Tuesday, June 10, 2008
We got to sleep in! Then we went to this amazing Bakery in town! Schatt's! Wow! Then we went to Vons to buy food for the next 96 miles to Vermilion Valley Resort. Light food is all we were thinking! Cause we have to hike back up Kearsarge pass in the morning with it all! We went through our packs and will be sending home more stuff that we haven't been using to lighten up even more. I'm sending home my headlamp! I'm getting desperate here! LIGHTEN UP! We were even thinking of buying a tarpten (we are carrying the Hubba Hubba) and as great as it is (easy to set up, free standing.......it's heavy) But between the 2 of us, we have 6 tents and don't need to accumulate any more gear! Oh, big thanks to Stinkyfeet for the Sierrasummitssunblock! I've been putting that on my hands twice a day (and I'm still getting sunblisters.......but without it, I'd be in big trouble) Chief wears his winter gloves during the day to keep the sun off his hands and might have to resort to that if things get too bad. So, we are out of Sequoia National Park and into Kings Canyon National Park. 790 miles north of Mexico and will be at VVR in another 6 days time! Internet there is $45 per hour.........so, I won't be e-mailing! :) The internet I used at Kennedy Meadows was charged with a solar panel! Amazing the technology you can find on the trail!
Up early and headed to town! Oh the food we have been dreaming about! STEAK! Basically, meat and ice cream fill our minds all day long! We were hiking by 0530 on a side trail (off the PCT) to town. Hiking up and over Kearsarge Pass was beautiful, but it was a bit more downhill than we expected........since we have to hike back up it on our return to the PCT with fully loaded packs. Anyway, Gordon was in the trailhead parking lot and he gave us a ride to Independece where we picked up our 2 boxes at the PO and then 3 letters that had been forwarded from Wrightwood!!! (one from my sister, one from gram and grampa Kingsbury and one from Grammy Peg!!) Always a nice suprise! Then we caught a ride to Bishop (40 miles away) with a nice couple going to buy some hay in their huge pick-up truck. Once in Bishop, we found a motel and showered and did laundry and then put a hurting on the all you can eat Sizzler salad buffett! YEAH! Nice town, good outfitter, good times!! Denny's for dinner with Thrust and Pacman.
Up early and heading for Forester Pass (highest point on the PCT at 13,180 ft) before the snow gets all soft and slippery. We were only 5 miles away, but had to actually FIND the pass! The trail is covered in snow, so it's basically a "pull out the map and go" type of hiking. Well, we found it alright and made it to the top by 9:30am and the views were just breath-taking. Just the 3 of us, again! Taking it all in. There was a significant amount of snow on the northern side, so we pulled out the ice axes and made our way down safely. The snow started getting soft around 1130 and luckily we had found (bushwacked/snow-whacked) our way to the trail below treeline by 1230. Only about 1/2 hour of post-holing. Once below treeline, following the trail was easy and we made good time to Bullfrog Lakes trail (which would take us to Kearsarge Pass tomorrow......so we could hitch into town for more food) Camped past Bullfrog Lake with Thrust and Pacman and had the most beautiful campspot ever!!
Didn't sleep so great inside the stone hut at 14,495 feet! The wind howled all night long and the lightening rods on the roof were shaking like mad! I kept thinking........please, please, don't let us wake up to a snow storm or something crazy like that!!!! But it was a beautiful morning, Neighbor went out for sunrise.......I was waaay too warm in my sleeping bag for that view! He took a few beautiful pictures and then we packed up and geared up and braved the cold! A few more summit photos and a few last glimpses of the amazing views that we had ALL to ourselves and then we started down the mountain at 0645am! There were quite a few PCT hikers making their way up to the summit and they looked at us and said, "what time did you start up this morning?!" ha-ha! Back down to Guitar Lake, we retrieved our stashed stuff (the marmots are crazy and will steal anything, so we had to hide it well) and made our way back to the PCT. (Mt. Whitney isn't on the PCT, it's a 17 mile side trip and worth every step!!) We crossed the Bighorn Plateau and had more amazing views and had to ford a couple easy creeks, and then camped by Lydall Creek for the night. Forester Pass tomorrow! What a great couple of days for the eyes!
Ahhh, what a day! Today was supposed to be an easy 10 or 12 mile day to Guitar lake, so we leisurely made our way there, stopping at Crabtree Meadows, hanging out, relaxing, washing our feet, etc. Then we hiked up to Guitar Lake and the Chief said.......I think I'm going to go up to the summit now and sleep on top! What?! Crazy man! It was 2pm and I looked at Neighbor and we said, hey, why not?! So, we took everything we didn't need for the night out of our packs and hid them between some boulders (like everything! I even took out my toothbrush to lighten my pack!!) And at 2:30, we started up Mt. Whitney! The views were just amazing, this one above is just a sample of the sights we saw! We started passing people who were making their way down (and for once WE were the silly hikers going up the mountain late in the day!!) ha ha! Anyway, we huffed and puffed and made our way to the summit for 5:45. There really wasn't that much snow on the way up, we carried the ice axes but never pulled them off our packs, the couple of snowfields were hardpack with deep footprints to follow, so we never felt unsafe at any point. We 3 (Neighbor, Chief and I) were the only ones on the top! What a great feeling! It was very cold and windy though, so we took a bunch of pictures then went inside the stone hut on the top (which MIGHT fit 4 people) and pulled out our warm gear and suited up! We cooked dinner inside and then waited for sunset...........