Date: June 11, 2017
Miles: 775.2 – 787
“We signed up for this.” ~ Shortcut
The last three days I’ve experienced some of the most difficult, exhilarating, and nerve-racking moments that I can remember having in a long while, with the summiting of Mt. Whitney (the tallest mountain in the lower 48), fording the rapids of White Creek, miles of snow travel, and today’s crossing of Forester Pass, which is the highest point on the PCT at 13,200 feet.
We left camp at 4 am and made our way across nearly 5 miles of frozen sun cups until we reached a point below the Pass at which we had to climb a steep wall of snow (the trail switchbacks were buried somewhere underneath) and then step our way across a ledge cut in to the cornice near the top of the pass. One misstep on the ledge could have meant a long slide down the icy chute. I was nervous for John since he lost one of his microspikes somewhere on the trail yesterday and so was climbing with just the one he had left. I was also nervous for myself since I have a healthy fear of heights. My legs were shaking pretty badly by the time I crossed to the other side and I couldn’t stop breathing hard for a few minutes. It was amazing.
After the pass, we descended into Kings Canyon National Park and walked in between the Kearsarge Pinnacles and a raging Bubbs Creek. The sights of the walls of rock shooting up on either side of us and the water cascading rapidly over smooth slabs and waterfall chutes was what I pictured in my mind when I thought about going through the Sierras. The snow has added an exhausting element to that image…I would like to come back when the trail is clear so I can really experience this place without having to give it so much energy.
We reached Vidette Meadow (more of a swamp at this time of year) and decided to stop and camp since we didn’t like the look of some gray clouds building to the west of us and we didn’t want to do the following 1000 foot climb and be stuck in a snowstorm. Connor got a fire going and we were able to dry out our shoes for the first time in days. The wind picked up and we all retreated to our tents at about 5:30 pm to escape the cold. I didn’t mind…it gave me a little time to myself to actually read a little before my sore body and falling eyelids decided it was time for sleep.