The air is thin at 14,505 feet. Mile – 789

Finally making it out of Kennedy Meadows, there was a buzz in the air. Entering the Sierra Nevada range, only getting a few miles in after getting an ice ax delivered late in the evening. A chill was in the air and snow was beginning to fall. By morning a light trace of snow covered the trail.  The slow climb into the mountains brought more snow and wet feet.  After a long desert hike, layering up and experiencing the drastically different landscape and climate, it was impossible to be in poor spirits. 

 This was the first time I have camped in the snow. My gear performed well and in the morning, though it was difficult to rise from a warm sleeping bag, the skies cleared and offered breathtaking views of the mountains, meadows and valleys surrounding the trail.

   
  
 The snow was deep at times but the sun was warm and melting it fast. After climbing the first mountain pass the trail dried up and offered a dry snowless camp for the night.

  
The next day was a unplanned exit into Lone Pine for a quick resupply due to the lower miles from hiking in the snow and getting acclimated to the 10,000 foot elevation.  Exiting through Horseshow Meadow turned out to be an amazing hike. A massive grassy meadow with a trout filled stream, surrounded by snowy peaks, I was experiencing an urge to just quit hiking and spend the rest of the day laying in the grass.

  
After getting some food in town and heading back to the meadow for the night, I learned a cold lesson about low pockets in the Sierras.  Waking up to a frozen tent and frozen sleeping bag, I was sure the temperature dropped into the teens over night.
  
Over these next few days, all thoughts and worries about the trail melted away into the stunning landscape. Hiking in the pines and constantly surrounded by water gave an ease to the trail despite the demanding climbs.

   
 Late in the evening I hiked into Crabtree Meadow, which marked the beginning of a beautiful unforgettable section of the trail.  I jumped at the opportunity to climb Mt. Whitney, the highest point in the lower 48. The climb was strenuous but the frequent stops to catch my breath, I was able to take in the reflective lake views and many peaks, yet to be climbed.

   
 Reaching the summit, I felt a rush of accomplishment like I’ve never felt before. Everything about the day tugged at my emotions. This was the challenge that I was looking for. This climb required a lot of will and determination that I’ve yet to experience on the trail.

   
            After reaching the summit and taking many remarkable pictures, it was time to get down.  Returning to Crabtree Meadow and getting a much needed rest, the next morning I headed to the first major pass on the trail and the highest point on the Pacific Crest Trail. Forester Pass.  The original plan was to make a short day and hike within striking distance of the pass. But yet again, weather loomed in the back of my mind and a few other hikers and I decided it was best to push it over the pass and get down to a lower elevation.  So we pushed it.  The hike to the pass was not too difficult but the North side is indescribable. So I will just show you what I can. 

   
     
   

  

  

  

  

  

  

 Forester pass was a big day. We all rested up and started our hike the next day to Kearsarge Pass to get into town for another resupply. Upon waking up, snow began to fall.  Getting out of Kearsarge was no easy task. It was a full pass and the snow made for a long hard hike. Beatific views broke when the clouds offered some light but continuing on the trail, the weather worsened. Staying dry and warm, I made it over the pass. Eager to get to town, food supply was low and the snow made for a tough hitch. But me and a few other hikers made it to town and into Bishop.  The snow doesn’t bother us but the clouds cover the views and its necessary to wait out the storms. It may be a few days till the storm clears, so for now Bishop is base camp and food is our priority.  

    

  
  

    

   
  
Oh yeah new shoes.  

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20 thoughts on “The air is thin at 14,505 feet. Mile – 789

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  1. I am following you. Planning for your food distributions was very interesting. When you mailed food packages did you have to buy boxing and tape etc. Was there a place to post things where you bought them? My husband and I thought your rational for your resupply was very exciting. Is it working out? We are retired backpackers in our 70’s.
    Take care and hike on,
    Margaret

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    1. Thank you for following! I use USPS flat rate boxes. The boxes are free and usually already have tape on them. It is working out really well. I haven’t had to send too many boxes from the trail yet as larger towns are more common. As I go further north in the Siarras and into Washington I will have to send more.

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    1. I don’t think the ice ax was completely necessary but there were a few sections that it felt nice to have, especially if it had been icy. There are a few more passes that it may be necessary if I hit them in the morning as the snow will harden. Glen pass is supposed to be dicey, micro spikes definitely needed most times.

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      1. Thanks for your reply Anthony. I plan on taking micro spikes (but no ice ax) when I start at Kennedy Meadows in early June. Stay safe out there & enjoy! I’ll be following your progress. Be sure to allow time for the North Cascades. Most thru-hikers blast thru and miss the splendor. I’ve hiked from Snoq. Pass to Canada & it’s wonderful. Cheers!

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      2. Definitely going to take my time. You may not need the microspikes in June, but it doesn’t hurt, you can always send them home.

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  2. Thank you for your posts. I am the Mom of a PCT thru hiker about two weeks behind you. Judd, trail named “Clutch” from Portland is also a friend of your friend, Travis. Clutch should be arriving in Kennedy Meadows in the next couple of days. I have enjoyed reading your great adventure and what is ahead for my son. I hope he catches up to you at some point on the trail and you can share part of this adventure together. We plan on “Trail Angeling” when you get close to Mt. Hood. Keep us posted!

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    1. Thank you! I am liking the jet boil so far. The burner is a little weak but It still is very efficient and wind resistant. I ditched the cozy and made a reflectix cozy instead because it did not retain heat that well. Should be good now.

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  3. Been following your journey on IG (I’m @sansersans) and your blog. Really enjoyable reading your blog and checking out the awesome pics and watching your trip in near real-time. I watched your gear vids and was curious if all your amazing photos are from your iPhone 6? Sounded like it. Really awesome photos. The best on #pct2015 I have seen. If using iPhone what if anything are you editing with? Native photos app or something better?

    Happy trails!
    Jason

    PS – Whitney is awesome! Your pic makes me want to do it again stat.

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  4. Anthony, my heart soars with you as you summit through this incredible country. My home. The pictures are unbelievable and I remember the feelings you’re experiencing, as I too, could not breathe enough of the air in the Sierras nor take in and capture the intenseness of the beauty. You are so fortunate to be able to capture the awesomeness. I have only memories. Thank you for being the awesome person you are and taking this incredible adventure. Mom

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