A thru-hike is logistically complicated. Luckily, we had two cars on our trip, so we placed a car at both the starting and ending trailhead. It took a few hours to place the getaway car at Whitney Portal then drive to Onion Valley for our departure on the trail. This time of year the days are only light for about 12 hours, and in the alpine zone, mountain shadows linger for hours after sunrise and before sunset.
We started our journey on foot at 2 pm, much later than intended. We only had 5 hours of light left. Our goal was to hike 10.6 miles to a camp in upper Kings Canyon. The first 3.8 miles were all uphill, rising nearly 3000 ft to the first major foot pass of our journey, Kearsarge pass at 11,800'.
It was warm, 50 degrees, there was no wind. We had all our layers off to avoid sweating.
We were excited.
Fall colors were in full peak at 10,000ft. Soon we'd be in those clouds above.
Sure enough, the weather got spooky in the clouds at 11,000ft on Kearsarge Pass.
We lost the sun behind the mountains around 5:30pm. And it was so so cold. A steady breeze chilled our bones. We layered up with insulated jackets and shells to break the wind.
@xelanil was tired. We all were. Having been a sea level for weeks before, the elevation beat us. It was a slow slog to the top of the pass.
We crested Kearsarge Pass at 6:30 pm. It was pitch black. We were hiking with headlamps at this point. I convinced Alex and Kevin we needed to freeze our butts off to photograph the Kearsarge Pinnacles. I propped my camera on a rock and pointed it into the black abyss. A 30 seconds exposure at ISO 320, f/1.8 21mm produced this:
I saw stoked, but shivering. We hiked into the night for an hour. And stopped 5 miles short of our planned camping spot.
We didn't get as far as we wanted to 😢