The Heavy Beauty of the High Sierra

The sky turned from milky-banded black to orange, purple, and blue, taking the rock along with it as we reached the summit of Mt. Whitney for Gretchen’s birthday sunrise.  We lounged alone at the highest point in the lower 48 for over an hour watching the Sierra stretch its colors and crags above the desert.  A hearty hard thunderstorm had welcomed us to the highlands a few days before, and it has been all wonder, beauty and elevation until the present moment, where I am sitting at a roll-top in a Lone Pine Hotel surrounded by no less than 10 signed portraits of John Wayne, and Badwater 135 mile runners limp by.  At snowy  Forester Pass, the highest point on the PCT at 13,200 ft., the high plateaus of Sequoia National Park spread in one direction, and the dragon-scale peaks of King’s Canyon National Park in the other.  The valley walk down had a hint of Pandora in its lushness.

Click for full slideshow

During the final stretch of desert, while Gretchen was warming up her hiking feet, we saw no others on the trail, lost a sandwich and nearly our lives at the hands of a oxycodon high, twice stabbed, Led Zeppelin blaring pickup driver in Fourth of July surrounded Lake Isabella while resupply hitching, and I dug cat-hole debris directly onto a luckily genial rattlesnake that I discovered once squatting.

The adventure continues with another 8 day stretch, bouncing between 8,000 ft valleys and 12,000 ft passes.  Ate my first golden trout, and plan to catch more.

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~ by Scott Hamilton Peters on July 19, 2010.

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