Mammoth (906.63)
8/23/18 and 8/24/18
Miles – 17.26
Total miles – 175.25

Last night was cold. Since our camp was in a deep valley near a river we had a cold breeze blowing across the tents all night. We packed quickly and started hiking toward the sun. There was frost on the ground as we went up the valley. It did not take long to reach Tolly’s Hole, a very nice meadow in a hanging valley. At this point the trail climbs the valley wall. Climbing, we soon crossed into the sunshine. About mid way up the valley wall, we had to stop and pull off our coats and long sleeve shirts. Soon we reached the top and the hiking got easier. We continued on and came to the shore of Lake Virginia. There was no wind and the lake was mirror like,  reflecting the mountains to the South. We crossed it’s inlet and hiked over a small ridge and then dropped down to Purple Lake. Here we filtered water and ate before continuing on. The trail sweeps out onto the side of the mountain, traversing North, and then into the next drainage. Soon we came to the cut off to Duck Lake. Here we had to make a decision, do we follow the trail we know, or do we go over Duck Lake Pass to Lake Mary and then into Mammoth. We had never heard of this route into Mammoth and we did not know if there was any transportation into Mammoth. We did not want to get stuck at a trail head so we followed what we knew. Our trail contoured around an edge and followed the ridge down. We stopped once to eat the last of our food, then we hiked on. The terrain changed from granite to volcanic as we dropped towards Reds Meadow. At the last stream crossing, before Reds, we stopped to soak our feet, then it was on to town. We hiked up to the store at Reds Meadow and got food and drinks. Then boarded the bus for Mammoth. We needed to change buses at Mammoth Mountain. I called a hotel and got a room for two nights. As we were waiting for the bus a man asked if we wanted a ride to town so the four of us and one other hiker piled into his old van and off we went. A short time later we were in Mammoth Lakes and in our room. And now we’re off for real food and rest.

There are only a few things we needed to do today. First was to get our small package from the post office. This was a little difficult. It took two trips. First Whisper and I went, but they could not find out package and I had not brought the tracking number. Back to the room we went, then I got there number and headed back. Their system showed that the package was there, but they could not find it. In the end, we discovered that it was filled under Mama Ravens name not mine.
Since breakfast my stomach had been hurting. As the morning went on, the pain became sharper. We went out to get sandwiches and I just felt like laying in bed. We returned to the room and I went to bed. Mid-afternoon Mama Raven went to the post office to mail home a few things and she purchased new shorts. Over the last four days the seat of her old ones had torn out. She sewed them up twice. While she was gone, I ate a little and started to feel better. Around 5:00 I was feeling well enough to walk to the store, with Mama Raven, to buy food for our next section. When we returned to the room we collected up the kids and went to dinner. We went to The Village. As we walked through the plaza there were people everywhere and a band was playing. As I lessened to the music I thought that this group was doing a great job of covering a Journey song, then I realized that it was Journey. We went a place called Burgers for dinner. There was way too much food. None of us could finish our plates. So far my stomach is feeling better so we will be hiking it tomorrow.

A lot of elevation change

Near Fish Creek (889.37)
Miles – 19.38
Total miles – 157.99

Last night was the coldest yet. High clouds covered the sky, but they burned off as the day went on. Today we have a lot of elevation change, over 9000′ of it. We started out by hiking down to the bottom of Bear Ridge. This was several miles and not difficult. Next we climbed to the top of Bear Ridge and traversed across it. The drop on the other side brought us to Mono Creek. We took a nice long break on the smooth, flat rocks edging the river. Once finished, we started the +3000′ climb up Silver Pass. We were not looking forward to this climb because the beginning is in the exposed sun with very little shade. We moved slowly and sweat a lot.  As we gained elevation the temperature drop a bit and we moved off into the trees. We past a beautiful meadow with a slow meandering stream in it. Then we climbed up next to Silver Lake. When we reached the far side, we followed some switchbacks to the pass. From the top we had a great view North and we could see, for the first time, the fire burning southwest of Devil’s Post Pile. There was a thick line of smoke heading east. We did not stay at the top of the pass long before dropping down into the valley in the North side. After hiking for several miles we stopped for dinner near a small stream. With only an hour or two of daylight left, we hiked to Fish Creek then turned up the valley looking for a camp site. A mile later we found one and set up home for the night.

Is that all?

Near Hilgard Branch Ford (869.99)
Miles – 21.56
Total miles – 138.61

It was a cold night. We were not looking forward to what was coming soon, after we started hiking, our first stream crossing where we needed to remove our shoes. We quickly packed and headed to the crossing. Thinking ahead, we all wore a pair of dirty socks. We arrived, put on our Crocs, and crossed the knee deep water. After dropping our packs we pulled off our wet socks and returned to the river to wash them. Once this task was finished we started to hike down Godder Canyon. This is a pleasant hike near a large river. The river drops through a set of waterfalls. At the bottom we stopped for a break and filtered water. There next section is a climb we have never liked.  It goes up to Sender Creek and it is exposed, long, and hot. Of course we came to it in the middle of the day. On the climb we stop once in the only shady place, then continued up to the creek. We were tried. but we needed to push on to Selden Pass. This part of the climb was a bit easier. We past Sally Keys Lakes and stopped for a short rest at Heart Lake. The final push only took 20 minutes and we were at the top. Selden Pass is one of the few passes which has trees on it. The sun had set on the pass and a cold wind was blowing through it, so we hiked on. Quickly, we dropped down to Marie Lake and the sun. We crossed it’s outlet and head down into the valley below. Everyone was running on empty, so we stopped and had dinner before continuing. Bear Creek, a very difficult crossing during the spring melt, had rocks across it. Everyone made it across with dry feet, except for me. I dunked one foot. We set off down the valley looking for a camp site. The sun was hitting the tops of the mountains and it would be dark soon. The place we found is not the best, but you cannot have everything.
After figuring out today’s mileage Mama Raven said “Is that all”. She was hoping for more. Maybe tomorrow.

A good mileage day

McClure Meadow (848.43)
Miles – 19.94
Total miles – 117.05

We had a good night’s rest at the edge of the meadow. With ten miles to the top of Muir Pass we hoped to reach its summit by 2:00. The first five miles were not difficult and we covered the distance easily. Then the trail began to climb. The first lake we came to has no name on the map, but we call it Frog Lake. Every time we come by this lake there are hundreds of frogs and pollywogs. It was no different this time. We took a break while Bling tried to catch a frog. It kept going under rocks so he switched to pollywogs. He caught two. After leaving the lake we started the real climb. We hiked up ridges, along a black river, and around more lakes. After several hours we reached Helen Lake, which is a very large lake just before the pass. We knew that the top of the pass was close, but we needed a rest and some food, so we sat on a flat place looking over the lake. About an hour later we reached the Muir hut. A stone building built in the 30’s in the middle of the pass. Now came more and miles of down. Today’s up and the foot crunching down really hurt Mama Ravens foot. We stopped once to eat and rub out her sore foot. We continued down until the sun had almost set, then we found a camp. There are a lot of people in this area so it was a bit difficult finding a site. Tomorrow we will continue down and then hike over Selden Pass.

Over Mather Pass

Grouse Meadow (828.49)
Miles – 17.11
Total miles – 97.11

It was a warm night and we all sleep real well. Our normal wake up time is 6:00 and usually the kids are already up, but not this morning. I had to get out of my tent and rattle there’s before they woke up. Finally, we had breakfast. We were just fifteen minutes later than normal when we hiked out. The first part of today was 5.5 miles to the top of Mather Pass. This took us about three hours to hike. When we reached the top there were about ten other people up there, all Sobo JMT’ers, so we stopped just for a few minutes and then headed down. Since Whisper, Mama Raven, and I were out of water we stopped at the first creek we came to and filtered 10L. Next, we got down to Lower Palisades Lake and stopped to eat and soak our feet. The Golden Staircase was the next part of the trail we had to tackle. The Golden Staircase is a series of tight switchbacks dropping you down nearly 2000′. It is in the sun, so it is hot. Once down it the trail levels off and keeps dropping until we reached the Middle Fork of the Kings River. There we stopped for dinner. Turning up river, we started the climb up toward Muir Pass. We did not get far before we ran out of steam and stopped for the night. We have 10 miles of up to reach the top of the pass. We will make it tomorrow, but the question is, how far down will we get?

A long hot up

South Fork of the Kings River (811.42)
Miles – 17.92
Total miles – 80.0

Yesterday was hard. It was difficult waking up, especially for Mama Raven. After getting our food from the bear box and packing, our first stop was a spring not 5 minutes from where we camped. Once each water bottle had 1.5L in it, we stared to hike down to Woods Creek. This is an easy hike and we covered the distance in a little more than 2 hours. While soaking our food we had a quick snack. It felt great to cool off our feet. Next, we started a long up, about 7.5 miles to the top of Pinchot Pass. The first half of this climb is not one of our favorite places. The trail is along the Woods Creek, but it is open with very little shade. This piece of trail gets very hot and it seems to go on forever. About two miles up the valley Mama Raven and I came to a beautiful stream cutting across the trail. The kids we a good 10 miles ahead of us. We could not resist. We pulled off our shoes and waded into a clear pool with a small waterfall. We each dunked our head to cool off. Then we dried off and hiked up to the kids, who were wondering what delayed us.  We took a long break at the midday point before continuing on. It took several more hours to reach the top of the pass. We did not stay long because a cloud had parked itself West of us and it was blocking the sun, also there was a cold breeze. Several miles later we reached Lake Marjorie and we stopped beside it to cooked dinner. We needed the energy to get to the bottom of the valley. It was 6:45 when we headed out, we wanted to hike down the last 2.5 miles and cross the South Fork of the Kings River before we found a place to camp.  We set up our tents after the sun had set. Back on the south side of the river is camped a large group of horsemen.  Every now and then we can hear the horses neighing. We will be heading over Mather Pass tomorrow.

A hard day

Rea Lakes (793.48)
Miles – 12.01
Total miles – 62.08

We woke to find that Whisper was feeling better, so we are heading back up. We were hoping to get a ride back to Onion Valley at 6:30, but Jim was not at the motel. After a bit I figured out that he had gone to Lone Pine. So we ate breakfast and waited. He returned around 9:00. After he took care of a few things we loaded our packs into his car and we headed up to Onion Valley. We finally got on the trail around 10:00.
The hike out of Onion Valley is a hard one and we were not looking forward to it. We slowly worked our way back to the spring we camped at several nights ago and stopped for a break to fill our water bottles and eat. To keep the weight down we left  with very little water, knowing we would fill up here. The last 1.5 miles to the pass was tough on Mama Raven and I. Two days off, heavy packs (We are carrying seven days of food), and the attitude took a toll on us. We moved very slowly.  We were happy when we reached the pass, because we had three miles of down before our next climb.  Just before we reached the PCT we took a lunch break and relaxed. There was a flat rock with sun shining on it and Mama Raven tried to take a nap. Clouds were forming up, but never built into thunderheads.  This would become our first rain free day of the trip. Our next objective was to summit Glen Pass. We had about four miles and 1000′ climb.  That should have been easy, but it was not, for Mama Raven and I. We were not moving very fast and we could not get enough air. Our bodies have not adapted to this altitude. We even lost ground acclimating, sitting at 4000′ for two days. We did make the pass, but the kids got there way before us. Now we had a big drop down to Rea Lakes. Toward the bottom Mama Raven was really dragging, she had no energy. With 1.5 hours of daylight left, we were going to stop for a snack, but instead we found a campsite. Yes, we could have gotten 2 or 3 more miles in, but this location has a bear box. The Black Bears in this area are very bad. Using the bear boxes helps us prevent any problems.  With the late start and stopping a bit early we are behind where I hoped we would be. Tomorrow’s fun will be Pinchot Pass.

Quick out and a long stay

8/15/18 and 8/16/18
Miles – 3.03
Total miles – 50.07
Today we are heading to the town of Independence. It was a short hike to Onion Valley, the trailhead. I hope the owner of the hotel got yesterday’s message so we would have a ride down. We packed up and started down. It was an easy hike down and only took about 1.5 hours to reach the bottom. Half of the way down, we reached a point with a good view of the Owens Valley so I text the hotel and confirmed our ride. Our timing was great, as we hiked off of the trail our ride, Jim, showed up. We loaded up and drove to town. We were in our room by 9:00. First came showers and laundry.
There is very little here. Most of the restaurants have closed and our only chose is getting meals is from the gas station. All we could find is microwave food. We are planning on heading back up tomorrow.

Well, we did not leave. Whisper has a cold and we felt it was better to stay one more day, then force her to hike when she feels bad. We settled in and sat around all day. I guess this makes today a good zero.

Rain storms

Spring below Keasarge Pass (R)
Miles – 16.4
Total miles – 47.04

The kids had a better night, but the parents did not. It takes several days for our bodies to get used to sleeping on the ground. We had to keep flipping from side to side because our hips hurt. Morning came cold and clear. That is what you get when you camp at over 12000′. We packed our gear and started hiking before the sun hit is. The valley which leads to Forester Pass is tight with high sides and it takes a awhile for the sun to rise. It did not take long for us to reach the switchbacks at the bottom of the pass, then we started up. Huffing and puffing we reached the top of the pass at 13118′. We took a short break there for pictures and to talk to a ranger, then we started a long down. As we were hiking the 8 miles down to where our trail cuts up out of the valley, thunderstorms began to build up. We stopped for a break at the bottom and it started to rain, then hail, then more rain and hail. We sat under a thick tree, umbrellas out, and watched it come down. After 20 minutes or so it let up and we started the climb. It continued to rain on and off over the next 3 or 4 hours. We hiked up to the cutoff for Bullfrog Lake then we headed east. We are heading out tomorrow to Independence to pick up food the next section. Bling was pushing to go over Kearsarge Pass today and shorten tomorrow. We had plenty of light when we reached the last place to camp before the pass, so we hiked on. This pass is lower than Forester at 11790′ but Mama Raven and I still had a hard time with the altitude. It was slow getting up, but we made it. After reaching the top I had a bloody nose.  The air is very dry and it just started bleeding.  I needed to call the hotel to arrange a time for them to pick us up tomorrow and I was told that I only had phone reception on the pass. I tried to get a signal with my smart phone to no avail. Then I switch to Mama Ravens flip phone. Flip phones have larger antennas and I was able to leave them a message. We started down. Our objective was a spring about a mile over the pass. It did not take long to reach it and we found a good location to camp. We only have about 3 miles to Onion Valley and then we will wait for our ride.

Not bad for the second day

Valley below Forester Pass (776.38 R)
Miles – 15.91
Total miles – 30.64

It was a hard night. Whisper and Bling fell asleep by 7:30. Whisper woke in the middle of the night with a headache. Instead of asking us for a Morton she lay awake, then she drifted in and out of sleep for the rest of the night. Bling wake around 1:00 and was ready to get up. He lay there for hours before drifting back asleep. When morning came both kids were ready to get up and not lay in the tents any longer. The day began by climbing up a valley next to Guyot Creek. It is not a big up, but we still had problems with the attitude. The trail went down to a small ridge and around it to Crabtree Meadow.  This is a large meadow near the base of Mt Whitney. We were running low on water, but we decided to continue now a few more miles. At Sandy Meadow we stopped to filter water and eat. Just as we were finishing, it started to sprinkle. Out came our rain coats and pack covers. The thunderstorm was to the South and we were able to hike away from it. We reached Wallace Creek and then Wright Creek. We were getting tired as we climbed up to Bighorn Plateau. Bighorn Plateau had one of the best views in the Sierra’s. The land drops away to the Kern River and you have wide open views for about 270°. Mama Raven would have loved to camp there, but it was too early. The day was getting late as we dropped down to the plateau to Tyndell Creek. After crossing the creek we stopped for dinner. We wanted to get a few more miles closer to Forester Pass so we hiked until the sunset. We were really dragging with we found a place to camp. It is just two flat pads with some rock protecting us. The temperature dropped fast and we are all now snuggled in our sleeping bags.

Well it’s a start

Rock Creek (760.43 R)
Miles – 14.73
Total miles – 14.73

Well, we started another summer backpacking trip. We left home Friday afternoon and drove to Lone Pine.  On Saturday we got our permit and dropped two boxes of at the hotel in Independence. We will be getting back there in several days. In the early afternoon, my sister and her son arrived in Lone Pine. They will be taking our car back to Reno while we hike North. This morning we all went out for breakfast, then loaded up the cars and headed to Horseshoe Meadows. The drive is about 22 miles and we climbed over 6000′.  We unloaded, talked for a bit, then the Ravens started hiking. Two days ago we were in San Diego at nearly sea level and now we were hiking at 10800′. We had to climb up Cottonwood Pass, 11145′ and then go a bit higher to Chicken Spring Lake before we could start down. The altitude was very hard on Mama and Papa Raven. The kids seemed to handle it well. It took us about two hours to reach the pass. By this time the clouds were building. We past Chicken Spring Lake and started the traverse toward the drop to Rock Creek. They was one big clap of thunder and soon it started to rain. We stopped to put on jackets and pack covers. It rained on and off for about an hour.
One nice thing about being up this high is the temperature. Down in Lone Pine it had been over 100°, back home it had been in the mid 90’s, but up here it is the high 60’s. Time for our coats to come out.
Now that the main up for the day was over we had a much easier time hiking. The altitude is mainly a problem only when we are walking up. Working our way across the mountain was not very hard and we moved along quickly. As the afternoon went on we started to slow down. This is our first day and we were feeling it. We decided to stop for the night at the Rock Creek crossing, mainly because it has bear boxes. A few hours before sundown we reached the Rock Creek crossing and found a place to setup the tents. It was earlier than normal, but it is our first day. All and all it was not bad.
Happy birthday, Mama Raven.

And Home Again

Miles – 16.97 (111.39)
Total miles – 69.74
The wind blew all night.  The tents rattled most of the night.  At some point it did calm down a bit, only to pick up toward dawn.  With the miles we have been doing we knew that we would get to our car this afternoon.  The only question was would there be time to drive to the Prius, then to the water cache, and get home before we were to tried to drive.  We packed camp and started up the trail.  There was one other hiker camped on this small shoulder.  He started hiking with us.  Over the next few miles we talked with him.  Has name is Up Hill Hike.  He just retired and is attempting his first long trail.  We all hiked into Barrel Springs.  No one needed water so we just stopped for a break.  Mama Raven checked out the tank the spring flows into and found soft drinks in the cold water.  We split two and took two for lunch.  Up Hill Hike went on while we took a break.  We are very familiar with the trail from here to our car.  This is one of our favorite day hiking areas.  We headed off into the open grassy plains in the toward San Ysidro Creek.  This is a big cattle ranch, but the only cows we saw were way down in the valleys below us.  We have not had a lot of rain this years so the grasses were just now beginning to grow.  Most of the plains were covered with the dried brown grass stalks from last year.  We stopped for a break under the sycamore trees growing over San Ysidro Creek.  We were here one and a half months ago and the creek was not flowing, but the resent rains have revived it.  Mama Raven soaked her hurting feet.  Her planters fasciitis has returned.  We will have to get it resolved before this summers hiking trip.  From the creek the trail climbs up out of the valley and crosses more plains to Eagle Rock.  This is where we were planning on having lunch.  As we approached we could see a group of 12 horsemen around the rock.  We hiked just past the rock to a different outcropping and stopped to eat.  After the housemen left we saw 8 or 9 hikers head off in both directions.  The kids climbed the rocks and we ate our last meal for this short trip.  Soon it was time to head on.  We hiked through more plains and up onto a chaparral covered ridge.  Crossing it we dropped down to Canada Verde Creek.  This creek runs all year, and we followed it all the way to Hwy 79.  Most Thru-hikers walk to the Community Center for a place to camp, food, and showers.  Warner Springs PO is just 1.2 miles north.  But this was not for us.  Our car was on the far side, so we headed around to the second crossing of Hwy 79.  Just before reaching our car we stopped at the deserted campground.  There are picnic tables here and it is covers with huge oak tress.  It is a very nice location.  On our 2015 PCT hike we camped here.  It took a few minutes to find a path to our truck but soon we were driving south.  First stop was the water cache at Scissors Crossing.  Bling and I retrieved the water and placed it with the large cache under the bridge.  Next we all drove back to Mt. Laguna and picked up the car.  An hour and forty-five minutes later we were at home.  All and all it was a good little trip and we enjoyed getting out.