I spent the two days we had in Independence worrying about the climb back up to Kearsage Pass. The hike down seemed to go on forever, and that was with zero food left. It might have also been the miserable thru hikers we passed coming back up carrying 7-8 days of food that set the alarm bells off. After a productive zero day yesterday heading into Bishop to buy a new iPhone cord, visit the McDonalds and get a new phone for UB, we decided we were ready for the Kearsage gauntlet today.
After sifting through our packs and saying goodbye to UB’s mum Sherrie and his pup Bernard, we ordered food from the nearby cafe and lazily asked if they could deliver it to the motel. The owners ended up sending their daughter with the food after we promised to tip big. This was after we unsuccessfully tried to convince a girl who worked at the pizza restaurant in Lone Pine to deliver us a pizza to Independence. She actually lived in Independence and said she would have brought us one except she wouldn’t be heading home until after midnight.
I had one of the best sleeps on the trip and woke just in time for the incredible breakfast Strider and Doug make at the Mt Williams Motel. I even got extra bacon today on top of my huge plate of scrambled eggs and hash browns. It’s truly amazing how much food I can consume these days. At around 11am once everyone had checked out, Strider and Doug took us back to the trail head at Onion Valley. They were heading up for another quick run up to the pass and back. I couldn’t fathom that they would choose to do it for fun after the dread I’d been feeling this weekend.
Once we got started and warmed up I actually felt really good. Getting rid of some gear has successfully lightened my pack and in two hours we were already at the top of the pass. I think we made it up the mountain quicker than it took us to walk down two days earlier. Maybe we finally are in shape?
Because we polished that pass off so well we decided we’d also climb Glen Pass today at around 12,000 feet. The trail there passed some absolutely pristine blue lakes which we drank straight out from. I don’t think I’ve ever tasted water so fresh.
There were quite a few switch backs after a very steep section heading up but generally the climb was relatively easy in comparison to what we’re going to face (or so we’ve been told). The opposite side of the mountain was a different story. There were quite a few sections of snow to cross and I ended up on my bottom twice and actually got my foot stuck in a deep hole which I couldn’t get myself out of. UB had to come back and pull me out carefully so I wouldn’t lose my shoe.
We headed down to Rae Lakes to camp and once again the views were just gorgeous. At one point UB heard yelling and thought someone was injured so we diverted off course only to find a group of hikers from Korea who had gone off trail and were yelling to one another about which direction to go. We followed them back to the correct trail and set up for dinner next to one of the lakes with a beautiful waterfall rushing down and trout literally jumping out of the water. UB brought his fly fishing rod with him and caught one fish before throwing it back and tiring of the whole fishing activity after his line ended up in a huge tangled mess.
When we reached camp the folks we slept in the hut with on Whitney were sitting by a fire so we joined them for the evening. It’s 11:30pm now, way past hiker midnight and it’s time for me to sleep. We’re cowboy camping again under the stars. I’m actually surprised we haven’t been attacked by mosquitos considering how close we are to the lakes.