After a tough, grueling hike, Dylan, Flowers, Free, Quoi, and I completed Glen Pass, the first of the six major passes on this segment of our hike, between Kearsarge Pass and our next town destination, Mammoth Lakes.
I woke up around midnight, feeling the effects of the (relatively) sudden change in altitude from Bishop to Flower Lake, and hyperventilated for a minute before returning to my regular breathing pattern and falling back to sleep.
I woke up again a little after 4, when I expected to wake up, only to find a mini-disaster in my tent. (Presumably) something I put on my pack caused the water bladder to leak out nearly its entire contents, spilling roughly 1.5 liters of water, much of which soaked into my pack, but there was also plenty on my tent’s floor and some on my sleeping bag. It took a fair amount of time I wasn’t expecting to have to spend to clean up, so I wound up not being ready to leave until somewhat after our agreed-upon 5 am departure. Then again, no one else was ready either, and we didn’t actually start hiking until 6:30, which was much later than I had wanted to start.
With my pack weighted down by enough food to reach Mammoth Lakes, the hike up the remainder of Kearsarge Pass was long and slow. There was, though, noticeably less snow on the trail than when we hiked out a few days ago, so I think that bodes well for the snow conditions further on.
I reached the junction between the PCT and the Kearsarge Connector Trail (which we used to exit the PCT) around 10, and took a snack break. As I was finishing up, and no one else had arrived, I presumed they had gone to the intersection with the Kearsarge Pass Trail itself (and cutting out a short distance on the PCT). Just then, Craynip (who also camped with us) appeared, having walked back from the junction to tell me where everyone else was. I hiked up to the second junction, and joined everyone else, and we proceeded to take at least an hour-long break (on top of the short break I had already taken).
After our break at the junction, Craynip hiked away from us, somehow being much faster than the rest of us. I did not see him again today.
From the trail junction to Glen Pass was two miles, but it took us nearly forever to reach the pass. I think we were all somewhat tired and lethargic from the altitude change, and we took quite a few short breaks up the steep climb, including a break at least an hour long halfway there! I didn’t really want to take a long break there, but I also about ready to take a nap.
There were plenty of nice views on the way up to Glen Pass, as well as some (but not excessive) snow on the trail, and we reached the pass around 2:30 pm. We then proceeded to take another break at the pass itself, which might have turned into a long break had there not been incoming storm clouds.
Hiking down Glen Pass, especially in the afternoon, was a snowy slog, but it was not as bad as the north side of Forester Pass. Much to my dismay, we did a couple more short glissades. Flowers had a uncomfortable slide over a rock that had been exposed. Trying to avoid hiking through snow where possible, we also added some rock scrambling into the mix. I had to take my microspikes off; I had very little traction on the rock with them on. They work great on hard snow and ice, but they actually reduce contact area on pretty much all other surfaces.
Eventually, as we descended towards the tree line and the Rae Lakes, the snow decreased, though our feet still got plenty wet from several stream crossings. Although we had planned to go further, we wound up camping at one of the lakes, as daylight was quickly becoming in short supply.
During our descent from Glen Pass, we decided to do only a short day tomorrow — 9 miles — to the highest campsite before Pinchot Pass, and then do Pinchot Pass the next morning. However, Quoi realized that she only had a limited supply of medicine, and needed to get to Mammoth Lakes more quickly than that schedule would imply. She was going to hike out early in the morning by herself, but we all agreed to do it as a group, leaving around 4 am to go 13.7 miles to Pinchot Pass, plus at least another few miles to a campsite.
This is likely to get us to the pass in the late afternoon, but we’ve already had experience with late-afternoon snow hiking, so we should be able to manage it, even if that experience tells us it’s going to suck.