PCT Journey, Volume Three – Kennedy Meadows to Tuolumne Meadows

Greetings everyone.  Wow, what an incredible journey I had through the High Sierra’s.  When I left Kennedy Meadows the forecast was for mixed rain and snow as well as cold temps for the first few days followed by a warming trend.  The forecast was correct which made for some late starts, early stops and some less than ideal hiking conditions.

A couple of nights out of Kennedy Meadows I camped at about 11,000 feet, approximately one-mile short of Cottonwood Pass.  About 3 AM I awoke to the sound of sleet hitting the rainfly.  Sometime during the night the precipitation turned to snow.  I awoke at 6 AM to a beautiful morning and began my day by taking a few photo’s and brewing a cup of tea.  By 7 AM the weather had deterioriated and the snow began again in earnest.  So, rather than hiking in it, I opted to wait it out and I crawled back into the tent and waited it out.  I was thankful for having a good tent and bag.

A few days later after hiking through a bit more weather I reached Crabtree Meadows on June 17th.  Crabtree Meadows is the western “jumping off” point for climbing Mt Whitney.  According to others, it snowed on Mt Whitney on the 17th.  The 18th broke with good weather and an early start (5:30 AM) on climbing Mt Whitney.  My climbing partner, Danny (AKA “Trail Virgin”), and I made good time and reached the summit before noon and enjoyed the view before the weather closed in and we headed down.  The SMC Capra Ice Axe and Stubai crampons provided by Tahoe Mountain Sports were a great help in getting up and down the mountain safely and quickly.

After the hike up Mt Whitney came Forester Pass.  Although Forester Pass is approximately 13,000 feet and is spoken of as formidable I found it to be less challenging than the Mt Whitney climb.  There was a long snow field leading up to the pass, as well as a rock scramble to transition from the snow field to the trail (switch backs).  Overall, not too bad.

Other passes had their challenges, including a near-vertical last-pitch at Mather pass as well as the route finding on the Northern side of Muir Pass.  I found Muir Pass to be the most challenging due to the length of the snow fields and the route finding.  As it happened my journey through Muir Pass was a solo journey which added to the slow going as a result of slowing down for both safety and route-finding purposes.

I reached Muir Trail Ranch on June 24th, a few days later than planned, for a much needed food resupply.  I was ever so glad I included a package of fig bars for immediate consumption in the resupply bucket.  Although the pack was heavier due to the resupply I felt great as I headed back up the hill from Muir Trail Ranch.

A few days later I reached Red’s Meadow where I planned on topping off the lunch supplies, having dinner and an overnight stay at the campground.  At Red’s Meadow there were also “Trail Angels”.  “Just Ben” and Bethany as well as one of their relatives were there providing trailside snacks.  They also had use of a condo in Mammoth.  So, it was off to Mammoth for a shower, a bed, use of the laundry facilities and a couple of good meals.  I had a 24 hour hiatus as I got off the trail at 3 PM one afternoon and was back on the trail by about 3 PM the next afternoon.  Thanks Ben and Bethany!

I had a great hike from Red’s Meadow to Tuolumne Meadows, including an easy climb through Donahue Pass.  Along the way I ran into other hikers I had not seen for a while including “Magellan” and “Sugar Mama” as well as Joel and Katie, newlyweds from Mammoth.

I reached Tuolumne Meadows early in the afternoon on July 1st for a much needed rest.

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