18.2 miles (Miles 770.3 – 788.5)
Wallace Creek – Bullfrog Lake Trail
There was frost on the ground in places this morning, but our water didn’t freeze, so it was cold but not too terribly cold starting out. We rock-hopped a couple of streams early, and I was quickly reminded that two dry feet are still better than one. Tears and I each accidentally dipped a foot in on the same wobbly rock. I hiked on with that wet foot for a couple of hours to see how it would do, and it was totally fine. It dried up enough to be comfortable very quickly, and made me feel more confident about crossing… I could just wade through if I had to.
I’m finding that I not only love mornings for the beauty, but it turns out that this is also my most thoughtful, prayerful and even more creative time. I like to be hiking alone in the morning so I can really take advantage of these things, and we’ve made that work the past few days.
We hiked gradually upward through some huge meadows spotted with rocks and ribboned with small streams. There were wildflowers along the stream shores, and huge, jagged mountain peaks all around. The best part about this open area we hiked through were the marmots. They were all over the place, wobbling to and fro. They are such pudgy little cuties!
The open, rocky meadow soon gave way to larger rocks that the trail wound around, small teal/blue lakes, and a far-off view of Forester Pass. This is the highest point on the PCT at 13,200 feet. Mt. Whitney was higher, but it’s not directly on the PCT.
Anyway, Forester Pass is kind of known to be “sketchy” for hiking. “Sketchy” in hiking terms usually just means dangerous. It’s not too bad until you get almost to the top where there’s this ice chute. The trail goes across this chute, which is covered in ice and snow that previous hikers have kicked foot holes into. We are fortunate to have a low-snow year, because this spot was only about 15 feet across. It’s got to be much scarier in regular to high snow years. If you fall here, the grade is so steep that you wouldn’t stop until you got to the bottom of the mountain. We had it easy. The rest of the climb before that was fabulous. There were big rocks, switchbacks, steep drop-offs, tiny flowers tucked away in rock crevices and views of unexplainable beauty.
I’m going to make a bold, yet confident statement: the views from Forester Pass beat the views from Mt. Whitney by quite a lot.
The descent off of Forester was just as fun as the ascent, only a little better – what am I going to do if this all keeps getting better all the time!? We had more switchbacks down, snow to navigate through and around, and then the trail dropped us past a pretty, crystal-clear lake. Then a stream. And another small lake, and another stream. This continued all the way back down into the trees, when we followed a large river with rapids, small falls and a soothing sound to wrap it all up. All this time we could see ginormous walls of flat rock jutting up to the sky with more mountains behind those in all cool shades of blues, purples and streaks of grayish-green.
I belong here. Every single thing about these surroundings makes my body fill with happiness. The beauty, the trails, the challenges… all of it. It’s like God made this huge playground for us to play in, and I feel so lucky to be here. At one point I stood still for a moment, just looked around me at the blue sky and amazing scenery and thought to myself “I wonder if heaven is like all this times infinity?”
I will come back here some day, and I’m going to bring Adam with me. I missed him so much today that I cried. I think being overloaded with the scenery makes me more emotional… it makes everything seem so raw. I can’t wait to see him tomorrow and give him a big, warm hug.
Tonight I love warmed-up hands on a cold morning.