Upper Rae Lake (793.7) to Kings River Camp (811.4)via Pinchot Pass
Despite the ice layer on the inside of my tent I forced myself out of my sleeping bag. It was still early, maybe 5.30am. Hot coffee and Oats warmed my insides as zippers on other tents started to signal the start of the hiking day. I was first on trail with the deer and birds. The grassy meadows were covered in frost. It had been a cold night. Pinchot Pass was our goal today.
The several miles of downhill trail followed a clear mountain stream with huge rock walls on either side of the valley. Glaciers had once been in this valley, polished granite slabs complete with scouring marks is all that is left. Some sections have large boulder, other sections have enough soil for pine trees. After crossing a swinging bridge we passed the 800 mark of the trail. Oh yeah, I got this.
The climb over Pinchot Pass is 3500 feet of elevation gain over 7 miles. For me that was the hardest 7 miles of the whole PCT to date. I am almost embarrassed to say that I averaged a little over 1 mile an hour for the climb. I think I suffered from the altitude. I found climbing Mt Kilimanjaro easier than this pass. At one point I checked inside my backpack to see if anybody had put rocks in there as some cruel joke. No rocks, it was just tough. I was first to start in the morning and last to the top of the pass. Everyone was waiting for me. I received a round of applause. Everybody knew I was doing it tough. I was somewhat heartened to know that everybody else struggled on the climb today. The climb up Mt Whitney was much easier for me!
The descent from Pinchot Pass was snow covered as usual but we covered the 4 miles to camp fairly easily. As usual the 8 of us made our way to our designated cooking place, away from the tents. We discussed the day, make fun of each other, laughed and as it gets dark we are in our tents. This is the time I sit in my tent each night and write up these blog posts and review the days photos. It’s my quiet time of daily reflection. Before long it’s dark, cold and my eyes refuse to stay open. Good night.