We had plans to meet friends the day after climbing up and over Forester Pass. After coming down from the pass, we camped in a relatively snow free spot near Vidette Meadow. We were only a few miles from Kearsarge Pass (the planned meet point), so we slept in until 7 and took our time packing up.
When we finally got on the trail, we were surprised to find two other hikers camped within shouting distance of where we had stayed. We hadn’t seen a single person the day before, and here were two people camped practically right next to us! They were both off to a slow start as well. Hiking through snow is exhausting for everyone.
We departed the PCT at Mile 788.5 and headed east past Bullfrog Lake, towards Kearsarge Pass (11,771′).
The wind picked up as we neared the top. We really had to lean into it to take our last few steps up and over the pass. The forecast called for 70 mph gusts that night!
We met our friends, Casey and Lacey, somewhere on the way down. The four of us decided to set up camp at Gilbert Lake – a little bit lower and hopefully more sheltered from the wind. We were sharing wine and sorting through the resupply of food that they had brought us when a wind gust completely flattened their tent. It popped back up after a few long seconds. So much for finding a wind sheltered campsite.
Our original plan was to pick up the resupply and continue on, but we changed our minds at the last minute. The weather was looking pretty unsettled and we both felt like we needed a break before tackling the next few passes. We decided to hike the rest of the way out and spend a couple of nights off the trail.
We’ve spent the past day and a half eating a lot, resting, and tweaking some of our gear choices. The gear shop in Lone Pine helped us replace the busted tips on our trekking poles. We also picked up some additional clothing to get us through the forecasted temperatures ahead (low 20’s at night). Tomorrow morning we’ll head back to the trail, bright and early.