Day 56: Forester Pass & Kearsarge Pass

June 9th
Total mileage: 788
Today’s mileage: 21 (counting Kearsarge Pass)

We crossed the highest point on the PCT today! Weather was very cooperative. It was a very long day though, mostly due to all the elevation changes. Ran into a Boy Scout troop doing a 50 miler toward Whitney Portal. Here is a brief video showing Sweetums as she reached the summit of Forester Pass. She was kind enough to take several photos of me on the summit.

Honeybadger on our approach to the southside of Forester Pass.

Honeybadger approaching the south side of Forester Pass.

Sweetums on the summit of Forester Pass.

I postholed only a couple of times, where the snow beneath me gave way and I plunged a few feet down on rocks. Unfortunately I instinctly put my knuckles down one time to break my fall. This cut wasn’t too deep, but would take a month to heal because I was always gripping trekking poles.

At this point, we have just left the PCT and have begun climbing Kearsarge Pass. It is a 7 mile trail to Onion Valley Trailhead, where hikers hitchhike into the town of Independence. From there, we will shuttle to the town of Bishop to resupply and rest. Seen here is Snackies.


Approaching Forester - B&W
Honeybadger approaching the south side of Forester Pass.

The landscape was amazing. I took close to 150 photos. The sky was gray the whole day, but it didn’t rain or snow. I felt a bit of anxiety about the entire experience. This day more than any other I was hoping for a close hiking companion. It is remarkable how few people you see out here. If it weren’t for the boy scout troop, I could have counted everyone on both hands. I also felt a palpable urgency to get off the summit, only moments after having reached it. Your view goes for miles and miles, and the pressing thought is, “I have at least 7 hours of motion to go before I am in tree cover or have some level of shelter from the elements.”

I met a new hiker today, named Howly, which is slightly ironic given that he is from the big island and not a “haole” in any regard, hehe. Howly and I reached the Onion Valley Trailhead with about 10 minutes of daylight left, and we were very fortunate to catch a ride with a local geology teacher to the town of Independence. The town has a Subway sandwich shop and a Chevron. And that’s it. I was able to order my sandwich just moments before they closed. Everyone bought 6-packs at the Chevron next door and we sat outside and enjoyed our libations in the Subway parking lot. Occasionally, large semis barreled down the main drag through town, but it was otherwise eerily vacant and quiet. We are camped right now like some bums on a park there. Taking a shuttle to Bishop in the morning.

Forester Day - B&W

Kearsarge Summit #1 - B&W
Howly on our second pass for the day.

Honeybadger on our approach to the southside of Forester Pass.

The Kearsarge Pass is a 7 mile detour from the PCT, which most hikers take to return to civilization to resupply. While the PCT is rated for horses and pack animals, Kearsarge is not; meaning it has a steeper grade at times. It wasn’t too steep though, just exhausting because the day was already so long.

I reached Subway only 5 minutes before closing. Had a terrific reunion with Swiss hiker, Recon, whom I hadn’t seen for days. I was absolutely unable to make decisions. I asked the sandwich artist to make it as they would for themselves. It was a pretty wet mess. Drank 4 or 5 refills of Coke, though.
Howly, Recon and I spent the night on a green lawn in the town of Independence. We weren’t certain whether it was a public park or not, and the grass was green enough to suggest in-ground sprinklers. Howly asked if I snored. I said “no,” to which he replied “good.” Moments later, we heard snoring coming from his tent.

One thought on “Day 56: Forester Pass & Kearsarge Pass”

  1. Dramatic pictures Tim; you are on a really remarkable journey. 13,000ft plus, incredible – ‘fraid I could not make it though it would surely help my weight reduction, as it seems to have yours.

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