Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Sore feet over Sonora Pass

Another weekend has gone by the wayside but I did not let it go to waste. I probably would have but Jack saved me from myself and invited me to join a group trip into Emigrant Wilderness.

I know, another bad map, what can I say I don't have a mapping program

(I stole the map from here)

The theme of the trip was to go as light as possible, you can see the original thread here at backpacking light. Thanks for organizing it Andrew!

I did make an effort to go lighter, I left out half of my clothing, went stoveless, only took one lens. It is really difficult to go really light as a photographer. Even with only one lens, I still had about 3.5 lbs of camera gear. So with 8 lbs of camping stuff and 3.5 lbs camera stuff, I was around 12 lbs. I won't complain, I did notice the difference, I think I am usually around 14 lbs plus food and water.

I drove down to Davids house on Friday night, the plan was to head to the trailhead that evening. However, Jack and I did not get in until close to Midnight, so we slept on the floor.

DAY 1: ~ 16 miles
Unfortunately, David was not feeling well and had to bail, Jack and I left around 8 and reached the trailhead at 11 am. Everybody else had left at that point but we figured we would catch up with them eventually. The day was sunny, temperatures in the upper 70's, really nice for a walk.

Jack enjoying the view
The trailhead is at 9600 feet and we started to ascend right away. We passed a number of PCT hikers heading north as we went south. The trail goes above treeline and we had incredible views in all directions

We had to cross a few patches of snow

The trail went up, then down, then up then down, then up, well you get the idea. Lots of switchbacks but the grade is pretty reasonable so if you go slow and steady, the miles go by.

Gossamer Gear Gorilla on left and Borah Gear pack on right

We were told that there was a stretch of 10 miles where there was not much water so we started out carrying around 2 liters each. However, there really was an abundance. Once I realized this I only carried 1 liter at a time and would camel up at water sources using my titanium cup and steripen. Ryan Jordan would be proud (sorry you need to be a member to view it, worth the investment though).

Watch out for the curves

We could see Eric, Sandor and Kevin ahead of us on the switchbacks. We eventually caught up with them. We spent the night at High Emigrant Lake, a really stunning place. Wildflowers were blooming everywhere.

Modelling my sleeping pad (review to come shortly) Photo Credit: Eric Lundquist
Unfortunately, I didn't get photos of the rest of the gang that day. It was all business setting up camp and getting food ready before I could think about my camera. I did stay up after sunset to get a few night photos.

Milky Way

DAY 2: ~ 13 miles

Sunrise was awesome, I wandered around for an hour or so taking pictures and enjoying the morning.

Group Shot (headnets were nice in the morning, the mosquitoes came out in force)
The next day we headed out cross country to hook up with the trail towards Kennedy Meadows.

It was a really awesome hike, mostly downhill. But my feet definitely were feeling the mileage and the rocks. We made pretty good time and ended up at Kennedy Meadows trailhead at about 2 pm. After cheeseburgers we got a ride back to Sonora Pass and headed home. Back to the grindstone with sore feet but feeling so good.