Some days you're the pigeon and some days your the statue. Today we were the statue.
We woke up early again, but had a slower start and weren't on the trail until 6am. Once on the trail we followed a creek, which we would be following most of the morning until crossing a small tributary of the creek and turning east off the trail to head for Kearsarge Pass and a town stop in Independence/Bishop, CA.
This time of year at the 10,000' level the trail is mostly covered with snow. Which can be cool because you can avoid switchbacks, but also make it harder to follow the trail. There are also a lot of streams, some of which are there year round, and others which are seasonal snow melt running down the mountains. These two factors came into play today.
The first trickery happened when we inadvertently crossed the wrong branch of the creek. We thought we were crossing a tributary going to a lake when we were actually crossing Vidette Creek. It was about mid-thigh deep, fast, and cold. We continued hiking for a while after that, but things didn't seem right so Gangsta Rap checked her GPS and sure enough we were now on the wrong side of Bubbs Creek running through Vidette Meadow. Now when I say Vidette Meadow, I mean where the meadow would be if it weren't covered in water. We dropped back down to Bubbs Creek and crossed the shallow part of the creek to the first channel where the creek normally flows. This water was deeper than Vidette Creek so I suggested we use a group creek crossing technique. We all unfastened our hip belts and sternum straps and placed our arms between each others backs and backpacks around the waist/lower back. Colin was upstream followed by Gangsta Rap, then 12 Ounce, and myself on the downstream side. We stepped down into the water which rose to the top of my hipbelt, and were able to make it across fairly easily. We waded through some more shallow water and then crossed the second deep channel together and made our way through more shallow water to get to the other side. All together the water was about 50 yards wide and freezing cold as usual.
When we made it to the other side all of our feet were freezing. Amazingly our luck turned around and there was a group of guys camping on the other side of the creek with a fire going! The saw and heard us crossing and offered their fire to us to warm up which we eagerly accepted. It's in contention for the best bit of trail magic yet. We sat and talked with the guys (Eric, Chris, Micah, Dave, Mark) while we warmed our feet by their fire and found out that they were doing a pre-bachelor party camping trip before heading to Tahoe for the real bachelor party. Before parting they gave us a granola bar each and some trail mix.
After that excitement we continued on and headed up the trail toward the Kearsarge Pass trail. This was fairly steep, but easy to follow and we made it up in good time, but upon reaching the top we got disoriented and it took us a good hour to figure out where the trail junction was and head off toward Kearsarge Pass. It was a long slow couple of miles up to the top of the pass where it was windy and cold, but we made it.
At 12:45 we started descending and the day was much better from there. We again took the opportunity to glissade down some sections of the snow. I can't get enough of it, it's so much fun! We made it down to the Onion Valley Trailhead around 3:20 and waited for a trail angel who was giving rides to and from the trailhead. While waiting Colin was able to get service and we made a reservation in a room at Ray's Den in Indelendence, CA.
The trail angel, Überbitch, gave 12 ounce and I a ride down, and Colin and Gangsta Rap got a ride down with Ray from Ray's Den since we didn't know when/if the trail angel was going to be coming or not.
It's good to be in town, clean, full of food, and in warmer weather! Going to be a great rest before hitting the trail again.
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