As expected the reintroduction to the trail and altitude yesterday (Monday 10 June) is still taking its toll on both UB and I. I felt pretty zonked leaving Lone Pine, but after the long drive 4,000 feet up into the mountains I was even worse for wear. I think I struggled more than UB, even with his sore knee, for the first 2.5 miles up to the PCT. I didn’t utter a word the entire way up, I simply had no energy.
Our goal was to reach Chicken Spring Lake at mile 750, a total of 8 miles from where we were dropped off. We made good time with UB setting the pace and walked through some gorgeous scenery as we made our way to the lake. It was absolutely stunning and by far one of the nicest camp sites we’d stayed at. The first task on UB’s agenda was to hang our additional food bag in a tree. This was certainly one of his first attempts.
We woke early, had breakfast, then as I was getting water from the lake to clean the pots I spotted another hiker camped just across the lake. I couldn’t see his face but I could tell immediately from his body language that it was Pac Man. He had only just woken up so we joined him for coffee and a second breakfast and then a nap in the morning sun. The nap continued on until just after 11am which meant we didn’t hit the trail until noon.
The plan was to only hike 10 miles to the next campsite with water and a bear box. We took a few good rest stops along the way and made it to camp alongside Rock Creek by 6pm. The trail descended for the last 6 or more miles which was tough on my knees and certainly UB’s. The idea of doing 10 miles today means we can either have a short 6 mile day tomorrow, rest and then hit the trail to Mt Whitney after midnight for sunrise, OR, we could summit Whitney tomorrow and then camp at the base tomorrow night. I counted my meals tonight and I only have two breakfasts and three dinners to get me to Independence, so the latter option may be our only choice, unless we can Yogi some extra food from the day hikers up there. We also need to judge how UB’s knee is feeling.
Tonight I made a fire and Pac Man broke up a tone of wood so we could keep warm while we made dinner. I don’t think tonight will be as cold as last night with a freezing wind cutting across the lake. I think we’re a little more protected down here at 9,517 feet.