6/13/17 1.2 Miles +7.5 miles out Kearsarge Pass PCT Mile 788.3
We camped with 10 other hikers near Bubbs Creek last night. It was much warmer when the sun set so I actually slept pretty well. I only woke up once worrying about if we should continue hiking through the Sierra Mts, skip, or play the waiting game. None seemed like good options and travel back here is dangerous and will be so for some time.
We woke up at 5am as we wanted to be on the trail around 6:30. Dave wanted to hike out with us as he had taken a bad fall on some rocks on Forester Pass and wanted to be with people. Right as we were getting our packs on Bucket and Dave walked over and we set off. Bucket is a very fast hiker so he usually leads except he doesn’t have any of the trail finding apps on his phone so we had to wait for us sometimes to make sure he was going the right way. We immediately began to climb to Bullfrog Lake which would take us off the PCT, up and over Kearsarge Pass to town. As we ascended out of the valley we found dry trail for a good mile. This was a welcomed surprise and made the uphill climb manageable. The views were really starting to get beautiful as well, probably the best we have seen thus far.
Soon we came to the junction with Bullfrong Lake. Bucket had dug the sign out while waiting for us as he was unsure which way to go.
We slowly walked past several frozen lakes before taking a brief break to have a snack. From our resting perch we could see Kearsarge Pass and the exposed trail that cut up and through the side of the mountain.
We headed in a diagonal fashion towards the side hill and eventual trail. Turns out we didn’t angle our path diagonal enough as we ended up directly below the first switchback where we wanted to be. There was exposed rocks at this point which we all climbed straight up to get to the switchback. When we got to the dry trail we stopped and put our crampons on as there was a 200 ft snowy slope to cross. I looked out across the snow and saw Bucket quickly walking across the snow most likely without any foot traction on. We walked in unison each following the others footsteps through the snow until we reached dry ground.
This snowy part unlike Forester was easy and we all made it across without incident. Once we crossed the snowy patch we quickly made it to the top where we could see the otherside completely covered in snow. There was a nice trail carved out in the snow so it didn’t look like it should be a problem. We enjoyed our time st the top taking pictures and talking to a few other PCT hikers and some families out for a backpacking trip to Mt. Whitney.
The PCT hikers we saw coming back in said more than half of their group bailed and was jumping ahead. The walk down from Kearsarge was slushy as the temp was really starting to rise. My lips and nostrils started to burn despite my efforts to keep applying sunscreen. The reflection off the snow was no match for my cheap sunscreen. I began to get excited about the prospects of real food and I picked up my pace as I chanted “pizza, pizza.” The whole way down you could see the high desert. We were once again entering a new world. The eastern edge of the Sierra marked a transition from hellicious snow travel back to the hot desert.
I happily embraced high desert as I trounced through the snow each step making my feet wetter and wetter. We passed waterfalls and more frozen lakes before reaching bare trail. The trail was partially covered in snow most of the way to the parking lot with close to the last mile being bare. When I got to the parking lot I noticed a large group of hikers, I went over with the intention of getting a ride. Unfortunately they were going where we had just been and had questions for me about the conditions. Long story short we got a ride from Santas helper. He drove us all the way to Bishop where I will constantly fret and vacillate about what to do next. Either way I know I will regret whatever we do. I just know that in the Sierra Mts it is more than hiking and that’s not what I came here to do.