Today we were going over Forester Pass, Forester Pass is the highest point in the entire PCT. This means that yesterday we summited the highest point in the contiguous U.S. and today we reach the highest point on the PCT.
We had planned to get started at 0630 to get over the pass before the snow softened and we would start post holing. I set an alarm for 0530 and were ready around 0630. We actually started hiking at 0700 since Sensei’s shoes were so frozen he could not get them on.
We initially made pretty good time as the snow was nice and hard. Quickly we reached a creek crossing that was pretty interesting as the water was high and the current strong. Together with another hiker we met I tried to cross on some rocks but slipped on the icy rocks. Nothing really got hurt except my pride. In the end I decided to just walk through the creek with shoes on. This meant that for the rest of the day my shoes were wet.
After the crossing we made our way towards Forester Pass. As the elevation increased so did the snow cover and quickly it was easier to just follow the footsteps and general direction of the pass than the trail. As we approached the pass we had amazing views back and of the pass itself.
Since a lot of the pass was snow covered we initially skipped a lot of the switchbacks and went straight up to the snow free switchbacks further up. The switchbacks were quite easy. After the switchbacks you have to cross a snow covered chute, for this we used microspikes and ice axe. Overall it was a very cool pass to cross and I enjoyed it a lot.
After reaching the top of the pass we obviously had to descend from the top. Again we followed the footsteps instead of trying to follow the snow covered trail. On the way down we got to glissade and before lunch we made good progress. After lunch we started post holing more and progress became slower.
As we descended below 10000 ft progress improved again as the snow cover lessened and it was mostly snow free trail.
We were setting up for resupplying over Kearsarge Pass tomorrow so we had chosen a tent site close to the trail to Kearsarge Pass. Initially on the climb to this site we had no snow cover, then suddenly there was snow everywhere and we were well in to post holing territory.
We made it to the tent sites and luckily found some snow free sites.
As we were setting up camp it started snowing so I setup my tarp. As we were having dinner the snow increased and later even more so I had to adjust my tarp.
We had all enjoyed the first stretch of the Sierra but were looking forward to town just the same. We decided to zero in Bishop as we felt like we deserved it.
I plan to stick with this group on the next stretch as well.
I really like the look of the snow in the Sierra but I hate being cold all the time. Perhaps my lightweight gear is not optimal for this early season Sierra. If I do any future thru hikes I would probably bring a tent for more comfort in camp.