240 miles of trail
28.05.2012 - 12.06.2012
Well I left Kennedy Meadows a while ago now with a good group of people. The first day out was the Monday of Memorial Day. LOTS of people out. I am pretty sure I ran into at least 50-100 people coming down the trail that day. It felt very weird after only really seeing Rubs and Southern and a handful of others on trail thus far. But we hiked in our first of many beautiful Sierran meadows, took a quick soak in the Kern River, and camped with over a dozen other hikers along Cow Creek. Yes, I made sure to treat my water!
The next day was required to be a long day. We have come to find that the days up in the Sierra Mountains will not so much rely upon water, but mileage will be determined by the passes and elevation. This day was either a very short day, 12 or less miles, or a 24 mile day to get over two passes. Now, these were out first passes, hitting 10,000 and 10,700 feet. The first, in the morning, was not bad at all! The second, in the afternoon kicked my butt. I was tired going up there! But made it over and down to Diaz Creek for camp. 23 miles or so.
The next day was a short easy 3 mile hike to Trail Pass and then off the PCT down to Horseshoe Meadow and an attempt to hitch down to Lone Pine. After 29 minutes of waiting, I began to walk back to ask a couple campers if I could buy a ride, but after 50 feet of walking, a truck appeared from the distant forest. I jumped up and down in excitement as Rubs got to his feet so we could try to get a ride. Well we did and get a comfortable ride in the back bed of a truck that had their mattress for sleeping set out. It was intense to drop nearly 8,000 feet to get to Lone Pine, a 24 mile drive. But we resupplied after the PO, got some subway, and tried to head out once Southern caught up and got his town chores done too. After 15 minutes, we got a ride up, and just had to pay for gas. Back on the PCT we hiked another 2 miles to Poison Meadow to stay the night. Such a great day to make it in and out of Lone Pine!
Now we just had to make it over to Crabtree Meadow. This hike went very well. After hiking into the Seqouia National Forrest, it was a level long meadow and down to Rock Creek for lunch. After lunch and picking some wild green onions, it was a good climb up to get to lower Crabtree Meadow and another 1.5 miles up to upper Crabtree Meadow, near the ranger station there. It is early in the season, so no ranger yet! We camped here, it had a bear box so tomorrow, to slack pack up Mt. Whitney, we could store out stuff.
After a great nights sleep and dropping whatever I could, I was off and headed up Mt. Whitney. I left at 0600 and had 7.5 miles and 4,000 elevation change to go! By 0900, I was reaching the top, 14,505 feet. At this point, I was standing upon the highest point in the contiguous 48 states! What a view! It was amazing to be up there. If I held my head at just the right spot, I was able to call home and call my AMAZING girlfriend! It was great. I stayed up there for a while before hearing a thunderstorm was due at 1600. So I headed down, but some of my hiking buddies were on their way up still. So I waited at crabtree for them to get back. It thundered and rained, but they made it down and we decided to stay the night rather than move on in the rain.
With one more days worth of food, we were off to go over Forrester Pass. After a great climb up to Bighorn Plateau with breathtaking views, it was down to Tyndell Creek. Then a 7 mile ascent to reach the 13,200 foot Forrester Pass. Going up had no snow, then the descent had only a couple large patches. It was easy hiking. Instead of postholing the way down, since it was 1530, I wore my micro spikes and rock hopped. The spikes gripped real easy to the rocks! I saw some beautiful bright teal lakes, but was moving quick to get to tree line so I could pop a squat. It was terrible timing for that! I made tree line after and hour and a half, then hiked a short bit further and made camp. That was quite a day!
Early in the morning I was off to make Kearsarge Pass to get out to resupply once again. I hit Bullfrog Trail and headed out, expecting an easy descent down to 9,000 feet at Onion Campground. But no, I had to climb 2,000 feet to go over Kearsarge Pass. But I made my way down, met some over night hikers, and got a quick hitch down to Independence. The original plan was to hitch then, to Bishop, but no one was stopping. After an hour I went to the other side of the town to hitch the opposite way to Lone Pine with no luck. Rubs and Southern eventually were down and their ride was headed to Lone Pine, so we went there to resupply. After we had gotten all our chores done, we hitched for an hour and a half before a guy from Tuolomne gave us a ride into Independence. He had a couple days until he needed to get to work, so we convinced him to come camp with us back at Onion Camp. It worked out great! Out and back in 6 hours!
Next day, we got back to the PCT and went over Glen Pass. I had 8 days of food on my back so this really kicked my butt! But afterward, we descended down to the Rae Lakes. They were so so gorgeous and the trail took us to the little islands that separated each lake. We we across from Fin Dome and a storm was brewing. We camped there and wait for Southern. An hour and a half later, we heard a "HEYYYYYY!" from across the lake. Southern was lost. But Rubs got him to our camp and we camped together for the last time. The next day, they were taking a 0 and my body wanted to get moving!
So in the morning I was off on my own. I met one guy early in the day, then saw no one else. I made it over Pinchot Pass and thought I would stop for the day. But Mather Pass was not far from Pinchot and the elevation drop between the two was only 2,000 feet down to 10,000 feet elevation, so I decided to go for a double pass day. I made it over and down to Palisade Lake to make camp. At 2030, as I was getting ready to sleep, I heard a "Hello" close by. Mouse, a hiker who left on May 9th was going by. He's doing 35+ miles a day to get done in time for college. He went on a few miles past where I had camped! Amazing.
Next day was down the Golden Staircase to Deer Meadow, where the affects of the November wind storm were easy to see. I was climbing over trees quite a bit. Then the 10 mile ascent to Muir Pass. This kicked my butt too. Just so much up. It got to my legs. I made it to Helen Lake, thinking it was the pass, but still had a mile to go. I met a few other PCT hikers and we hiked up to the pass. In this pass there was the Muir Hut. A volunteer ranger told them that day that sleeping there was.....okay, but no fires! So we slept there. I thought of going on, but the snow of Muir was plentiful compared to the others I had done. So I waited for morning.
I was out early and got through all the snow with my micro spikes on. It was very easy going! I met loads of John Muir Trail hikers this day. With the low snow year, lots had set out in the early season! I made the 12 mile ascent and headed back up towards Selden Pass. I stopped just before at Heart Lake, thinking of my Corley. I tried to take a series of "I" "heart" "You" pictures. I hope they turn out! I had also seen my first Eagle of the hike a mile before making camp! I did not expect that at all! It was great.
I took this day easy, I was getting cell service in the afternoon! I got to Bear Ridge and made a few calls to Corley, my mom, Joe, and Danielle for her birthday. It was wonderful to get to talk! I especially loved calling Corley. We hadn't had a chance to talk much lately in the Sierra Mountains, so that made the day great! After a few hours of relaxing and calling, I was off and made it a bit past the junction to Vermillion Valley Ranch and made camp with some service so I could spend the evening chatting with my girl! It was a great day!
Next I was off and over Silver Pass. I rested on top and a curious Yellow Bellied Marmot came so close to me as I sat that I could almost pet it! That was really awesome! I heard from some JMT hikers that there was a hot spring at Reds Meadow. So I started picking up speed to make the 20 miles to get there. It was 1000 already. Later while taking a break, Tony, the guy I got the tent from, caught me after attempting to find another hot spring. He couldn't get there because of the crazy trees down from the November storm. So we hiked fast to get to Reds at 1915. Found the hot spring. I soaked for a little before making up camp with cell service once again. It was wonderful!
In the morning I was off. I had just enough food to make Tuolomne Meadows. I hiked through the Devils Postpile National Monument and called my parents. With trying to meet up with Corley, I have now some set dates for making it home! It looks like I can make it on Labor Day. :D I hope I can keep those! After Agnew Meadow and finding some food left in a bear box, with no one close to Agnew, I knew it was up for grabs! Especially since it hadn't been open for...............a year I knew no one was coming for the food. It was still good too!! ;-) So I got plenty of food to make Tuolomne. That afternoon I made it over Island "pass" and made camp near Rush Creek, just before Donohue Pass. A curious deer was checking me out just like the Marmot the day before. The animals must know that I have been out a long time and am just part of the natural world now. ;-)
Up and over Donohue and I was in Yosemite National Park. I hiked the next miles into Toulomne Meadows and made it to the store/grill/PO. I got a double bacon cheese burger and relaxed for a while. I knew the next couple days were going to be 0 days at a motel, so I wanted to save money and camp cheap tonight! I walked into the camp ground, and a couple that were heading out rather than staying in their paid site, let me use their spot. It was so generous and wonderful! I got to sleep free that night!
In the morning I hitched and got a ride into Mammoth Lakes, where I will spend a couple 0 days to rest my body! I found that Motel 6 is $50 a night! So much cheaper than anywhere else I have been! I am excited to catch a break! I'll go see a movie, eat a bunch of calories, and just relax! It will be awesome! The next few months will be great seeing friends and family and loved ones along the trail! I cannot wait to keep hiking and make it all the way home! This adventure is amazing!