Day 36, May 29
Start: Kearsarge Pass trailhead
End: suspension bridge at intersection to road end trail. Mile 799
Miles hiked: 20 including Kearsarge back to pct.
Carrot, sheriff, Will, Rafiki and I took the 6:15 bus from lone pine to independence. The bus driver was blasting the Jurassic park theme song and making the movements of a conductor as the sun showed it’s first light on Whitney and the high sierras.
I felt ready to go. After only a half day, I was itching to get back into the high country. I love it up there. The sierras are my favorite mountain range, and after enjoying the beauty of the mountains covered in snow the first three days, all I wanted was more!
Carrot took the bus to bishop to pick up her resupply at the post office while the rest of us got a ride from independence back to the trailhead. On e there, Guthrie, will, Rafiki, and Sherrif slammed a mountain dews, ate their mcdonalds breakfast along with many other sweets and charged up the pass. I finished a sausage egg and cheese mcmuffin but decided to save the dew for glen pass. It’s amazing what magical climbing powers Mountain Dew can give you. It’s about as healthy as drinking battery acid, but man can it get you up a mountain. Like, fast. Super fast.
We reached the pass in two hours, and a few of us scrambled around on some big Rocky outcropping near the pass for a half hour. I ran into brainstorm who is only a day behind us. He is flying! It was great to see him. He had slept at the Whitney summit and watched the sunrise. How cool to do that. I was really happy to see him and hear how well he was doing. I hope he catches up to our group in the sierras. We talked about McButter, noting that he’s back on the trail in the desert, having healed his stress fracture that took him off the trail for several weeks.
On the way down and off Kearsarge pass, coughee met up with us. He had stayed in bishop the night prior. Us dudes slugged our way up glen pass. Everyone was slow and crashing from meals of Mountain Dew and honey buns, except for me. I chugged a dew and crushed it up the pass.
Going down was a different story. The north sides of the mountain passes hold snow a lot longer than the south sides due to the placement of the sun in the sky. As such, the descents have been solidly covered in snow. Glen pass’ north slopes are extremely steep, and as expected was completely covered in snow. Guthrie, sheriff, coughee and I worked our way down slowly, making sure we were safe. The grade of the slope was pretty intense. I felt comfortable on it, as I have a lot of experience on snowy mountains in Colorado, but I could tell the others were pretty nervous about it. I helped the group out by leading and coaching the others. I did my best to keep everyone calm and collected, and eventually we made it to less steep of a grade, roughly 1,500 feet down. Once past the steep section, we all breathed a sigh of relief.
We took a good break at A strip of land between Rae Lakes, with beautiful views of the painted lady (a mountain filled with many colors of rocks that guards the lakes below). The southern most lake was still half frozen, while the lower Rae lake was ice free. Sherpa and the boss caught up to is and joined in on our break.
We slowly made our way past down the valley, taking in the beautiful views as we passed Rae lakes, fin dome, arrowhead lake, and dollar lake. Everyone was amazed at the beauty of the deep blue lakes, with large pines covering the shores, and granite peaks surrounding the valley. It felt so good taking our time through this area, and I was so happy to be back here. The lakes are gorgeous!
Eventually we made our way down to the bottom of the valley, set up camp, and made a fire that we all are around. Carrot and traveller never showed up, which worried us all a bit. Hopefully they didn’t have any problems getting down glen pass. It’s likely that they had trouble hitching back to the trailhead, and didn’t get back in time to make the miles. We did go up and over two large passes, making it a pretty slow day. We left a note for them, explaining our exact plan for the next day so they would know exactly what we were doing. Hopefully they’ll be hiking together and fine.
Tomorrow we plan to get up and over Pinchot pass, and hopefully Mather pass as well. I’m very excited for both!