After a week off the trail, I was back in Independence and ready to hike again. On Monday, May 18, Horizon, Merkel, and I got a ride up to the trailhead from the woman working at the motel. When we got up there it was cold and slightly hailing. But we put on our wet weather gear and set off. After a few minutes the hail stopped and we got to the top of Kearsarge pass in good time. We celebrated with hostess cupcakes. The fake orange flavor brought back some childhood memories.
We got down from Kearsarge and rejoined the PCT. In just two miles we had another 12,000′ pass to go over, Glen pass. The switchbacks leading up to the pass were all covered in snow but I broke trail for everyone. At the top, the clouds were really low and we could hardly see anything. Then the wind picked up and it started to hail on the way down.
Horizon was leading the way and I was only a few hundred feet behind and yet I could hardly see his footprints. We were all glad to get off the pass and for the wind to calm down. It even cleared up for a few hours and we could see a bit.
Around 10,000′ there was less snow which made walking a lot easier but there’s still a lot of water and many creek crossings.
The next day was nice and sunny, although cold. I got an earlier start than the others and made my way up to Pinchot pass pretty easily. There were some warm rocks at the top and I waited for Horizon and Merkel for an hour there.
Pinchot pass is also over 12,000′ but the angle of the pass left almost no snow on the south side and hardly any on the north side, making it the easiest one to go over. But there was still route finding and scrambling involved and after coming down none of us felt up to going over another pass that day.
Sadly, after Tuesday the foul weather came back and we had snow showers every afternoon. The mornings were usually sunny but by lunchtime the clouds would roll in and we would have to deal with the snow on the ground and from the sky.
The next day we had the last big pass to go over, Muir pass. We had heard it has a long slow approach so we thought it would be easier. Boy, were we wrong! We slogged through the snow for hours, with Horizon and I taking turns breaking trail since there were only faint footprints to follow. It was slow and hard work. At times we were going less than one mile per hour and it felt like we were at a stand still. But when we made it to the pass we were welcomed by a nice stone hut built in the 1930s.
After a snack, we started heading down but the weather changed quickly and we retreated back to the hut for an hour to let the snow pass. As soon as the wind let up, we made a break for it and got down off the pass before it really started snowing in the afternoon.
The poor weather and constant cold, wet feet put quite a damper on our moods. It was much harder to get up in the mornings knowing that we might not see much and would be uncomfortable. Horizon was feeling especially down so I wasn’t too surprised the next day when he was still in his tent at 8 am. I had taken my time packing up that morning but I was ready to go by then so I set off on my own, thinking I would see them again that night. I haven’t seen Merkel or horizon since.