Day 71 Friday, June 24. 7 trail miles
I camped almost to the bigger second lake on Kearsearge Pass trail (climbing back up from Onion Valley/Independence) as I found a sheltered spot from the wind which really picked up to an unpleasant degree. The trail magic beer and chairs at the CG had prolonged me but I’m glad I got going last nite. I passed some sleeping campers this morning probably on their way down. then a day hiking climber (a Mt Whitney guide) caught me and we climbed Kearsarge. He rock scrambled up to Dragon Peak in his cute little climbers helmet. I could hear Han Solo hoot and saw his and Rockfish’s tracks. About noon I reached the PCT and had a nice peaceful and long lunch. Packed up and a group came by. Pfeisty, Waldo, Spice Rack, Happy Meal, Topsy Turvy, and Data Muffin. We did Glen Pass together (another 12,000′ er) EZ up but rather scary coming so steeply down for me, well in the rear.
I am camped at Arrowhead Lake CG with HanSolo, Rockfish, and Pfeisty as the others continued ahead. Late Mac n cheese w olive oil and Oreos for dessert. No wind, not too cold, SM creek to fall asleep to. Plenty of snow around the mostly frozen lake. Must get early start in am, groan!
the top lake on Kearsearge Pass Trail has a lot more melt goin’ on than a few days ago!
Happy Meal, Pfeisty, Topsy Turvy, and Data Muffin on top of Glen Pass (12,000′)
view from Glen Pass
Day 72, Sat June 25. 8 mi
Tired. Thankful to have eaten hot dinner and cocoa, and have a windless nice spot that I found for us- a hobbitlike nest! HanSolo was GREAT today helping me across creeks. Five crossings, I think, many stressful and hard. Also calm beautiful sections approaching Pinchot. Today was classic 2011 Sierra hiking. Slow in snow and the off-and-on of boots/water shoes for frigid creek crossings. Slow, slow. We are camped 3 mi from the pass- maybe we’ll do 2 passes tomorrow?
whee! A one at a time suspension bridge!
Yet another sketchy creek crossing, actually not so bad. Came well above my knees though, and I’ve got HanSolo to yank me the last of the way to land!
cool shell of snow on trail!
Day 73, Sun June 26
1 mi past Sawmill Pass Trail (807) over Pinchot Pass to S. Fork Kings River (814)
Today was pleasant, mostly snow, Pinchot was only a little scary. HanSolo fell in a creek on a snow bridge (eek) and hit his knee, but then he and Rockfish pulled me across! We took a long lunch there to dry him out, though his nice SLR camera isn’t looking so good. Another triple creek Crossing was not bad then this huge river ( S fork Kings) we walked up and down looking for a crossing and Han Solo tried fording in one place but no dice. finally we found a big log upstream but the rapid water rose as we watched crashing over the top so we camped there to cross in the am when the level drops. scary! Rockfish is particularly waterphobic. Dan, Rockin, and Grant (who I stayed with in Tehachapi) came along then! great to see them but At such a strange moment when we had positively had it up to here…and they ran over the log quickly to our aghast amazement. Cook, camp, sleep. Tomorrow will be fabulous.
Day 74 Monday, June 27.
Water crossing was fine level dropped. Depressing hiking through and endless suncups wayfinding to the past. We had a different approach and cut new footsteps to it then followed some up. Pretty much straight up and melty but not as scary as cliff-like ones. Sme annoying hiker dude was loudly blabbing up top as I’ concentrating and sweatting in the major sun glare so I suggest shutting the **#~! up. Then rock scramble and a bit more snow. Whew! I guess sort of like a cornice at the top – post holes by melt over rock scary. Sure will look different in another day or two of melt! Great view atop. Out of nowhere Chili Dog and a smiling Sea Horse come over, where’d they come from?! I like these two. then glissades down and lots of snow slog. 11 miles today to awesome spot after golden staircase. Gorgeous descent on DIRT trail woohoo! Found a fab spot to pitch with killer views and the torrential river cascading down the Mt under partial thick snow. What a heck of day, this is the stuff it’s all about!
HanSolo, my German hiking buddy, this is the thankful downhill section with stunning views
the top cornice of Mather Pass. Looks not so scary in this pic. Don’t be misled!
a view as we descend from Mather Pass… hoping to reach a snowless spot for late lunch.
even more marmot!
Day 75, Tues June 28
Cold. Camped 3 mi shy of Muir Pass- hard to find snowless area to pitch at the “campground”. Talked to a couple in a done tent then found our teeny spot. Cozy us three cooking together. It was a super nice and EZ day until we got near here. Ate lunch by the ranger station after chatting with the live-in ranger and watched a yellow helicopter dropping in supplies. Aah lunch and a show! As we packed up after our luxurious break, C-Train and Yankee showed up. The foot bridge here has a steel square tube railing that’s bashed on one side where an avalanche boulder hit it, it rests in the water below. Wow. Tons of water all over. Squish squish. Glad we didn’t make it to Deer Creek last nite to camp, it’s all burnt and water logged. Yuck. Then saw and heard a buck. Then lovely dirt trail thru forest w Mt views! Wow it’s like normal hiking! Dinner: cocoa drunk while waiting for Mountsin House Chili Mac. Mmm good.
can you see how the middle of the left side is bashed?
inventive trail lunch! Tyson chicken packet, dried cranberries, avocado, mustard and mayo, crushed Annies cheddar bunnies. In a wrap. Yum.
Day 76 Wednesday, June 29 LeConte Canyon 836 – Muir Pass – 1/2 mile past McClure Meadow 849. 13 miles. Woke to foul weather snow/sweet and I was thankful to sleep! Han Solo was great shrieking about cold and singing Xmas songs! We headed out at 8:30 and all precipitation ended Yay! then as I approached the trail, Seahorse and Chili Dog appeared, cool!! Good vibe happy guy and gal! we summitted through the insane snow climb over lakes, rivers, some blasting ice-in-the face gusts, and sun moving over snowy hills in mesmerizing patterns. Feeling like an Arctic explorer! Straight up National Geographic style amazement, I’m so lucky to have the strength and endurance to witness this stuff and enjoy the challenge of the journey!
Muir Hut is a cool stone bee-hive like structure built by the Sierra Club in 1930. C-train and Yankee were in there with a gnarly young dreadlock guy Ryan (Seahorse later tried to accurately name him Hagrid!) who’s an ill-prepared dude lacking gear and food. They must have convinced him to move on to lower elevation and hiked him out. it was a long slog down over sketchy snow bridges, lots of creeks under there to and from the lakes. Alternating sunburn hot and wind cold. Go go go. Late 3:00 lunch break as I totally ran out of fuel got me going again. Dried out our tents. Then finally got below the snow line! Mushy slush is exhausting to walk thru all afternoon. Chatting with Han Solo, passed Ranger Stn where Hagrid should find assistance and past campsite with SoBo short distance hikers, nice four guys in a cool huge GoLite tent. Found us a nice big open flat spot to camp. In the am we will cross Evolution Creek at the Meadow where it’s navel deep but very slow moving. No big deal this year apparently, though so, so many normally unmentionable creeks are. Well.
the light played thru the clouds on our 3 mile ascent to Muir Pass. Hot and cold. Uber gusty winds and calms…. There’s Chili Dog and SeaHorse ahead.
Han Solo patiently waits for me in the ice-dagger blowing winds.
Me, having reached Muir Hut at the top of the pass, yay!
descending the other side of the pass
see how thick the snow is… over some parts of creeks. Snow bridges failing, but we were all good. Though sortof racing down in the afternoon!