Day 35 – Pacific Crest Trail (29 miles)
I woke up and was hiking at 6 am today. Wolf was having a cup of tea so would be behind me. As I set off we agreed to meet at the Lone Pine Junction.
Only a couple of miles in I met the three guys from yesterday as they were shouldering their backpacks for the morning.
They fell in step behind me. Shortly after Whistler was the only one remaining as the others dropped off to perform their morning duties.
The trail climbed but was generally easy and snow free. The miles went by easily as we talked.
About half a mile before the junction I saw a fantastic view down the valley. I stuck my trekking pole next to the trail and started to have morning tea with Whistler by the lookout. The other 2 people from his group showed up shortly after.
An hour after I stopped, I began to wonder where Wolf was. Maybe he was sore from yesterday and was taking it very slowly?
Another 30 min and I was sure he missed the trekking pole and headed after him as quick as I could.
Just after the Lone Pine Junction the trail started to be covered in snow. I decided to take a direct route over a small saddle rather than traversing around in the snow. I might even get in front of Wolf.
I got back to where the trail was buried under snow and began heading to Cottonwood Pass. I would wait for him there.
I did not need to. He was around the next corner. He saw the pole and thought it was mine but kept walking.
We went over Cottonwood without any trouble and found a small dry patch for lunch.
We were 19 miles into today and wanted to get down to Rock Creek to camp. It is meant to be the first difficult crossing of the Sierra.
The trail was completely covered. We decided to that we still needed to traverse around the mountain in line with the PCT, but once the trail flattened out we would straight line it to the next decent location.
We made great time on this section as we passed one amazing view after another. The highlight was passing a frozen Chicken Spring Lake with a jagged, snowy southern end of the Whitney buttress behind.
I have to say this has been an excellent day so far!
On the final decent to Rock Creek the trail was not completely covered. It was not the best descent location with some steep snow covered trail that was both hard to follow and increased the risk of injury. We altered out route to straight down. This allowed us to walk around most of the snow.
Reaching the valley we were both shocked and a little intimidated by the strength of the Creek. It was impassable. We huddled around and worked out a game plan. We had two options; head down the way we wanted to go and look for a log to cross on or head up stream to the less violent headwaters. There were several down logs under the water so we selected the first option.
Within half a mile we spotted a log with the water just lapping over the top. We stopped and made camp. Hopefully as the cold night slows the melt and the water level will drop enough to allow a safe crossing.
It was a very tiring day. However we did well making miles and creating a buffer if things don’t go smoothly. I am also stoked to be here, I had a ball playing in the snow all day!