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The Desert

The High Sierras

46-50

51

Day 51

After falling asleep at around 14.00 we had decided to make a real early start and were out of our tents and started hiking by 5.00. It was pitch dark in the beginning. Navigating was again a challenge, but we did pretty good and passed our rivaling group quite fast. I got some night-orienteering vibes while hiking through the dark forest, the adrenalin spurring, nervous feeling you get while not being sure exactly what you're doing, but just hoping that you're doing something right. When the sun finally started to rise it was as if we had forgotten the beauty around us. Rediscovering in the morning light, the trees, the snow, all contributing to the beauty that is the snow-hiking in the Sierras.

Nic enjoying the first morning light, I still dream about this morning light...

Frozen lake in the forest.

After crossing through a dense forest we found ourselves at the top of a steep slope. The climbing was slow and careful, but we managed to get to the bottom without any bad falls. In the bottom, however, the first big ford was waiting for us, Wallace Creek. We met a large group of 12 people, all hiking together, and we decided to split up and look for the best place to ford the stream. Pretty soon we decided on a spot close to where the trail actually crosses. The ford was at its widest here and the water looked pretty calm. We took turns crossing over, the water freezing right down to the bone, egging you to keep moving to the dry ground as fast as possible. The water was stronger than it looked, but not difficult. Soon we were standing in the one spot of sunshine reaching down through the trees and warming us again.

The steep slope.

The trail took us up and through the forest, the next stream, Wright Creek had a large snow bridge we could cross on. Leaving the forest and climbing up on Bighorn Plateau the views around us once again stunningly beautiful, with the mountains surrounding us on all sides far away in the distance. Closest to us was Tawny Point which we edged alongside and then descended down into a huge valley with Tyndall Creek in the bottom, one of the most difficult fords on the PCT. However, we were lucky and there was once again a large snow bridge we could cross over on. We ate lunch and debated for a while if we should continue or end it here for the day. Forester Pass, the highest point on the trail was coming up, and we decided we wanted to try to push it and get up and over.

Snow, mountains and clear blue skies, our life in the sierras in short.

Walking over Bighorn Plateau.

Nic end Emi enjoying the views.

And Russ is also enjoying the views.

Snow bridge over Tyndall Creek

The snow was by now very slushy, and it was tough hiking as we walked on through the constant uphill walking in a line. We put up small goals, like that rock 50 meters in front of us, that we just kept trying to push towards. And then, a short break to regain our strength. And so we climbed up to an elevation of 3600 meters, 400 meters below the pass that was now towering up in front of us closer than ever, very menacing looking. At this point, we were all pretty beat down and didn't really feel like tackling the pass today. So we spotted an area above the trail which looked dry and checked it out.

Our rivaling group decided to camp on a rock, Bandit heading up to talk to us.

This was hands down the best camp spot on the whole PCT! Views both up to the large rock wall that was the pass, and down into the valley where we came from, and they were astounding. I hiked up to a nearby top and just enjoyed the surroundings for an hour or so. The feelings the vast mountains trigger inside you, it's that bubbling happiness from the belly. To be out in the mountains far away from any kind of civilization, it's a kind of happiness I've never experienced outside these circumstances. I think everyone should experience that at least once in their life.

The views from our campsite where totally amazing, this is from where we came.

Forester Pass at the bottom of the V-shape of the mountains, where the snow comes up. Pretty scary looking.

Dinner at camp.

I'll be back with the next part of the story soon!