Day 38: Tyndall Creek CS to Independence via Kearsarge Pass (21.8 miles - 788.9)
Updated: Aug 25, 2019
June 14, 2016 - I knew today would be great as I would be going over Forrester Pass, the highest point on the PCT. I had seen lots of pictures before I left for my hike so I was excited to see it in person. Some say it’s the most dangerous pass in the Sierras on the PCT so we shall see if that’s true.
I had a nice 5 hike to the base of Forrester to start the morning off. The scenery was unbelievable, I can see why everyone talks about the Sierras.
The last mile or so leading up to the pass I crossed several small snow fields with Forrester front and center. A few guys of the group did a little practice of self arrest using the ice axe.
I had been hiking with a group the last few days and we all got to the base of Forrester around the same time. We had 800 feet to climb in less than a mile, mostly straight up. There was a good bit of snow at the base and no visible trail so we had to hike straight up to reach the exposed rock trail. Luckily I had my microspikes which made things easier but that was a real calve workout.
Once I got on the trail it was pretty easy until I got to the chute which is basically solid ice section about 50 feet to cross with a 40 degree angle. It’s a very scary crossing because one slip and you go down 800 feet and with the little snow on the chute no much time to self arrest. I decided to break out my mircospikes and axe which I probably didn’t need them as the trail was cut into the snow but why take any chances, might as well use the gear since I have it.
The hike across the chute was pretty cool but didn’t want to look down and lose focus. Once across, in was just a quick little hike to the top of Forrester. From the top I got some great views of where I just came and where I was heading.
There was lots of snow on the north side which meant I would be doing a little sliding down. Since the trail was under snow we had to follow others footsteps down and in some spot there would be breaks in the snow where the trail would be visible. However in the snow sections there were several sets of footsteps so you never knew which ones to follow. By late afternoon the snow was starting to get pretty soft so we were sliding around. There were a few sections where we had to slide down on our butts called glissading, that was a lot of fun.
Once at the bottom we were walking through these gorgeous forest with all these snow fed streams coming off the mountain into this huge creek.
By late afternoon we made the turnoff to Kearsage Pass that would take us to Independence to resupply. It would be a 7.5 mile detour hike off trail. I don’t like to hike that far off trail but being in the Sierras you don’t have many resupply points to choose from. The hike up and over Kearsage Pass was amazing, one of the best views I’ve seen so far.
The trail took us to Onion Valley Trailhead where we still had to hitch 12 miles down the mountain to town. We got the the parking lot around 5pm. Our first thought was just camp there for the night then try and get a hitch in the morning. After talking we decided we all wanted real food myself including, I was basically out of food. We got lucky as a couple was about to leave and had a big van to fit all 6 of us so we drove down the mountain and down to the desert. Got dropped off at the Subway. We didn’t have much to choose from since it’s such a small town, about a mile long. However we were happy to be eating anything but camp food.
Then we walked half a mile out to the campsite which looked at the mountains we had come from. After planning out the next part of the hike we all decided that we would take a zero day tomorrow. I didn’t have a zero plan for here but decided since I was a little ahead of schedule I thought it was probable smart. Plus I liked the group I’m with and don’t want to leave them yet as there is still more dangerous hiking ahead. Also, taking a zero makes since as I had plan to resupply in Independence but there is not much in terms of resupplies so tomorrow I’ll be heading into Bishop in the morning with Salty to resupply to get me 5 days to Mammoth as the gas station store in Independence really didn’t have enough supplies. I’m a day ahead of schedule already and I thought it would take me 6 to get to Mammoth but the snow so far hasn’t been bad and the trail ahead looks clear as well. My knee still hurts a little so a rest day will do me good.