Kearsarge-Cotter-Baxter
(Trail is not maintained!)

10-13 Jul 2014 - by Bob Gross (view roster page)

Getting an early start over Kearsarge Pass while it is still cool is critical. Besides, early in the morning the buck deer were out. Once on the JMT, I turned north and went over Glen Pass and ended up in the 60 Lakes Basin to camp. Getting another early start toward Mount Cotter, I followed the south ridge up to the summit. Actually, most of the time I was about 50-100 feet west of the ridge. Just below the summit, the rocks were hideously loose, and I got vertigo just from the sight. So, I simply didn't look. I crawled up, savored the summit moment for about two seconds, and got the hell down. Then I descended the southwest slope to the largest Gardiner Basin lake and then back over to 60 Lakes.

Breaking camp in 60 Lakes, I took the shortcut east to the JMT. This goes through Arrowhead Lake Pass and down to the lake. At the Dollar Lake trail junction, the unmaintained Baxter Pass Trail takes off. I lost that within 200 yards, so I just sidehilled over toward the Baxter Lakes area. The trail is very elusive and the rock ducks are discontinuous. From Baxter Lakes on up to Baxter Pass was very open. Then east of the pass, the trail became cruddy. The trail is loose and overgrown with sticker bushes below about 11,000 feet. Down trees, misplaced boulders, and difficult stream crossings add to the ambience. Eventually the trail descends through oak and cactus to a trailhead parking lot at 6000 feet. Unfortunately, the ordeal didn't end there. I had to walk the dirt road or else descend through the desert scrub brush which was shorter, and I did that on the dregs of my last drinking water. How do you spell Dehydration?

I got a ride just before the fish hatchery, and that got me to Independence. Then it took another three hours in Independence before I could get a ride back up to Onion Valley where my car was. By the time I drove back to Independence, the air temperature was 105*F, so then I knew why I was so dehydrated.

I cannot recommend the Baxter Pass Trail for very much.


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