6.15.18. 24.1 miles.
Today was a very long day. We accomplished a lot though! We started hiking at 5 am to start the ascent to Pinchot Pass. The hiking and climbing itself wasn’t so bad, but there were quite a few snowfields we had to navigate, even going up the switchbacks on the final ascent. We stayed at the top for only a few minutes since it was cold and we had a lot of ground to cover today! I think the descent down Pinchot has been my favorite/ easiest descent yet, I didn’t have to use microspikes the whole pass! Also the scenery was stunning, with these red mountains glowing in the sunrise. I think from here to Mather takes the cake so far.
We made it down pretty quickly, and then needed to ford the South Fork of the Kings River, which was definitely a sad point for me: all I could think about was the hiker who died crossing this river last year. And I totally get it. She felt like she couldn’t go back (don’t blame her, after glen/ pinchot) and moving forward was the best option. It’s just a very sad outcome and I’m happy we had a better snow year. The river wasn’t too bad, but definitely the strongest one yet. I was in the water so long my legs were burning bc of how cold it was.
Next, we had to climb Mather Pass. The ascent to Mather wasn’t bad at all, very gradual and very pretty. We stopped for a few minutes for a break and then kept on going. The switchbacks up Mather were long, but before we knew it, we were at the top, and it was before noon!
The way down was hell though. So many snowfields and so much rock scrambling to find dry trail/ more snowfields with steps in them. I fell during the descent on dry rocks. I tell you, those dry rocks/ dirt/ granite stone combos are terrible. You think your step is solid but it really isn’t. We finally made it into mostly dry trail territory and took our lunch break, which was only 1 hr 15 min. We needed to set up well for Muir Pass.
I knew the descent was super long, but I didn’t really realize how long. It was soo long! And we had some pretty views, but mainly I just wanted to stop hiking and die. Downhills suck just as much as uphills, my knees were not happy with me. For some reason I was just totally dragging and not even going 2.5 mph on dry, flat trail, which we miraculously had, since half the trail was flooded/ a river at one point.
Once I made it to the bottom of the climb, I still had about another mile to go, mostly uphill to get to camp. It wasn’t too bad as far as end-of-the-day miles come. Unfortunately we are still 10 miles from the top of Muir. And we know there’s a 2 mile snowfield on the south side and a 4 mile snowfield on the north side. I’m pretty much expecting to posthole all day long. Good thing we won’t be going nearly as far tomorrow as today!