Day 36: Chicken Spring Lake to Whitney Trail Ranger Station (17.0 miles - 767.0)
Updated: Aug 25, 2019
June 12, 2016 - Well that storm last night was no joke. Those dark clouds came in quick and it starting raining as I was about to fall asleep. It started off as just rain then hail got added in along with thunder/lightning. Then at some point it turned to snow. I never really knew it was snowing because the sound on my tent sounded like rain/hail as it was really loud. However when I woke up I noticed something on my rain fly, I just assumed it was frost so I hit it off and I saw what looked like snow slide down the sides. So I opened my tent and saw the area covered in snow, must had been 3-4 inches. That really surprised me because it sounded like rain all night. Later in the day it snowed again but the snow came down in these pellets, like a soft hail. I figured since I was only going 16 miles I would go back to sleep in hopes of the sun to dry the area out a little so the trail would be more visible. I felt bad for those that camped near me in their bivvies, they got pretty wet last night.
I finally got moving around 7am and took me awhile to pack up because everything was still wet. I finally got out of camp around 8:30am and once again I was last to leave. Once back on trail I had a steep half mile uphill on the fresh snow. At the top I had a great view of the lake and the surrounding area, I could see what areas got the snow. Made me wish had I gone about 5 more miles I would have missed it.
Those first few miles were a little tough having to hike in the snow but about 3 miles in I crossed into Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Parks and the trail was clear of snow and much level hiking.
I was making good time until just before Rock Creek when it started raining which turn to snow. I decided to eat a quick bite before trying to ford the creek. At this camp spot I ran into several of the people that I camped with last night. Since this was my first real creek crossing I decided to stay with them. Rock Creek looked pretty dangerous so we went upstream to find a safer spot and came across a log that went over the creek. It wasn’t the easiest thing to walk on but kept the feet dry.
After the creek crossing I picked up the pace and left the group. It was mostly uphill with the snow starting to pick up at times, turning into a soft hail. The trail leveled off right before the turnoff to Crabtree Meadow. I hiked that last part with 2 other people as we were trying to cross one last creek but had to walk almost all the way upstream to cross right at Crabtree Meadows as that creek was moving way too fast, it appeared to be a stream coming from Mt Whitney.
I stayed with the hikers and went up the ranger’s station with them to get a report about the upcoming weather. When we arrived the ranger was gone and would not be back for a few hours so I pitched my tent while it was still snowing. I rushed setting up my tent as I wanted to get out of all my wet clothes and into my warm sleeping bag. However with the rush setup I really didn’t set it up properly so it was hanging in but at that point I didn’t care, I just wanted a nap. After a quick nap I fixed my tent the proper way. By then the ranger had returned and got info on the weather with chance of snow tonight and storms in the afternoon. By then it was dinner time so I made a quick meal and saw that 2 I hiked in with were with the full group. I walked over to join them to see what all their plans were. Their plan was to see how things looked at 4:30am and if it’s clear hike the 7 miles up Mt Whitney, but if the weather changes then turn around. I asked if I can join them and they said yes so I plan to stay with them until at least we get to Independence to resupply.
I hope the weather is nice because it should be an easy hike as I will be leaving most of my gear at the ranger’s station but I’ll still have 4,000ft to climb.