June 5, 2017
Mile 739.33 – Horseshoe Meadow (739.33-745.29)
5.96 miles + ~2 miles side trail = 7.96 miles
I had a horrible night last night. The probably hundred mosquito bites on my legs were itching terribly, and for some reason kept causing my legs to involuntarily jerk around, both of which prevented me from ever really falling asleep. It was the first time on trail I’ve felt truly miserable, yet I would still rather be out here than be doing pretty much anything else. I think I finally fell asleep around 3 or 4, so needless to say I was not too happy when the 5:30am alarm went off. It was also pretty cold out this morning, camped above 10,000 feet, which made me want to get up even less.
I eventually forced myself out of my sleeping bag and we were hiking a bit before 6:30. I was definitely happy that we had a super short day down into Horseshoe Meadow, but the thought of descending my first Sierra pass on an hour or two of sleep made me a bit nervous. As we hiked, I tried to take deep breaths of the fresh mountain air, and focus on the beautiful views of tall pines and snowy mountains all around me.
We stopped for breakfast after just a couple of miles, where I put caffeinated peanut butter into my oats and made a double coffee breakfast shake. After that, I put on some music and was ready to fly up the remaining few miles to the top of the pass. We started crossing some small snow patches at this point, but nothing serious.
Sliding down Trail Pass
The pass was nothing like I expected. I was imagining some totally exposed slope, completely coveted in snow, but in reality it was just another forested hill, with lots of snow patches but also lots of dry trail. We had tons of fun “skiing” down the snow on our shoes. The pass had a ton of rushing streams going down it from all the snow melt, which we had to carefully hop across. It was definitely a lot less difficult and scary than I had expected. I know there’s going to be a lot more snow and passes like the one I had imagined coming up in the next section, but people have been saying that hikers have had to turn around out of Kennedy Meadows, which just can’t be true. We never encountered anything that serious.
When we made it down to the campground in Horseshoe Meadow, it was only around 10:30am. We had lunch and started trying to figure out our resupply for the next leg. We were planning to meet Dr. McDirty’s cousin, Ross, at the campground for a night, but he wasn’t due to arrive until afternoon, so we set up our tents and were about to go down for a nap, when a car pulled up and Ross arrived. He brought so much stuff with him, and totally spoiled us. He greeted us all with a beer when he arrived, and then he and Dr. McDirty went out to see the view of the mountains, while the rest of us napped for several hours.
They were gone for something like 4 hours, and we were just thinking about sending out a search party when they finally returned. Turns out they had hiked all the way back up Trail Pass to show Ross the PCT proper. Dr. McDirty is some kind of hiking machine, because the rest of us totally just sat around all afternoon.
When they got back, we made a campfire and had the most amazing dinner. There were vegetable skewers with peppers, zucchini, and onion, baked potatoes, and steaks (not for me, but very exciting for everyone else), all cooked over the fire. There were bourbon and ginger beer cocktails and red wine. It was amazing. Tomorrow we’ll be heading into Lone Pine in the morning, which I’m super excited for. Apparently it’s one of the best towns yet.