Total Miles: 769.2
When I turned my headlamp on at 1am and saw a thin blanket of snow on the ground, I knew it was going to be an interesting day. Minutes after turning in last night, the thunder and lightning show reached a fever pitch as hail began pelting my tent. The rest of the night passed by with lulls and snowflakes in equal measure. Cozy in my sleeping bag, I was curious to see exactly what I would find when I finally yanked myself into the light. What I found was a clearing sky and a beautiful blanket of snow.
With no wind, it was actually quite pleasant hiking, my neoprene socks keeping my sandaled feet toasty warm. The coating of snow only punctuated the vividness of the orange-hued bark of the trees, the green of their foliage, and the blue of the sky that seemed to be slowly evicting the storm clouds.
Since Proton called an audible yesterday and decided to push on to try a summit attempt on Mt. Whitney, Beardoh, Sweet Pea and I tramped our way through the snow and into Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Parks. But what began as a pleasant snowy morning and looked to be a beautiful afternoon quickly turned into something quite different.
Just after midday, the storm clouds again gathered in all directions and the hail began anew. Hoping it would be a passing front, we pitched a tarp and sat underneath it waiting for the worst to pass. Two hours later, little had changed other than the hail giving way to heavier amounts of snow. Slowly getting colder as we sat in all our layers, we decided to press on in the snow to warm up and hopefully finish a few more miles. Without any wind to speak of, it was like hiking through a giant snow globe, the snow falling silently as we climbed up and over Guyot Pass.
As we descended towards the junction with the John Muir Trail, the snow line around 10,500' feet was perfectly clear.
A few final miles later, the clouds at last began to relinquish their control of the sky and the trademark blue of the Sierra slowly returned just as we saw the familiar face of Proton. With the conditions only having become significantly worse at the foot of Mt. Whitney, he'd wisely pulled the plug on his summit attempt and retraced his steps back to the PCT. Everyone is exhausted from the trials of the day, where so much energy had been spent simply staying warm and managing the conditions as best as possible while still making forward progress. A well-earned sleep awaits for all.