PCT 2020 Day 4: Mile 812.4 – 828.4

Beyond the Wall

Beginning Elevation = 10,400

Ending Elevation = 8,250

Elevation Range = 8,050 – 12,100

Weather: Sunny, clear, and hot

During pre-trip scheming sessions together, our team came up with a tentative plan of trying to cover this 125 mile section in about 8 days, or possibly getting into town midday on the 9th day. So, that’s what each of us used to guide our food supply efforts. That calculates out to an average of 15 miles per day. Those of you following along may have noticed, we weren’t really reaching that daily goal thus far. In fact, for our first three days the high Sierra had been kicking our butts and we’d averaged 10.4 miles per day. So, after some chatting last night, we concluded we’d have to see how day 4 went. We knew we had to kick it in gear and cover some miles, and if we managed to, we figured we still might be able to pull it off. If instead we continued our pace of only 10 miles/day, we figured we’d likely need to check out some alternate options or “bail out” trails.

So that was on our minds going into today…

We kicked things off with an early start of 7:00am. Here’s an interesting little time lapse I took of breaking down camp, cooking/eating breakfast, filtering water, and packing up (basically the morning routine)…

We had a great morning! The trail was kind to us in that it wasn’t very steep terrain and after only a short hike, made it into the sun and wide expansive views!

We crossed the South Fork Kings River a few different times and my wannabe photographer instincts couldn’t pass up the moment of attempting to capture the pinkish purple wildflowers adjacent to the river with a mountain-backdrop. Don’t think I succeeded all that well, but it wasn’t due to a lack of effort.

And…here’s a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into taking an epic shot like that. You can see why I’m known in the photography world as “Crouching Tiger.”

Onward we marched towards the wall of Mather Pass…

And then started the ascent up the beast. Can you spot Cheer up ahead?

Here’s the view from the last push, looking back at the gradual approach we’d walked this morning (you can still see Pinchot Pass if you know where to look 🙂 )…

Getting closer to the “summit!”

We conquerred it! And I was quite exhausted…

After a little break though, I was ready to celebrate with the squad…

I found some flowers hiding up there too…

The team morale was quite high as we started our descent towards the beautiful Palisade Lakes. It was a little after 11:00am and we hoped to take a nice lunch break near the farther of the two lakes’ shore.

This was a pretty neat section of trail. We walked pretty high up above the lake seeing as it was a smooth steep slope/cliff down to it. It’s pretty incredible how they can carve a trail out of sheer rock. I would love to know the story of how they did it!

I think we made it to our lunch spot around 1:00pm. We set out our tents and ground cover sheets on this flat-ish rock to dry from the condensation last night, but had to make sure everything was weighted down by rocks due to the wind.

Ants were attacking as well, but we held them off. All three of us even went for another chilly high alpine lake swim too! Overall, a wonderful break in an outstanding setting.

Once going again, we followed along Palisade Creek, which at first had a cool little canyon-like area it had carved out. We’d follow along going parallel to the creek for the next 7 or so miles, not always seeing it, but we’d connect off and on again at various points.

Our next significant feature of the day was the Golden Staircase. We’d heard about it from some hikers traveling sobo who had said it was a brutal climb for them. We were happy to be going down once it came into view.

I had remembered this spot from before, but didn’t know it had a name since I was traveling solo then and wasn’t seeing very many other hikers at all. It’s quite adequately named we thought. The carved out series of switchbacks was another super impressive work of art made by the trail creators! Before starting down, I took this picture of the valley we’d be walking down into…

And then, we went for it…

This was a pretty brutal stretch actually. The downhill in direct view of the hot sun was taking its toll. I personally remember struggling here probably the most of any part thus far and was so thankful when we finally reached some shade from the forest…

At this point it was getting later into evening and we were all exhausted. Even so, our team rallied and continued on to the junction where we met the Middle Fork of the Kings River. We pushed on even further just hoping for a flat spot to camp at and ended up pitching our tents off to the edge of Grouse Meadows…a truly lovely place.

What a full day! We covered 16 miles overtop another one of the major passes and we were proud of it. That being said, we went to sleep knowing that tomorrow would be even harder if we were to keep our momentum going. The morning trek would be a 10 mile climb up nearly 4,000 feet in elevation to Muir Pass and the Muir Shelter! Oh my stars for the love of Lyza!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s