Forrester Pass 

Day 46,     13 Miles

Kings Canyon National Park

I retrieved my unmoved bear canister from its place beside the bear scat.  Untouched, no bear visitor in the night.  It was very cold.  I stayed in my sleeping bag and had my hot oatmeal and coffee.  I thought I’d wait till some hikers came by so I wouldn’t be crossing the icy river alone.  Finally Nibs and Monty came down the trail.  I jumped out of my warm bag and tent and started packing up so fast.  Just as I was finishing Happy and Tugboat came along!  We met Nibs and Monty waiting at the river so the 5 of us could cross together.

The water was cold and rushing.  I was almost at the other side when I slipped on a icy rock and fell in.  I dropped a pole and watched as it started to go down the river.  I can’t lose a pole!  I had to dive in after it.  My shoes and socks, my down jacket sleeves and my only pair of gloves got soaked.  I hurt my knees and hands, but I think my rushing adrenaline must have numbed the pain.

It started to snow.  I headed on up the mountainside, with Happy and Tugboat onto the ice fields.  Monty and Nibs disappeared, way ahead.  It was strange, in spite of being wet and the freezing temperatures,  I didn’t feel the cold.

Today we are going over the highest point of the PCT.  Forrester Pass at 13,200 feet.  We stopped for a rest on a bare patch of rock.  The visibility was poor.  Through the fog and falling snow we saw figures coming back towards us from the Pass.  It was Monty and Nibs?!  They said the conditions were too dangerous to attempt the pass.  No!

We sat around and debated for some time.  The Pass was miles away and I decided I wanted to get closer to see for myself.  Monty joined me.  As we came closer to the pass it stopped snowing and the fog and clouds started to lift.  Nibs caught up and he and Monty took off up the steep snowy wall towards the rocky switchbacks way above us.  I could see Happy and Tugboat now, below on the snow, coming towards the pass.

As I waited, I watched Goliath and Moaglee catch up to Happy and Tugboat.  They encouraged them.  Cheering them on and upward.  Mountain gentlemen.  At the top of the pass there was a snow covered traverse and then a scary ice ladder ascent.  Goliath and Moaglee went first.

Once at the top we were all elated.  So exciting!  Happy and I talked nonstop.  Goliath was quiet.  Tugboat hid her head in her hands, the elevation scared her.  And Moaglee got naked.  Hey, we all have our own way of celebrating.

Down, down, down the north side of Forrester Pass, running and sliding on our butts.  It was fun.  The sun was out now.  What a great day this is.

At the bottom we find our friends, Moaglee, Goliath, Sprout, Kibbles, Captain, Legs, Early, and Limpy.  They already had a big fire going.  We all take off our wet shoes and socks to dry.  The sun sets on the surrounding peaks as we eat, talk, laugh, and try to keep warm. 

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