That Grand Canyon Feeling
Beginning Elevation = 10,850
Peak Elevation = 11,400
Ending Elevation = 11,300
Weather: Sunny, high of 65°F
We were five minutes behind schedule for our 6:30am start time. Once going though, we started out with a good pace. The whole day would be filled with amazing views.
The snow was nice and crunchy, the way we like it, allowing us to walk on top of it without falling through. Kool-Aid led the way, our seasoned mountaineering guide through the Sierra!
The trail went down for a while. We got this warm up view…
And then another…
About three miles in or so we reached the first of what would be three stream crossings for the day. This first one was Wallace Creek. After searching up and down stream with little success, we ended up wading across right where the trail does. It was so very cold.
Once all safely on the other side, we had a breakfast stop and at least an attempt to dry out. After enjoying my oatmeal and coffee mocha creation, I went to fill up some water from the creek and saw a lone hiker on the opposite side getting ready to cross. It was none other than our man Snickers! After he successfully forded the stream, he joined us at our break spot and told his tale.
Ultimately, he opted to forgo the Mount Whitney hike. I was sad it didn’t work out for him, but happy he would be joining us going forward. He was very determined, but in the end felt it would be unsafe to go without a group that might have someone with more experience. Snickers believes PopTop joined with some folks to go for the summit. We’re hoping she made it!
Our squad of 6 took off from Wallace Creek and followed the trail as it shot right back up. But what a rewarding overlook at the top!
Next up was the crossing of Wright Creek. This one had us stuck for a bit. First try, we crossed over some logs to an island, but to make it to the other side we would have to go over another log that was slick from water splashing. Dave H ended up going across, but after he did, the rest of the group decided we weren’t too comfortable with it. The alternative option was to trek upstream and find something better. We did just that. Dad followed along on the opposite bank looking for potential crossings as well.
It was slow going until we made it out to this flat area. Pretty amazing looking all around. Eventually, about .5 miles or so, we found a relatively shallow crossing and waded to the other side. We also met a young couple here, Leah and Daniel, who crossed just after us. They’re from near Toronto and we’d end up seeing them and hiking with them quite a bit over the next couple days.
I think it might’ve been around 1:30pm or so at this point and I was once again getting quite hungry not having stopped for our lunch break yet. Rather than stop on the opposite bank though, we continued on to find the trail again. We actually made it work pretty good, our detour upstream didn’t take us much out of the way seeming as the trail followed along the river somewhat.
At this point Kool-Aid wanted us to keep pushing to get over our “peak” for the day, which he knew was quite barren without trees. The afternoons are known to have pop up storms and his hope was to get up and over before one potentially came upon us. Sound advice, but I ended up saying to the group that I planned to stop and eat. My energy was drained. The team decided they’d stop too, and so we had our lunch by a little stream.
Afterwards, we climbed gradually up to quite the spectacle. We traversed across a rounded, almost flat topped mountain, with the snowy Sierra giants surrounding us. I don’t really know how to describe it other than it reminded me of when I saw the Grand Canyon…it kind of knocks you back and makes you just stare in awe and the grand size of it all. Truly remarkable. And just so strange that dad and I are in this crazy landscape that is so vast and remote. I mean we’re not super hikers normally, but there we were in the middle of it all!
It was a bit difficult for us to keep moving on without stopping to look around. But, we still hoped to get to our camp at a decent time and we were gaining miles slowly once again.
We do a lot of taking off and on crampons/micro-spikes for the various conditions we hike in. Kind of a pain sometimes, but these things do wonders for traction in the right conditions.
Very near our goal for camp that night, we came across one last obstacle, Tyndall Creek. I think most of us were pretty tired again at this point, and a bit disgruntled at the thought of hiking upstream to cross again. But the spot near the trail, a log a across a partial snow bridge that had been cut under, was pretty sketchy. So walking along the river we went once again.
After about a half mile, we came to this spot…
We did not end up going over this snow bridge, but instead did one last wade across just a bit upstream. Having our shoes, socks, and feet being a tad wet from sloshing around the snow wasn’t enough, so we thought we’d give em a nice soaking prior to camp.
And what a camp it was. There were very few snow free spots here, just a few exposed rocky areas. And so thats where we all squeezed together. Our Canadian friends went up into the trees, but we were joined by another hiker, Numbers, who has hiked all three of the most known United States long distance trails. This camp site wasn’t the most comfortable, lots of rocks and slanted, but it did have one of the best views!
It was a cold dinner outside the tent.
So cold in fact and after such a tiring day that dad retired into his tent immediately after setup and cooked from his vestibule. Kool-Aid called him a hibernating marmot, which I thought might be a decent trail name, or possibly just marmot for short, but we’ll see if that one sticks.
We are all super pumped and ready to tackle the mighty Forester Pass tomorrow! We plan to leave our “base camp” very early, around 4:30am or so!