- Date: Monday April 27, 2015
- Miles hiked: 15.85 PCT miles
- Miles covered: 732.18 to 748.03 (10,900')
- Weather Report: Low 26, High 63. In the 40s during the morning, the 50s to lower 60s during midday, and rapidly cooling off at sunset. Winds generally calm to light breezes.
- Wildlife seen: None at all.
- Mood of the day: Taking in the scenery. Mellow, and a bit excited about getting up and over Forester Pass, and wondering if I'll get cold or really cold.
Joko and I slumbered in, and didn't get on the trail until after 8. That's fine by me, it was uphill from our 9300' campsite... and finally downhill to Diaz Creek. The morning was a bit cold but hiking warmed us both up. We got buzzed by an F-18 flying all of 200 feet above the valley floor at one point. Gee, so much for the solitude of wilderness... my tax dollars, hard at work.
I did get cell phone service at a couple of gaps in the ridgeline around 735, where I could see down to highway 395 and across the mostly dry Owens Lakebed. I was really interested in the weather forecast, and it hadn't changed: warmer through to the end of the week. By that time, we should be up and over and out to Lone Pine for a rest day and to plan our next moves.
By midday, the trail had dipped down to Diaz Creek at mile 741, and we took an extended break to filter water and eat lunch. We discussed "so how many miles do you have left in you", and we thought about 10 or so--though we were off by 3.
One thing that we've both noticed: it's harder to hike up here. It's a lot of work just to go 15 miles, about the same amount of effort that 20+ miles was back at warmer and lower elevations, and truthfully we needed to do some adjustment. Rather than aim for 18 - 20 mile days, we'll go for 15 - 17.
After lunch, the trail headed up and up and up, from 9300 to 10600. I got a bit confused at the 4-way intersection with the first Horseshoe Meadow trail. I could only see two other paths, so I went down the one that went vaguely north/northwest. Wrong... it didn't feel right, with horse apples and everything. I backtracked and eventually found the PCT--the trail covered in pinecones and needles, the trail actually blocked by a large fallen log right at the intersection so you had to really notice the detour path to get back on track.
And yet more up, with some little bits of snow to cross... then a fair bit more. The trail bed caught a lot of uphill snow, so while it was moderately easy to go across, sometimes I stepped off the buried edge and postholed. It was more tedious than anything else, and while I liked slowing down a bit due to the thin air, I knew we weren't going to go the full 10 miles. Joko was somewhere ahead of me--I could see his fresh tracks in the snow--and I hoped he'd stop somewhere and we could call it a day a bit early.
Fortunately, around mile 748 I caught up with him, resting under a tree. We both agreed to camp, and found some decent tent sites in a boulder field. It was such an early time to call it a day--not even 5:30--but we were done, and it was a pleasure actually to set up camp in the warm sun. I went over to Joko's tent, sat down on some rocks (ahhh, a seat!) and we both made dinner outside. This is probably only the second or third time I've made dinner outside; most of the time I just cook in my tent.
Tomorrow we'll go another 15 miles, then the day after another 15 and camp right at the foot of Forester Pass (at 12000', where there are a few exposed campsites. I hope the weather keeps up the warming trend, but this will likely be a very cold night!). Then we'll go up and over Forester on Thursday morning early, and scoot down the valley, then exit out Kearsarge Pass early on Friday morning for a nero. It's a more mellow plan than 20 mile marches at 12000'. Neither of us are up for that punishment, that's for sure.