I slept really well and got back on the trail early. I could see the top of Whitney clearly, with no clouds around it at all. Annoying that I’d had no view on top yesterday, but I’d be pretty high up again later today.
I was making good time when I came across Animal teaching yoga on Bighorn Plateau. We’ve been talking about her leading a practice for a while since she’s an instructor, but this was the first time it was happening. I ran over to where they were in the meadow near a lake and threw down my ground sheet to get started. She was teaching the basic positions to some other guys so I went right into a sequence I already knew. It was great to stretch out my muscles.
I didn’t practice long since I was climbing over Forester Pass today, the highest point on the PCT at 13098′. I made it to the base of the switchbacks later than intended to find Stretch waiting for me, and we both waited for Animal before starting up.
There was no snow on the trail on the south side of the pass. The part that is usually the most sketchy is crossing over a slide with a long dropoff, but without snow to walk over, it was just like any other part of trail. We had a little photo shoot pretending to be scared.
Then we climbed the final tiny switchbacks to the top of the pass, and also switched from Sequoia to Kings Canyon National Park.
There was some snow leading down the north side of the pass, but nothing dangerous. The stuff that was on the trail was melty enough at that time of day that it was easy to dig my steps in a little bit. Some of the paths through the snow skipped the actual trail and its switchbacks and just went straight down, but it still wasn’t steep. We did all slip and fall at one part, but it was more fun than risky.
A few rain drops had fallen on the south side of the pass, but once on the north side, we could see dark clouds coming in. I went down the switchbacks as fast as I could, but it started hailing while I was still above treeline. Then the thunder and lightning started. Luckily, I reached treeline a couple of minutes later. We left our packs and poles under one group of trees and went to wait under another. Once again, it didn’t seem like it’d be stopping soon, so we setup Stretch’s tent and sat inside doing crosswords for an hour.
The storm finally lightened to just a bit of rain, so we decided to pack up and keep going. We knew there was trail magic of spaghetti and meatballs at Vidette Meadow in a few miles so we wanted to get there before dark. Just as we started hiking, some other friends appeared. They’d been on top of the pass in the storm. Yikes!
The remainder of the hike went quickly, and we arrived just at dark, only to find they’d run out of food ten minutes earlier. Some friends gave me a few bites of their remaining spaghetti, but I had to cook my own dinner too. Ramen was just not as good. 21.5 miles today.