6 things I know about Walker’s Pass

Walker's Pass sign

1. There are a number of ways in and out of the Kern River Valley. You’ve got your Kern Canyon, your up-and-over Greenhorn, your Bodfish-Caliente Road, and your Walker Pass. None of them are what you’d call easy. “Rugged” may be a better adjective. Given the choice, I prefer Walker Pass. All three of the first choices make me carsick, and I love the views from the top of the pass—the miles of highway-lining yellow rabbitbrush, the varying indigos and violets of the Greenhorns and the Kern Plateau in the distance, the green and very weird Seussian forms of the Joshua Tree forest as you descend into the Indian Wells Valley.

Walker Pass 12. Walker Pass Campground serves as a stopover camp, a basecamp, and a trailhead for those hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, either as through-hikers or day-trippers.

Walker Pass Campground potty
The new pit toilets, Walker Pass Campground & Trailhead

3. Serving as a super-graphic, super-nasty message board, the old campground pit toilets’ walls bore the graffiti of hundreds of illicit sexual meet-ups. “My [fill in the body part, mostly male and phallic] is huge. Meet me here at [such and such a time] to [fill in the naughtiness].” As of this post, the new pit toilet building’s walls are white and the floors are clean. I see this as an improvement, but I wonder how the meeter-uppers feel. Do they miss the old toilets?

Walker Pass view
The view from the campground. “Happy trails to you …”

4. In any case, the views from the campground make you want to ride a horse, sing cowboy songs, learn how to paint, write poetry about the West, plan a backpack trip, re-read Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, or at least the section where she hefts Monster, her painfully-overloaded backpack, over this section of the Pacific Crest Trail.

Walker Pass PCT jct
Beginning of the Owens Peak Segment of the PCT wends up the mountainside directly across the road from the Joseph Rutherford Walker marker at the crest of the pass.

5. The pass is named for Joseph Rutherford Walker.

Walker Pass marker

6. There is a lot about Walker Pass I don’t know.


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