Jackrabbit Hikes: PCT Day 55-56
Day 55: Bishop, CA -> Tentsite (mi 790.0)
Well, I went up and over Kearsarge Pass again today. The ascent from the other side was magnificent. The hitch back to trail from Bishop was a long one though. 62 miles from Bishop to the trailhead. Sheesh. Thank God for public transit or we might have had to wait forever. We rode the bus to Independence the closest town to the trailhead. I think some of my favorite trail experiences are a pile of hikers in unusual places. We piled in the PCT hiker trash to the back of the bus and strapped in for our hour and a half ride through the desert valley. I gazed out the window at the massive mountains encapsulating the valley and pondered what it would be like to be on each of the peaks we passed.
After finally getting a ride to the top, we got to the trail around 2:00 PM. With not many hours of sunlight left, I scrambled over Kearsarge and back into King’s Canyon National Park. The view at the top of Kearsarge just doesn’t get old.
I moseyed through the last few miles up to Glenn Pass. I cowboy’d about 1mi from the top of the pass which will set me up for my first pass in the early morning. Most people prefer the hard ice in the early mornings for microspikes and ice axes so hopefully it’s easier. I don’t carry an ice axe and I hardly use my microspikes, but hopefully they can earn their weight in my pack.
As the sun began to set, I put my food in my bear canister and scrambled up the mountain pack-less. I walked backward on trail about .1 or .2mi, scrambled up some rocks, and got a nice perch for the sunset. I sat there alone as I listened to all the other hikers at their campsite. The sunset waned in between two massive mountains falling deep in between their valley. The sky got a deeper shade of orange as we edged closer to hiker midnight.
It’s a beautiful world we get to live in and the Sierra’s highlight that everyday for me.
Day 56: Tentsite (mi 790.0) -> Lake Marjorie Tentsite (mi 808.6)
Two passes in one day.
I refuse to let other people psyche me out. I was expecting absolute hell and was ready to still get over the pass. What I found was a little postholing and mostly following the bootpacked holes in the snow. It was definitely still slow moving but because I was expecting worse, I was able to keep morale up.
A lot of people have a lot of fear over the mountain passes in the Sierra. It’s the same thing everyday. You climb a pass, descent into a new valley, and eventually begin the climb another mountain pass. I’ve found them more rewarding then anything else.
My favorite spot of the day was Rae Lakes. An alpine lake fed by snowmelt around Glen Pass, it’s the most pristine water I’ve ever seen. The water was glass; it was completely still and also totally transparent. 5-10 feet under the water small fish are visible floating through the invisible medium. The reflections of the snowy peaks around the lake are perfect replicas of their original on the ripple-less water. I sat in silence for a few moments watching the fish come up to the surface to grab a tiny bug for breakfast.
After a serene morning on the backside of Glenn, the rest of the miles came easy. I’m not the type to let others opinions sway my hiking choices, so I wasn’t going to force a short day on myself to get Pinchot early the next morning. So, me and Graham decided to send it to the other side.
It wasn’t easy peasy lemon squeezy but it definitely what some described as “snow hell”. It was just some more miles. Graham and I got to the top around 4-5:00PM and felt accomplished. Two passes, no fear-mongering affecting our decisions, just two dudes enjoying the late day on top of a mountain pass in solitude. It was great.
We scurried across the last few snow fields on the descent and camped adjacent to a frozen lake. The lake was fed by the towering ridge’s snow behind it and we watched as the sun set prematurely behind the ridge. Even if the sun sets around 8:30PM, if you are in a valley then sometimes it’s gone much earlier. With the sun gone, the temperature began to drop and we made our way into our tents.
The passes are coming easier now and I’m feeling stronger each day. I’m still going a bit slower mileage-wise, but I have no issue with spending any extra time in these mountains. My bag feels extra warm tonight and I know I’ll sleep well.
Till tomorrow PCT.
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