The Pathway to Pinchot
Beginning Elevation = 9,150
Peak Elevation = 12,106
Ending Elevation = 10,750
Weather: Clear blue sky, only a few clouds, sunny, high of 65°F
Since our tents were practically touching, I heard Snickers moving around about 4:00am. I was able to snooze for another fifteen minutes or so, then began the wake up process of breakfast and pack-up in the dark. I was ready at 5:30am, about the same time that Cheer got up to our camp. She had news from the Pride Lands…
Cheer cowboy camped last night very near to the stream by the trail and already this morning heard/saw a group of 8 hikers go across the river. Didn’t even hesitate, just boom, waded across. The three hikers we were with yesterday evening saw this and crossed also. After a group chat, we still weren’t too excited about crossing there and voted to have the whole team check out the snow bridge.
Around 6:00am, we got going. Here’s saying goodbye to the wonderful view we had at our site (the spot itself wasn’t so wonderful…a bit slanted and lumpy).
Once at the snow bridge we all felt comfortable giving it a go. Kool-Aid rigged up some sort of belay system with my ice axe shoved deep in the snow and our rope. He went first and I belayed him. He had no issues and stayed on top of the hard icy snow. We were so confident after this that we didn’t use the rope. And just like that, we were finally across the White Fork!
Lots of relief and a boost to the team morale. We climbed up and then around the base of a mountain and then down back to the trail. A group of three guys followed our path across the snow bridge too after seeing our successful maneuver. At the trail, we had about a 10 minute break, then continued onward.
We followed along Wood Creek, the big one with the water slide yesterday. It was still raging!
It was very nice to walk along side it rather than have to try getting across. Higher up, we came out to a wider valley and saw yet another frozen lake.
I noticed this darker reddish brown colored mountain too (possibly some iron content?)
The beginning of the day was snow free, but I remember that at 8:30am, so not too far into our hike, we came across our first snow drift pile. Later on, once higher in elevation it once again covered the landscape. It was quite a beautiful setting.
During one of our many breaks, we spotted a wild animal roaming the rock plateau. We were invading his kingdom and he wasn’t too excited that we didn’t’t pay tribute by leaving food behind.
And I spotted this cool looking butterfly way up there at near 12,000 feet.
I ran out of water at some point and everyone else was low too. Luckily, we found this nice trickle!
For most of the day, Kool-Aid led the crew out in front again! Here’s our final push for Pinchot Pass.
Unfortunately, it was quite windy, so rather than get to celebrate with lunch, we kept trucking down the shallow decent and into this wide valley.
Around 2:30pm, we hunkered behind a rock outcrop out of the wind. A good rest was appreciated by all! Eventually, the topic of our plans came up again. The exit via Taboose Pass was about 2 miles ahead. We each went through and expressed our thoughts on the matter after having slept and had a day to process things. Still mixed emotions and such although Snickers was sure he was going out…he felt “over his head,” as he put it. Calzone said she’d be going out too. We figured we’d camp at the trail junction and have a little more time to think things through. So onward we went, and the views were so particularly outstanding as if enticing us to keep going through the wild Sierra.
Kool-Aid found a secret spot near the PCT/Taboose Pass trail junction. It required us to all have a nice cozy cowboy camp sleepover party because apart from our little spot the whole area was covered in a few feet of snow. I chose the upper deck for my sleep area!
During dinner I looked at Guthooks and the various exit options. I make a tentative decision to go out with Snickers and Calzone. These river crossings are no joke and our pace just isn’t quick enough to make it to the next “out” in the time I need. Nevertheless, we tried not to think about it too much and will all make our final decisions in the morning.