Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Pacific Crest Trail 2009 ~ Part 10

Now in King's Canyon National Park, we descended down Bubbs Creek post-holing every now and again in soft snow.  One's leg could often disappear up to one's groin, especially where snow was soft next to large rocks.  Sometimes we would walk on top of other hiker's tracks since their weight had already compressed the snow for easier trekking.

At the Higher Passes, the alpine lakes were often still frozen or covered with snow.  To find the trail, one would merely look at the map to see if the trail was to be on the east or west side of the creek or river flowing down the canyons.  One could often intuit exactly where the trail flowed beneath the snow by examing the contour lines on the maps and by just looking at the layout of the land.

We took a side trail off of the Pacific Crest Trail to follow the Bullfrog and Kearsarge Lakes Trail to Kearsarge Pass as seen in this above photo. We hitched a ride down to Independance via a jeep that was bringing four hikers back up to the trailhead.  This was a really windy road, and it seemed as if this overly enthusiastic driver's joy of speed was going to eject us because of the extremely tight turns.  The brakes were indeed beginning to burn up. 

From Independance we decided to hitch into Bishop another 40 plus miles to the north where Stacey and I spent three wonderful carefree nights in a motel watching the mountains get dusted by a series of afternoon storms.

After the third day, one bus ride, and two hitches later, we re-ascended the mountain and spent the night near Kearsarge lake to be dumped on by snow throughout the night and morning hours.  The weight of the snow on the tarp would have to be knocked off every half hour to hour or so.

That next morning after the snow storm, we returned to the junction where we had diverged from the PCT to find the National Geographic Crew that was monitoring this years herd of hikers for a documentary in 2010.  They wanted to film Stacey playing her flute in the wilderness.  Lets hope they find room to put her in the one hour special.  This year, the National Geographic Channel featured a special on the Appalachian Trail which Stacey and I are considering hiking beginning in February or March.

The 11,978 foot tall Glen Pass was our next snow covered hurdle with the Rae Lakes as its scenic reward on its northern flanks.  Falling snow and rain kept us damp and on the go for the rest of the day.  When you keep moving, one is able to maintain the appropriate body temperature till our body heat dries out our wet gear and clothes.

The following day of June 17th, the weather was perfect in the morning with blue skies. Today we were going to cross over two passes with the first being Pinchot Pass as seen below.  This entails climbing 4,000 feet from the elevation of about 8,000 feet to 12,000 feet.  Once reaching the pass, we descend another 4,000 feet only to climb back up to 12,000 feet yet again.  The trail is one grand roller coaster ride.

The afternoon's however usually brought more snow showers to the upper elevations.  We were always happy to get snow over rain, as it didn't soak through our layers of clothing as easily.  Our next pass was to be the infamous Mather's Pass where we scaled a vertical wall of snow, since it's switchbacks were all buried for the late spring season.


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