8/6/18 – Good Bye Sierra
Miles: 792.91 to 789.09
+ 7.5 miles to Kearsarge Pass Trailhead
I wake up with mixed feelings today. Our Sierra section of the PCT is nearing its end. I feel proud of what we accomplished and I’m looking forward to spending few nights in a real bed, yet at the same time I don’t feel ready to say good bye to this special place. The last 10 days brought an array of amazing experiences, from the lows of hiking through thick smoke to the high of climbing s fourteener. We met some really cool people along this stretch as well. How can I leave without a tear in my eye.
We start the day by climbing Glen Pass. It’s tougher that Muir, Mather, or Pinchot, but it’s breathtaking and the scenery provides welcome distraction from the tall rock steps we have to haul ourselves onto.
Atop the pass we make another connection. Matthew and his wife arrive shortly after us. They take some photos from the pass, carefully picking which view to capture.
“Our camera charger stopped working,” Matthew shares. “Hopefully we have enough power to make it to the end.”
“What are you shooting with?” Dave asks.
It turns out they have the same camera I do. We offer to charge their spare battery as we enjoy our pass time and they offer to cook us coffee in exchange. We have about 30 minutes with them. They seem like a very nice couple. I wish we had a chance to get to know them more but our ways part just mile and a half past the pass when we take a side trail towards Kearsarge Pass.
I expect this trail to be relatively flat. It is. There’s only about 600 feet of elevation gain on 2.6 miles but for some reason I’m sucking wind. I’m happy to take a break by a stream, filter some water and make an electrolyte drink. It helps some but does not completely cure my difficulty breathing.
It’s hot. I never do well hiking in heat. And on the top of the heat we start noticing smoke. It creeps its way in from Kearsarge Pass area. At one point it later it’s like the fire is just behind the next ridge. We can smell the smoke too. Maybe it’s a good thing we’re walking out.
The smell is not as pronounced on the other side of the pass but the haze thickens. We hardly see the ridges closest to us, there’s nothing but an impenetrable wall in front of us when we look down into the valley.
Close to the trailhead we meet Tina and Nancy, two ladies returning from a 6-night trip to Sixty Lakes Basin which is located close to Rae Lakes. They give us a ride down from the mountains. We have a choice to be dropped off at Independence or they can take us to Lone Pine where they are spending night. We choose Lone Pine. It’s becoming a tradition for us to finish Sierra trips at Lone Pine. I like the town. It’s small but it has a good vibe.
Evening is upon us. It’s time to shower and satisfy our growling bellies. Later we scout the internet for news about the Ferguson Fire. Our hopes that it would be more under control are crushed. The fire nearly doubled in size since we left Red’s Meadow. There is a new fire also near Sonora Pass. Kennedy Meadows North is under evacuation. Things don’t look good for us. But today is not a day to make any major decisions. Today is a day to rest. Decisions can wait for tomorrow.