Middle Fork Kings River crossing @ Simpson Meadow
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Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Middle Fork Kings River crossing @ Simpson Meadow on 02/06/2013 20:07:32 MST Print View

Does anybody have recent information on crossing the Middle Fork Kings River at Simpson Meadow? Bridge, log(s), feet wet up to the belly button, or? I haven't found much beta on the web, and the nature of the crossing will affect when I schedule a planned trip. Any beta much appreciated.

Tom

David Lutz
(davidlutz)

Locale: Bay Area
"Middle Fork Kings River crossing @ Simpson Meadow" on 02/06/2013 20:42:29 MST Print View

Hey Tom -

We passed though there around Labor Day in 2010 although we never really saw Simpson Meadow per se. I have a hunch the meadow is old and mostly filled in.

Since we had lost the trail we crossed the King's five times, all about knee deep. The river is wide there but not flowing fast. We eventually picked up the trail on the other side without too much difficulty.

The crossing of whatever river is at McClure Meadow was worse, if that helps as a relative measure.

I think Amy Lauterbach was out that way last Summer, she might be of some help.

Are you visiting the Tehipite?

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
Middle Fork Kings River crossing @ Simpson Meadow on 02/06/2013 20:49:26 MST Print View

Tom, I was there is 2010. No bridge or logs to cross so me and my friends just walked in the river for some time- it was not higher than my knees. That area is very remote and I don't think it gets much attention for trail maintenance. Tehipite Valley is a very special place for sure!

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Tehipite Valley

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middle fork kings river in August.

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Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Middle Fork Kings River crossing @ Simpson Meadow on 02/07/2013 00:22:40 MST Print View

My understanding is that there is one crossing point kind of downstream, but it is the stock crossing. Then the one upstream a half mile is shallower.

I've had my eye on the feasibility of that very stream crossing for a few years now. On some years, the only time that I could go was early season, and that was not practical for that crossing. On other years, I had better routes to do. However, this year might be different. It is not shaping up to be a heavy snow year, so the stream crossings might be OK in early summer.

Of course, if the water was knee deep on Jay, it might be almost up to my armpits.

I have my crossing method worked out if the water is knee deep, and it uses one cord. If there are two or more people, it gets easier, but one person is possible.

The rangers around Cedar Grove never seem to know anything about that stream crossing. Or, if they do know, they aren't telling.

--B.G.--

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: "Middle Fork Kings River crossing @ Simpson Meadow" on 02/07/2013 17:09:20 MST Print View

"Since we had lost the trail we crossed the King's five times, all about knee deep. The river is wide there but not flowing fast. We eventually picked up the trail on the other side without too much difficulty."

Thanks, David, that is what I was hoping to hear. I am planning to arrive there on ~September 19/20 and it is a low snow year, so I should be OK from what you and Jay
experienced.

"Are you visiting the Tehipite?"

No. I'll be coming down Goddard Creek, if things go as planned.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Middle Fork Kings River crossing @ Simpson Meadow on 02/07/2013 17:14:23 MST Print View

"Tom, I was there is 2010. No bridge or logs to cross so me and my friends just walked in the river for some time- it was not higher than my knees. That area is very remote and I don't think it gets much attention for trail maintenance. Tehipite Valley is a very special place for sure!"

Thanks, Jay. Your experience tracks with David's, same time of year and very similar river conditions. That is enough for me to relax and get on with other aspects of putting my trip together, as I am going to be there in roughly the same time frame.

Absolutely gorgeous pictures of the Tehipite area, BTW. It is a truly beautiful area. What was your experience with rattlers and poison oak along the trail?

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Middle Fork Kings River crossing @ Simpson Meadow on 02/07/2013 17:17:50 MST Print View

"Of course, if the water was knee deep on Jay, it might be almost up to my armpits."

Old Mother Nature doesn't cut us little guys much slack when it comes to river crossings.

"I have my crossing method worked out if the water is knee deep, and it uses one cord. If there are two or more people, it gets easier, but one person is possible."

I'd be very interested to hear more about your one person method.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Middle Fork Kings River crossing @ Simpson Meadow on 02/07/2013 17:38:06 MST Print View

One person method.

1. You need a strong cord that is more than twice as long as the stream is wide.
2. On the first stream bank, you find a tree trunk or a big clump of bushes to use as an anchor. You loop your cord around that anchor so that you are holding two cords, not necessarily out to the ends.
3. You stretch the doubled cord out as you walk along the stream bank downstream.
4. Start to walk into the stream, and the cord around the anchor gives you something to hold you against the stream current. As you walk through the stream, you will likely be walking an arc across.
5. Eventually, you reach the opposite stream bank. Release one of the two cord ends and pull in the entire cord since it was never tied to anything.

I have 100 feet of Dyneema cord that is good for 250-300 pounds, and it weighs an ounce or two.

If you really need it, you can wrap the two cord ends around a stick to have something better to hold onto.

Who are you calling "us little guys?" I may not be exactly Chris Christie.

In August of 2011, I had to do a stream crossing that was about crotch deep with current, and that was not fun.

--B.G.--

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Re: Middle Fork Kings River crossing @ Simpson Meadow on 02/07/2013 19:03:22 MST Print View

"I have 100 feet of Dyneema cord that is good for 250-300 pounds"

I wonder what the foot/lbs of force would be with the current pushing a person and their gear. Might be higher than 300 lbs? I don't know, but guys like David Thomas like to figure this stuff out.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Middle Fork Kings River crossing @ Simpson Meadow on 02/07/2013 19:22:42 MST Print View

I don't think the force would be that severe. For one thing, the current is not steady. It is the sudden surges that will make things tricky. Besides, my lower legs don't have that much surface area. If the current hit your torso, then you get swept away.

Also, if the stream bed were moderately smooth and sandy, then it wouldn't be too bad. Unfortunately, in 2011 I found lots of streams with bottoms full of sharp jagged rocks, so I didn't dare try to go through without my trail shoes on.

If I have a taut cord to hold onto, it isn't so bad.

--B.G.--

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Re: Middle Fork Kings River crossing @ Simpson Meadow on 02/07/2013 20:27:36 MST Print View

"One person method.

1. You need a strong cord that is more than twice as long as the stream is wide.
2. On the first stream bank, you find a tree trunk or a big clump of bushes to use as an anchor. You loop your cord around that anchor so that you are holding two cords, not necessarily out to the ends......"

Interesting approach, Bob. I'm going to have to think about it for awhile. Thanks for posting.

"Who are you calling "us little guys?" I may not be exactly Chris Christie."

Yeah, you probably are a bit bigger than I, just the guy I want around when the bear comes calling. ;0]

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
Middle Fork Kings River crossing @ Simpson Meadow on 02/07/2013 21:04:54 MST Print View

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Goddurd Creek Canyon pouring into Middle fork. The 3 times I have been there I seen 2 bears and 1 rattlesnake. It is really known for rattlesnakes in the valley and there is poison oak in some spots. There is actually Yucca trees and cactus plants in Tehipite Valley.

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Largest dome in the Sierras, Tehipite Valley

Edited by Creachen on 02/07/2013 21:21:02 MST.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Middle Fork Kings River crossing @ Simpson Meadow on 02/08/2013 16:48:05 MST Print View

"Goddurd Creek Canyon pouring into Middle fork. The 3 times I have been there I seen 2 bears and 1 rattlesnake. It is really known for rattlesnakes in the valley and there is poison oak in some spots. There is actually Yucca trees and cactus plants in Tehipite Valley."

WOW!! What a shot. That is some country. You really got my juices flowing, Jay. 1 rattler in 3 trips sounds like pretty good odds. Thanks again for the great beta.

Tom

Amy Lauterbach
(drongobird) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Middle Fork Kings River crossing @ Simpson Meadow on 02/09/2013 14:47:11 MST Print View

Yep, Jim and I were down there in August 2012. We came down the trail from the JMT and didn't cross the river, but we did walk out to the river at Simpson Meadow and ate lunch on the bank.

Simpson Meadow is, as somebody mentioned, not much of a meadow anymore. There are some grassy areas, but it is deep grass in standing water - a beautiful wet meadow, but not a place to camp. Don't be surprised if you don't find anything that looks like a meadow, most of the canyon floor is wooded - beautiful big old growth trees, spectacular place.

The river would have been easy to wade given the water level when we were there, probably knee deep.

When we descended Goddard in September many years ago, we camped on the north side of the river. We had a storm overnight, and awoke to several inches of snow and socked-in wet conditions. We were in no mood to wade so we walked along the river until we found a log. (FWIW, the following two days, hiking up the trail to the JMT and then via the JMT to Muir Pass, was one of the most spectacular two days of scenery we've ever encountered -- ground and trees covered with snow, puffy clouds in and out of the canyon exposing and then hiding the granite walls)

On our Aug 2012 trip we met a trail crew down at Simpson Meadow. They were planning to spend a day or two downstream from Simpson doing basic clearing (cutting logs) on the trail. But they didn't set expectations that they would do enough work to make it really passable, and anybody planning to hike that spectacular piece from Simpson to the dome ought to assume they will frequently lose the trail.

That part of SEKI doesn't get much use, which is too bad. The trail from Cedar Grove to Simpson and up to the JMT is maintained and straight-forward, and it's a shame that thousands of people hike the JMT and few venture off to places like this canyon.

Descending Goddard, on the other hand, is an undertaking for the skilled off-trail hiker, not for the timid. The upper parts above timber line are like other class-2 rocky traverses in the Sierra, but the lowest stretches where the vegetation gets dense is a "really glad I did this but not sure I need to do it again" experience! I'm glad we made the two descents (Goddard Creek and Disappearing Creek through the Enchanted Gorge) when I was young and strong and brave.

Oh, and when we climbed Tehipite many years back there were just 2 or 3 entries per year in the summit register. It's a worthwhile destination, beautiful, and not often visited. We followed the route Secor describes, and excepting a single exposed class three move (for which I was roped) it was not difficult, just a very long way from any road so not frequently visited.

Tom - we hope you have a fantastic trip with good weather. Amy & Jim

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Middle Fork Kings River crossing @ Simpson Meadow on 02/09/2013 17:34:26 MST Print View

"Descending Goddard, on the other hand, is an undertaking for the skilled off-trail hiker, not for the timid. The upper parts above timber line are like other class-2 rocky traverses in the Sierra, but the lowest stretches where the vegetation gets dense is a "really glad I did this but not sure I need to do it again" experience! I'm glad we made the two descents (Goddard Creek and Disappearing Creek through the Enchanted Gorge) when I was young and strong and brave."

Amy & Jim,

Thanks so much for posting. I was hoping you would contribute to this thread from your extensive personal experience. What you say about Goddard Creek confirms my general impression of the descent. I'm not so young and strong these days, so I am hoping judgement, experience, and training will suffice to see me thru.

"That part of SEKI doesn't get much use, which is too bad. The trail from Cedar Grove to Simpson and up to the JMT is maintained and straight-forward, and it's a shame that thousands of people hike the JMT and few venture off to places like this canyon."

From a selfish point of view, this is a good thing. My experience when hiking main trails like the JMT has been increasingly disappointing as the years go by; on this trip we will not pick up the JMT until we reach the South Fork Kings River, so I am looking forward to a fairly long stretch of unspoiled wilderness travel. The hike down Goddard Creek should be the high point of the trip in that regard, as it doesn't get much more remote than that from what I can tell.

Tom