Day 51: Ice Chute Challenge

June 7, 2017

Total miles: 13.6 miles

Start: mile 775.7

End: 0.8 miles down Bullfrog Lake trail (mile 788.5)

Total elevation gain/loss: 2948.2/3695.2 ft

Today was the day — we’d be crossing Forrester Pass!  People have been talking about this moment for weeks now and we’d soon have it (hopefully) behind us!

I slept surprisingly well last night given my anticipation about today’s climb. A win for Advil PM! We were up and ready to hike at 4am sharp. Sam and Tam needed a few more minutes, so we set off across the ice field knowing that they would catch up before the pass.  

Navigating in the dark on a sun-cup filled ice field turned out to be a little trickier than I imagined. After a while we found ourselves a bit off trail. Luckily, course correction wasn’t difficult and we were on our way again.  

As expected, Sam and Tam caught up with us just as the morning light was making our headlamps unnecessary. The progression of the morning light on the surrounding mountains was riveting:

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Day 50: Creek Crossing 101

June 6, 2017

Total miles: 6.8 miles

Start: mile 768.9

End: mile 775.7

Total elevation gain/loss: 1559.1/1126.3 ft

The stats simply don’t convey what a difficult day today’s hiking was. I could pound out that distance in no time in the desert. Here though, that’s a different matter.

We slept in a bit (until 4:30!) because it was cold and we didn’t want to hit our first river crossing of the day too early. Also, we figured we were in for an easy day, so why push it? Silly us.

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Day 49: Back In Familiar Territory

June 5, 2017

Total miles: 10.7 miles

Start: mile 758.2

End: mile 768.9

Total elevation gain/loss: 2589.6/2066.9 ft

I wondered as we started hiking today whether we should have continued on yesterday. Was I making something out of nothing? But we pretty quickly hit a steep, snow covered downhill section and I was happy with my decision. With the firm snow and my microspikes, I was able to make easy work of what would have likely been a frustrating descent yesterday.

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Day 48: We Found The Snow

June 4, 2017

Total miles: 11.2 miles

Start: mile 747.0

End: mile 758.2

Total elevation gain/loss: 1239.5/1551.2 ft

What a difference a cold night makes on snow conditions! We were up early this morning (4am alarm… but hit snooze a couple times) and greeted by frozen condensation in our tent. By the time we were up and walking, the snow was firm. I’m loving my microspikes! It make walking on the firm snow super easy!

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Day 47: Where Is The Snow?

June 3, 2017

Total miles: 16.1 miles

Start: Death Canyon Creek (mile 730.8)

End: mile 747.0

Total elevation gain/loss: 3389.1/1619.1 ft

I was woken last night at 3:45am to the sound of the group nearby cheering. I guess they were ready to hike. I rolled over and in no time my own 4:30am alarm was going off. Time to get up.

More snow topped mountains in the distance

I loved the roots on this overturned tree!

We started the day with a big, waterless climb. The rock formations in this area are intriguing and foreign looking. At every turn there was a new outcropping, making the climb enjoyable. There was surprisingly no snow on the way up, but I guess that’s why it was waterless. I overpacked water and barely touched my bottles until I was near the top. Near the top of the climb, we had a few of the normally dry, but currently wet, Owens Valley.

View of Owens Valley. There was a large snow patch at the top of the climb, but not on trail.

We’d heard that the snow started at the top of the climb (mile 735). There were a few patches, but nothing major. We did our best to take advantage of snow-free trail to make up yesterday’s miles during the descent.

A small patch of snow.

Another cool shell of a tree.

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Day 46: Where Is Everyone?

June 2, 2017

Total miles: 20.3 miles

Start: mile 710.5

End: Death Canyon Creek (mile 730.8)

Total elevation gain/loss: 4165/2553.5 ft

We were woken last night by the wind, which came as a surprise because it was calm last night. We’d staked our tent in a fairly sandy area and Michael realized that one of the stakes had come out during the night (which he was able to fix without getting out of bed). It wasn’t until our alarm went off that I realized that the stake near me had also come out. No wonder our tent had become so loud in the wind. It was flapping around and we’re lucky it hadn’t simply collapsed on us!

More burn zone

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Day 45: We’re off into the High Sierra!

June 1, 2017

Total miles: 8.3 miles

Start: Kennedy Meadows (mile 702.2)

End: mile 710.5

Total elevation gain/loss: 1668.3/336 ft

**Instead of delaying our Sierra posts to spread them out, I’m going to upload them as fast as I can in case others on trail may find them helpful.  Sorry for flooding anyone’s inbox!

Despite sleeping in a hotel, there was no sleeping in for us today. We still had lots of our town chores to do, including additional laundry, blog uploads, and the ultimate challenge — fitting everything in our bags. Not a simple task when you’re trying to fit a bear can, additional clothing and gear, and a whopping nine days of food. But we did it!

Out of focus, but Michael was clearly in need of new socks.

Hard to believe that the shoes on the left used to look like the ones in the right. They held up pretty well for having about 660 miles on them!

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Day 44: Anniversary Hike Into Kennedy Meadows

May 31, 2017

Total miles: 13.8 miles

Start: mile 689.1

End: Ridgecrest/Kennedy Meadows (mile 702.2)

Total elevation gain/loss: 1253.6/2348.8 ft

Today was special for two reasons.  First, it marks our nine-year wedding anniversary (this is actually the second year in a row that we’ve been on a long hike during our anniversary)!  Second, today was the day the we’d be hiking into Kennedy Meadows — the gateway to the High Sierra segment of the PCT.

The PCT is technically trail number 2000, but this is the first trail sign that I’ve noticed that uses the designation.

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