Day 27Mileage: 31.6
Total distance: 802.6
From the moment I woke up today things felt right. The air was crisp, the wind was soft, the river was flowing and the thrushes were singing. It was cold and my nose was having a hard time, but it didn’t distract me from all that I was seeing as soon as I broke camp.
I began climbing Forester Pass and entered a meadow with incredible views of peaks all around and marmots prancing in the fields. I had no idea what I was in store for and took a million photos only for them to be trumped by what was ahead.
I could see the pass in the distance as it makes a v shape on the ridge and all around was snow and small lakes and ponds that were the brightest color of blue you could imagine. Streams from snow runoff were drenching the trail and at times it was hard to know where I was.
Once I got closer to the pass I had to get my poles and slowly climb up the 13,200 foot summit. It was slow going and every second was breath taking. There was a steep drop at the top with a final walk across a snowy section that sketched me out, but after that I saw the other side of the pass and my jaw dropped. Kings canyon expanded for miles with knifed edges jutting up into the sky everywhere I looked.
The trail enters another pine forest far below the pass and beautiful rivers and creeks spread throughout the maze below. I found a nice rock and ate again before the second big climb and took another moment to remind myself that this is all real and I am experiencing it in the most honest way I can so I am not able to have regrets later down the road. A bit of sadness came over me when I realized that this will all end one day and I can’t live in this moment forever, but that is the beauty of it. This all wouldn’t be so magnificent and powerful if it were daily life, but the fact that I experiencing a fleeting journey makes it wondrous and so impactful. I am so thankful for this opportunity. It’s unreal.
I climbed the second pass and was even more amazed at the view beyond. Hundreds of smal lakes and ponds everywhere and a huge slide down the snowy hill that I was so excited for. I didn’t stay here long and began the most fun trip down a mountain I’ve ever had. I was sliding and laughing and skidding everywhere. The best part is that there were a lot of people joining me and doing the same thing. We were all lost in the magic of the sierras and it was glorious.
The trail slowly descended down into rae lakes where there are huge beautiful blue lakes that stretch for miles and miles with islands in them and crystal clear water that invite you in like sirens. Irresistible.
Eventually I dropped down to 8,000 feet and at my last bit of dinner at a suspension bridge and hiked three more miles to a campsite. The trail was smooth with a small incline as it followed a raging river to the east. I felt the warmth from the sun on my face while I hiked and kept turning around the see the view of the canyon behind me while the colors of the mountains changed with the setting sun. I came to another ford and met two hikers who told me they just saw a bear and while they were speaking pointed behind me and a mother with two cubs appeared over a ridge only to turn back and go the other way. Could this day be more perfect? It could. I kept walking and caught another hiker headed to my camp spot and when we got there we were greeted by 10 other hikers with a fire and company to share. I set up camp quickly and joined in the laughter and conversation about the days beauty. Everyone is on cloud nine and beyond themselves with the wonder they experienced today and I don’t blame them.