Hiking With Jason

Detached From Reality

Day 46: Getting high on the PCT

Day 46 – 6/6/16

Mile 775.3 to just before Glenn Pass 790.0

Total miles: 14.7 miles

Today was the day. Up Forester pass. The pass that I’ve been looking forward to for over a year.  We had camped around 11,400 feet and had to climb to 13,200 feet. The highest point on the Pacific Crest Trail. Mount Whitney technically isn’t on the PCT so it doesn’t count. We were up and moving by 5:20 am. We had 5 miles to go to get over the pass.

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We left the last bit of trees and started to cross wet grass and dirt. The snow was melting fast and flooding the trail. We could see Forester off in the distance.

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20 minutes later we met up with Flap Jack and Hiccup. A couple from South Africa. They were camped with another guy named Amoeba that we hadn’t met before. They were set up right before the snow fields so we all sat down and put on our microspikes. Flap Jack was excited to try out his and was amazed at how well they work. He said it was like velcro.
We set off across the snow fields and headed for the pass with no idea where the trail was. It was covered in snow.

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We came across a creek that we had to leap across.

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Every once in a while I could hear rushing water under me. We crossed a couple ice bridges too.

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We met up with Swag and we were taking a rest on some rocks. 5 Star and I mentioned how sick we were of constantly smelling weed. And how we get it if you smoke occasionally or in a social gathering but the hikers who light up every couple hours have a problem. As we were talking about this we get hit in the nose with a very strong scent of weed. Someone was camping right above us where there is a frozen alpine lake. The timing was too perfect. Who gets stoned before going over one of the more dangerous passes? All it takes is a small slip and you can fall while crossing the snow chute or traversing across the snow that is on a steep slope.

The microspikes made walking on the snow quick work. We made it to the base of the pass and could see the switchbacks above us. The snow completely covered the trail leading to them and the first few so we had to just go straight up the snow or create our own.

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Slowly we made our way up to the switchbacks that were not covered in snow.

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We came up to the last switchback and came up to the snow chute.

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The snow chute was always hyped up to be sketchy but after doing Whitney and having to go across similar crossings it wasn’t too bad. The snow was very compact which made it easier to cross.

After the snow chute there are a couple more quick switchbacks before reaching the top. The last bit was blocked by a cornice and we had to go straight up 10 feet of snow. The snow was basically vertical and we had to kick steps into the snow and hold our poles low and jab it into the snow.

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Finally we made it to the top. 13,200 feet.

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5 Star, Swag, and I were waiting for Flap Jack and Hiccup but they still hadn’t crossed the snow chute and the snow was starting to soften. We decided to take off down the pass since the softer the snow the harder it is to cross. Postholing is not fun.

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We got to a spot where it seemed it was mostly the trail and no snow so 5 star and I took off our microspikes. Then we rounded a corner and there was a bunch of snow to go down. Great. I walk across the snow and see where people have glissaded down. I could see the smoothed out lines in the snow where they sat and slid down the hill. 5 Star goes first with out any issues. I go second and I build up too much speed and tumble over as I come to a stop. I suck at glissading. Swag goes next with out any issues.

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We continue down through the snow but it’s getting softer and I’m starting to posthole. A few times I go all the way down past my knee and I have to dig my way out. It is very tiring and slow moving when the snow is like this. That is why we set up for the pass so we could cross is while the snow was still hard from the freeze at night.

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We finally made it back into the trees and somewhat out of the snow. There was still patches of soft snow under the trees. Along with a wet and muddy trail. Although, there is water everywhere. I never have to worry about water since it is everywhere I look. Swag takes off since he wants to get into town via Kearsarge pass as quickly as possible.

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We come up to a creek that is rushing pretty quickly. Upstream about 50 feet is a fallen tree that we can cross. Definitely don’t want to fall in because it would be the last mistake I ever made as I was swept down the creek.

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We continue downwards along the soaking muddy trail. It seemed as if every 5 minutes I had to stop and take a picture. The trees, water, and mountains are just amazing. Every thing is so picturesque.

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We stop at 11 for a break and lunch. We only had 3 miles to go for the day to set up for Glenn Pass. We sit in the shade eating lunch when we see Mad Dog walk by. We have been seeing him since we left Kennedy Meadows. He comes over and sits with us. He isn’t sure if he wants to go all the way to Vermillion Valley Resort or jump out over Kearsarge Pass in a couple miles. He does an inventory check and thinks he could make it to VVR but would have no food the day going in. He says he’ll decide when he gets to the trail to go over Kearsarge.

Amoeba walks up and sits down by us. We ask him if he is going over Kearsarge. He says yes. I ask him if he wants to make $5 each from 5 Star, Mad Dog, and I. All he has to do is haul out our trash bag. I had a gallon ziplock of trash and so did 5 Star. He agreed and was happy to make an easy $15.

Flap Jack and Hiccup show up shortly after. We ask sit and talk for a couple hours. Flap Jack and Hiccup also are going over Kearsarge and getting picked up by a friend and going into Lone Pine. I’m sad that I probably won’t see them again. We have been seeing them since the awesome trail magic at Chimney Creek.

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5 Star and I get up to slowly do our last 3 miles. We are in no rush and are just burning day light. The last 3 miles are also all uphill. We decide that the slower the better. We immediately come across a few creek crossings one right after another. We cross all of them without getting our feet wet until the last one. We look up and down stream but don’t see an option. Finally I say screw it and just plow through the ice cold water.

We continue slowly up hill. Mad Dog catches up while we are resting under some shade. I tell him he can pass since I’m going to claim the tree giving us shade. 5 Star and him walk off while I water the tree. I slowly follow them and after 10 minutes 5 Star sits on a rock and Mad Dog continues on. I sit down and 5 Star asks if I’m hot since I still have on my thermal bottoms. I say yes and that I’m going to take them off. Amoeba walks by as I’m undoing my shoes. I pull off my shorts and pull off my long underwear. I grab my shorts to put on when Flap Jack and Hiccup walk up. Flap Jack gives me a woo and I tell him it’s hike naked day. He responds that it isn’t 6/21. 5 Star tells him that I’m only practicing. I put my shorts on and the couple sits down. Hiccup says she doesn’t feel good so 5 Star gives her a pouch of Gatorade mix. We sit in the shade talking about food for about 20 minutes. 5 Star and I really want pizza and can’t wait for Mammoth. We already have a pizza place picked out that delivers. We all get up and slowly make our way up. 5 Star and I follow much slower and before too long the couple is out of sight.

The sights are out of this world though.

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We get a good view of the valley we just came across down from Forester.

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Off in the distance we see a ledge with a giant cornice. It would be sweet to see that topple over. If only one of those flyboys would come by just over it.

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We round a corner and see Mad Dog. Guess he’s going to VVR. We start crossing some soft snow and make our way up as close to the pass as we can. We come up to a small area not covered in snow that has just enough room for three people to cowboy camp. I drop my stuff and scout ahead to see if there is anything up ahead but everything is rock and snow.

I pull put my pad, take off my shirt, and lay down for 30 minutes. 5 star sets up his 5 Star sleeping accommodations and so I get up and start munching on my chips.

Then we see a pika run up near us and start munching away at nearby grass. Soooo cute! I wanted to pick him up, pet him, and carry him to Canada with me on my shoulder.

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Tomorrow we go over Glenn which is a mile away and then line up for our next pass. Pichon pass.

My fingers are ice cold  while typing this.

9 Comments

  1. Many thanks for your lovely photos, and thanks to 5 Star for the trail magic for Hiccup! (Flap Jacks’ dad).

  2. Jeremy Gutierrez-Jensen

    June 14, 2016 at 10:38 pm

    Such amazing views. Truly breathtaking. The pika looks like a Pokémon. Like a pikach- ohhhhhhhhhhh

  3. awesome photos and stories – keep the updates coming

  4. So beautiful. Would love to go there if there were real 5 star accomadations.

  5. Incredible!

  6. The photos are incredible!!. I am really enjoying your blog.

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