I will leave on Sunday and fly to Mammoth, CA, to meet up with my friends. As there is no cell service for most of the Sierras I’m just guessing when they will arrive there. I will return to the trail when they do! I’m excited to get back out there and continue this wonderful adventure. There are many miles and experiences ahead. Did I learn a lesson? Yes. I’m comfortable in trusting my instincts for one. Two, long distance hiking is more fun enjoyed with others, but, it is not a team sport. Stay tuned! Poco Loco
This will not be the post you might expect. The hike up to Cottonwood Pass from Horseshoe Meadow was beautiful and almost snow free. We stayed high for most of the day and ended up camping above 10,000 feet after hiking for 21 miles. Surprisingly, it wasn’t too cold! We decided to get up at 4:00 am so that we could get to Forrester Pass while snow conditions were optimal. We were on the trail at 4:45 with our headlamps on but by 5:00 we could see just fine. The first creek we had to ford came quickly and I took off my shoes and waded across the frigid water. The second creek was a bit deeper but not too difficult. I wear trail runner shoes and wanted to keep my feet dry as long as possible. The approach to Forrester Pass was a tedious grade and we were in snow from three miles before the Pass. The snow was still firm enough but the trail wasn’t visible so the going was slow. Maybe only one mile per hour. We finally reached the Pass, elevation 13,200 feet at one PM. The chute pictured above is usually difficult to cross but the snow had softened by then and it wasn’t too scary. I have hiked this Pass several times but never in deep snow. There is no trail to follow in snow and that is key. I started down the north side by following the tracks that can be seen in the picture. Shortly the tracks went in all directions as previous hikers had made their way down in various ways. My group had planned to stay in ear shot of one another but it didn’t happen. I take responsibility for what happened next. I found myself trying to scramble over some exposed cliffs to get to where I thought was a way to get to where the trail would be. I got to a place where I lost all my confidence and fear took over. I was so scared and didn’t see an easy way up or down. I was afraid that if I kept scrambling that my pack weight would pull me off the cliff. I took my pack off and threw it over the cliff onto a snowfield below. I figured I could retrieve it once I got down. I could see my group on the other side of the canyon staring in disbelief! I managed to climb down, get my pack, and climb up the other side. My fear caused me not to make clear decisions. The next three thousand feet of descent were arduous. The snow had softened and I was post holing. This means that on many steps my foot would sink, sometimes to my thigh. We camped right at snow line and barely below tree line. After hiking for 12 hours I was exhausted and more than a little freaked out. It is just too early in the season for the snow at high elevations to have melted. There are eight more high passes in the next 10 days and I made the decision to take a break from the trail and rejoin my friends on June 3 in Mammoth and continue the hike. I just don’t feel confident with my abilities to be over 12,000 feet, wearing trail runners in deep snow day after day. In 10 days conditions will improve. So, Ray drive to Independence yesterday and brought me home. I’ve calmed down now but I was terrified. Another lesson learned. So, I can’t call my hike a “thru hike” anymore but that’s fine. The adventure will continue and my experiences broadened. Don’t feel sorry for me. I’m a big girl that just had a brief meltdown. I miss Grasshopper, Why Not?! and Spirit already and wish them safe travels until I see them in a short while. Sent from my iPhone
Well…we will finally get out of town! This evening we have a ride lined up with Davey McCoy to take us to the trailhead at Horseshoe Meadow. Elevation about 8500 feet. We will camp there this evening and be able to enjoy the meteor shower. That is, if any of us are awKe past dark! The plan tomorrow is to hike 20 miles to Crabtree Meadow. That is a good position for those making a summit climb on Mt Whitney the following morning. After today I will be out of cell range for the next three days until we again hike out of the mountains over Kearsarge Pass to pick up supplies in Independence.
Emerson said, ” Adopt the pace of Nature. Her secret is patience.” We are abiding by that wisdom and believe that giving time for the snow conditions to improve is a decision we won’t regret. This continuing challenge is undoubtably making me stronger and wiser. Thank you ALL for your support. Especially Ray. Poco Loco
I remain in Lone Pine waiting for the snowstorm to move out. These spectacular mountains are again shrouded in clouds with snow accumulation expected to be fairly low. We will wait at least until Friday to re-enter the mountains. The atmosphere here in Lone Pine is full of apprehension and mystery. No one knows exactly what the conditions will be like when we get back to elevations above 10,000 feet. I’ve been adding small items to my equipment. With so much free time it’s easy to keep spending money on stuff and food. At least Lone Pine is a hiker friendly town. It is the closest town for people climbing Mt Whitney–the highest point in the continental US and the locals cater to us.
Facing fear is exhilarating. I faced it with wind, heat, critters, water shortage and now snow and ice. I’ve always known (and believed) that most of what we fear never materialize and my confidence is growing with this next section of trail. Even finding the trail might be an issue but my group of Salty Sardines is ready to get back out there and tackle it. We just know that it isn’t smart to leave until conditions improve. This adventure has brought me unimaginable highs and I know that will continue throughout the Sierras. I have been in some of the most beautiful mountains all over the world but the Sierras bring me to tears just thinking of them. Spirit has never hiked them before and seeing her experience them also will be a delight for me. Love to all:
Being at Kennedy Meadows was exciting in many ways. There were between 20 and 30 hikers hanging out on the porch of the General Store. Everyone receives their many packages that contain the snow equipment, bear canisters, food and warmer clothes. Also, mile 702 signifies the end of the desert! I collected all my stuff and sorted it out. Since the plans have changed we were able to find someone that would take some of our equipment to the town of Lone Pine and we will pick it up at the hostel there on Monday night. It means three less days carrying the bear canister which is HUGE!
We are now down to four in our group. Our beloved Atlas left early this morning to get to Lone Pine by tomorrow afternoon. He will have to haul quickly. He’s being picked up there so that he can make it to his girlfriend’s PhD graduation from UC Berkeley. He will return to the trail where he left off but it’s unlikely we will be hiking with him again. He’s a wonderful guy and we all have enjoyed him thoroughly. Atlas went to the University of North Carolina and has been working as a real estate purchaser for Habitat for Humanity. It’s now just us girls!
I’m now sitting in my sleeping bag overlooking the south fork of the Kern River. We only hiked 14 miles because of our late start. I saw my last cactus at mile 708 and am now officially in the Sierras! I can see snow capped peaks to the north. I’m at an elevation of 8100 feet surrounded by pines. Tomorrow I will climb to 10,400! Time to get acclimatized. I don’t have problems with elevation so I expect to be fine. High clouds are forming but weather should be good tomorrow. I can’t send this until I have reception. It’s 6:36 and I’m ready for bed! I’ll be on the trail by 5:30 to get a jump on my speedy friends. Good Night to all of you who care to read this. I’m in good company but you all matter to me.
I certainly wasn’t on the trail at 5:30. It was 28 degrees! We have climbed most of the day and I have sketchy service at 10,400 feet. We will drop down to where it is warmer and camp. It’s been a beautiful introduction to these wonderful mountains. I am at snow line and it’s windy so I will close and report when I get to Lone Pine tomorrow. Poco Loco
This will be brief because I have limited service.. Left Lake Isabella with a new blister on my pinky toe but after popping it it seems to be healing. I think I got it because I didn’t dump the accumulated sand out of my shoe and friction caused it. Okay, that was three days ago! I’ve been out of cell phone service but have now reached Kennedy Meadows and the unofficial start of the Sierras. My bear canister is here plus other cold weather gear. There is a weather system coming in three days with snow and wind so we have altered our plans. We will hike put tomorrow and exit via Trail Pass to Lone Pine and wait it out. No need to push it. I’m nervous enough about the high elevation snow that exists already. I doubt I’ll be in touch for a few days. I’m tired from the last three days of hiking. More soon!! Send good thoughts! I have passed the 25% mark! Poco Loco