We showed up at the ranger station right at 8am to test our luck at getting the chance of taking one of the other 40% of 10 slots (4 slots) to go up Shepherds pass. Thankfully, the permit gods were on our side and by 10am we were at the trailhead beginning our long haul. I nimbly hiked the first pretty flat part, crossing the Symmes Creek four times without getting wet. Irene on the other hand trudged through, dropping her feet into the stream at each crossing. After a mile or so, we hit the steep ascent up the bottom of Mt. Bradley. Three quarters of the way up we stopped to catch a breath, even our pace, and eat lunch. We finally hit the saddle a little after 1pm and began our traverse around the ridge bordering Shepherds creek. The traverse had some significant descending sections, which was disheartening after such a long ascent to get to the saddles. On the inner side of each bowl we traversed, there were cute shaded streams, allowing us access to water and a little shade. 3~4 miles later we reached the main waterfall on the Shepherds creek and Mahogany flat.. Here there were light fields and it was sometimes confusing which trail to take as some led to campsites.

We ascended again on the north side through some very long switchbacks until we hit Anvil camp. Anvil camp was gorgeous. The trees offered plenty of shade and the ground was soft and would have been nice to sleep on. But we still had some energy (and the internet claimed it was infested with mice) so we trudged onward till we hit the Pothole. The Pothole is a nice small lake with some light shrubbery around. Unfortunately, the altitude hit us in the form of wind, and we got cold really quickly. We made a fast dinner, and then tucked ourselves in. That night it dropped well below freezing, but with our three season bags, we remained nice and cozy.

The next morning we began our summit attempt. We started bright and early at 6:30am and worked our way up through a much more barren scenery. The trail consisted mostly of boulders until we hit the final chute to the pass. From the base of the trail, we couldn’t see a way up, but as we walked on, the trail is actually very well defined through the talus. If it had been a few weeks earlier, I’d imagine it would have been an easy crampon hike up with snow We crossed over the pass and were greeted by a gorgeous view of Kings Canyon National Park with the John Muir trail crossing at its base. We wandered down the shepherds pass trail with Tyndall in view until we got slightly pass the sharp ridge. Here we began our 2000’ trudge through a hard class 2 boulder field. The guidebooks claim you should climb the ridge, but really the place to climb is just past the ridge. Irene, not experienced in boulder climbing, struggled upwards, and we began to doubt whether we would make it. The sun finally crested though and with a little warmth we pushed to the top. From the top of the bolder field, it was a few class 2/3 moves to the top. We took a few quick pictures, but turned around fast as Irene didn’t like the exposure. We re-traced our steps back and hit the trailhead at 7pm. After 22 miles of hiking, over 8k feet of elevation gain from the trail head, and 18 long hours of moving, we ate a nice dinner and headed home.

Picture of ridge

Summit Picture