Kennedy Meadows to Independence

Kennedy Meadows to Independence

May 23, 2014

Start: Halfmile 0702.0
End: Halfmile 0716.0
Distance: 14.0 Mi
Cumulative: 711.0 Mi

Nero-ed out of KM around 130p today. Broke free of the Vortex with relatively little damage to my bank account – WIN! (After another 2 sodas, candy bar, ice cream, and burger.) Otherwise, not much to report besides meeting Huckleberry, a freakin' BA thru-hiker pup.

Bring on those famed High Sierra!

May 24, 2014

Start: Halfmile 0716.0
End: Halfmile 0743.0
Distance: 27.0 Mi
Cumulative: 738.0 Mi

Twenty-seven miles is certainly more than I was planning to do in the Sierra, but it doesn’t really feel like the High Sierra yet. The passes – or saddles or shoulders or high points or whatever – I crossed over today aren’t even named on my maps. The first named pass is Mulkey, which I’ll cross early tomorrow. I have really liked the trees up here, though the vistas have been…nice enough. Don’t get me wrong, I love it up here. It’s gorgeous. It’s just not what I was expecting the first few days out of Kennedy Meadows. It’s not epic, yet. Guess I’m not quite “there.”

The trees up here are awesome. Many are dead, dry, twisted, and surprisingly colorful. I can’t seem to capture their beauty in my photos, which is no-doubt largely due to the poor light. It’s been gloomy and cloudy since I left KM. Hoping it’ll clear soon. Whitney in a few days and Forester the day after that! Should be getting good SOON.

May 25, 2014

Start: Halfmile 0743.0
End: Halfmile 0766.5
Distance: 23.5 + 1.0 = 24.5 Mi
Cumulative: 762.5 Mi

Whitney tomorrow, so excited! Made it to Crabtree Meadows tonight, and I'm camped in my own little spot away from the relative chaos of the meadow. Gonna try to get up there for sunrise. Did someone say 2a alpine start? Ok.

Seems like it’s starting to clear, so hopefully a great day tomorrow. I’m having trouble capturing the beauty of this place, but then maybe that’s part of the majesty. All the more reason to slow down and really soak it in. I’ll never be here again, never see it as it is today. In the spirit of owning the experience, I jumped in my first alpine lake today. Chicken Springs Lake was freezing cold, but so totally fun. I was only shivering for a few minutes before the sun warmed me. Thankfully, it was shining some this afternoon.

May 26, 2014

Start: Halfmile 0767.0
End: Halfmile 0775.0
Distance: 8.0 + 16.0 = 24.0 Mi
Cumulative: 786.5 Mi

Mt. Whitney: the highest point in the lower 48. I started early and made the summit shortly after sunrise. Minutes after I arrived, the last of the “sunrise crew” departed. I had the place to myself. No one else came up for nearly two hours. It was a gorgeous, clear, calm day. It was perfect. I didn’t feel right leaving an empty summit, so I had lunch (around 8a) and took a ton of self-timer photos; used up an entire battery trying to capture my experience up there. I took the obligatory jump photos, tried some different angles, shot-gunned a beer, and even made a sign for Tribute, who was a hiker I met in Agua Dulce. Unfortunately, he was struggling with injuries and had to get off the trail. He was a really cool guy, and I hated to see him leave. I dunno why Whitney made me think of him, but it did. Hopefully he’ll get back here one day and see it for himself.

Camped at Tyndall Creek tonight along with a number of other hikers. We’re all poised to go up Forester in the morning. At 13,200′, it’s the highest point on the entire PCT. It’s finally getting to be the epic High Sierra I was imagining. Gonna make tomorrow a short one. If the next week or two is as good as I think it’s gonna be, that might become a theme. Psyched to be on the John Muir Trail for the next few hundred miles (the JMT and PCT are the same for most of the High Sierra). Fourteen miles to Bullfrog Lake tomorrow, then out to Independence over Kearsarge Pass the day after. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves: 5 miles to Forester. Hopefully there is still some snow up there. It won’t feel much like the High Sierra if I don’t get to posthole a little bit.

May 27, 2014

Start: Halfmile 0775.0
End: Independence Resupply Side Trip Mile 0.5 (of 7.5)
Distance: 14.0 + 0.5 = 14.5 Mi
Total: 801.0 Mi

Today was so sick; Forester was amazing! Ended up taking a direct line up the south-facing aspect. I figured I’d been carrying my ice ax and micro spikes since Kennedy Meadows, so I may as well enjoy ’em! Ended up following a 55-65* slope – or so it seemed at times – rather than the more gently-graded switchbacks. Ran out of snow and joined the switchbacks about halfway up. It was a little sketchy but still early enough in the day to be fun.

There were about a dozen folks up there when I topped out. Looking down the north aspect was a little daunting. So. Much. Snow. It was everywhere. And it was getting soft fast. We had a snack, took some photos, and began our descent. A few of us glissaded part of it, but the snow was too slushy to really get any speed. It was still kinda cool. Before long, we were postholing. Of course, it didn’t take long for that to get old. Yep, we’re in the mountains now.

Jumped in Bullfrog Lake this afternoon. With the tarn I jumped in yesterday on my way down from Whitney, that makes three lakes in as many days. I’m getting good at this game! I think I’m gonna do a “12 in 12” challenge. Twelve lakes in twelve days…it’s gonna be a cold few weeks! After drying myself in the warm sun, I decided to camp here at Bullfrog Lake tonight, but don’t tell anyone. Love this spot; probably the most stunningly beautiful place I’ve ever spent the night. Definitely cowboy camping.

Going out over Kearsarge Pass tomorrow to resupply. So excited for town food! May even get a hotel for the night…getting crazy.

May 28, 2014

Start: Independence Resupply Side Trip Mile 0.5 (of 7.5)
End: Independence Resupply Side Trip Mile 7.5 (of 7.5)
Distance: 7.0 Mi
Total: 808.0 Mi

Woke to frost covering my sleeping bag and gear. Worth it. Besides, I was still warm in my bag, though I definitely didn’t wanna get up. It was a cold morning. I had to wait nearly an hour and a half for the sun to peak over the ridge. It was taunting me as the rays crept down the surrounding peaks. Shortly after it finally rose, I backtracked a quarter mile to jump in another unnamed pond to get my fourth of twelve. Actually, I stripped down and went skinny dipping for the first time in my life. Then I almost got caught by some thru-hikers – ha! Isn’t that just the way it goes?

The hike up and over Kearsarge was stunning. I didn’t realize the pass is at 11,760 feet! The climb up the west-facing aspect was more stout – though definitely shorter – than the route down the east aspect. Not much snow on either. Should be fun coming back up and over with 8 days of food. My third and final camera battery died shortly after I took this photo. I don’t think I missed anything too epic, but there were a few moments where I wished I had time for just one or two more photos. Alas, I’ll just have to manage my camera time better in the future.

Ended up splurging on a hotel room tonight. I probably shouldn’t have spent the money, but it’s so awesome to have the place to myself. I got all of my chores done and just enjoyed the simple luxuries: a shower, a bed, a tv, an a/c, all the (non)essentials. Life’s good. Can’t wait for the next leg!