Day 50 (Tape)

Yeah I guess then it turns into June 4 today. We woke up at Rae Lakes this morning. Covered with frost. But warm and toasty nonetheless. And ah, just started to head down. And we went past other lakes, and the snow was a pain in the butt. There were these sun cups. The sun melts the snow in ah these patterns and these dents, and theres different sizes of dents. There’s really big huge car-sized dents, like kinda you don’t notice so much because they’re so much bigger than you. And then there’s dents just about the right size to swallow up your foot, and those are the ones you notice. And then the dents in the dents in those dents are just little tiny, barely-see dents. But the snow gets full of these dents and it gets soft and it is slippery, its really hard to walk on. And we just struggled and struggled and struggled down, and down, and slowly down past lakes. (Pete says something). Oh yeah, we were passing the very last lake, Beyer Lake, it was just one last traverse of this little steep snowfield that went straight down to the lake. It was ah, the snowfield kind of just disappeared into the lake. And I was just, you know, I was maybe 20 yards to go before the other side of the lake. And it looked like the snow kind of let up there. And I was gettin ready to take the high route across and took a step with my downhill leg and it just plunged all the way in. And ah, sent me tumbling down. My backpack, of course the heavy part of me, went downhill first and flipped me up. And I guess that’s when Pete heard me and I started to slide down the hill but my leg that had postholed caught me.

Pete: I didn’t hear you at all, I just saw – the spectacle.

(gasping laughs) I guess Pete just looked up and, as I silently…

Pete: I didn’t see any of it, I just saw you hanging upside down. Mysteriously by the leg. Ready to slide on your back down into the freezing cold icy water, bouncing your head off the rocks on the trail.

So ah Pete saw me, I guess I was just sort of quietly struggling to get my balance again (still laughing), and he helped me out and I got my leg out of the hole. It wasn’t broken and everything was good. I found a lower route down that was little more manageable. And ah, so then we continued to fight and very very very gradually the snow abated and, and ah the trail kind of dried up. We had some, some ah kind of rough creek crossings. Fords, but, we had to explore for places to hop over on some of ’em, but nothing was really a big deal. Had to get the shoes wet on one. And then, after doing those kind of serious creek fords there was a… we ran into a meadow with a nice wooden bridge over one little tiny step-over creek. That was kind of ridiculous, but there it was. And the trail dried up after that and went down into this beautiful beautiful green canyon. And the day got warm, even hot I would say. We ah, we continued to descend down to the suspension bridge that crosses Woods creek which is kind of one part of it was roaring down beside us the whole way. Really huge, massive snowmelt creek that comes crashing down all these cliff faces and stuff. And ah there’s a suspension bridge across it. And its about 8500 ft, the lowest we’ve been in a while, on the trail anyway. And ah, we stopped there for lunch and it was just… the sun was shining, we got our stuff out to dry. It was warm, everything was green and lush. It was kind of a luncheon paradise today.

Things dried and Pete fixed his pack, and I kind of lounged around a little bit. And we went across the suspension bridge after lunch, which was kind of cool i t was just ah, 2X4’s kind of in a long line along these steel cables and hung by steel cables. And totally free to swing and bounce when you crossed it. So Pe te & I both crossed at the same time and had fun bouncing in irregular patterns, back and forth, and just kind of enjoyed the way we crossed that huge river. A nd then we started climbing back up again, and basically did the first half of t he day in reverse. Going back up through the sun cups. Well, through a while o f dry trail first, and we started hittin’ a little snow, and climbing, and trees , then the sun cups. And the snow got, coverage got more, covered more of the g round and pretty soon covered all of the ground and we had to get out the map an d find the route. And we struggled and struggled… realized it was a really lo ng, long climb up to this, Pinchot pass that we were headed for. And from the s uspension bridge it was seven miles and um, 3600 feet, something like that. Any way, with the heavy packs on, by the time we got up close ah, close to the pass where you could see it we were just really, really butt tired and had to stop an d have lunch, before getting up to the top. And the top kind was our 13-14 mile marker. We hoped we’d get up there for lunch, but we didn’t. But it was ok, w e ate lunch and then labored up to the top of this thing. And ah, the snow was not too bad, it was starting to get a little wet by then. Later in the day agai n. I guess it was actually pretty frustratingly wet. On the way up we met the slush monster. I tried to take a shortcut through some flat snow and it turned out it was kind of the beginnings of ah, ponds and little lakes up there. And the snow was just slush on top of water. You’d step on that stuff and go (schlup!). It would suck your foot down and you’d come all wet and nasty. And ah, the snow itself was just pretty wet and nasty though. By comparison to where we had been. And it was really a lot of work gettin up that pass. But anyway we just did the work and did it. Got up to the top. After fightin the slush monster a few times. And ah, I was kinda hopin for a nice sweet glacade down the back, but no such luck. It was just more… it was really a beautiful pass. I have to say that. It was ah, it was not as closed in as Glenn Pass, it was more open, but it was still just surrounded by peaks, every which way you looked. And ah, huge big basins of snow. It was really pretty. But ah, as we set our sights onward down the trail, things got frustrating and wet. And ah, just coming down was an excercise in patience as we postholed and stepped in more slush monsters and… and slowly worked our way down. And ah, we got past, it was again we worked our way down a string of lakes which became less and less frozen as they got lower. And then we crossed a big creek. Ah, route finding got a bit hard. Cause we ran into a pine forest. And we had find the descending trail in the pine forest. But we managed to do it okay, and got across another creek. And we’re kind of at the low spot before Mather Pass tomorrow. And ah, we just, we found a good campsite again, which I think we’ve been really fortunate with. Ah, Pete went to get some water, and I guess ran into somebody. We’re camped right before a, a major crossing. South Fork Kings River. And ah, Pete went to get some water from it and saw it, and I guess it’s an extremely daunting crossing. Far greater than anything we’ve done so far.

And ah, there was somebody camped there. Nicknamed Yogi. Peter said he had tried it toady and got in about waist deep and, and I guess he didn’t, couldn’t quite make it. And ah, so presumably tomorrow that could either stop us cold or keep us occupied half the day right here. But who knows, we’ll get up and see what happens. And if we do get across it, then we make our way up to Mather Pass (yawn). And ah, down the other side. And on to whatever lies beyond.

Had a really full day today. Its late now and the stars are shining. Looks like we’ll have another full one tomorrow.

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