Part 7 - The High Sierra
I think the section of trail I’ve been most excited for is a split between the High Sierras and northern Washington. Finally getting to Kennedy Meadows meant that I was about to enter the High Sierras and get to enjoy one of the best sections of trail. There aren’t words to describe these mountains to be honest. I thought I might be able to compare them to the Sawtooths in Idaho or the Wind River Range in Wyoming but something I’ve learned is that sometimes you can’t measure things up against each other.
The Sierras are big, tall, expansive, diverse mountains. As of writing this, I’ve only walked about a quarter of the range with so much more to go. I’ve crossed alpine meadows, swam in a different lake every day, summited the tallest peak in the continental US, been harassed by mosquitos, passed the 800 mile mark on the PCT and had many wonderful experiences. At the end of the Sierras, probably somewhere past Sonora Pass I plan to put together a video to share what I saw. I don’t think I could write the last nine days of my life out that well...
To go into detail about everyday on this section would be far too much work cause so much did happen. To simply sum it up, I did a 9 day food carry from Kennedy Meadows to Vermillion Valley Resort. On day 4 I summited Mt. Whitney (14,503’), the tallest peak in the continental US, I started at 2:45AM and reached the top a little after 5:45AM. There were 6 mountain passes, mostly around 12,000’. I crossed Forester Pass (13,200’) on day 5, marking the highest point on the PCT. We walked 173 miles with 34,000’ of elevation gain and it has been one of the hardest yet most beautiful stretches of hiking I have ever done.
The weirdest thing on this section was definitely food scarcity. Hiker hunger had finally set in for us all and even though we drew back the mileage, the elevation still made you wanna eat. On top of that there’s not a great way to get all the calories you need for 9 days of walking mostly above 9,000’ in elevation to fit in a bear can. We had gone from water shortages in the desert to food shortages in the mountains. Luckily after this section, the next few weeks have ample opportunity for food and recovery from what was definitely an awesome but difficult section of the PCT.
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The PCT stands for the Pacific Crest Trail, a 2,653 route extending from Mexico to Canada along the west coast of the United States. Every year several thousands attempt it and only a few hundred finish.