October 1st, 2018
Mm 759.5 to mm 728
Distance: 31.5 miles
0630 – 1830
It was incredible how easy 30 miles felt when not having to climb steep, high passes today. After about 2.5 weeks, I began the descent from the high Sierra. The day started off very cold and it took until about noon to really warm up.
I was watching the clouds building all day. Ever since last Thursday, we had been hearing about a weather system (remnants of a hurricane) that was supposed to come in today, bringing rain and snow. I couldn’t believe my luck in just getting beyond the last high pass and also climbing Whitney. I had the most perfect weather throughout the Sierra. But the rule of thumb for SOBOs is to be over Forester Pass by Oct 1st in order to miss the snow.
Now look what day it is and here come the clouds! Whew! I am so proud of myself for meeting the deadline. It took a lot of discipline to wake up at 4:45 am every day, push the miles and not get vortexed in towns. I only took 4 zeros in 3 months. I could now relax a little bit if I wanted to…but I probably won’t.
I was hiking fast all day, but kept turning around to catch the last few glimpses of rugged peaks. The trail still stayed mostly above 10,000′ but the scenery changed dramatically. The forest really thinned out, with basically no underbrush. There was some sage and other plants that made it look more like the desert. I could see large meadows off to the west and later, the eastern mountains and desert on the other side of the ridge.
Last glimpses of the high Sierra.
The trail passed through some rocks and crags in the afternoon, then dropped down into Death Canyon (uh oh!). There were many military aircraft flying through this canyon and I watched a fighter jet blast by at eye level.
I caught up to Ironhorse and Nails at a spring. Cuba, Bella, and Stellar all rolled in too. I had hardly seen anyone all day and now there were 6 of us. The spring had just the tiniest flow to collect from…a sign of what is to come in the desert. Water has already become pretty scarce…only every 10 miles or so.
The spring was mile 29 for the day, but as it was only 5 pm, we decided to walk a little further. We camped with Bella and Cuba and for once, everyone set up their tents. No cowboy camping tonight, as we expected rain. RAIN! It was also quite warm, even after the sun went down. We were down to 9,000′, which is still really high but a big difference from all my camps above 10,000′. I slept warm and cozy.