13 May 2021
Horseshoe Meadows to Wright Creek
PCT Mile 744.5 to 771.0
I cannot believe how dry it is! I did this same stretch of trail in June 2017, a high snow year with scary water crossings, and it took me two days instead of one! (For comparison see here and here). But this time it was all dry trail and rock hops.
I got great sleep at the Dow Villa last night and ate one last breakfast at the Alabama Hills Cafe before getting a ride back up to Horseshoe Meadows this morning with Paul from East Side Sierra Shuttle.
A weak storm is coming in to the Sierra, so I’ve decided not to summit Whitney (I did it in 2015 with my friend Ultrashuffle). My goal is to get back out by Saturday, but the complete absence of snow makes me think it might be Friday instead. We’ll see.
With nothing but dry trail, the hiking was easy today. I passed a section hiker named Bo on the way up to Cottonwood Pass and a thru-hiker named Sherpa on the way up to Chicken Spring Lake.
Above the lake I heard someone below playing a Chinese flute, with its melancholy pentatonic melody echoing off the cirque walls. Gorgeous!
The most prominent peak after Chicken Spring Lake is Mount Anna Mills, named after the first woman to summit Mount Whitney. Of course her name is not shown on the peak either on the USGS or USFS maps. D’oh! #printhername
To mix things up I did some cross country hiking down to Rock Creek, first following Siberian Pass Creek and then dropping straight down a ridge when that became choked with boulders.
Near the bottom I was blocked from the trail by a swampy but pretty meadow. But I just followed it downstream until I found a dry way back to the PCT.
After waltzing across Rock Creek like it wasn’t even there, I met a thru-hiker named Badfoot. We chatted for a bit (he has a trailjournals blog!) while I ate my ramen cold-soak. And then we started a crazy-steep ascent out of Rock Creek with 1,000 feet of elevation gain over about a mile. Whew!
The next order of business was a climb over the shoulder of Guyot Peak and down to Whitney Creek, where storm clouds were brewing.
There was no one at Crabtree Meadow and I was feeling quite lonely. As if the macrocosm could sense my feelings, a light snow began to fall. I ate some snacks, got some water, and started the next climb over to Wallace Creek.
I passed a downed tree that provoked a memory. On my High Sierra Trail yo-yo hike with UltraShuffle, we stopped here so I could fix a hole in my pack that was causing the frame to fail. Thank you duct tape!
I was hoping to find people to camp with at Wallace Creek but no one was there.
Feeling sad, I began to set up when I heard two people approach. Awkwardly, I asked them what their plans were. They said they were headed to the next creek about a mile up. I asked if I might join them and they said “sure!”
They were “Ribs” who is thru-hiking and his son Scott who has joined him for a small section. We chatted on the hike and then set up camp right past Wright Creek. They live in Oregon and like me, Ribs works for a University (Oregon State).
We ate dinner together, and they even shared some rye with me afterward. I was very grateful for all of it. So grateful that I forgot to take a picture!
A Climate Change Lament
O what have we done to you?
With May like July