May 26, 2016
Horseshoe meadows (mile 750.2) to Rock Creek (mile 760.5)
Miles: 14 (10.3 PCT miles + 3.7 miles to PCT)
Our alarms went off at 6 am. Andy had pulled the curtains shut so the room was dark. It is much easier waking up with natural light. We stirred and eventually started moving around 6:30am. We had scheduled a ride for 8:30am.
We both took showers, ate our last 4 hard boiled eggs, checked the weather for the umpteenth time and packed our backpacks.
We were excited to be getting back to the trail. Our time in Lone Pine and the rest it afforded us was nice but 4 nights in town felt excessive.
Although the weather called for 50% chance of snow showers, the mountains looked clearer than they had in 3 days. We were happy to see blue skies and hoped they’d stay around for the day.
Sue and Rueben, the couple from Korea we have seen frequently since the Wrightwood area, shared the ride up to Horseshoe Meadows.
The air at 10,000 ft today felt warmer than when we had left 4 days prior. Rather than retracing our steps back up to Trail Pass we choose to take the trail to Cottonwood Pass. We would meet the PCT at mile 750 meaning we would skip 5 miles.
We are ok with this. When there is snow in the forecast we want to do our miles and get to camp before the weather rolls in.
The trail started off flat, meandering through pine trees on sandy gravel for about a mile to a stream crossing. From there we started to switchback up to Cottonwood Pass.
The marmots murmured as we walked by. Although sometimes covered by snow, the trail was easy to follow. The air was crisp but the sun was shining. It was beautiful and it felt great to be hiking again.
The trail was gently graded but the Sierra steps definitely let us know we were back in our favorite playground. They are sizeable steps that can take a toll on your knees going down or give your quads a heck of a workout going up.
About two hours after we started hiking we reached Cottonwood Pass and the PCT. The views were jaw dropping. The mountains staggeringly beautiful.
We continued climbing once back on the PCT toward the still frozen Chicken Spring Lake. There were more patches of snow but all very manageable.
After a short snack break near the top of the climb, we got back on trail and entered Sequoia Kings Canyon National Park (SEKI for short).
It really felt good to be here. We’ve missed the Sierras. And we get to experience them in a different dimension than we’re used to – because of the snow and the lack of crowds.
At 2pm we stopped for lunch near the junction to Siberian Pass. Much to our surprise two familiar faces made their way towards us. They were Josh and Tom (aka Etch a Sketch and Quite Nice).
We thought they were way ahead of us since they got a ride up to Horseshoe Meadows last night. They are great guys and we enjoy bumping into them.
After lunch we continued descending 2,000 ft to Rock Creek. We’ve all planned to camp here tonight. Andy was looking forward to being more social and getting to know everyone a bit more.
Around 4:40pm we rolled into camp. It’s really hard stopping this early but it worked in our favor today because it started to snow lightly just as we put up the tent.
Ruben made a fire and Josh and Tom carried in firewood as they arrived. They were here a few days ago and knew that the place had been picked clean of wood and were very proactive.
Andy doesn’t like to make fires because he’s too lazy to put them out and Laurie doesn’t like smelling like campfire for days on end. But tonight it was worth it.
All 6 of us ate dinner around the fire sharing stories. The temperature started to drop around 7pm so we crawled into our sleeping bags a half hour later.
We are camped next to a very strong flowing creek. We’ve missed the white noise of rivers. What we don’t miss are the mosquitoes. It must still be too early for them here as there were none out this evening.
We might have company when we attempt to hike to Mt. Whitney and Forester Pass. We’ll see how everyone’s plans shape up. As for now, it’s time for bed.
Tonight we are grateful for warm glove liners and cozy sleeping bags.