6/11/14 – 6/12/14
11 miles to Tyndall, 13.9 miles to Kearsarge
788.8 miles total
Guitar Lake to Tyndall Creek to Kearsarge Pass Junction
We woke with a simple goal to get as close to treeline below Forester as possible. And from there we start the pattern of climbing a 12,000 ft pass every day.
We were anxious to get close to the pass because we had heard mixed information about the snow levels. In a normal year you have to get up the passes super early so that the snow isn’t too slushy. If you hit snow after the sun starts to melt it you end up postholing (where your feet fall through the top layer of snow). Postholing is exhausting and slow. We had heard that there may be up to 6 miles of snow on the other side of Forester.
We left Guitar Lake and had an easy 11 mile hike towards Forester. It was made more interesting by an afternoon storm – similar to the one the night before. Around lunch we saw the clouds coming in but decided to push on. Mid afternoon it started pouring rain and hailing off and on but Whiskey and I hiked right through it. Soon after the rain we made it to Tyndall Creek, just below treeline and a few miles from the top of Forester Pass.
We hung out, played hearts (I never got any points, not to brag), ate dinner and got to bed early. We woke up at the crack of dawn to make sure we got to the pass early enough. We hiked up and out of the trees and back into the moonscape. It was impossible to tell where we were headed, it looks like we were going straight towards a wall of mountains.
And we were. Soon enough we saw faint switchbacks up a steep ridge to a tiny notch of snow. We switched back steeply up the ridge until we could see Forester’s characteristic snow chute.
All in all the climb wasn’t half bad. Our legs were tired from the Whitney climb and our breathing was labored from the altitude, but the climb itself was shorter than I had expected. We reached the top, the high point on the PCT at 13,000 ft.
There was almost no snow on the South side but the North side had a significant amount – just enough for a good glissade. We hung out on top for a minute and then sat down on our butts and slid down the steep slope to a rock field below. From there we climbed some snow fields to get back on the real trail.
The trail descended slowly back down towards treeline and into the most gorgeous valley. It looked like we were hiking into a big bowl of trees. We hiked down and enjoyed the big trees and flowing streams before our last bit of climbing for the day to Kearsarge Pass.
Tomorrow Salami, Tuck and I will hike the 7.5 miles to Bishop up and over Kearsarge Pass. Whiskey, Bedtime and Bumper Car and planning to book it quickly straight to Mammoth. We’re bummed to leave them but we’re excited to go back to town and get some more food – we’re starving!