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City: Los Angeles
Begins: Apr 22, 2011
Date: Fri, Jun 24th, 2011
Start: Woods Below Forester Pass
End: Ridge Below Kearsarge Pass
Daily Distance: 5
Trip Distance: 789.0
Daily Ascent: 1118
Daily Descent: 1020
Min Elevation: 9500
Max Elevation: 11750
Entry Lat: 36.73064
Entry Lng: -118.37311
Entry Visits: 348
Journal Visits: 35,382
Guestbook Views: 3,325
Guestbook Entrys: 55
Pacific Crest Trail Map
(Click image for full size)
Wooded camp below Forester Pass
Actual miles today were 9.5, but only five were on the PCT. For the stats in this journal, I only count the PCT miles and elevations. The Kearsarge Pass trail is an exit route, but is not part of the Pacific Crest Trail.
Frozen shoes this morning. Snow and ice gave way to patches of trail as we descended to Vidette Meadow, but quickly returned to a blanket of ice as we ascended back up. We lose the trail repeatedly and move mostly by route finding from one GPS waypoint to the next, checking and orienting by map and compass.
The Kearsarge trail junction sign was fallen over in the middle of a frozen pond of snow melt runoff. As it was fallen, we could no longer trust its arrows as directions to hint at the trail. We ate lunch on a clear spot a hundred feet above the fallen over junction sign and then continued to press forward.
I told Solar Sam I would go out farther to point and he said, "Look for signs of the trail."
Within 200 yards, I stopped and started laughing uproariously. "Sam, Sam," I called, "You've got to come see this."
Sam crossed the snow to me and there he saw another junction sign, this time perfectly upright and pointing out several trail directions.
"How's this for signs of the trail?" I asked.
We continued to route find along and only occasionally made out the Kearsarge Trail. At one point we had to climb 500 feet up and over a rocky buttress because a steep snow field had obscurred the trail completely, so steep we would have needed ropes and protection to cross at the point of the trail. Kilroy led the way back down the rocky buttress to where the trail should have been if it weren't hidden under so much snow.
Ran into C-Train and then Rhino and Wet Sheep on their way back in. They were loaded down with food. It will be slow going. Our pace is down to a mile or less per hour. Sometimes, we are lucky to get half a mile an hour.
Finally, we made it to the exposed, sandy switchbacks below Kearsarge Pass and we climbed up. There were three hikers at the top who were heading back in. I didn't catch their names. It was late and we needed to camp soon. The hikers told us there were flat spots for camping on the ridge about a mile and a half down from the pass. They also said the snowfield was soft enough that we needn't put on spikes. I thought we should probably put on our spikes at the pass, but instead I listened to three hikers. I should have kept my own counsel. When they came up, the ridge was bathed in sunlight, now with the rapidly spreading sun, the ridge was bathed in shadow. The trail was icing up beneath my feet with every step we took as we descended from 11,700 foot Kearsarge Pass. It made for a treacherous descent, fortunately, we all made it safely to the rock and set up our tents.
I made dinner in my tent and then listened all night long as the tent flapped in the wind whipping up the pass. We are camped at over 11,000 feet.