Day 15: 13.7 miles, 162.1 cumulative, Lake Marjorie to Dollar Lake (10,220′)
Today’s pass – Pinchot Pass (12,050′). It wasn’t a terribly hard pass (although all climbs over 11,000′ still made me miss oxygen greatly). Nathan and I had camped at 11,000 feet so we had just 1000′ to climb in 2 miles. The snow wasn’t tricky or scary this time. 🙂 After our usual break on top of the world, we began our 3500′ descent to Woods Creek.
Day 13: 12.3 miles, 138.1 cumulative, Little Pete Meadow to Upper Palisade Lake (10,840′)
Our first five miles day 13 were relatively flat, climbing a gradual 1000′. First we followed the Middle Fork Kings River, then turned east and followed Palisade Creek. A word on “creeks” in the Sierras. I have always thought of creeks as peaceful little streams. All the creeks we came across were raging rivers of white water roaring down granite mountainsides. We didn’t understand why they were called creeks, but the frequency with which we hiked along the sounds and sights of white water was one of my favorite parts of hiking in the Sierras.
Day 11: 8.9 miles, 114.8 cumulative, Evolution Creek to Sapphire Lake (10,966′)
Nathan and I woke, ready for another wet crossing. Evolution Creek is considered another dangerous ford, but there is an alternate “meadow” crossing that is safe. So we waded through. It was two wide tributaries of the creek, nearly crotch high and cold…but safe.
Day 9: 11.2 miles, 97.7 cumulative, Bear Creek to Muir Trail Ranch (8200′)
River crossings in June and early July had been crazy due to the record snow, with reports of hikers being swept away. By the time we hit the trail the rivers had calmed, but were still very high, and Bear Creek was rumored to be dangerous. NOBO hikers had told us there was a log crossing, so I crawled out of bed into the damp morning and started searching for it. I hiked downstream maybe a quarter mile and found a large downed tree. From where I was it looked like the top went underwater. There was also a small island in the middle and I couldn’t see how to cross the other side of the river. But, its the best we had. The crossing at the trail definitely looked too swift to try.
Day 7: 7.3 miles hiked, 74 cumulative, Silver Pass Lake to VVR (7600′)
This day would take us to Vermillion Valley Resort. It is a remote back country resort that is super friendly to thru hikers. A ferry picks up hikers on the east side of Edison Lake twice a day and ferries them across, so we had until 4pm to get to the pick up spot.
We had our daily routine down, but we were never fast movers in the morning. It was light by 5:30 am and I was awake by 6:00 every day. By 6:30 I was usually up to relieve myself and would start boiling water. I had coffee and Nathan had hot chocolate, if only to warm up and get us going. It was always cold in the mornings, our down puffy jackets and wool beanies a must for exiting the tent. We studied the map while we ate breakfast, deciding how far we would go and where we would try and camp that night. Mentally preparing for hard climbs or rivers crossings. Then we would pack up and be on our way by 8-ish.