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A lot of time and miles have passed since Jack and I dried out from the thunder and hail showers in the desert at Walker Pass in Southern California. In short, we reached Kennedy Meadows and then spent a week in the Sierra Nevada Range. Once we reached Forester Pass we decided the risk was not worth the reward and exited to Lone Pine and ended up 500 miles north to avoid the snow and high water river crossings. Jack and I will return to where we left off after we arrive in Canada, to finish up the PCT in the Sierra after much of the snow has melted and rivers are lower.

It's been a blast. What an adventure. At every turn there is something different, something exciting. A simple example of "adventure" is my hiking shoes went missing about 100 miles ago. I'm giving the benefit of the doubt to the one that is enjoying my Hokas with low milage and saying I placed my shoes too close to the "hiker box" where hikers leave gear they don't need and take gear that suits them. I ended up with his shoes and made them work until we hit the town of Mt Shasta where I'm now living the highlife with new Topos, insouls, and gaiters, from a guy who knows his stuff.

Hahaha, I preferred my Hokas over someone else's beat up, non-hiking shoes I ended up with.

Sporting around in the new Topos, insouls, and gaiters at Starbucks, courtesy of The Foot Jesus in Mt Shasta. Not since my new Waffle Stompers in the first grade have I smiled so much over a new pair of shoes.


After leaving Walker Pass we continued north to Kennedy Meadows. For those who have seen Reece Witherspoon in Wild, this is where she gets a shakedown of her "Monster" pack at the side of the store and the local throws away half her pack to lighten her load. Kennedy Meadows was a special place. Upon arriving we got a standing ovation from hikers on the back deck that arrived prior to us, receiving the same reception as they received when they arrived. It is a major milestone in that it signifies the completion of the desert and the entrance into the Sierra Nevada Range.


Jack filtering water for the next eight miles

Beginning the descent of Mt Whitney and viewing two people ascending.

The Sierra was thrilling. At the time, I didn't realize most of the hikers skipped the snow and river crossings and headed north. It was wonderful with solitude, beauty you don't see everyday, and self-reliance that made it all the more exciting. We were terribly disappointed in meeting our match and exiting the Sierra after a week, but at least we got to experience a week in a record high snow year and we left in one piece. We had met a Ranger who just had come down from Forester Pass who said the 20ish yard section of boot tracks, traversing a "slip and meet certain death" section had melted and froze over the past two days and nights and he could only plant his ice axe in one inch. We turned back and hiked out two days.

We ended up exiting at Whitney Portal and since we were so close to Mt Whitney (highest point in the lower 48 states at 14,504') we decided to ascend. On the way down Whitney, I was expecting to see the steep 99 switchbacks that RJ (oldest son), Jack, and I descended in 2017 after completing the John Muir Trail, but was surprised to find no switchbacks, only a snow chute that dropped about 1,200' over a half mile or so. If you have experience, I'm sure the chute would have been something you looked forward to, but it scared me to death until about half way down.

That evening. We ended up in Lone Pine, CA at a hostel, rested, and decided our next move, which was to head north, out of the snow. Looking back at some of those photos makes me understand how difficult that was for us. I have a photo that I simply look beat up, my hands, feet, and face swollen, and my eyes a tad burnt from the bright snow and sun. I do not recall a more physically and mentally challenging week of my life. Waking up 2-3am so we could walk on solid now, trudging through slush and suncups after 12:30pm, fording ice cold rivers, and having to be on, except when sleeping. But darn, if that wasn't fun.... I'd do anything to do the entire Sierra section (2-3ish more weeks) if I knew I wouldn't risk my son's or my well being.

Fording cold rivers!

Sun cup on the way down to Whitney Portal

A view of Whitney from below.


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