Mile: 760.5 to 775.7
up/down: 4000/2250 feet
For 700 trail miles we couldn't get enough water. Now we have more than we could ever wish for. Just as we were leaving home to enter the Sierra a few days ago a heat wave hit the west. That's great if you want to nuke the snow on the trail but also causes the creeks and rivers to run dangerously high. That's what we had today with five creek crossings as we move to stage for our ascent to the highest point on the trail at Forester Pass (13118 feet) tomorrow morning. Save the dangerous crossings it was a spectacular day with views that just kept coming.
We started out from camp with an easy crossing of Rock Creek on a nice fat log. From there we ascended to Guyot Pass in a lovely foxtail pine forest. From the pass we had our first great look at the Kaweah Peaks Ridge, an island of metamorphic mountains in the sea of Sierra granite. Then it was down to Crabtree Meadow and the connection with the John Muir Trail. Whitney Creek was an easy ford in knee deep still water. At this junction the majority of PCT hikers turn and take their side trip ascent of Mount Whitney, the highest mountain in the lower 48 states (14505 feet). Not us - between us both we have over a dozen times at the top including twice each from the west side. Onward we pressed.
Mt Whitney and Mt Russell above Lower Crabtree Meadow
Glissading a steep snow slope
Whitney Creek and Crabtree Meadow
Next up was Wallace Creek which was a little more challenging to cross. We both had no problem and made it successfully to the other side. There aren't going to be a lot of action photos from the more difficult crossings as our phones are put away inside waterproof bags in our packs. I jumped back in and staged the photo for this one.
Less than a mile from Wallace came Wright Creek and our first true test. This one was dangerous enough that I crossed and dropped my pack, returning for Susan's pack, and finally once more across helping her stand the intense pressure of the creek flow. Lived again.
An angry Wright Creek
Up from there we entered another world as we gained enough elevation to clear tree line onto the Bighorn Plateau. This high elevation plateau was just starting to free itself from the grip of winter with patches of bare ground and piles of snow. The views in every direction were as good as it gets. Finally we dropped down to our last crossing for the day at Tyndall Creek. The basin with this creek is larger and beautiful, and contains Forester Pass at the end. We came to the crossing where the trail took us and stared in awe. This creek was angry and swollen with afternoon melt water. We weren't crossing here.
We started following the creek up canyon hoping for a flatter section of terrain that would broaden and slow down the flow. It took nearly a mile of cross country exploration but finally we found just such a crossing. Still it was plenty challenging with high water force and a temperature just above freezing. Again I made five crossings to get our packs and Susan across. From there we continued cross country toward the trail on a bench above until finding a glorious camp site that looks down on Tyndall Creek. Tomorrow we'll be up early to navigate one of the more challenging bits of trail in Forester Pass.
Tyndall Creek crossing
And finally, something interesting we came across near our camp. Susan found and arboglyph dating to 1886 which we assume was from a shepherd. In those days it was common for sheep to be grazed all over the high Sierra. Even John Muir himself started out as a shepherd in the high country of Yosemite before he took to another calling. Unfortunately the tree has overgrown the shepherd's name. I'm not sure how well this photo shows the glyph but here it is. The row of nails is where the 1886 date is. Pretty cool!