Miles: 784- 788.5 + 8 miles to trailhead.
Tough morning! Woke up in an amazing camp next to a raging mountain river and no one around! No mosquitos at this elevation! After a quick decent down to 9500 ft, the trail started climbing steeply up the side of the canyon. We weren't feeling very strong this morning so the climb up to the trail junction felt really hard....we hadn't had our breakfast yet! We reached the junction where we turned to go to Kearsarge Pass and stopped shorty after at Bullfrog Lake for breakfast.
The view of and from the lake was spectacular! The water of Bullfrog Lake was the most amazing blue and crystal clear in the shallow parts. After breakfast we started the 1000 ft climb up to Kearsarge Pass...easy. We could see all of the mountains we had been walkin through for the past couple days. These mountains inspire adventure! Just looking at them excited me to an indescribable point. They are so breathtakingly beautiful and inspiring. So much romance.
The walk down the other side to the trail was beautiful, but seemed like it was never going to end. Down down down down down! The trail was busy with weekend backpackers and thru-hikers that were coming back to the trail from their town visits and there were lots of passing chats. Once we finally reached the onion valley trailhead, the parking lot was crowded with hikers lookin for rides into town. We sat in the scorching sun for about an hour before a couple came back from a day hike and agreed to drive us to Independence where our boxes were waiting for us at the motel.
We collected our boxes from the motel and the chevron and hit the road again to hitch to a bigger town with more options. We couldn't make up our minds weather to go to Lone Pine or Bishop so Glitter Bug stood on one side of the highway and I on the other and we left it up to whoever got a ride first. Glitter Bug obviously got a ride first with her good looks so we ended up coming to Lone pine and got a cheap room at the Dow Villa.
Lone Pine is a cute small town that draws it's fame from all the old western films that have been filmed in and around the town. We threw our stuff in the room and went across the street to get some pizza. After pizza we went and lounged by the pool where a new friend made us a guava and rum drink. There is a surprising amount of tourists that come to this town and our friends at the pool are here for a golf tournament and weekend adventures away from their homes in LA.
We showered up and I borrowed some clothes from the front desk so Glitter Bug and I could go out to a nice dinner to celebrate our engagemet! The dinner was out of our budget for sure, but it was delicious! We thought we could eat anything with our hiker appetites, but we were shut down quickly by the rich food...leftovers! We had plans to meet friends at the local bars, but 9:30 rolled around and we went to bed hahah. Great day, great town, great food! Feels good to relax and be clean for a day!
Miles: lone Pine
FOOD: breakfast at Alabama Hills, delicious!!!! And dinner burgers at Mt Whitney restaurant.
Ah, how amazing it was to wake up in a real bed! And we slept in until 730ish!!!
We like Lone Pine more than we expected so we're happy we the day here. Even though we had plans to leave in the afternoon/evening and they didn't happen, I was happy to have a zero and spend the day catching up with people and lounging by the pool.
I had a huge list of people to call that wanted an update about the engagement. It was fun telling everyone the story and catching up with friends but every time I talk to lots of my Portland friends, I miss portland so, so, sooo much.
I Iove a nice relaxing zero day!!
(First day with not one single picture to share!!!)
Miles: 789-800 + 8 mile Kearsarge trail
I had the weirdest dreams sleeping on the Baseball diamond in Lone Pine, restless sleep. Glitter Bug hardly slept at all and was very tired all day. We got a quick hitch with a very nice guy named Phil who also picked up Strawberry just before picking us up. Phil wanted to go see the trailhead anyway and decided to drive us all the way to the onion valley campground. Phil was a Stanford alumni and seemed to have every impressive title you could have: MD, biochemist, physicist for NASA, and now wants to be an environmental scientist of some sort....smart guy. Strawberry was feeling very tired so we ended up leaving him behind early in the hike, which is very unusual because Strawberry is a speedy ultralight guy.
It was a very slow morning with a late start to our hike. We went over an easy pass with only a small snow field to navigate and started a descent down into the beautiful Rae Lakes basin. We stopped at Middle Rae Lake for lunch where I tried out my new fishing set up that I picked up in Lone Pine. I got an ultra light colapsable pole and reel for super cheep! After some tinkering and relearning how to tie and bait a hook I gave a few casts. After the third cast I reeled in a beautiful rainbow trout! It's been a long time since I have caught and killed a fish so that whole experience was really intense for me. I thanked the fish as I cut off its head to end it quickly. I later remembered that cleaning it is much easier if the head is stil on hahahah.
We were above ten thousand feet so a fire wasn't allowed (we have broke this rule a couple times...oopsy) so we boiled the fish real quick and it made for a great addition to our lunch by the incredibly beautiful blue-green Rae Lake. We had intentions of putting in another 10 before camp, but only made it 7 before we were exhausted and the sun was behind the tall jagged peaks surrounding the valley we were descending. We made it to a really cool suspension bridge where a large camp was with a bunch of thru hikers. We saw Dewey and Masshole for the first time since Big Bear and there was much rejoicing. Strawberry came into camp shortly after we got there, we had been wondering what happened to him. It felt like a very long day and after a quick dinner with Strawberry, we went to bed. The ground was level and comfy, which made for the best night sleep! This wilderness never gets old. I find myself wanting to stop and camp at every turn and explore every side canyon and valley. The only anxiety I feel out here is the anxiety of leaving such beauty behind....but there is alway so much more all around and ahead. Loving this life so much!
Goal: conquer Pinchot Pass and Mathers Pass... succeeded!!
Elevation points: 8550->12100->10050->12000->10000
How many times Amy had to take her shoes off for creek crossings: 6
This section of the Sierras is full of passes and today we did two of them. Not only is the elevation gain a little challenging, the way down is usually pretty tricky and takes a lot of time (especially with me). I'm not super comfortable in snow and/or boulder fields and on the north the side of these passes we usually have to posthole in the snow and climb over boulders for a mile or so. Pinchot pass was a breeze. Long easy ascent, and totally fine on the north side too. Mathers, which is said to be the scariest (not sure why), was fine on the approach but getting down was nerve wracking because it was later in the afternoon and we were postholing every step so we decided to go down the boulder fields instead... Which takes me foreverrrr and makes me frustrated.
We got to camp and I was so excited to sit down and eat. It felt like we did 25 miles but really we only did 19. I guess that's what happens in the Sierras!
We are hoping to get close to Muir Pass tomorrow and meet Bryan! It's going to to be great to have a friend join us on the trail!!
Woke up late! Descended down to the turn off to Muir pass. Rolled my ankle pretty bad. Swam in a freezing river. Dark clouds rolled in right after I got out of the water. Started lightning and thundering so we set up camp early before the pass. Fun cozy evening in the tent playing cards, eating, breaking rules, and finally getting to read my book that I have been carrying for the entire trip. Our tent worked great and it felt good to be dry while the hail/snow/rain came down outside. I told Bryan that we would be to the pass by today at noon.....oops. We will be late l, but I hope to see Bryan tomorrow! Muir pass and hopefully meeting Bryan in the morning!!!
Swimming: frigid middle fork of the kings river.
Weather: rain/ snow/ hail, cold winds, and lightning and thunder.
Games: rummy 500
Miles: 834- 856
Weather: thunder storm and showers!
Goal: Muir pass and find Yum!! (Bryan)
The storm from last night cleared up and we woke up to blue skies and sunshine! The top of Muir Pass was only three miles from our camp so we had a nice early start to prevent postholing, or so we thought. The south side of Muir wasn't too snowy and Boombox navigated our route perfectly, of course. The hut on top of Muir was so beautiful that we could've spent hours there! Yum had left a note on the hut that said "Boombox and glitterbug, can you dig it?! Evolution lake or McClure tonight :) yum! " and the chase began....
The north side was a but tricky so we kept moving so we could get out of the damn snow. Right when we started our descent, we saw three hikers that were on their way up hiking on the snow fields to the left which confused us and we got a little off trail.
Boombox was sick of postholing and plopped down on a rock demanding that it was breakfast time (our favorite break!).
While we ate, we looked over and spotted the trail! All was good from there, we made it out of the snow, around the lakes and down into the beautiful meadows.
All day we thought we were right behind Yum and we asked people if they had seen a dude with a dark beard, tall, super sexy, probably wearing a Hawaiin shirt.... And everyone convinced us they had seen Yum and he was "fishing at the creek" or " just a quarter mile ahead!" Or "9 miles ahead by the river" so we realized that we should just continue our hike and we'd see him when we'd see him. After feeling a bit defeated with the chase, we found a nice, mosquito crazy spot by the South fork of the San Joaquin river and went fell asleep to the sound of frogs and rushing water.
Miles: 856- 878
We started the day with a disapointing hike down to Muir Trail Ranch to find some hotsprings. Just before turning off the PCT to go down to the ranch, we saw a bear! A cute black bear that peaked its fluffy head around a tree to check out what we were up to. We went down to the ranch and couldn't find the hotsprings, which left us without a soak and a huge mile and a half climb back to the PCT. Our frustration drove us up the huge climb to the PCT and up the rest to the heart lake area very quickly.
We stopped for lunch where I got to plunge Ito the heart of the sierras and swim in Heart Lake. There were rocks to jump from and sun to dry off in. The water was amazing and the early lunch was delicious. By Bryan's notes we knew he stayed at wart lake the night before, but we knew he would be gone by then. We pushed on over Seldon pass and Monkey Leg pointed out another note and another clue to te search for Bryan.
This note was dated with a time and we found out with much excitement that we were only 2 hours behind our friend. With the good news we excitedly dropped into the next valley that was littered with an incredible network of connected lakes and islands. We strikes up a furious pace as we raced on to catch the elusive YUM. We hiked along a raging river with hundreds of jaw dropping blue-green pools and tere he was!! We spotted Yum lounging by the river on a break and there was much rejoicing in a reunion.
The rest of the day was spent walking with a very nice easy pace and catching up with our way bud, Bryan. It almost felt as though we were on vacation from the trail and jut on a leisurely stroll on a weekend backpacking trip. We made camp near mono creek steel bridge just before the VVR turn off and had a fire during dinner. We shared stories, whiskey, and laughs at te em of a wonderful day. It's good to be with Bryan and we look forward to walking the next couple days with him.