Last night was much warmer than the previous night despite sleeping a thousand feet higher and there was much less condensation. We headed out a little before 7am and started the first climb of the day up to 10500' over about 4.5 miles. The views on the way up were spectacular, as were the vistas from the top. To the east we were able to see Owens Lake bed many thousands of feet below, which is dry because all the water is pumped via aqueduct to the city of Los Angeles. To the northwest we were rewarded with much more pleasant views of the high Sierra, including Mt Whitney. I could have looked at that view all day and not been bored by it. Unfortunately we had to get in more miles for the day, so we moved on.
We then descended 1000' over the next 6 miles and stopped for lunch near a meadow with the sound of frogs croaking in the distance. It felt great to take a break and I had a really hard time getting motivated for the next climb to 11200' and Chicken Spring Lake where we planned to camp for the night. The climb was nice and gradual, so Colin and I were able to take the first half of it fairly quickly. Less than a mile past Trail Pass (leading to Horseshoe Meadow and a hitch to Lone Pine) we started getting into significant snow for the first time. We made another 1.5 miles than stopped at Poison Meadow to wait for the Shotgun Sisters to catch up.
The snow in the meadow, coupled with the granite spires and rock faces, framed with evergreens was pretty awesome. Once we were all back together we made our way across the meadow and towards the lake. Since most of the ground was covered in snow, including the trail, we made a beeline for our destination. The views just kept getting better as we hiked along. A few miles from the lake we had some amazing views if Mt Whitney. We just have 20 miles to do tomorrow to set us up for a pre-sunrise hike up to the top! We also had a great view of the rock walls and scree field surrounding 2/3 of Chicken Spring Lake. I wish I had the words to describe how spectacular it is up here, but I'm afraid the only way for you to know what it's like is to come to the Sierra and see for yourself!
When we finally made our way up to the lake, it was frozen over. How cool is that! The near sheer rock walls capped with snow and overhanging cornices look amazing. Another amazing day on the trail. I would say I don't know how it could get any better, but I know exactly how... Mt Whitney Sunrise Summit in two days! Booya!
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