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Archive for June 20th, 2006

Destination: Just south of Bishop Pass Trail
Starting Location: Wrong side of the Kings River
Today’s Miles: 15.50
Trip Miles: 831.80
South Fork Kings River (814, 10,623) to Just South of Bishop Pass trail (830.5, 8590) ascent (2865) descent (5010)
Well we did walk to the headwaters & when we finally turned to head up the pass, the south fork of the raging King River was completely suspended in an enormous seasonal glacier. We just walked across it.
Okay I finally understand mountain climbing’s appeal. Mather Pass was covered in snow & tracks indicated that a newly direct ascent via the SW bowl was doable. With crampons & ice axe I headed straight up. The pattern was hypnotic. Kick step, plant ice axe, breathe, sweat, heart beat, . . . kick step . . . I really enjoyed the climb up and the gear worked great. I was confident in my footing & the axe was always planted. Just before the top I had to do some crawling over boulders which is always difficult with a pack but I was amazed at the strength my legs have developed. With a foot high on a ledge above me, I could straighten that leg & life the whole program. Very cool. At the top the wind had created a lip on the cornice so the slope was actually greater than 90% as it “lipped” over. Others had kicked steps however & I got right across. Mather was by far the most technical pass, but our snow timing was excellent & I did well.
I upped my calories significantly last night & this morning. That will likely mean I will be on fumes by the time we hit Vermilion Valley Resort (VVR) & our next resupply. I am pretty sure the extra food made the difference today. I am really beat, but damn yesterday I thought I was going to die of exhaustion.
Below Palasades lakes we finally got some clear trail & the golden staircase below the lakes was a series of beautiful water falls running down the trail.
When we actually hit the trail again we all celebrated & shouted. The days of snow travel had built up a lot of emotion & to be rid of snow even for a little while was cause for celebration.
Came around a corner below Deer Meadow & there he was. A huge cinnamon bear. Given the size I am presuming it was a male. He was in great shape, with a shiny coat & probably weighed in around 350 – 400 lbs. He took a look at me & then he was gone. And I mean gone . . . disappeared in a matter of seconds. It has been a long time since I have seen a bear while hiking on the PCT & I am super grateful that I saw one today. Bears are just cool.
We hiked late (7:30) to get set up for Muir Pass tomorrow. We are still 7 miles away & I think we are going to be late going over. That could mean hours on the stair step machine that is the PCT under soft snow.
I walked the last several hours into dusk alone. We are in Le Conte canyon & the middle fork of the Kings is in total flood stage. An enormous avalanche complete with car sized boulders & very large trees has completely obliterated the trail. Walking through this area certainly demonstrates the ongoing power of natural forces.
Destination: Just south of Bishop Pass Trail
Starting Location: Wrong side of the Kings River
Today’s Miles: 15.50
Trip Miles: 831.80
South Fork Kings River (814, 10,623) to Just South of Bishop Pass trail (830.5, 8590) ascent (2865) descent (5010)
Well we did walk to the headwaters & when we finally turned to head up the pass, the south fork of the raging King River was completely suspended in an enormous seasonal glacier. We just walked across it.
Okay I finally understand mountain climbing’s appeal. Mather Pass was covered in snow & tracks indicated that a newly direct ascent via the SW bowl was doable. With crampons & ice axe I headed straight up. The pattern was hypnotic. Kick step, plant ice axe, breathe, sweat, heart beat, . . . kick step . . . I really enjoyed the climb up and the gear worked great. I was confident in my footing & the axe was always planted. Just before the top I had to do some crawling over boulders which is always difficult with a pack but I was amazed at the strength my legs have developed. With a foot high on a ledge above me, I could straighten that leg & life the whole program. Very cool. At the top the wind had created a lip on the cornice so the slope was actually greater than 90% as it “lipped” over. Others had kicked steps however & I got right across. Mather was by far the most technical pass, but our snow timing was excellent & I did well.
I upped my calories significantly last night & this morning. That will likely mean I will be on fumes by the time we hit Vermilion Valley Resort (VVR) & our next resupply. I am pretty sure the extra food made the difference today. I am really beat, but damn yesterday I thought I was going to die of exhaustion.
Below Palasades lakes we finally got some clear trail & the golden staircase below the lakes was a series of beautiful water falls running down the trail.
When we actually hit the trail again we all celebrated & shouted. The days of snow travel had built up a lot of emotion & to be rid of snow even for a little while was cause for celebration.
Came around a corner below Deer Meadow & there he was. A huge cinnamon bear. Given the size I am presuming it was a male. He was in great shape, with a shiny coat & probably weighed in around 350 – 400 lbs. He took a look at me & then he was gone. And I mean gone . . . disappeared in a matter of seconds. It has been a long time since I have seen a bear while hiking on the PCT & I am super grateful that I saw one today. Bears are just cool.
We hiked late (7:30) to get set up for Muir Pass tomorrow. We are still 7 miles away & I think we are going to be late going over. That could mean hours on the stair step machine that is the PCT under soft snow.
I walked the last several hours into dusk alone. We are in Le Conte canyon & the middle fork of the Kings is in total flood stage. An enormous avalanche complete with car sized boulders & very large trees has completely obliterated the trail. Walking through this area certainly demonstrates the ongoing power of natural forces.
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