Day 179 (Oct. 16): Mile 793.1 – 789.1 Again

Leaving the Trail

Beginning Elevation = 10,550
Ending Elevation = 9,200 (Off-PCT)
Elevation Range = 9,200 – 11,950 (Off-PCT)
Weather: Sunny, high of 65°F

Not bad to wake up to eh?

I got going early, maybe around the 6:45amish time frame. I still struggle in the mornings keeping my hands warm without my gloves and so this morning I added a pair of my dirty Darn Tough socks as an additional layer along with my hat and Buff. Inconvenient and uncomfortable, but kept me moving along still being able to use my treking poles.

I had essentially camped at a sort of Glen Pass base camp. Everything from this point forward would be pretty steep uphill until making it over the pass. For me, this was the hardest repeat section to recognize, I just didn’t have any memories of what I was seeing. It wasn’t until things opened up and I saw the bare rock wall, which is the last part up through the pass, that I recognized things.

Unlike our infamous route down from Glen in June, the trail actually stayed off to the left side performing a series of switchbacks. Then, towards the top it made one traverse over to the top ridge. Rather than just pop through, the trail walked flat along the top for a bit and then down the other side.

When we’d gone over the first time we’d gotten separated from Kool-Aid and had ended up much higher than necessary and went down a sketchy loose rock scramble. I was shocked at seeing how steep it all was. While walking this time around, I was reflecting and wondered if that was the reason I hadn’t remembered/recognized the in-between section from here down to Rae Lakes…that I’d been too much inside my head, thinking about the spooky section we’d just done and my role in leading us astray. Yikes, crazy times!

Here’s my “summit” video…

And “summit” pose…

Albus P.W.B Dumbledore – Aresto Momentum, Glen Pass, 9:08am”

And a photo looking back where I’d come from the top…

And, where I would be heading down to next. Here too, our crew had gone pretty straight up, whereas the trail was switchbacking..

It was all downhill from this point to the junction where I’d leave the PCT. I held on to some more of the views while I still could…

And then, I was there, at the spot I’d be leaving the PCT and taking the side trail to Kearsarge Pass, down to the Onion Valley Trailhead, and back to the town of Lone Pine, CA

I’ve really been struggling with this filling up of water thing, both yesterday and today (you’d think I’d be a professional hiker at this point, but apparently not), and so once again I’d planned to take breakfast here, but didn’t have sufficient stores of aqua. And so I kept treking. Unlike my first two times over Kearsarge Pass, I would not be taking the Bullfrog Trail, but instead took a higher route that looked down on Bullfrog Lake rather than travel alongside it’s shore…

I was able to fill up water from a small stream not too much further ahead from here, but rather than stop and partake in my breakfast routine, I decided I’d make it up to the pass first. I got up there around 10:30am or so and enjoyed the wonderful views.

After cooking breakfast, I even got a surprise when a familiar face showed up! Comet, who Cheer, Calzone, and I had dined with back in Sierra City was coming up the Pass to continue his southbound journey of the PCT. Seeing me there, he actually figured out what it meant that I was exiting here, and so was the first to congratulate me on finishing the trail! Hoping to still make it up and over Forester Pass today though, he didn’t stay long and ventured down towards Bullfrog Lake. Meanwhile, I said adieu and cheers to the PCT one last time with my classic coffee mocha latte supreme!

Things were sort of setting in now. I’d left here before to go into town with the intent of coming back, but knew this time I wouldn’t be. I delayed for a bit, but wanted to get down at a decent time, and so after packing up my things, began my walk out.

June 15 (out for resupply):

June 17 (back in, with hopes of conquering the snowy Sierra ):

September 16 (out for the last time):

There are so many beautiful lakes going down from Kearsarge Pass to the Onion Valley Trailhead…

And at one of them near the bottom…

Surprise Suprise!!!

Ok, so it wasn’t a surprise to me that they were going to be there, we’d been in kahoots using our GPS messaging, but I was still shocked that it had all fallen into place and worked out that we could reunite one last time. Cheer had actually camped by the lake the night before and Calzone and her parents had arrived a little bit before me, doing a bit of a day hike up to Little Pothole Lake. I’d seen the crew from up above as I was coming down and couldn’t stop smiling. Having this wonderful greeting was the perfect way to end our 2019 PCT adventures together and I was so very thankful they came to see me finish!

We ended up staying by the lake for a few hours just hanging and catching up. There was even some watercolor painting going on of the picturesque lake, cascading waterfalls, colorful bushes and trees, and thr mountain backdrop…

I was impressed with all of their skills! And I was happy just to sit and snack on some of the goodies that were being offered to me. Eventually, we all walkd down to the trailhead and made plans to meet for dinner down in town. I apparently wasn’t done taking pictures of the beauty even when I’d reached the trailhead…

It was a strange, but great, experience the three of us riding in Cheer’s car together. We would end up hanging the rest of the evening. First, all of us were treated to some tasty barbecue at Copper Top BBQ by the Calzone Team. Good times, great stories. And then, afterwards, the three of us couldn’t stop ourselves from celebrating in our traditional style…with ice cream. We drove all the way to Bishop, jamming to some tunes of course, to visit Good Earth Yogurt.

I kept saying it then when asked, it really hadn’t hit me yet that I’d finished the trail. This all felt normal. It felt like a town/resupply visit and tomorrow we’d get our food and get hiking again. I figured that was a normal way to feel though. Either way, what a way to spend my first evening being off the PCT!

For those following along, I still plan to do a couple more posts on here, showing the last bit of me making my way out of California as well as some reflective thoughts on the whole thing and such…

3 thoughts on “Day 179 (Oct. 16): Mile 793.1 – 789.1 Again

  1. jimnewheights

    Thanks again so much for your diligence with your blogging. I know it took many hours of your time on the trail and in town for resupply. Chris and I spent many a dinner conversation surmising your every turn and climb. The picture of Cheer, Calzone and yourself is quite interesting, a ray of sunshine beaming down on the group. In my surmising or the picture it depicts the entire journey.Thank again Stevie Wonder for the adventure and I look forward to your final thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

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