Friday, May 3, 2013

Part 64 - Packs Over Forester

Crabtree Meadows was postcard picturesque; a lush, flat meadow with a bucolic stream meandering through it, deer feeding at the edge of the stream, and surrounded on all sides by towering granite cliffs.  In the vicinity of the campground were three female hikers – the two sisters from Montana, Bree and Jessica, and a new acquaintance who just went by her first name, Elizabeth.

I had lunch with Elizabeth, and in the course of our conversation, we both confided to each other our concerns for the upcoming climb over Forester Pass and the weight of our packs.  We felt that the weight might severely hinder us in making the long and difficult climb, but in reality, the concern was moot, as there was no place to dump or stash any excess gear we thought we might be carrying. 

 I enjoyed visiting with Elizabeth; she was a smart and intelligent young lady – married, who had the support of her husband to make this trip alone.  After saying good-bye, I wouldn’t see her again for twelve hundred miles, when she passed me in the lava fields beyond McKenzie Pass in central Oregon.  
Crabtree Meadows was the starting point for PCT hikers to summit Mount Whitney.  Bree and Jessica had come into the campground the day before, and at three this morning, Bree started up the trail to Mount Whitney.  She had not returned by the time Elizabeth and I arrived at the campground.  Elizabeth was going to spend the night in camp and then follow the schedule as Bree had done.  For me, it was a no-brainer; I knew from the outset of the hike that I would not be trying to summit Mount Whitney.  I just didn’t have the lung/oxygen capacity to attempt such a strenuous climb.  

Forester Pass was thirteen miles from Crabtree Meadows.  I split the distance and camped for the night after crossing Wallace Creek.  Fortunately, the water in the creek was low, only calf deep, but in a high-water year, the creek would be forty feet wide and waist deep, making the crossing a bit more terrifying.  In my earlier years, I wouldn’t have thought twice about plunging into a waist-deep stream and fording forty feet to the other side with a full pack.  As I thought about it, I had such an experience in my mid-twenties. 

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