Distance hiked today: 14.2 trail miles + 7.5 to exit over Kearsarge Pass = 21.7 miles / 34.9 km.
Forester Pass day: the first big pass of the Sierras, and the highest point on the PCT (since Mt. Whitney is off-trail) at 13,120ft. We woke at 3:30am, and were hiking by 4:30 before dawn. The valley was beautiful as the sun rose, rocky with no trees, and patches of snow. Switchbacks are cut into the cliff leading up to the pass, and I honestly don't know how we got up this pass (safely) in 2019. The conditions were insane in comparison.
It was a beautiful morning when we hit the summit, the sun shining on the north side of the pass, and only a light breeze. We could see the entire valley from the top, endless rocky peaks. There was snow on the descent, but it was still stiff in the morning and we followed deep footholds down without needing to put on microspikes.
We're exiting the mountains to go to town today, to resupply and rest. But in order to get there we need to go over Kearsarge Pass at 11,791ft, another long ascent and descent, 7.5 miles off the PCT. Exhausted, we summited the pass and then descended into the valley. Endless switchbacks, back and forth, down and down and down forever. In 2019 we had just glisaded down the snow and I never saw the trail - there must have been a LOT of snow.
And all I could think about was… we have to go back up this to get back to the trail. But that's a problem for another day.
We reached the parking lot of the trailhead and luckily a woman offered us a ride only minutes later. Once down to the highway we hitched into Bishop.
I've now completed all the miles I did in 2019 - I had exited over Kearsarge Pass into town and my thru hike sadly ended there. It's crazy that everything I've walked up to this point I'd already done. People thought me crazy to restart - why not continue where I left off? But I'd set out to thru-hike, walking the whole length in one go, and wanted to accomplish that. It's extremely demanding on the body and mind, and fewer people have successfully thru-hiked the PCT than have summited Everest.
Now, on to new trail, and on to Canada!
Total trail mileage: 788.9 miles / 1269.3 km