Day 53: (16.3 miles)
mile 714.5 – 730.8
Last night was bitter cold as the skies were crystal clear and the stars shined brightly. Our Western Mountaineering 20 bags worked perfectly… even better with them zipped together. The water we had left in the JetBoil had frozen overnight. It is hard to get going at our usual start time of 0530 due to the cold so we duck our heads back under our sleeping bags and nod off for another hour. It’s not much warmer then either so we get moving as fast as we can once the sun hits our tent. Our goal is at least 16 miles, 18 would be better but we will hit some heavy elevation to the tune of over 10,000 feet…and snow. We cross the bridge at the Kern river and begin what turns out to be a gradual climb over several miles. Because I am susceptible to altitude sickness over 8700 ft I take some medication that I hope will help. When we hit 9000 ft a slight headache begins but subsides with a dose of Advil.
We now are at the snow line and are tromping through compacted and quickly melting snow which makes for a slower trek combined with the gains in altitude.
It is like a winter wonderland and we can’t help but laugh when we imagine what the hikers were going through who were stuck smack dab in the middle of the storm. It must of been horrendous. After we peak at 10000 ft we begin to descend from wooded forest to sparse forest spattered with boulders and finally into long and narrow meadows of which bears have been sighted.
It’s what we dreamed the Sierras would look like. We can see awesome peaks in the distance covered in snow. I commented how some look like the Matterhorn at Disneyland which starts a Disneyland conversation. Oh well we’ve got nothing but time.
We arrive a little earlier than the normal time (6ish) to camp at Death Canyon Creek. The water report said the creek had a low flow, but because of the recent rain/snow the creek is flowing well with clear cold water. A relief. We are met by some previous PCT through hikers, Wildflower and her three friends. Wildflower hiked the trail in 2005 and is a Triple Crown hiker. She and her friends walking a short section SOBO to KM for the weekend. We find a flat piece of real estate after much consideration as there was seemingly endless possibilities, and are asleep before dark.