Monday, July 11, 2011

Day 44 (6/30) The Most Beautiful Place

So today was something of a hangover from the Whitney climb yesterday. We all agreed on a short day and a late start, but I don't think any of us expected that to be just after noon. Honestly, it felt great to sleep for 11 hours and then spend another hour eating breakfast while watching a pair of brave yet shy chipmunks day around us, eyeing the food bags on the ground at our feet. After that, we killed time by slowly packing up while waiting for shoes to finally dry from yesterday's evening slog through snow/slush.

When we finally got going, we quickly hit the junction where the PCT joins the JMT (John Muir Trail) for the next 180 miles. We'll be walking it opposite how most people travel the JMT, as they start up north in Tuolumne Meadows and end at the summit of Mt Whitney. For the record, if anyone is ever interested in hiking the JMT and needs / has a spot for another hiker, I am absolutely game for it, and would only ask that I get a month or two notice. This area is some of the most beautiful I have ever seen, and I would love to make it back here for another trip.

Speaking of the beauty here, we were treated to some awesome views of the mountains, including the other side of Whitney. We also got to look ahead and catch a glimpse of Forester Pass, the highest point on the actual PCT at 13,200 ft. Despite only going ten miles, we covered a lot of ground as the trail takes a relatively direct route for once. Snow was once again present on northerly slopes, but for most of the day I managed to keep my feet dry. That is, until we reached Bighorn Plateau where we walked a mile over softened snow. The worst part is always when you hit a particularly soft part and suddenly your leg drops through to your knee or higher. Actually, worse than that was when I postholed over a marshy area and upon hitting bottom my shoe filled with ice water. I desperately wish I could wear my boots through this because my feet would stay dry the whole way. That won't work for me though as my left ankle still hurts when I wear that boot.

The only time I did choose to endure that pain was for our first of three stream crossings. For this one I was able to walk on rocks just below the surface while stabilizing myself with my trekking poles. The boots kept my feet and shoes from getting wet, which was a welcome relief. All the rivers and streams are high due to snow melt, so the normal rocks or logs you can cross on are submerged. At the second crossing both Steamy and Positive ID chose to walk across, but it was too deep for my boot trick again. Instead I walked first a quarter mile upstream, then twice that distance downstream before finding a suitable downed tree to walk across. The final stream was at the end of the day when my feet had already been soaked and frozen. I wasn't about to search for another 30 minutes to find an easy crossing, and my shoes were already soaked, so I just charged ahead in my shoes. That was much better than the barefoot crossings I did yesterday, so I am absolutely sold on the idea of stream shoes. Now if only I could make sure the pair I use for streams isn't the pair I have to wear all day... On the far side of the last stream we walked maybe a half mile up at best before finding a suitable set of campsites. Dinner quickly followed as the sun dropped below the mountain wall to our west. This may set the new standard for most awesome campsite, as we are in the mouth of a valley, with massive mountains on three sides, and a creek running beside us down to the river at the center of the valley. Absolutely gorgeous.

Miles Today: 10
Trip Mileage: 776

Photo: Sierras to the west

No comments:

Post a Comment