The goal of today was to get past all of the high elevation near Sonora Pass. This was quite the ambitious goal as we first had to actually pass Dorothy Lakes Pass.
We started at 0600 even though we expected a big day as neither of us like getting up earlier in the cold. We went straight on the snow as we made our way towards the pass. The snow was full of suncups but luckily we did not have far to go. The top of the pass was not very spectacular so we quickly went on and tried to follow the faint footprints.
The ground conditions improved quicker than expected and we were soon making good time towards the big climb before Sonora Pass.
We started the climb around 0945 and quickly encountered snow. As the climb steepened the snow went from patches to full fields of snow. We initially struggled to find footprints but once we found them we basically followed them for the rest of the day.
The section before Sonora Pass climbs to 10500 ft and then stays there or above for about 6 miles. Surprisingly there were a lot of sections with no snow and in the snow sections good footprints made crossing easier. Overall we made faster progress than expected. Lunch was a bit problematic as we were on the very exposed ridge, we ended up finding some trees for shelter and had a quick lunch for maybe 20 minutes.
The dangerous part of Sonora Pass is usually the descent to Sonora Pass. Luckily for us we had good soft snow that allowed us to plunge step with our heel. Our descent did not take long at all. Once at the highway we utilized the pit toilets before hiking on.
We had selected the first campsite past the climb after Sonora Pass, this climb is the last above 10000 ft of elevation so we wanted to get it out of the way. The campsite was quite high at 9100 ft so we were both afraid that it might be snow covered. This fear increased as we saw the amount of snow during the ascent.
As we started our climb we kept encountering snow so we knew we would reach camp later than usual. When we had finished our climb we sadly saw a big snow field for our descent. The descent was much less steep than we had hoped and post holing slow us down even further.
Eventually the conditions improved somewhat and we started seeing patches of trail. Once we reached the campsite we found some somewhat flat spots that we were not entirely sure were the actual campsites. The evening was quite windy so we expect a cold night. We ended up arriving at 1845 this after only really having one break which was lunch for 20 minutes.
The weather today was quite good with one exception it was extremely windy. We felt this wind quite a lot as we spent so much of the day at high elevation.
Tomorrow we plan an easier day and a later start than usual as we can probably use the rest after 3 very tough days.
We plan to arrive in South Lake Tahoe early Sunday so in 3 more days and a few hours.