Sierra, Part 1

June 10, 2010

We left Kennedy Meadows for the first part of the Sierra a week ago now.  The first day out I got lost when the trail crossed over a creek a bunch of times.  I missed a crossing or something.  I ended up eventually navigating it with the Mayor, but not before I was wandering around for about an hour or so wondering where I was.  It created some anxiety.  We pulled a real big day out of Kennedy Meadows, about 26 miles.  The next day we hit snow for the first time.  It was tough and we got lost.  We got to a completely frozen Chicken Spring Lake.  There were some spots underneath trees where it was decent to camp so we didn’t have to camp on snow. 

The next day was a good one.  We went through some snow, some not snow.  We had one burlyish river crossing, but overall it was a good day.  We had Lakewood’s GPS to get through some of the stickier parts of snow.  We made it to Whitney base camp, Crabtree Meadows.  We didn’t want to go up further because it was late in the afternoon and the snow made for some great postholes.

Mt WHITNEY!

Mt Whitney was tough, it claimed my blood, sweat, and tears.  It was a very overwhelming experience.  Lakewood, Crow Dog and I started out real early in the morning, around 4:30AM.  The sunrise hit around the first lake, Timberline maybe?  The sunrise was very beautiful and the surrounding area so magestic it was heartbreaking.  We continued up past Guitar Lake and then began the switchbacks.  Or what was supposed to be switchbacks, but ended up being more of a bunch of snow and a free for all getting up the side of Whitney.  It involved total body rock climbing, scary traverses across snow and a rock got my knee.  It was hard!  Then we made it to the ridge and the rest was a decent hike up, but left me scared about coming down.  At the top of Whitney it was very scenic, but I was really overwhelmed with the entire hike up.  It was really satisfying to have made it though.  14,500 feet didn’t feel that bad on the lungs though.  The hike down was scary too, we stuck to the rocks most of the way and involved more than a little coaxing to get me to hop down.  It didn’t take too much time and wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.  We made it back to camp, I was beat.  We packed up ate, and carried on to get back on the PCT.  End Whitney, long, tired, good day.  We hiked to Wright Creek, but it was too high to ford at the time so we would have to do it in the morning…

Forrester Pass Day

The very next day after Whitney we hit the highest point on the PCT.  Crow Dog and I got up early and hit the trail by 5AM but first had to cross the still very high river.  I don’t really mind river crossings so far, I think they are highly exhilerating instead of completely terrifying.  We made it across quickly, Crow Dog blocking the current of the largest rapid.  I like to think that the golden trout are keeping me very safe in my crossings.  I ran on as the feeling in the feet and legs after fording a river of snowmelt at 5AM is quite cold and freezing.  Crow Dog hung back and I realized 20 minutes later when they caught up that Lakewood had fallen in.  His GPS and one pole were lost in the river and he was left cold, wet, and in the snow.  We carried on in the snow and somehow ended up in the wrong place.  It was early, my legs were tired from Whitney, but I was still in relatively good spirits I think.  We ended up in this completely flat area filled with snow and read the map to realize we were on the wrong side of a mountain and could keep going and go up a pass to get to about where we wanted to go.  We decided to go that route.  We made it up that pass quickly and glissaded down.  Glissading down packed snow early in the morning hurts!  I sang Bob Dylan on the way down as I got a severe wedgie and felt violated by snow.  From the pass though we got a supreme view of Diamond Mesa, those on the real PCT wouldn’t have seen that, so that was kind of cool.  We saw where we needed to be and continued towards it, way easier thought than done.  The snow conditions were terrible.  We postholed and postholed and postholed to the point where it was so frustrating.  We finally made it to the trail and the base of the climb to Forrester, which is basically a named avalanche chute.  We climbed up the right and then completed a few switchbacks on trail!  The first time on the PCT for the day!  Yes!  Then we had to traverse the chute.  Scary, scary, scary!  I had to conjure everything in me to get across that thing, it was so scary I could only concentrate on the steps in front.  I got some good, harrowing pictures of other people.  Then Forrester! 

Then getting down Forrester…  That was pretty fun for the most part, tiring, but fun.  We glissaded a bunch, rock climbed only a little and could generally see where we needed to end up.  After a short break, Crow Dog, Lakewood and I carried onwards.  Somehow we found the trail off and on.  The base was wet, wet, wet.  Everything was flooded and crazy.  My feet have pretty much been wet for 4 days at this point.  We camped in a beautiful campground at the base of Vinette Mountain near the Kearsarge Pinnacles, so so so breathtaking.  I have been really bad about taking pictures and obviously even worse at posting, but I will get better!  And refer to others in my group who are taking pictures. 

Yesterday we hiked out to Bishop, which also involved going over a pass.  I kind of crumbled yesterday, there was more snow, I have been exhausted, my shins are wrecked.  Lakewood pulled me out of a posthole that I was really angry at fallling into.  We finally made it to the trailhead though, got a ride to Independence and then another to Bishop and now we are kicking it here.  It is a little surreal.  The Sierra have been tough, but so spectacular.  I’m going to head into the next part with less garlic (I have been sweating garlic), less potatoes, and several thousand more calories for everyday hopefully, lots of rest, and good positive thoughts. 

Thanks for the comments.  Thanks for the package Aunt Cathy.  Thanks for the good thoughts.  Catch you all on the flip side of snow hopefully.

Also, there are some pictures of the trip going up on facebook from other people if you are interested in seeing my larger than average sunglasses and now my crazy snow burned face.

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4 Responses to “Sierra, Part 1”

  1. Lakewood said

    Hey! Love the blog. Thx for the mention.

  2. Dad said

    I am totally jealous. I know the whole Whitney hike and can picture looking back at Guitar lake. We camped by a small lake in the bowl with our heads out the tent so we could see all the stars. To live that way day to day is unimaginable. Your effort shines through your words.

  3. Conor said

    So do you have a trail name yet?

  4. Dad said

    After this:
    1. You will be able to Irish step dance in microspikes
    2.Shrink nuts with a stare
    3.Take a wizz standing up
    4.Never be boring at a bar
    5.Never be scared because fear will be afraid of you
    6.Never question what you want because you already know
    I look forward to hearing about Sierra PartII

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