Destination: Paradise Valley Trail
Miles: 11 (plus 5.3 off trail Miles)
Cumulative Miles: 2349.5
Getting back into these higher elevations takes a bit of time to acclimate. Unfortunately, we don't have time to do so. We just have to hike, and hope that we'll be adjusted in a day or two. We started our day with an immediate ascent up to Kearsarge Pass at 11,760 feet.
We exited the Sierras a little over three months ago through this pass, and the extreme difference was amazing. All of the snow up to the pass was completely gone, and once we topped the pass we looked out and saw a total lack of snow. Kearsarge Pinnacles and the neighboring mountains stood without an ounce of white on their faces. Kearsarge lakes and Bullfrog lake stood in their blue beauty, unfrozen. We expected the snow to be mostly gone, but not completely.
The wind was blowing heavily, so our stay atop the pass was short. Thankfully the heavy wind also blew most of the smoke from the nearby fire away from us, and we had relatively clean air to breath, albeit thin. We dropped down from the pass, only to begin an ascent up our next pass, Glen Pass.
Glen Pass stands at 11,978 feet, the last thousand feet gained over a rough mile. We climbed slowly, frequently taking breathers. By the time we reached the top, the wind had died down. Our energy levels also dropped. Shooting for four miles past the pass for lunch, we only made two. We stopped on a large land bridge between the Rae Lakes and ate our lunch in the afternoon sun. It is so nice to be back in dry air, where lunch is enjoyed rather than inhaled between cold wet shivers.
We continued our descent down towards Woods Creek, where we realized our speed today was less than desirable. We may need to add an extra day of travel to this leg, if we don't pick up our pace. It is very likely that we were slowed greatly today due to the fact that we went over two passes, both nearly 12,000 feet. It is, however, more likely that we are still acclimating.
On the agenda for tomorrow is two passes that are both over 12,000 feet. We will wake early and make the near 4000 foot climb to the top of Pinchot Pass, and hopefully have enough time left over to go down the other side and up and over the next pass, Mather Pass.
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