June 10, 2017
Mile 766.25 – Mile 776.84
Woke up this morning to frozen socks and shoes and a backpack covered in frost, and the knowledge that the first thing we had to do today was cross a crotch-deep creek of freshly melted snow water. The water burned like fire, until my legs and toes went numb. It seriously hurt so badly. We dried off as best we could on the other side, and then continued on, hoping hiking would bring feeling back into our lower halves.
We had dry trail for the first mile or so (the mile I had already done yesterday to get to the ranger station), but after that, we barely had any trail for the rest of the day. It was pretty much an entire day of snow travel. There was a steep descent to our second creek crossing of the day at Wallace Creek, and we actually had to get our ice axes out. It was a super steep slope that was completely covered in snow, and it was pretty freaky but we all made it down without incident. Wallace Creek was flowing much faster than Whitney Creek, but it was still a pretty easy crossing.
Less than a mile later, we had a third crossing at Wright Creek. The creek was raging and banked by snow on all sides, and it took us a while to find a spot that looked safe enough to cross. This was definitely the scariest crossing we’ve had yet. The flow was so strong it took everything I had to keep my feet under me, and if we hadn’t crossed in a line with linked arms, I’m not sure it would have ended well. My legs were shaking like crazy when we finally got to the other side.
Hiker crossing Wright Creek
We walked a bit further and then stopped at a dry patch of ground for lunch, where I definitely passed out for a while after eating. Hiking the Sierras in a high snow year is freaking exhausting, even though we had only gone like 5 and a half miles by lunch.
After we finally dragged ourselves away from our lunch spot, we climbed up until we were above the treeline. It was insane. We were walking across a vast expanse of white, with jagged mountains rising up in the distance all around. It was hard to believe it was even real. It felt like we were the only three people in the world. Eventually, we descended back down into the forest toward Tyndall Creek, our fourth and final crossing for the day. It looked pretty intense, the flow was strong and again the banks were completely covered in snow. I think I was extra nervous after the harrowing experience at the last creek. We found a spot that looked okay, and it ended up being super easy. It wasn’t even knee deep, which was super nice, and the flow wasn’t nearly as intense as Wright Creek. It was still freaking cold though.
After the crossing, we had to trek across an open snow field, and we ended up following a footprint track that took us waaaay off trail. We ended up having to go cross country up a snowy slope to meet back up with the trail. After much weaving through snow, trees, and rocks, we were finally back on trail. We were above treeline again, and the view was absolutely incredible. We traversed a snowy slope, and then saw a tent pitched just ahead on a dry, flat patch of ground. We had been planning to head for a spot another quarter mile up trail, but decided to take advantage of the fact that this spot wasn’t covered with snow.
We’re camped about 2 and a half miles from the top of Forester Pass with a hiker named High Risk. The view from camp is mind blowing. I still can’t really believe that I’m actually out here doing this crazy shit. We heard from Gummies today, and turns out he did have pulmonary edema and pneumonia, and has to stay in hospital for a few days. We’re all hoping he’ll recover quickly so our trail family can become whole again. Tomorrow we’re getting up at 3am to begin the final climb to the top of Forester. It’s going to be another crazy day.