Days 2-4 Golden Trout Wilderness Big Loop

Kern River

Day 2 – Blame It on the Gnats

August 1
Strawberry Meadows to Grasshopper Flat along the Kern River – 28.7 miles

It was a great day until the last couple of hours. Relentless gnats hovered over my eyes, so I just kept hiking. I had intended on camping at Little Kern Lake, but between the gnats, biting flies, and mosquitos, I just kept going.

My route left Strawberry Meadow and meandered through huge Templeton and Ramshaw Meadows. I checked out the big lava area around Little Whitney Meadow then headed down, down to the Kern River. It was a huge drop in elevation and most likely I should have stayed on a route that stayed high, but I wanted to see the Kern River and the trail that goes south along the west bank. It was a brutal downhill. I am glad I did it, but would not do it again.

The Kern River trail is pulverized by horses and pack animals. To a hiker, that means dust and deep sand to walk through. Not the most pleasant. Kern Lake and Little Kern Lake are stunning and I saw my first humans fishing along the Kern. It was a scene from a movie.

AND I am now camped right beside the roaring Kern River. I just couldn’t get enough water yelling at me this summer, so here I am.

I had a lot of time to think today on this solitary walk, mostly about the age thing. I needed a pep talk. Suck it up. Get on with it. Quit complaining, whining, and be thankful. Ten years from now, my future self would say, what were you thinking, you idiot!?!?! Enjoy. Breath. Take it all in. There is so much glory and beauty to be had.

So… that is what I am attempting to do. Age has just taken me by complete and utter surprise.

Early morning at the South Fork Kern River at Strawberry Meadow (front cover of Jenkins book)
Morning light on Fat Cow Meadow

Day 3 – Cubs, Rattlesnakes, Hot Springs, Thunderstorm

August 2
Grasshopper Flat to Jordon Hot Springs – 23.3 miles

It was a diverse and unnerving day.

I am currently sitting in a natural hot spring at 3:30 in the afternoon. It is heavenly and the perfect temperature with no creepy, naked men to be cautious of, just 2 men and their boys starting on a long father and son backpack trip. Now that is pretty great.

After a great night’s sleep, I got on the trail at 5:30 am, hoping to beat the gnats. Plus, the day’s route included 3,000 feet down and 3,000 up. Big day. Didn’t beat the gnats, but did hike 12 miles by 10:00.

The route lead away and up from the Kern River west where I encountered my first bear cub of the day. I heard him scamper up a tree. I didn’t see mama and couldn’t figure out if she was behind or in front. I didn’t gamble. I promptly got off trail headed down canyon cross-country. That gave the cubs and mama a wide berth. In the next canyon almost the exact scenario AGAIN. Well, that freaked me out.

After making to Kern Flat down back at the Kern River, I promptly sat in the first pool of safe water, cooled off, drank a liter of water, and regrouped.

To complete my loop, the trail climbed up, up in the old 2002 McNally fire area to Jordon Hot Springs. The trail is in bad shape with downed trees and overgrown underbrush. Dan and I did a short backpack here in 2000 before the fire. Quite a loss. Along the 4 miles uphill, I encountered five different rattlesnakes that gave me their warning while I walked through deep grass. It is amazing how fast one can move and jump to the side when needed. I am so done with the scary part of this day.

I just heard thunder and it is starting to rain. Time to pack up and set up camp.

One strategy to keep the gnats and biting flies at bay
Looking down at Kern Flat at the Kern River


Day 4 -Life is Really Good

August 3
Jordon Hot Springs to Blackrock Trailhead – 8 miles

Thankfully I found a great camp site protected by trees. It rained most of the night with thunder and lightning. I slept well.

The 8 miles back to the car is a butt kicker uphill. The first 2 miles are through burn along Nine Mile Creek, then back into the lush gorgeous forest.

If I were to do this trip again, I would stay high and not drop to the Kern. This is the proposed route –  Blackrock Trailhead, Casa Vieja Meadows, Long Canyon to Strawberry, then back through Templeton and Ramshaw, then head south along Volcano Meadow and left Stringer Trail (very unmaintained) to Redrock Meadow (climb Indianhead), head south to Jordon Hot Springs then out to Blackrock Trailhead.

Sounds like I have just planned a new trip. Someone needs to do that. Oh, I definitely would take my camera. I missed it. iPhone was just okay.

Summer is at an end for me and it is time to head back to work. I am thankful for the opportunity to appreciate the small joys, to simplify life, drink deeply from high mountain springs, pee and poop behind trees, feel the security of a closed tent, dip my feet into snow melt streams, know that all I need is on my back, be completely physically tired at the end of a day, taste food like I have never eaten before, bath in cold water streams, feel the warmth of my down bag, and breathe in and just be.

I am ready.

Morning sunlight peaking through the clouds
This is the trail for a lot of the burn area.
Out of the burn


  1. Hi Christy,
    I just found your blog thru a post on The Hiking Life. I’m 50 and walked the Camino from st Jean to Santiago with my 18 year old daughter this summer. I’m looking at how I can rejigger my life to spend more time hiking. So your site is inspiring. I’m wondering how you keep in shape in the school year? I noticed it was hard for me to maintain my post Camino fitness wrapped around a work schedule. I live in upstate New York so have long cold winters – not sure if you live somewhere where you can do weekend hikes year round – or maybe you’re a runner? Would love your thoughts if you have time to reply.

  2. Georgette Theotig

    Christy – What a gift your Golden Trout Wilderness pictures were to me! As you know, I love the Kern Plateau, and you really captured it. I especially liked the photo of Fat Cow Meadow, one of my favorite places. As for the “age” issue, no problem. Just keep moving and stay young at heart. The rest takes care of itself. Congratulations on a lovely solo trip in a heavenly place.

  3. Your phone photos came out pretty well. I really enjoyed following along on your journeys this summer. You give me strength and inspiration and fill my head with thoughts that someday, maybe, I too can do these things. And if not, I always have your blog to follow. Have a great school year!

  4. Lenora Case

    I’ve so enjoyed following your blog these last few years, and I’ve learned tons from you. Thanks for that!. I found you in 2013 when I was planning my 2014 JMT hike (I was 64 in 2014). Age is an interesting thing. Generally I’m not aware of it, as I, mostly, feel the same now that I did when I was, say, 40. That is, I feel the same until I look in the mirror or see a photo of myself! Good heavens!!! Who in the world is THAT? Mom? Is that YOU??? (not that my Mom wasn’t lovely, because she was…but she was, well, you know, older 🙂 It always takes me by surprise. So…I don’t spend much time in front of the mirror or look at photos of me too closely 🙂 My husband, however, thinks I am absolutely darling and as good looking as ever (even when he is wearing his glasses 🙂 I do still very much enjoy my body, and enjoy being fit enough to do those things that I want to do (hike, ski, swim, ride a bike, etc). And I look forward to many, many more years of the glorious High Sierra. Just perhaps moving a bit more slowly, but getting there non the less. It quiets the mind, doesn’t it? Hike on Lady on a Rock, hike on!

    • Christy "Rockin'" Rosander

      Well…aren’t you the cutest thing ever! Yes, that mirror can be a startling reality and complete knee jerk. I hear ya. My husband is also pretty thankful. I just love that you shared and hope this gives a large dose of encouragement to all out there. That mirror thing has got to go. Or try Facetiming and look at yourself. YEEEEEEK. So bad.

  5. Hi Christy, As long as you keep hiking you always will! I am nearly 76, most folks I know in 3 ihking clubs to which I belong are about my age and older, we do tough walks, off track 5-6 days at a time, and we don’t amble either. men and women. A woman friend of mine, in her 70’s will soon be setting off on her own, along the high country from near Melbourne to Canberra, some 900 km from memory, and there is nothing unusual about this. You will be fine. Stop worrying!!

    • Christy "Rockin'" Rosander

      No worries. That is what I love about this sport, it is ageless. Guess it was more vanity thoughts on my part, not ability. Guys just seem to age well and women not so much. You have the advantage. Grey and wrinkles seem to bring a look of wisdom and even sexiness on men. I know…society is putting this into our heads with advertising, social media etc.

      I am in this for the long haul. You are quite amazing with your trips.

  6. I’m also very interested in your age comment. I’m younger than you – I’ve just turned 49. I developed chronic hip pain 1.5 years ago, when I was actually in the best shape I’ve been in my life. My hip pain is mild at this point, but it has made me feel old all of a sudden. I’ve spent the last 1.5 years going to doctors with little success. I need to keep hiking, but my mind keeps working on coming up with new ways to challenge myself physically, while my body is giving me signs that I need to slow down. I’ve been so inspired by your hikes and have felt they are things I aspire to. I

    • Christy "Rockin'" Rosander

      Agile Trekker,
      Thank you for sharing. That has got to be so frustrating. The human spirit is pretty amazing and what can be overcome by grit. You are an example of that. Thank you for following along.

  7. You’re actually my hiking idol/mentor and don’t know it! 🙂 I find it so inspirational to see a woman’s adventures v. all the chickadees online. I see wisdom, experience and determination rather than just 20-yr old joints and luck. I agree with most of the previous comments, and also the question about possibly being exhausted. I only know of you what I’ve seen here, so forgive me for being presumptuous, but I wonder if new interests might bring a new spark? At 54, I’m starting a new phase in life and feel freaking 30! lol I only started hiking seriously and car camping ten years ago, even though I’d casually hiked since my 20s, and this will be the first year I’ve tackled real backpacking. I’m also going to: kayak and wilderness first aid classes, snow skiing, rappelling (as long as I can walk up!), etc., etc. Finally excited to get up in the morning after a really rough time of it over the past three years. Anyway, I’ve always attributed feeling young to being happily single and childless (less stress and worry!), but actually think it’s my new goals of being more athletic and adventurous, of having new challenges. Maybe it’s time for something new for you?

    • Christy "Rockin'" Rosander

      Marijka, Thank you for commenting and for your very kind words. I love your list! It is very creative and fun. I so agree. It is so important to keep learning new skills, challenge your body and mind, and keep balance in life. You have found that! I hope others read your comment and are inspired to do the same.

  8. Rockin’, I think this is your best post ever!

    On the topic of age, I am five years younger than you. I go to the gym five days a week, hit the trails at least once a month, surf, and feel pretty strong. But if I could EVER get anywhere near as fit-and-fired up and as skilled as you, I’d be so stoked. You are one badass lady-on-a-rock for sure. Have no doubt about it, you are indeed being very noticed by many, and if anything, you deserve so much more recognition doing the monster days you do at the age you are. Take my word, people notice and deeply admire this. I am one of those who do for sure.

    You said “Age has just taken me by complete and utter surprise.” I hope these words, and those posted before me, turn your surprise into glee and banish the dumps forever. You have incredible fitness, a job you seem to love, and a family that is willing to share part of their summer vacation with you doing what you love most. Your age has brought you to this place and it looks pretty darn good to me. God Bless You!!


    • Christy "Rockin'" Rosander

      Well your last paragraph says it all! Man oh man when you think about it that way, I should be glad I made it this far with so much. “NOT SURPRISED.” You are the best Warren. Thank you for the tune up and reminder. I am indeed a lucky woman and there is much to be done.

  9. Larry phillips

    Enjoyed following you again this summer. My favorite photo was the kings river with trees on either side on your jmt trip. Hope you have a happy birthday. Looking forward to following again next year. Take care!

    • Christy "Rockin'" Rosander

      I love feedback on photos! I am going to try a new camera (it is heavier) on the next couple of weekend trips. That was one of my favorites photos too.

  10. Bart. Forry

    Hi, enjoy all your post. Hey let’s talk about age. Am your age and still putting it to young kids.In tens year yell be just as strong and still doing what you love. You motivate los of people. Keep pushing it. Bart(Bartdog)

  11. Hey, my husband and I did not even START thruhiking till he was 65 and I was 57. That was 2005, the whole PCT. Then we did the PCT again in 2010 and last summer (2016) the whole CDT, at which point he was 76 and I was 68. We plan to do the AT when he is 80 and I am 72. The only effect age has had is to slow us down. We make up for that by hiking looooooooong days (6:00 am start hiking, finish at 7:00 pm)

    • Christy "Rockin'" Rosander

      Yes, you guys are definitely not the norm! I am not really concerned at this point about my physical ability or what I can accomplish, it is more that I hadn’t really even thought about it or that I never refer to my age in making decisions. My husband said a couple of weeks ago that we are older. It was like to say it aloud made it true. I didn’t like that.

      • You know what I was thinking when I read that? “Older than whom?” Somehow I always feel young when I’m around younger people and doing adventurous stuff outdoors, or dancing and acting silly, but I *definitely* feel younger around folks older than me! So maybe the trick is to spend some time around older folks so I can tell myself at least I’m not the oldest and remind myself how good I have it. hahaha

  12. Silky/Sniffer Sullivan

    Age will slow you down, but not stop you. Age will shorten your mileage, but lengthen the scope of your wonder. I think it was Muir who said, I no longer hike, I just saunter. Sauntering is not so bad. Have a great year with your kids at school and have fun sharing some of your gained wisdom from, once again, immersing yourself in the amazing mountains and meadows. I can’t wait to hear about next summer’s trip(s).

    • Christy "Rockin'" Rosander

      Thank you Sniffer. Not ready for the saunter, BUT I think the message is very clear from the comments on this blog entry, “Just keep going, getting out, and enjoying all there is to enjoy.” I like that.

  13. Wanda LaBrecque

    Oh, darn! I am not ready for you to go back to work!! Thank you for posting about your amazing hikes. It is inspiring and I will miss the new material.

    • Christy "Rockin'" Rosander

      Oh don’t worry the hiking season never ends. I just seem to run out of time and energy to post. Thanks for following along and giving me a kick in the pants to keep posting.

  14. Age does creep up on us occasionally! Usually when we try to do something that we have always done and somehow the body can’t quite do it. We just adjust and move on. I believe you know yourself better then what others think you are! Don’t let them define you. One of my nieces remarked to me on my 70th birthday that she never thought of me as being that old, cause I’m so active! So don’t stop what your doing!!!

    • Christy "Rockin'" Rosander

      Thank you Geryrig. Yep it seems the universal key is staying active, being positive, and just keep going.

  15. Jim "ShortHawl" Hawley

    Lets see… 23 miles followed by 29 miles…. with lots of ups and downs. Yup, sounds like age has really caught up to you. I’m not being mean here. You keep doing what you love until you can’t, and then you get to feel bad. I miss the days when I could cruise uphill all day – now it is slow and it is hard to breathe and it hurts – but it’s still worth it when I get there. I think you are getting a good ten years ahead of yourself. Everyone gets down occasionally. Hope it passes soon. I enjoy your narratives and wonderful pictures hope to see many more.

    • Christy "Rockin'" Rosander

      Short Hawl,
      Love your name. Doesn’t everyone hike that many miles a day? Are there options to that? Yes, of course, there are and you have made great points.

      You are out there and haven’t given up. Most do. You are the exception. I like you.

  16. Hamburger Helper

    Regarding your sudden and perhaps startling recognition of “age”, although I am 70 now and not doing anything as huge as you do, I WAS 60 once and a big distance trail runner. If that is any cred, let me offer this:
    1. You might be confusing age (especially with your amazing physical condition) with exhaustion. Maybe your body needs a rest and you are masking that with your high spirits.
    2. You made an astute comment earlier about how “old people” are visualized and assessed by others. Consider reading Treat Me Not My Age: A Doctor’s Guide to Getting the Best Care as You or a Loved One Gets Older. People tend to relate to your age, even the pro’s.
    Christi, Your transparency is refreshing as your smile.

    • Christy "Rockin'" Rosander

      Ahhhh HH,
      I always love hearing from you. Thank you for sharing.
      1. Not exhausted. I just have the birthday next month. Trying to get my head around it.
      2. Personally, I wonder if it is better that people do not even know your age. That way there are no perceptions of 60, 70, 80, or 90? Well for you, probably 100. Whoops, maybe shouldn’t have revealed anything on this blog.
      Smiling does help with most anything. 🙂

  17. Mary "Fireweed" Kwart

    I would be interested to hear more of your musings on the effect of age as you referred to it in one of these journal entries. I have been going thru similar myself recently. How is it changing your hiking?

    • Christy "Rockin'" Rosander

      You have done about every out of the norm hike out there. I loved your presentation on The Bigfoot Trail at the ALDAWEST gathering. Thank you. Why Not and I would love to hike it someday and hope to get information from you. You are my mentor and hero.

      To be honest with you, the more I hike and climb through the years the more driven I have become. I hike harder and longer and plan harder trips. I am willing to put up with more discomforts. I just don’t want to miss anything.

      As far as the actual hiking, I am more protective of my body. I prepare myself physically before long hikes by taking short hikes with a pack. While backpacking I am always doing stretches, soaking my knees, listening to my body, and obeying. I don’t want my knees to go bad, I don’t want to fall, and I don’t want cuts and scraps. I am realistic and know my body will not heal as fast as it once it did. Young people often get injured because they don’t do the preventative things. That happened on our JMT trip this year. Listen to your body. If something is hurting, stop and make the adjustments needed. Thank you for your comment and following along.

      Curious, are you doing things any differently? I know you hike solo ALOT.

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