Monthly Archives: June 2013

Day 60, Mile 906.7 – The High Sierra Photo Post!

The High Sierra is more beautiful than I can describe. I truly lack the language to convey the feeling of being in this wilderness. Although photos can *help* illustrate what it is like to be out there (and I’m sorry I’m no professional photographer), they still somehow fall short of duplicating the feeling of wonder and awe that comes from wandering through this magical place. In an effort to share as much of it as possible with you, this post will primarily be photos of the wild landscape we have been backpacking in for the past two weeks.

We have reached Mammoth Lakes, where our close friend Peter lives, and are enjoying a couple days off visiting with him. It’s been a long wonderful stretch. After leaving Kennedy Meadows and the California desert, the High Sierra has been everything we dreamed it would be: endless mountains, alpine lakes, deep woods, beautiful vistas, crystal clear rivers and streams, wildflowers, wildlife – everything. We haven’t crossed a single road or been into town for two weeks. We did have to hike 12 miles off trail, up and over Bishop Pass (and then back up and over it), to resupply at a small resort. But for the most part, we have been blissfully in the wilderness – no internet, no cell service, no contact with the outside world (also, no showers).

The terrain has been the most difficult yet – we have ascended and descended at least one mountain pass nearly every day over the past two weeks – but it has been an amazing leg of this journey. We are feeling on top of the world. (And when we took a 17-mile side trip to summit Mt. Whitney, we were literally on top of the continental United States.) We hope you enjoy the pictures!

The Beginning of the Sierra!

The beginning of the Sierra!

Nap time.

Nap time


Setting up camp in a meadow at sunset


Approaching Mt. Whitney, the highest point in the lower 48 states, the clouds obscuring its top


Climbing Whitney


Top of Whitney!! 14,505 ft.


These little marmots are rascals. They try and steal your food, or anything that smells of food, which is just about everything a thru hiker carries.


Ashe looking up at Forester Pass (that bit with the patch of snow), the highest point on the PCT


Forester Pass! 13,200 ft.


The descent from Forester was steep at times


The view on the north side of Forester


The valley we descended into on the north side of Forester Pass was stunning


Climbing Glen Pass


Glen Pass. 11,947 ft.


The descent from Glen Pass


A beautiful day to be hiking!


Pinchot Pass. 12,139 ft.


Mather Pass. 12,096 ft.


Climbing down from Mather Pass


Camp by Lower Palisades Lake


Hiking with friends Hermes and Lotus


Cooling off under a waterfall


Bishop Pass. 11,973 ft.


Hiking up Muir Pass


Muir Pass. 11,973 ft.


Selden Pass. 10,910 ft.


Silver Pass. 10,937 ft.


Purple Lake


Mile 900!

Day 44, Mile 702.2 – The Desert’s Grand Finale

We’ve made it! We’ve made it to Kennedy Meadows! Among thru hikers, Kennedy Meadows is perhaps the most highly anticipated landmark on the PCT because it marks the end of the Southern California desert and the beginning of the High Sierra. In only a few days, we’ll be surrounded by water and we’ll be able to burn our PCT water report (a document, continuously updated by the thru hiking community, that details the status of every water source along the trail in Southern California). It has been exhausting finding water in the desert. Nothing is more disheartening than coming across a creek bed you were planning to get water from and finding it dry.

One of our hiking buddies described this last stretch from Tehachapi to Kennedy Meadows as “the desert’s grand finale.” Indeed it has been. This has been more of the desert we envisioned in our minds. Exposed hills of sand, cactus, Joshua Trees, no water, sun, and heat. Lots and lots of heat.

It was a long, dry seven-day stretch from Tehachapi to Kennedy Meadows – our longest distance between resupplies yet. But we were very fortunate to have the (usually uninterrupted) stretch broken up by amazing Trail Magic at Walker Pass. Trail Magic is a term for surprises placed on the trail for hikers – it can take the form of anything from a cooler of soda to a full-blown meal from a Trail Angel. We walked up to the campground at Walker Pass and were immediately handed fresh pancakes (with real butter!) and cold sodas. We would later eat sandwiches for lunch and hamburgers for dinner before hiking out. The Magic was being conducted by legendary hiker Yogi herself. Yogi literally wrote the book on hiking the PCT. Basically every hiker has either heard of or read Yogi’s book. We are no exception, and it was awesome to stumble into the campground and see her at a picnic table flipping pancakes.

We pushed on over the dry hills of the desert, motivated every day by the shrinking miles to Kennedy Meadows. It has been an amazing hike so far. We complain a lot about the desert, but it has had its magical and beautiful moments, including another sighting of an adolescent bear and some amazing sunsets.

From here, we will push on into the High Sierra, a sacred place that many thru hikers talk about wistfully, as if it only exists in our collective imagination. It will be the most beautiful and remote stretch yet. We will hike off trail in nine days to resupply at a remote resort but will otherwise be removed from civilization until we reach Mammoth Lakes in about two weeks. Our packs will be heavy (on top of the crazy amount of food, we now have to carry bear canisters), but our hearts are light.

Breakfast in bed above the Tehachapi wind farms


Mile 600!


Our Horny Toad friend!


Walker Pass Trail Magic!


Chillin with Yogi!


Hiking at sunset


The only rattlesnake we saw in the desert -a baby, curled up and about as big around as your thumb. Most hikers see TONS of rattlesnakes, often several a day.


Our third bear sighting!!! Most hikers don’t see bears until the High Sierra.


Kennedy Meadows at last!!!


Dr. Sole (with three intrigued hikers behind him), an amazing Trail Angel who was caring for hikers’ feet at Kennedy Meadows


Gummy Bear’s foot after being worked on by Dr. Sole (what you see is mostly iodine, not blood…). Gummy Bear had some SERIOUS blisters and was getting worked on for maybe 2 hours by the good doctor, all while downing a half pint of whiskey, three beers, and many cigarettes. He was in pain. (Note Ashleigh’s smile in the background.)


Mark on the steps of the General Store at Kennedy Meadows, surrounded by all our resupply packages (food, replacement gear, new shoes, bear canisters, etc.)


We got to stay in a tiny/adorable trailer at Kennedy Meadows thanks to Trail Angel Tom (who is also supplying the computer I sit at right now)