Friday, Aug 5, 2022
Start: campsite 0.3mi from Baxter Creek
End: campsite 1mi from Kearsarge Pass
Elevation gain/loss: 3114’/1467′
We were awake at 5:30am but it was still raining so we drowsed until 6:30am then packed up in the rain. I checked the weather on my Garmin while it was pouring and it said 30% chance of rain, which made it hard to trust the weather forecast going forward. We were hiking by 7:45am.
Many trail sections were flooded, and at least 3 of our water crossings were swollen to the point where wading across in knee-deep icy water was the only option. Our shoes were soaked already and it was still raining so we just walked through in our shoes. Our wet feet never dried out, shredding Toby’s skin and making my feet so cold that my Reynaud’s made my toes completely numb for most of the day. We were both worried about hypothermia, being unable to get dry and warm.
It was a slow and wickedly cold day. It never got above 55 and the sun never came out to dry our gear or clothes. And to add insult to injury, it was raining or misting all day. We climbed up to Arrowhead and Rae Lakes, then started the eternal and sketchy climb up Glen Pass. The wind was howling up to 30 MPH, and shoved us around. We heard thunder, were rained on, and had poor visibility with clouds socking in the Pass. It was a nerve wracking experience and Toby had a lot of trouble with dizziness, and struggled with nausea all day. On our descent from Glen, the storms had washed out portions of the trail, including a moderate rock fall directly on trail close to the top of the Pass.
With such a toll on our bodies and no idea when the weather would improve, we decided to exit at Kearsarge Pass/Onion Valley; we’ll be in town tomorrow. The weather has been highly unpredictable and unseasonable, and the cold rain and lack of sun to dry out our gear has been miserable. Before we even left Bishop for this hike, we received news that Whitney Portal Road was closed due to rock falls and we didn’t know when that would open up again. It added a lot of stress and uncertainty. If we had experienced normal weather, I think we would have been completely successful. It’s very unfortunate we ended up in a week-long monsoon.
With the cold, we also neglected our hydration and fueling today because stopping made us start shivering, so we both bonked really hard in the afternoon as we started the climb up towards Kearsarge. We ran out of water and I hiked ahead to find and filter some, leaving Toby to walk alone on his own. By the time I made it back, Toby was struggling very hard, and it was a challenging walk until we could find a campsite on the ridge for the night around 5:30pm.
The wind was blowing hard, with gusts up to 50 MPH, and the tent was knocked over three times before I located large enough rocks to stabilize the stakes. Passing clouds intermittently sprinkled us with rain. Toby was shivering while wearing all of his clothes so I had him go into the tent, set up his sleep mat and damp sleeping bag, and get inside his bag. While he did that, I created a 3-sided wind break using my bear canister, backpack, and a tree so I could cook some hot food.
After dinner, we hunkered down in the tent and fell asleep almost immediately, so glad for a mostly dry tent and drying gear.