Day 1: Back in the Mountains

Thursday July 30, 13.5mi/21.7km

Cottonwood Pass TH (0.0/9950ft) to Ridge above Rock Creek (13.5/11,005ft) (CA)

I had a nice relaxing morning and slept in, then picked up a package from the PO, and called and arranged a ride from a local Lone Pine resident, Chuck. I grabbed a calorie dense lunch from the Carl’s Jr, and Chuck dropped me at the Cottonwood Pass trailhead at 1pm.

And a few minutes later, I was in the Wilderness!

Both options lead up to the PCT, I chose Trail Pass.

In 2015, I had accidentally missed the short 5-mile section between the two passes, and I wanted to complete that gap.

I headed for the ridge in the distance.

After 45 minutes, I was on the PCT.

I hiked thru classic Southern High Sierra terrain for most of the day, gnarled conifers and granite rocky soil.

Occasionally there was an alpine meadow, but not as frequently as the SHR. Things seem much drier here.

At the second meadow, I realized I was looking down at the headwaters of the South Fork Kern River. Neat.

I took a break at Cottonwood Pass, and I saw a couple of hikers, the first people I saw on trail today.

I continued on, and took another short break near Chicken Spring Lake. The trail doesn’t really go near the lake, so I didn’t swim in this one.

The next few miles of trail were really slow. There was almost no elevation gain, but the trail itself was super soft sand. Ugh.

I remember hiking this part Southbound in October 2015, trying to outrun a snowstorm, and it really slowed us down then too.
The boundary to enter Sequoia National Park was a nice landmark for a snack break. I think the sign is wrong, it should say PCT North.

And now I was in a new river drainage, the main Kern River.

The trails are really well marked in this section. Sequoia National Park is the southernmost NP on the PCT, they set the bar high for the rest of the parks.

Huge PCT marker.

I hiked until 6:30pm, looking for water. I didn’t find any and set up camp anyway, I’ll just have to wait until I get to Rock Creek tomorrow morning.

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