This morning was an early one and I didn't want to get up. But the group agreed to head out by 5am. When it's cold I just want to hide in my sleeping bag. We started an immediate ascent up towards Pinchot Pass. Above the tree line it was endless snow fields. The climb never ended until we hit the pass at 12,107 ft., and 4.4 miles later. The views were breathtaking as always. The mountains change formations after each pass. It's like seeing a different neighborhood. A big hood.
We dropped down into the new valley through several more miles before hitting a new tree line. I hiked solo for a while and then linked up with Big Daddy, Spacejam, and Speck. We blasted down through the trees, skiing with our packs on through little shoots. Because there is no trail I just pick a line and have fun.
We made really good time, covering 8 miles by 11am. Then we hit the south fork of the King river. It was a hundred yards long, with little islands of fallen debris. We scouted a spot to cross and while doing so heard shouts from the other side. It was Ten Gallon. He made it across and directed us to the route. We slowly worked our way through rapids, feet and legs soaked and frozen, before getting across. I slipped on a log while doing so but managed to keep my pack and camera dry. We lunched on the river bank in a beautiful dry spot and waited for the rest of the group. Eventually they came, and I yelled to them, instructed them how we crossed.
Once we all regrouped we decided to hike up above the next tree line towards Mather Pass. We have to hit it tomorrow while it's icey. The plan is always to hike up close to the pass but not too high up because it's exposed area to nasty afternoon storms. But not too low because then we have a brutal climb in the morning. We crossed a couple more large creeks, thankfully via snow ridges that haven't fully thawed yet. I feel bad for hikers that are a week behind us. Those bridges will be gone.
When we stopped for the night I could see that there is nowhere ideal to camp. It's all snowfields and a couple tree burrows. I decided to pitch my tent on snow which proved difficult, it took me all afternoon. It's so cold up here that all you can do is cook dinner and get in your bag. Tomorrow we head over Mather Pass. They say it's the scariest of all ascents. We'll wait and see for ourselves.