Beautiful, rugged, challenging, and humbling are the words that come to mind when I think about my time spent in the Sierra. I got my ass kicked a little; first by a stomach bug then by Mother Nature then by the elevation and then by the endless assortment of obstacles and challenges. Temperatures ranged from freezing to sweltering. I got rained, hailed, and sleeted on. I got the worst sunburn of my life traversing over 5 miles of snowfields up and down Muir Pass. I traversed some sketchy and steep snowfields as well as some cracking and weakening snow bridges. There were numerous creeks and rivers to ford everyday which were all swollen due to rapid snow melt. Some were shallow and flowing moderately making for a nice cool off but some were flowing fast (think white water) and were hard to tell how deep they were. Some were so obviously deep that I chose to walk or bushwhack downstream to find a safer crossing. Between the wet, slushy snow and constant fords my feet were always wet resulting in the loss of multiple toe nails. Every single day was equally full of challenge as beauty. So much beauty. Sometimes I found it hard to believe that I was actually there and doing it. It was 20 days of the most difficult hiking I have ever done. I jumped from group to group and also did a few days solo. It was an incredible experience that I will never forget.
Bear can, ice ax, and all the rest of my gear ready to go!
Heading off into the High Sierra's...a much different and much welcomed look than the previous 700 miles through the dessert
Those clouds looked beautiful but this was the beginning of two day storm front and when I came down with food poisoning
Fast forward a couple days to when I start to regain a little strength...blowing bubbles for Maxwell at Chicken Spring Lake
Timberline Lake on the way up to Mount Whitney, a little side hike off the PCT, well worth it!
Heading past Guitar Lake then hiking up and looking back down at it
Gaining some major elevation on the way to Mount Whitney
Snow covered switchbacks on the way to Mount Whitney
Made it, Whitney on Whitney!!!
Views from the top
Descending back down from Mount Whitney
Unlike the past several years, this winter was a normal snow season so it lingers around
Marmot! They're like the groundhogs / squirrels of the west!
Forester Pass, highest point on the PCT
Descending Forester Pass
So much snow and it was so hot and sunny. This made for some bad sunburn in unusual spots from the reflection off the snow
A beautiful snow-less stretch!
Coming down from Forester we came across an injured hiker. There were 2 other hikers with her waiting for rescue (they had activated her PLB 3 hours prior). We waited with them and gave them out extra food as they were almost out. A helicopter came about 40 minutes later and landed. We all assisted the rescue team by either helping to carry her down or by carrying the head of those carrying her down. It was a crazy end to a crazy long day! Last I heard she was doing well and on the road to recovery.
Breathtaking! Not many people get to be so lucky to be able to see this, very thankful :)
On the way to Glenn Pass
The snow is finally starting to thin out and a lush green is taking over the trails
Hiking along one of many rivers
Spoke to soon, more snow...and a lot of it! View from Mather Pass
The approach to Muir Pass
The final approach up a headwall to Muir Pass
Descending Muir Pass
Once back down below the snow it was time to ford river and flooded trails. lots and lots of fords, made the fords in Maine on the Appalachian Trail look easy!
Luckily this raging river (San Joaquin) had a bridge over it!
The Beautiful stretch through the John Muir Wilderness.
Heading through Yosemite!
Reflection Lake...Actually I don't know the name of the lake but it fits!
Sunset from camp just below Sonora Pass
Looking back over to Sonora Pass before I start the next part of my journey...off to Lake Tahoe for my first zero day in over 500 miles :)