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City: Rancho Palos Verdes
Begins: May 9, 2009
Date: Thu, Jun 25th, 2009
Start: South Fork of Kings River
End: Bishop Pass Trail Junction
Daily Distance: 16
Trip Distance: 829.0
Entry Visits: 886
Journal Visits: 132,533
Guestbook Views: 13,620
Guestbook Entrys: 182
My phone batteries are nearly spent so I am now making notes to enter later. That way I can keep the camera capability and use the GPS if needed.
I was up early and tackling the ascent of Mather Pass. There wasn't too much snow until I got within about 500 ft of the summit. Then the trail would disappear for long stretches under snow but there were still large sections of rocks that were clear. The difficulty was the rocks were steep and there were places where the rocks gave way to very loose shale. It was a challenge picking a route and a toss up whether to take on the snow or the rocks. I tried both and preferred the rocks although it was very difficult climbing especially with the backpack. But eventually I made it to the top and let out my now customary yell of excitement and accomplishment. I was alone at the top and it was a tad on the cold side so I didn't stay too long. There was a great view to the north of the Palisades group of peaks all topping out over 14000 ft and the Palisade Lakes below. The climb was worth it just for that view.
The way down was a big snowfield and stretched all the way down past the two lakes. It took most of the morning to get up over the pass and down past the snow. I was so thankful I chose the conservative approach and did not tackle this last night as I would have been ploughing through the snow in the dark.
After the lower Palisade Lake the trail dropped 2600 ft quite quickly. One section was very steep and was a significant trail construction accomplishment. It is known as the Golden Staircase and had many short switchbacks as it descended a steep rock canyon. At one point the switchbacks were so close that I crossed the same small streamlet of water five times. Needless to say the water was going faster than I was. The good news was I was going down as this looked a tough climb for southbound hikers but it was technically quite challenging so going down wasn't very fast. Several times I came close to Deer Creek that was a rushing torrent of the snow melt going through the canyon. I was sure glad I never had to ford this one.
At the bottom the trail turned north and started to climb as it paralleled the Center Fork of the Kings River. The weather wasn't looking too great by this time but I wanted to make it to the Bishop Pass trail junction so that I could get a little more altitude and make tomorrow's climb over Muir Pass a little easier. I got to the trail junction and found an open campsite on a large rock face that I hoped would be less of a mosquito problem than in the trees. It started to rain so I got the tent up really quickly and of course it stopped raining as soon as I had finished. A short mountain shower thankfully. I cooked dinner, got in my sleeping bag and did a little reading on tomorrow's challenge.
Mad Dogs & Englishmen
The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is a 2,650-mile national scenic trail that runs from Mexico to Canada through California, Oregon and Washington. The PCT traverses 24 national forests, 37 wilderness areas and 7 national parks. The PCT passes through 6 out of 7 of North Americas ecozones. Learn more: www.pcta.org
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