Pacific Crest Trail Journals

Kennedy Meadows to Independence

June 12 – June 18, 2010

I was out of Kennedy Meadows by 6:00 am on the 13th and set out with a fully loaded pack and an enormous eagerness to enter the High Sierra. As the trail climbed up, the terrain from Kennedy Meadows quickly transitioned into granite hillsides and sagebrush meadows. Towards the end of my first day out of Kennedy Meadows the trail reached a highpoint for the day at 10,500 feet and just to the west of Olancha Peak. I set down my fully loaded pack and threw some food and water into a day pack and began a cross country scramble to the summit of Olancha. About an hour later I reached the 12,500 foot summit where I got the best views so far north into the High Sierra.

After another day and a half of hiking I reached Crabtree Meadows where the lateral trail to Mt Whitney meets the PCT. I threw together my day pack again, grabbed my ice axe, and headed out from Crabtree Meadows just after 11:00 am. The 8.5 mile trail to the summit crossed large, snow-cupped snow fields before reaching a series of switchbacks that led to the ridge crest before Whitney’s peak. I ascended the switchbacks, ice axe occasionally in hand as the trail disappeared under steep snow fields, and soon came to the relatively flatter summit ridge which quickly took me to the nearly 14,500 foot summit. I enjoyed an hour of cloudless views on the summit before heading down and making it back to Crabtree Meadows a few hours before dark.

After three hard days out of Kennedy Meadows I took an easy day out of Crabtree Meadows. I hiked most of the way to Forrester Pass before leaving the PCT at the Shepherd Pass Trail junction. From there I made my way cross country (the Shepherd Pass trail was buried under snow) to Shepherd Pass, where I made camp on preparation for a climb to nearby Mt Tyndall’s summit the following morning. I had climbed Mt Williamson the previous year but ran out of time before I could climb Tyndall – now that I was back in the area I intended to climb it.

I reached the 14,018 summit of Mt Tyndall early the next morning and enjoyed a short rest on top before climbing back down and heading for Forrester Pass. I worked my way cross country again from Shepherd Pass and eventually met up with hiker tracks through the snow just NW of Diamond Mesa. I followed these to the base of Forrester Pass and then straight up its snowy slopes before reaching the melted out trail where it’s literally hewn into the rock.

Upon reaching the top I spotted four hikers descending the north side and took a short break before hurrying off to see who they were. I soon caught up to the Walking Sisters, who I hadn’t seen since Big Bear, and then later caught up to Turbo, who I hadn’t seen since Deep Creek, and 10 Spot, who I hadn’t met yet. I hiked with them for a ways but eventually dropped behind. They were in rush to reach Independence because 10 Spot’s pack had been lost during a stream fording and I couldn’t keep up with their urgent pace.

The next day I made my way over Kearsarge Pass and down to Onion Valley Campground where a class of ’09 hiker named Peanut Eater was running trail magic and rides to town. I headed into Independence with some other hikers, picked up my resupply package and grabbed a footlong before meeting up with Turbo and some other “old” friends at a local motel. I stayed the night and most of the next day before setting back into the Sierras.

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