This blog post covers the PCT stretch from the Kearsarge Pass junction, PCT Mile 789.1 (the bottom of the redline in the picture below), to Red's Meadow, PCT Mile 906.6 (the top red pin in the picture below). The 117 mile stretch also required an additional 7 mile hike from the Onion Valley parking lot over Kearsarge Pass to the Kearsarge Pass Junction on the PCT.
For the 124 mile hike (117 PCT miles) I packed the following:
● 7 boxes of mac and cheese
● 7 packages of #bumblebeetuna
● 7 packages of ramen
● 5 packages of instant mashed potatoes
● 2 packages of oats and chocolate trail mix
● 24 Clif bars
● 6 Hershey chocolate bars
● 16 Poptart pastries
● 6 5-hour energy shots
● 3/4 jar of powdered Tang
● 1.9 POUNDS of Sour Patch Kids (I've never even seen a package this big, so I pulled the trigger)
● 1 package of baby wipes
To date, for me, this was the most physically challenging stretch so far. The challenge was part food carry, part elevation change, part altitude, part snow, part mosquitoes.
Over eight days and nights I crossed the following mountain passes:
- Kearsarge Pass (11,778 feet)
- Glen Pass (11,949 feet)
- Mather Pass (12,093 feet)
- Muir Pass (11,969 feet)
- Selden Pass (10,912 feet)
- Silver Pass (10,781 feet)
Crossing one pass also meant desceding thousands of feet in elevation to the valley below before ascending again to another pass.
I encountered some drizzles on the day leading up to and of Muir Pass. Nothing worth more than a mention in passing, but I did hget out the rain cover for my bag for the first time.
On Friday I counted 25 mosquito bites on my left hand alone. These creatures are ruthless. They're not everywhere in the Sierra, but when you encounter them, run if you can. My mistake was losing my bug spray mid week. Eventually I learned that globbing on sunscreen works well enough in a pinch.
While these bugs added a negative element to the hike, I won't foresake them. Instead I'll draw a parallel by quoting John Muir on the topic of poison oak:
"Like most other things not apparently useful to man, it has few friends, and the blind question, "Why was it made?" goes on and on with never a guess that first of all it might have been made for itself. "
Above 11,000 feet, which happened frequently this week, snow meant slow goings. On the ascent and descent of the mountain passes above this elevation I don't thnk I averaged more than 1 mph.
Postholing, the act of falling through packed snow was a semi regular experience. And quite frankly it can be dangerous once you've lost the trail in the snow (which happened frequently) and scrape the jagged rocks below.
Snow also meant snow bridges, a trail on top of packed snow, on top of running water.
Lakes for days.
More River Crossings
On two occasions the trail led through a waist high river. But on the many other accounts, typically people would cross via fallen tree, jump rocks, or just get their feet wet.