Like Bilbo in the Fellowship of the Ring, Amanda and I have been dreaming about mountains for the last 750 miles and before when we were looking forward to this trip.
The desert of Southern California was alright. It had its moments, but 700 miles of it was more than enough. Kennedy Meadows, at mile 702, was the official end of the desert. We expected real mountains, but all we got was some dry, kinda desert kinda mountainous country. And at the legendary hiker spot, the Kennedy Meadows General Store, it was really just a huge crowd of hikers, bad resupply, and overflowing port-o-potties. And for some reason, they shut everything down at night, and I mean everything, except for the speakers blasting loud music at all hours of the night.
So we pushed past, ready for mountains, but for close to 50 miles, we just steadily gained elevation through more dry, kinda mountainous country.
Then three days ago we hit mountains, and damn has the high Sierra delivered. It has been three days of enormous peaks, broad alpine valleys, and more lakes than you can imagine. Check out Amanda’s instagram and you’ll see that we have been to some gorgeous places. But the last few days have probably been the most scenic hikes we have ever done.
The first day, we took a side trail to hike to the summit of Mount Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous US at 14,505 feet tall. The next day, we hiked though some beautiful alpine valleys and braved the snow on Forester Pass, the highest point on the PCT at 13,123 feet. The third day we hiked through Kearsarge Pass and viewed more pristine lakes and valleys. It was such a beautiful several days it was almost overwhelming.
There is something special about land when you get above timberline. It’s as if everything is a miracle. Every stream and cliff face is special. Take those same streams and cliffs and place them in low elevation desert and they wouldn’t be the same. But above the treeline they take on this different life that you just don’t get anywhere else.
Now we sit in a coffee shop in Bishop, CA. Our resupply is done. We just have a few more chores to take care of and we’ll be ready to hit the trail again. It will be just under 120 miles of more alpine beauty. I can’t wait.