What a freaking day today was! We woke up in our great camp near a little brook that wouldn’t shut up, I mean that thing was babbling hard (cue drummer rimshot). We were out of camp by 7:15 am and headed for Pinchot pass. We had 4.5 miles from camp to reach the pass and we were there right around 10:15 am, which we were pretty happy with given the distance and the fact we had about 2,300 feet in elevation to climb.
From Pinchot Pass we headed down the north face of the pass with some snow but this was definitely our most manageable pass to date. We then made our way down into a valley and eventually to the south fork of the Kings River where we are our lunch. This was the low point in our hike today and it was still above 10,000 feet elevation. The fact we only had to drop from Pinchot (roughly 12,150) down about 2,000 and then back up to Mather Pass (roughly 12,100) made us think it was possible to get the double done today. Yesterday the mileage looked like we could do it but dropping from those kinds of heights all the way down to 8,500 feet threw a big wrench in that.
From the south fork of the Kings River we started the climb up to Mather Pass. The trail was actually not a terribly tough climb because it was well spread out over the valley. Mather Pass was easily the rockiest pass we have seen so far, and we arrived at the top a bit before 5 pm. From the pass we had only 3 miles or so to reach a stream crossing and a few campsites where we could call it a night. Coming down on the north side of Mather was an adventure, though. We were post-holing through the snow for a while from the top, sometimes as deep as just below the waist. Then we had to dodge the water runoff from the snow melting, which was following the trail. Then we reached another snow field and ended up losing the trail as we just focused on making it to the bottom safely through he snow. Once we got off the slope we were able to make a heading toward meeting up with the trail across some flatter and dryer ground, although still having to dodge snow run off streams making their way down to Palisades Lake.
Finally, we reached our campsites just as the sun dropped behind the high ridge off in the distance (right around 7:15 pm). We set up camp, cooked dinner, I wrote this and it’s time to call it a night after 12 hours of hiking, 2 passes of over 12,000 and a total of 17 miles for the day. zzzzZZZZZzzzz.