Distance hiked today: 4.6 trail miles + 7.5 over Kearsarge Pass to enter = 12.1 miles / 19.5 km
Back to trail we go, with full and heavy packs. We caught a bus back to Independence, and from there hitched up the road to the trailhead. An old pickup truck came along and picked up at least 8 hikers and our bags, piled into the box.
And then the long climb up Kearsarge Pass began to get back to the PCT. I don't know if it was because I had extremely low expectations, but surprisingly it didn't seem too bad. Colin broke a trekking pole about 2 miles in, but he jammed it back together and threw a piece of duct tape on it so it will hopefully last until we can find new ones.
We enjoyed the view in reverse at the top of the pass, before continuing about 1 mile up the PCT to the base of Glen Pass. It's typical to go over the passes in the early morning, when the snow is still hard. But it was only 3 more miles to go over it and it was still early evening, so we decided to go for it.
The pass was beautiful, as everything is out here. We climbed up steep rock steps and over patches of snow to the top, and put on our microspikes for the descent, which was snow covered and on a steeper sidehill. With deep footprints in the snow from previous hikers we had no trouble descending to Rae Lakes, and found an epic lake-front campsite which had 2 rock loungers constructed with flat rocks, just for us.
NOW it feels like we're in the true Sierra Mountains, with water everywhere and more trees and plant life, compared to the dry and sandy landscapes we had before.
Total trail mileage: 793.5 miles / 1276.7 km