A Taste of the Sierra Nevada
Beginning Elevation = 7,850
Peak Elevation = 10,550
Ending Elevation = 8,950
Weather: Absolutely dandy, high of 65°F, mostly sunny
Unlike most mornings when surrounded by other hikers’ tents, I didn’t feel I had to be quiet as I packed up. Everyone else was too. Unfortunately, we all also woke up to our tent flys soaked from condensation. It was a foggy/misty morning. We could see little mist droplets shooting by sideways with the wind actually.
The consensus was to pack the wet items as best as possible, and then hope to get the chance to lay them out in the sun later to dry. Our hiker squad consisted of:
Snickers (Lee from Manhattan, NY)
Kool-Aid (Brian from Placerville, CA)
Pop Top (Martina from Hamburg, Germany)
Cheer (Carol out of Orange County, CA), Calzone (Stephanie from South Bend, IN)
Master Trailsman (Dave H from Ada, MI) Stevie Wonder (Me! from GR, MI)
We took off from camp a little before 7:00am and the sun was just starting to come out and burn away the fog.
(Above photo credit to Snickers!)
Here’s saying goodbye to our lovely first camp north of Kennedy Meadows…
And a bit further on saying adeu to the massive meadow…
In the morning, Dad and I ended up back behind the super hikers of our group, but throughout the day, we would hike on and off with them, always regrouping at various stopping points.
The trail started out gradually going up, but it wasn’t so bad to begin with. A little before 9:00am, we stopped for second breakfast. It looked like a yard sale or something with all of us hanging out our items to dry!
I filled up water for Dave H and I at this beautiful stream junction and then joined the others for breaky.
Once hiking again, the trail increased it’s grade. And the elevation was becoming more noticeable, causing us to go slow and break often. Steady was our mantra. As our dear friend Bob Wiley liked to say, “Baby Steps.”. Baby Steps across the creek…baby steps over the fallen log…baby steps up the mountain!
Here’s a shot of dad’s leg next too a large chunk of Ponderosa Pine bark (I think). These trees are massive and we were amazed by the thickness of the bark.
We did lots of stream crossings like this today. I think this is Cow Creek.
Around 9,000 feet elevation was where we first had snow over the trail, but it wasn’t until later on that it covered the majority of the trail. It was pretty incredible and the views outward were amazing. Meadows far off down below, pine covered forests, and most prominent…the snow covered peaks to the north.
Around 1:00pm, we reached a point where we thought our micro-spikes/crampons would be safer to have on. Rather than bust right into it though, we had our lunch in a snow free patch first. We had a spectacular view looking north.
After lunch, I’d gotten it in my head that it was just a little more to the “peak” for the day, but it seemed a ways that we were still climbing upward. The next stretch was the most difficult traversing along a snow sloped ridge. We had about an hour and half with the spikes on in which we did make it to the highest point for the day and began our decent.
After a while, the snow thinned and the scenery changed. Lots of the rounded boulders that I like so much with a dry gravelly sand, the remnants of weathered rock structures deposited over geologic time. The trees were all needle bearers, mostly pine I think, but a lot of junipers too, and were spread out sparsely through the forest.
I also spotted the Ancient Egyptian Statue that was made to honor Pharoaoh Ramses II…
Then, we crossed this beautiful meadow…
I loved seeing the color range on all of the trees that had lost their bark.
Throughout the day I kept hearing a voice in my head very similar to Dick Vitale’s saying, “Are you serious!? It’s awesome baby!”
Our group made it to a nice open place adjacent to Death Canyon Creek (scary we know) with unlimited flat spaces for us to set up. Dad and I chose a spot a little away amongst some boulders.
We all congregated for dinner!
Conversation varied from the different brand of micro-spikes we had (which Calzone informed us she’d ordered hers from something like sketchychina.com) to hearing about Pop Top’s experience walking the Camino De Santiago.
Dad went to the tent a little earlier after finishing his dinner…this PCT Sierra hiking is no joke and it had him pretty beat at the end of the day. All of us were and had talked about making tomorrow a lighter day. I forgot what time it was that I left the dinner circle, but most seemed to be calling it an evening then. We stuck our bear cannisters a way a bit to create a bear buffet/cornucopia.
Rather than hit the tent like usual, I decided to stay outside to help keep me awake for writing. Plus, it was more comfortable leaning against a rock for a back rest. I stayed out for a while and then found the energy and desire to go climb a rock outcrop before it got too dark. Here was the view from the top.
After climbing down, I went back to my sitting spot and continued writing until after the stars came out. They were pretty good, but not super duper yet. I’ll probably have to stay out later and wait for a night without the moon showing for that!