I just arrived at Donner Pass early morning on Saturday 30th of June after going through the High Sierras in less than 3 weeks. What an amazing experience it has been. I started from Kennedy Meadows on June 11th and wanted to catch up to RestStop and Dude who had left Kennedy Meadows earlier the same day day. I ended up doing around 25 mile days for two days and then bumping it up to 31 miles (50 km) the day going over Forester Pass, the highest point on the PCT at 13,153 feet (4,009 m), before finally catching up to them just north of Forester Pass. They had teamed up with another hiker, Matt from Canada, and we all ended up hiking together for the rest of the Sierras. Fortunately all 4 of us were both willing and able to put in good miles and we ended up averaging 25 miles per day from Kennedy Meadows to Vermillion Valley Resort (over 7 days). This is really fast! In comparison, last year when I did the John Muir Trail I averaged less than 15 miles a day over pretty much the same section. But hey, I guess that’s what a slightly lighter backpack, significantly less snow as well as 700 miles of training can do for you. I guess I’m really starting to get into the hiker groove by now 🙂
Although I was moving really fast through the Sierras I still had an awesome experience. Seeing the Sierras in a low snow year compared to last years record high snow pack was amazing. And, I even got to see two bears. The first one at Big Dry Meadow just after leaving Kennedy Meadows (see previous post), and the second one just north of Squaw Valley the day before arriving at Donner Pass. The second bear sighting happened when I was hiking just before sunset to put in a few extra miles. I was leisurely strolling along on the trail listening to music on my phone when a big brown head with pointed ears suddenly appeared just 25 meters (80 feet) in front of me on the trail. I wrenched out my camera to try to get a photo, but the head quickly ducked down again. I slowly started walking towards it to try to get a better look and a photo, but before I could get a better look the bear set off leaving nothing but the sound of branches breaking and bushes giving way as it made its escape into the forest. Luckily for me the bear was much more afraid of me then I was of it 🙂 Unfortunately though everything happened so fast that I never managed to get a photo of it.
Anyhow, let’s make a long story short. Instead of writing up and down about the rest of my experiences in the Sierras I’ll try to let the pictures do most of the the talking. Here are some of my photos from the Sierras. Hope you enjoy.