Day 17: 10.5 miles, 184.5 cumulative, Center Basin to Tyndall Frog Ponds (11,030′)
I woke early and crawled out of my tent. I was surprised to see many of the backpackers already moving around – everyone was so quiet. We all knew what was ahead I guess. And that would be Forester Pass. At 13,110′ Forester was our highest pass, and 1000′ feet higher than we had even been so far. I knew the climb would be super hard…2700′ feet up with less than optimal oxygen. But out there on the trail, no matter how hard the climb or how much I wanted to quit in the moment (and there were plenty of those moments), quitting literally wasn’t an option. My only choice was to keep hiking. And so…
Day 15: 13.7 miles, 162.1 cumulative, Lake Marjorie to Dollar Lake (10,220′)
Today’s pass – Pinchot Pass (12,050′). It wasn’t a terribly hard pass (although all climbs over 11,000′ still made me miss oxygen greatly). Nathan and I had camped at 11,000 feet so we had just 1000′ to climb in 2 miles. The snow wasn’t tricky or scary this time. 🙂 After our usual break on top of the world, we began our 3500′ descent to Woods Creek.
Day 13: 12.3 miles, 138.1 cumulative, Little Pete Meadow to Upper Palisade Lake (10,840′)
Our first five miles day 13 were relatively flat, climbing a gradual 1000′. First we followed the Middle Fork Kings River, then turned east and followed Palisade Creek. A word on “creeks” in the Sierras. I have always thought of creeks as peaceful little streams. All the creeks we came across were raging rivers of white water roaring down granite mountainsides. (Of course it could just be a 200% snow year thing) We didn’t understand why they were called creeks, but the frequency with which we hiked along the sounds and sights of white water was one of my favorite parts of hiking in the Sierras.
Day 11: 8.9 miles, 114.8 cumulative, Evolution Creek to Sapphire Lake (10,966′)
Nathan and I woke, ready for another wet crossing. Evolution Creek is considered another dangerous ford, but there is an alternate “meadow” crossing that is safe. So we waded through. It was two wide tributaries of the creek, nearly crotch high and cold…but safe.
Day 9: 11.2 miles, 97.7 cumulative, Bear Creek to Muir Trail Ranch (8200′)
River crossings in June and early July had been crazy due to the record snow, with reports of hikers being swept away. By the time we hit the trail the rivers had calmed, but were still very high, and Bear Creek was rumored to be dangerous. NOBO hikers had told us there was a log crossing, so I crawled out of bed into the damp morning and started searching for it. I hiked downstream maybe a quarter mile and found a large downed tree. From where I was it looked like the top went underwater. There was also a small island in the middle and I couldn’t see how to cross the other side of the river. But, its the best we had. The crossing at the trail definitely looked too swift to try.