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SR178 at Walker Pass to Mt Whitney - PCT G
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mini location map2012-06-20
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SR178 at Walker Pass to Mt Whitney - PCT GSierra Nevada, CA
Sierra Nevada, CA
Backpack avatar Jun 20 2012
Backpack101.00 Miles 17,382 AEG
Backpack101.00 Miles6 Days         
17,382 ft AEG
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
I took some time off of work to hike the PCT from Walker Pass to Trail Pass. The plan was to leave my car at Walker Pass, and hitchhike back once I finished the trail. The following is what I wrote in my journal during the trip:

Day 1 6/20 18.3 Miles
Hiked from Walker Pass CG to Needle Creek. It was very hot out and I definitely needed more than the 6 liters of water that I started with. Temperatures on my watch showed between 80 and 100+ all day. I decided not to fill up my water at Joshua Tree Spring due to the Uranium. Ended up all but running out of water by the time I reached needle creek.

Met a guy named Lester early in the day a little before Mt Jenkins. Also met a girl named Evenstar just before the final saddle to needle creek, then met Special Delivery when I arrived at Needle Creek. Both Lester and Special Delivery were headed all the way to Canada, Evenstar was headed to Ashland, Oregon.

Day 2 6/21 17.1 Miles

0702 Evenstar & Special Delivery left around 0610. I hung out at camp and filtered extra water. My Calves hurt, but I am ready to go. I am not looking forward to carrying 7 liters uphill today.

0940 At the saddle above needle creek. Luckily I was in the shade most of the time I was climbing.

1642 Met Tom from Kennedy Meadows, Special Delivery, and two other guys at Chimney Creek CG. They had food and drinks (beer and soda) for PCT hikers. Unfortunately I was too tired for a beer and was really craving some Gatorade at that point. I hung out at the creek intersection until Evenstar arrived. I then left Special Delivery and Evenstar behind while I began the hike to Fox Mill Spring to purify more water. When I arrived at the spring I only had 1 liter of water left.

2009 While at Fox Mill Spring, Evenstar showed up followed shortly by Special Delivery. Everyone filtered water, then Special Delivery set up camp on the ridge above us. Just after 1800, Evenstar and I decided to hit the trail so we could shave off some distance for the trek to Kennedy Meadows the next day. Evenstar left a couple of minutes ahead of me and set up camp about 1.5 hours beyond Fox Mill Spring. I passed her camp and continued too far into a burned zone and had to choose a poor campsite in a rock filled windy area. My watch showed temps in the 80s and 90s today, so at least it was cooler than the previous day.

Day 3 6/22 21.9 Miles

0545 Very windy and cold. I woke up at 0530 to pack and hit the trail as quick as I could. I need to get out of the wind. Once I warm up on the trail I will change clothes and eat breakfast. Already saw someone pass me on the trail but couldn't tell who it was.

0945 At 0900 I met a thru hiker named Diesel. He had just hiked from Walker Pass to a spot above the basin (approximately 41 miles) in only 24 hours!!! He informed me the hiker who passed me in the morning was Lester. Diesel was going to press on to Kennedy Meadows without sleeping, but he seemed to be out of energy. I started walking down the hill with him behind me, but he soon passed me and started jogging! Incredible!

1211 Stopped at the Kern river to filter water, wash shirt/socks, and eat lunch. Did a couple casts with no luck. Lester was here when I arrived, said he had never seen Diesel and that he must have passed while Lester was filtering water at the river. Lester left shortly after I arrived, so now I am just soaking my feet in the water.

1540 Made it to Kennedy Meadows. Drank Gatorade and AZ Ice Tea. Going to continue past Kennedy Meadows CG to get a little extra mileage today. If I average about 18 miles I can exit at Trail Pass early on my 6th day and hopefully hitch a ride back to my truck at Walker Pass before sunset. It all depends on how long I have to wait for rides.

1906 Stopping for the day. Im beat. Will write more once camp is set up!

2038 Camp is all set up. Turns out I am just south of the 1st Kern River bridge so I walked down and took some photos. My camp site is much better than last night. Not rocky, no bugs, and only moderate wind. It also has a nice view! Diesel, Evenstar, and Lester were all at Kennedy Meadows when I left. I assume they are staying the night. No idea where Special Delivery is, I haven't seen him all day!

Day 4 6/23 17.9 Miles

0657 Slept well last night. Lowest temp I saw was 45 degrees. I am going to try and take things slower today, aiming for only 15 to 18 miles. I may camp near the Olancha Pass Trail. I think overnight a critter may have gnawed on my camelback bite valve. I have removed it and can still use the container, but it will be a pain.

1412 Made it to the "swallow bridge" and spent at least an hour filtering, fishing, eating, and resting. A group of fisherman across the creek caught a golden trout on worms. There are also two other thru hikers who arrived shortly after me and are hanging out resting.

Also, before reaching the bridge I met a guy dayhiking the PCT, he has done 1600 miles of it so far!

Also, a group of 3 left the bridge when I arrived. They are backpacking Kennedy Meadows to Trail Pass. I asked if I could hitch a ride out to Highway 395 with them on Monday (when they leave) and they agreed! Off to hit the trail now, I need to get a couple more hours of hiking in today!

1948 Set up camp and will now have dinner and write more later. 62.2 degrees.

2100 Its windier than I thought when I first set up camp and is now 56.8 degrees. I thought the rocks would block the wind, but oh well. I ate dinner, took photos, and tried to send a text (unsuccessful). I changed my socks, but the fresh pair is still wet from being washed at the Kern River.

I never saw anyone after leaving the Swallow Bridge and am wondering where the Trail Pass backpackers are. I don't want to miss out on the ride to the highway on Monday. Hopefully I can find them tomorrow. I am surprised I haven't seen Evenstar or any of the other thru hikers. I wonder if they all took a zero day at Kennedy Meadows?

Also, I saw a bear today, It was probably 50 to 70 yards to my right on the side of a hill. I tried to take photos of it as it ran into the trees, but it was too quick.

Today's scenery was the best of the trip so far, the views into Monache Meadow from 10,000+ feet are great. I don't have my usual 6 liters tonight since my last fill up was at the river. I have about 4 liters (excluding what I have set aside for breakfast) and assume I can find water early tomorrow. It appears I am only 3.7 miles out from a year round creek, with some seasonal springs even closer. I think I still have about 20 miles to trail pass, but I think I have done all the major elevation gain for the trip. I plan to camp within 1 or 2 hours of trail pass tomorrow so I can reach the CG early and begin my hitch hiking adventure!

Day 5 6/24 21 Miles
0714 It was very windy last night. The ignition on my stove still sparks, but won't catch flame. Fortunately I have a backup lighter. Now I am off to Trail Pass. Hopefully I can filter some water and bathe away my 5 day trail stink. Temps only hit a low of 41 overnight.

1056 Stopped at Gomez Meadow to have lunch. Right after setting down my gear a bear cub walked up to the other side of the meadow plank-way. I was probably within about 40 yards of him. He eventually wandered behind some rocks, then crossed the PCT and eventually walked into the meadow about 200 to 300 yards east of me.

Trail Pass is still further than I thought and I still have a nearly 2,000 foot climb to get there.

Haven't seen anyone in more than 20 hours. I wonder if I passed the group of 3 going to Trail Pass without noticing? Or maybe they took an alternate trail?

1939 Reached Dutch John Meadow. After Gomez Meadow I continued to Death Canyon and took a short break before the climb. Right as I was leaving, another thru hiker arrived and we had a short chat about trail conditions and water sources. I climbed the switchbacks above Death Canyon without too much difficulty and actually made good time. I pushed as hard as I could and tried to block out the pain. I took a short detour at the first corral junction, but didn't see water. I stopped at the 2nd one, and although the creek initially looked dry, I followed it upstream to the spring and found water that I was able to filter.

I am now 2.3 miles from Trail Pass and an additional 2.1 miles from the CG. So in the morning I only need to hike about 2 hours until the hitchhiking adventure begins. I still have not seen the group of 3 that agreed to give me a ride.

Day 6 6/25 4.8 Miles
0624 Tried to sleep in, but couldn't. I was up by 0530 and stayed in my sleeping bag as long as I could. Lowest temp I saw overnight was 37 degrees. The sun is now up and my watch is indicating it has risen to 66.8 degrees. Things are much easier to pack now that my food is running lower. I even have enough room in the bear vault to put my filter inside.

0756 I am now stopped at my exit to trail pass. 3 male thru hikers came by and told me about a 10ft by 8ft pool in Death Canyon that was full of big trout that looked hungry. Unfortunately I never saw this pool.

0902 I have reached the trail pass parking lot. There are approximately a dozen cars here. On the trail down I met Gourmet, a thru hiker who had just walked his friends out to hitch a ride to Lone Pine. We talked about hitchhiking and he gave me some advice.

0959 In Lone Pine now. I managed to hitch a ride from Trail Pass with a guy named Joseph (or "snacking bear" as he is known on the John Muir Trail). On the way down from Trail Pass he also picked up two more thru hikers who were hitching a ride- Major Upchuck & Apocalypse. We were quite packed in the car, and were emanating quite a stench!

1300 Finally made it back to my truck at Walker Pass! It took almost 2 hours, but I was able to hitch a ride from Lone Pine to Walker Pass with a man named Rick. He had previously backpacked the section of the PCT that I had just backpacked so we talked about the trail. He also had thru hiked the JMT and gave me some advice on my upcoming trip.
Black Bear
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