June 7, 2017
Lone Pine – Chicken Spring Lake (745.29-750.83)
5.54 miles + ~2 miles side trail = 7.54 miles
We had a super lazy morning today. The bed was super comfy and I slept really well. Check-out time wasn’t til noon, which we were all very happy about, but was probably more of a curse than a blessing as it made for a very slow moving morning. We went across the street to the Alabama Hills Cafe for breakfast, which was amazing. I had a glorious scramble with a ton of veggies and hollandaise sauce. Soooo good.
Once we had finally managed to pack up all of our stuff (with the new struggle of having to fit our bear cans in our packs), we headed over to the road out of town to try to hitch a ride. It’s a bit of a tough hitch, seeing as we have to go 22 miles up a winding mountain road that really only leads to the Horseshoe Meadow Campground and trailhead. A lot of cars passed us, and finally a guy walked up and said he could take us part way, agreeing to go all the way up after we offered a 20 dollar payment. It turned out he was graduating high school in a couple days, and though I feared for my life a couple of times as he zoomed around the switchbacks, he got us all there in one piece.
When we stepped out of the truck, we were instantly swarmed by mosquitoes, so we coated ourselves with DEET. We headed back up Trail Pass, noting that the snow seemed to have receded quite a bit in the past couple of days. When we got back to the PCT, we stopped to eat lunch, hoping to lessen the weight in our packs and free up some space in our bear cans.
Almost as soon as we started hiking back on the PCT proper, the trail become almost totally covered in snow. We put our microspikes on and continued onwards. I still kind of like traversing the snow, even though it slows you down to the point that you feel like you’re barely moving forward. It definitely does get a little mentally draining. It’s also a lot more difficult later in the day, when the snow is all slushy. I had a couple of bad postholes, my leg sinking into the snow up to my knee or thigh, but it wasn’t a huge problem. After a while, the trail twisted over to the south-facing side of the mountain, and we actually got a decent amount of dry trail to walk on. It did feel really good to be able to walk without thinking about where to place every step, and to be able to stretch your legs and get a good pace going.
We were getting back to the snow when Dr. McDirty and Cougar decided to stop for a quick break, and told Gummies and I to continue on, which we definitely should not have done. The trail got back into serious snow, and after a while we finally decided we should stop and wait for them to catch up. We laid on the ground to rest, and I could definitely feel the altitude in my head. We were above 11,000 feet, which is the highest I’ve ever been in my life. A couple of guys passed us, and we asked them if they’d seen Cougar and Dr. McDirty. They said they had, and that they thought they were ahead. Shit. They had somehow passed us. We quickly got up and continued on. We were close to Chicken Spring Lake, which was where we had tentatively planned on camping.
Finally, we made it to the lake, and luckily they were there! We definitely won’t be splitting up again in the Sierra. The lake is seriously epic looking. It’s partially frozen over, but there is a bit of open water. It’s realllyyyy cold here. I was wearing my wool base layers, fleece, puffy, rain pants, beanie, and gloves while doing my camp chores. We got into camp late, so it was dark by the time we finished everything. Hopefully we’ll start getting into camp much earlier after today. Tomorrow we are planning to wake up at 4 to take advantage of the frozen hard snow of early morning. I can’t believe we’re actually in the true Sierra now. I think it was a bit of a shock to everyone, even though we thought we were mentally prepared. Hopefully we’ll get used to it after a few days.