 2 section. This hike is 30 miles long with an elevation gain of about 3300 feet. It is strenuous and difficult which is mostly due to the ridiculous distance, the elevation gain, and the dynamic weather. Hikers need to get back before dark so they will not be able to wait for anyone that cannot maintain the pace without sacrificing their own attempt at the summit. If you are falling behind and you don't feel comfortable hiking solo then please be courteous and put the needs of the group over your own by turning back (without being asked) before you get too far from your car. It is a fantastic trail, and it is easily accessible from Bakersfield. This is a challenging and difficult hike so if you are interested in going then please add yourself to the waiting list and you will be added when you are approved.
So how do I find the trailhead for this ridiculous excursion?
The parking area is the Delonega Day Area (http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/sequoia/recreation/visitor-guide/lower-kern-river.html) (35.547709, -118.616335). Just paste the coordinates into Google Maps (http://maps.google.com/) for directions from home.
CAUTION! Three of the 4 times that I completed this hike the weather was an issue (rain twice and rain/snow once) so be sure to check the weather report before deciding what to wear.
Oak Flat Lookout Weather (http://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php?lat=35.56239491058853&lon=-118.68392944335938&site=hnx&unit=0&lg=en&FcstType=text)
We will set out hiking promptly at 5:00am or earlier if possible. We will cross the bridge, and then hike west on the Flower Trail (Kern River Trail). We will locate the sign and then head north up the connector trail. We will turn west on the Badger Gap Trail which was built using Off Highway Vehicle funding and is maintained by The Stewards of the Sequoia (http://stewardsofthesequoia.org/WhoWeAre.html). We will follow the trail until we reach the chain linked gate. From there we will turn north and hike the short distance up to Rancheria Road. We will follow Rancheria Road a short distance, and then hike cross country and west on a ridge to the Oak Flat Lookout (http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/sequoia/recreation/rec_rentals/oak_flat.html) on Oak Flat Peak.
After hiking those 15 miles we will have lunch at the picnic table below the Lookout and enjoy the view if we are lucky enough to have one. After that we will hike 15 miles back to the cars making every effort to get back well before dark.
Photos and Info from 02-12-2012 (http://www.meetup.com/Kern-Tulare-Hikers/events/49948392/)
It is important that we all understand the rating system that organizers use on their hikes. For my hikes I generally use something close to the Yosemite Decimal System. I have seen many different versions of this system, and many are adamant that their version is the right version and etc.. The best description I have seen of the five classes that seems to encompass the most general idea may be found at Climber.org under ‘Five Classes of Climbing Difficulty’ ( click here (http://www.climber.org/data/decimal.html) ).
LIABILITY AND RESPONSIBILITY statements:
*** WAIVER OF LIABILITY *** The Organizers and members in this group are not professional leaders, guides, or mountaineers. The function of the member or organizer is only to organize the trip. Each person who shows up for a trip/meetup (and their guest or guests) is responsible for his or her own safety. By attending a hike, or any other event organized by this group, you are acknowledging that you and any guests that you bring are aware that Kern River Valley Hiking Club events involve risks, and could result in injury, illness, death, and damage or loss of property. The dangers include but are not limited to: the hazards of traveling in remote areas without medical services or care, the forces of nature, the inherent dangers involved in participation in sports, wilderness travel, and social activities, and the negligent actions of other persons or agencies. You agree to freely accept and fully assume all such risks, dangers and hazards. You further agree to release and discharge the Organizers, Members of the Kern River Valley Hiking Club - Tulare-Kern Peakbags & Hikes from and against any and all liability arising from your participation in the group activities.
*** PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY *** No one in the group is a guide or in any way responsible for your comfort or safety. Please be prepared with adequate gear and supplies for the trip. Please remember that going out into wilderness has risks associated with it and you should be aware and prepared to address any changes in weather, road conditions or to look out for/avoid random acts of nature, including insects, wild animals and natural hazards. It is your responsibility to evaluate the difficulty of any activity you participate in, and decide whether you are prepared by having the experience, skill, knowledge, equipment, and the physical and emotional stamina to safely participate.
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