Day 69: Sonora Pass

June 22, 2017: Hiked Miles 1016.9 to 1030.8 (13.8 total)

Hey look, we hiked over 1000 miles! Ehhh, kinda. 

We decided to sleep in until 6:00 today since we most likely wouldn’t be able to hitchhike successfully at the crack of dawn. Waking up warm enough to eat breakfast outside is the best feeling. It helps when you have a picnic table to sit at too. We packed up and headed out of the campground. We passed one camper who was making a campfire and Colton said he really missed camping. I reminded him that what we do everyday is called camping. But he said he misses the lazy kind of camping. Where you wake up and sit around a fire and make eggs and bacon and coffee. So I reminded him that he ate a dehydrated egg and sausage scramble this morning, which he cooked over his stove which has a fire, and he doesn’t even drink coffee, but I drank some for him. So it’s basically the same thing. I reassured him that when we’re done we can go on a lazy camping trip. 

We sat by the highway for about half an hour before we got a ride up to the trailhead from some relatives of the owner of the Kennedy Meadows Resort. They dropped us off and we started hiking a little before 9:00 and were right back in the snow right away. We started winding our way up the mountain. 

Since Colton is the faster hiker he usually navigates in the snow with his GPS on his phone since he’s out in front and I have to practically run just to keep up with him. He’s really good at using his GPS to stay right on the trail, but when you can’t see the trail because of all the snow, trying to stick right on it usually makes it way harder because of the huge snow mounds that block the trail. And if there are switchbacks on the trail, you usually overshoot the turnaround and end up overcorrecting to get back on. So I try to navigate by looking for other footprints and using my gut instincts about the lay of the land and whether we’re going down a valley our up to a pass to walk the easiest possible route. Since I knew we had to climb for three miles, when Colton’s GPS started taking us up and down every snowhill to stay on the trail, I suggested maybe we should just keep gradually going up instead of wasting energy going up and down. But somehow he took that to mean we should take a shortcut and walk straight up the mountain. So straight up we went. I’m pretty sure he was trying to kill me. And soon enough we were on a really steep edge of snow with a rock wall on our left that had a gap between it and the snow that went straight down 20 or so feet and a steep snowy slope to our right, that would not have a good ending if you were to slide down. Our little shortcut had put us on the wrong side of the mountain for going up it and now we were paying for it.

After all the risky situations we have been in over the past month, I thought we were finally on the safer side of things and now I was right back in an incredibly unsafe climb. I started to have a mental breakdown. I just couldn’t believe we had put ourselves in this situation when we didn’t need to be. Going down wouldn’t be safe with how soft the snow already was so we had to go up. Colton was yelling at me to calm down and I was yelling at him to stop yelling at me so I could. It was not a fun situation. 

We got our ice axes out (after just saying yesterday we probably wouldn’t have to use them again) and started stepping footholes into the snow and using our axes to support us as we made our way up. The snow was soft which made things scary, because even good footholes and ice ax plantings can give out if it’s too soft. But we took our time and slowly climbed to the top. And then did the same thing to get across to the trail. We apologized for yelling at each other and moved on. You learn pretty quickly out here to make up and move on from little fights. There’s no time for pettiness or stubbornness when safety and survival are at risk.

We still had quite a few steep snow passes to cross along the ridge to the top and then back down the other side of the mountain, but these ones had at least been walked across by others recently so we didn’t have to cut our own steps.  

Once we passed the saddle out of the mountain, the slopes became a little more gradual as we made our way down the canyon and we slipped and slid most of the way down. We walked along a creek for awhile and found a good log to cross on. 

Kidding. We’re not crazy, remember?

We passed a bunch of seasonal waterfalls. 

And passed all these little buds trying to pop up.  

It’s officially Summer, the plants think it’s Spring, and the snow thinks it’s Winter. Life is so confusing out here. 

Our trail cleared up.

Seriously, nothing makes us happier than a real trail.

And passed through some “small streams”.

Or waterfalls. Same thing, right?

We switched from up to down, snow to dirt, aspect to aspect all day. 

It was exhausting, but for me it’s better than a continuous climb. At least it makes things interesting.

We didn’t eat lunch until after two since we got a late start this morning and wanted to try and get as many miles in as possible before then. And then we only hiked a couple hours after lunch since the snow was so soft and slippery and we wanted to get into camp by 5:30 to get back on a good routine of going to bed early so we can wake up early. 

It took awhile to find a decent place to put our tent that was flat and not covered in snow. Eventually we found one that would work and set up camp and enjoyed some sun for a bit before it was enveloped by the clouds moving in. We’re praying they’re not rain clouds! We had a nice relaxing dinner and enjoyed talking about stuff besides the trail for once. I love getting to camp early to have time to relax and stretch and take our time doing things and not feel rushed by the setting sun. Even though we got here early enough, the clouds put a damper on drying our shoes out. Oh well, nothing new. 

Colton realized that the mosquito spray we had just bought leaked all over one of his bags and wasn’t too happy about that. But I figured it might help keep the mosquitoes away better and at least he’ll smell like deet instead of BO. I don’t think he thought that was funny. 

Looks like we’re back to a cold night tonight.

 And hopefully a warm, sunny morning. 

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4 thoughts on “Day 69: Sonora Pass

  1. Love the J section! That canyon you hiked down from the summit of Sonora to the base of the canyon fills with wildflowers once the snow is gone. Really beautiful in that canyon with such a unique rock wall on the east side!

    Liked by 1 person

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