I snapped a quick pic as this couple went to the shoreline to check out the view.

I slept in a little since I knew I had Forester pass coming up at the end of the day and there would be very little chance I could tackle it today.  I was off at 6:15 and the trail was pretty much the same as yesterday.  A little climb,  little level, a little down.

Mt Whitney is the highest point in the contiguous 48 states, but I did not have enough spare food to make the 8 mile side trip.

I was dragging early in the morning, so I made some coffee and that helped quite a bit.  I stopped by a stream at 11 to have first lunch and break for an hour.  Shortly after the climb up from the stream I got tired and lazy.  Not sure if I need more sleep, more food, or just some rest.  I could have rolled out the mat and taken a nap, but it was just a perfect day weather wise.  The temperature must have been about 70 and a gentle breeze blowing steadily.  Perhaps I was just sleepy from eating.

There are lush meadows, good trees, and outstanding views around Mt Whitney.

Around 3 PM it started to cloud up.  I thought I better stop and cook second lunch before the rains came because cooking in the rain sucks.  My timing was good because about thirty minutes after starting up again, it started to rain.  Wait, no, that’s not rain, it’s sleet.  Big mushy ice blobs splattering all over the ground and rocks.  After five minutes it turned to hail.  It continued to hail off and on over the next hour.  It made the hike interesting, but it was very loud under the umbrella.  I kept leapfrogging three other hikers as they sought refuge under large trees.

This is just a small patch of snow, but it’s obvious that more is coming soon.

The view during the latter stages of the hail was breathtaking.  We came to a high Alpine meadow that was almost tundra like.  There were snow drifts here and there and a lake right at the top.  The distant range still had lots of snow cover and was illuminated by the sun.  I snapped a picture as a couple I was hiking with went down to the lake.  I spent my idle time playing in the snow.

The first “Sound of Music” moment came shortly after the hail stopped.

I wouldn’t trade being here for anything in the world.

As I neared the last camp before Forester pass, there was another stream to cross.  This was probably the fourth one of the day.  All of the others I was able to rock hop across them and only get my toes wet.  This one, however, was a wader.  The rocks to hop across were a foot under water and the base of the river was over two feet deep.  Since I was less than five miles from Forester pass, I decided to take my shoes off to keep them dry for tomorrow.  I waded across and the water was so cold, it was extremely painful on my feet.  This is definitely a snow melt fed stream.  I suspect from Forester pass itself.

I camped early,  just on the other side of the river so I could wash some socks and do a little housekeeping.  There are no more tent sites between here and the pass itself other than a flat spot by some lakes that are at about 12,200 ft and very exposed to the weather.  All the terrain from here to there is steep, and finding a campsite is unlikely.  I don’t want to get too close, either, because the snow could ice over during the night.  If I leave around six, I should get to the pass around nine, so that should be good timing.  The North side has far more snow, so descending at ten should be about perfect.  My campsite is at about 11,000 ft and Forester pass is 13,200, so 2,200 ft of climb in the morning is not too bad.  I should get some coffee ready now.