Jacob Leistra / "Game Boy" / PCT 2019

Days 54 and 55: Kearsarge (Again) and Glen

Hitch to Independence -> Kearsarge Pass Trail -> Mile 789.0 -> Mile 802.6

We savored our last hours in Bishop and were back at the Onion Valley Campground by 4:30 PM. We hiked uphill a few miles and camped along Gilbert Lake. Despite the wind, it was a gorgeous place to camp.

The next day was ambitious but doable: we would hike the remaining miles to Kearsarge Pass and rejoin the PCT, we would hike Glen Pass, and then push as far as we could to get into position to hike Pinchot Pass the next day.

The Kearsarge Pass part was straightforward and easy. I was really surprised by how much snowmelt occurred in just a couple days. The elevation wasn’t too much of a problem, and we were quickly on our way. The approach to Glen Pass wasn’t terrible, and we summited shortly after 7:30 AM. The way down, confirming what we were told, was pretty dicey. The three bootprint trails went out right at different angles. I took the middle one, which sloped down into the existing trail (that was almost completely covered with snow). The majority of others took the lowest path, which swooped down and descended to the valley the quickest.

On my way down, I heard a commotion and someone shout, “Arrest!” This, in snow travel lingo, ment to self-arrest with an ice axe when sliding out of control. I caught up with Jordan, who had already descended most of the way down the north side of Glen, after he met with the hiker who needed help. The nuts and bolts of the story are that Sea Bass, a really nice hiker I’ve only spoken to once or twice, was glissading down the steep slope when he caught an edge and started tumbling. He was able to stop himself just before colliding with some rocks midway down the mountain. He had scrapes on his hands and face, and was understandably shaken up.

After catching his breath, he made his way down to a flat area where his group was all waiting. They all have him first aid, a candy bar, words of encouragement and support, and hugs. It was really touching. As much as you could tell he was shaken up, you could tell his group was glad he wasn’t seriously injured. They were glad he caught himself from a bad accident being really, really bad. They were happy to see him still around. I was too.

We spent some time there before moving forward down the trail. We caught a couple rangers going the other direction who were told of the situation. They were going to help out the hiker who fell and see if he needed to get out of the Sierra.

The rest of the day was grueling and tiring, but amazingly beautiful. I think the highlight of the day was walking around Rae Lake. We had been up since 4:00 AM and had slogged through miles of snow, and were ending the day on an incline about 4.5 miles away from Pinchot Pass. We were beat and fell asleep as soon as the noise of the busy camp site let us.

A couple of cool things from today: we crossed the 800 mile mark, and I got to go on my first suspension bridge. It was really cool, but the way it swayed with every step scared me more than I expected.

Main Photo: The lakeside view of Rae Lakes on July 3.