Up and Out

The approach to Forester Pass, the highest point on the PCT at 13,200′, started early.  Also beautiful as usual.

Could you hear the ho-hum in my words?  No?  Good, because there wasn’t any.

The view of the pass from Tyndall Creek, which ran right past our camp.

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A trail view, looking back towards our campsite.

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Our last view of Mount Whitney.

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Jennifer approaching Forester Pass, the tiny notch in the bottom of the broad V in the far mountains.

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It was a cool, calm morning.  A calm occasional shattered by the call of a raven.

That is, until the roar. Jen thought a plane sounded odd, but she couldn’t see in the glare of the rising sun as tons and tons of rock released from a nearby cliff face and crashed to the valley floor. Unfortunately it happened so fast that I could only catch the dust cloud.

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To say it was awesome would be an understatement. A fellow hiker showed up 10 minutes later still gushing about his experience from further away.

One of the many ponds that make up the headwaters of Tyndall Creek, the creek in which we sat and had dinner the night before.

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The relative gentleness of our 4-mile approach changed rapidly as we climbed over 1,000′ in less that a mile.  The face of the mountain was so steep and the trail so narrow that it was difficult to not get a tinge of vertigo, even though neither one of us have issue with that.

But after 45 minutes of climbing, the summit was a surprise.  A welcome one, mind you, but still a surprise.

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Leaving Sequoia National Park and entering Kings Canyon National Park.

We descended for the next seven miles.
Miles and miles of beautiful views.

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I wanted to swim in this next one, but we had miles to make before the end of the day. In hindsight, I should have swam.

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After meeting a few hikers coming up the back side of Forester Pass, we didn’t see another soul for hours.

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After passing a couple of hikers, we passed a meadow.  I caught a glimpse and called Jen back just in time for her to see two adult bear rumps bounding off through meadow. They worked hard to put distance between us and them.

Looking back up the valley.  Forester Pass would be tucked away in those distant mountains.

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The climb that gave us this view also kicked us in the teeth.  It was another one of those “climb 1,000′ in less than a mile” climbs.  We realized that we would not make the trailhead some 7.5 miles distant, including another big pass with a similar climb.  Getting there after sunset was pointless, as any chance for a ride into the valley and town would be nil.

We were asleep an hour before sunset.

Day 68 – 13 / 788

Another beautiful morning with a hike up and over Kearsarge Pass to the Onion Valley Trailhead. The OV trailhead is one of the few trailheads that give relatively easy access to the High Sierra backcountry.

Our hike down from the pass included many stops to talk to day hikers, folks trying to get to Mount Whitney, and more than a few reunions with fellow PCT thru-hikers coming back from rest and resupply.

Most of all, the short hike impressed upon us how the Kearsarge Basin should really be part of the PCT, but it’s too narrow for anything other than the out and back trail it accommodates.

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Looking west from Kearsarge Pass summit into the John Muir Wilderness.

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Looking east from Kearsarge Pass summit towards Owens Valley and the desert mountains beyond.

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The nice thing about such a popular trailhead, even on a weekday, is that we had two options for rides down to the small town of Independence, some 13 miles down the hill, before we even got to the trailhead.

Once in Independence, we had a nice lunch and within a few minutes of walking out to the highway, we had a ride to Bishop, some 40 miles north, where we could do a full resupply and get a bit of a breather.

Day 69 – 7.5 / 788

Please helps us help the PCT Association as they work to protect and maintain this precious resource: http://tinyurl.com/le5cu9j

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