Thursday, June 24, 2010

Mile 783ish (10,800'): Forester Pass (13,180'), and lessons learned

Lessons learned the easy way:
-Afternoon snow is softer, even though it sucks when you posthole. Your ice axe actually goes in and you can self arrest with a butt cheek and an elbow. You don't slide far, just make an indent.
- When in danger of post-holing, judiciously and vigorously applied poling can help. Won't necessarily, but it can.
-Keep wet clothes on until a) hypothermic or b) wet activities cease. Keep dry clothes dry.

Lessons learned the hard way:
-Just because it's June and your maps show lakes and streams does not mean that you can get water from them. They may still be frozen.
-When choosing which set of footprints to follow, ALWAYS CONSULT YOUR MAP!!!
-You will never regret getting an early start.
-Just because you apply sunscreen every hour does not mean that you won't get sunburnt lips in snowy, 12,000 foot mountains

Forester was fun. There were miles of relatively flat snowfields before the great big wall of rock, I wish I had led the group in getting an earlier start so that we wouldn't have postholed there. The bottom half of the switchbacks were covered in snow, so we went straight up the snow. Carmen said, "It's just like the bootpack up to The Ridge at Bridger," which helped until I remembered that I've only done that hike once and the results were fairly disastrous. The chute below the pass looked super scary, but it turned out just fine. The steps and self-belays were super solid.

On the backside, we slid down on our butts, which was super fun, wedgierific, and quite painful. Unfortunately, we ran out of daylight, which I had been freaking out about all day, but we followed the footsteps of Liz and Jack who followed wrong footsteps as well, and now we're all lost together, and enjoying a fire. The trail has got to be under a lot of snow since this north face is so much snowier, so I think tomorrow we'll continue to follow the valley that the trail follows until we hit dry ground and then find the exact trail then. (Next morning note: crossed trail in morning to get water. Yay! Unfortunately the dry patch of trail was only about 20' long... Back to snow.)

We're going to try to get to Onion Valley Road and Independence to resupply tomorrow, which is 1-2 days ahead of schedule. I'm going to feel stupid hiking into town with food after going hungry, but I rationed my food responsibly according to plan, and now we're trying to bust our balls to make the miles between us and food because others didn't. Grrrr.

Oh, and by the way, every single thing I saw today was absolutely beautiful.

- Typoed on my iPhone

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