(all images are clickable for a larger version)
Today I wanted to refill my bear can down in Onion valley. So I left my tent and most other stuff at the trail junction, and started not too late – 8:45 am – off the JMT along the Bullfrog Lake trail with a lightweight backpack. This trail joins the Kearsarge Pass trail after about 2 miles. I met a mule train – well, it consisted only of the leading mule and one cargo mule, to supply some hikers who did not want to go down themselves.
After 2.4 miles and 1300 ft elevation gain I reached the Kearsarge Pass at 11.760 ft.
On my way down into the valley I heard someone speak Swedish. And in fact it was a couple from Stockholm, Sandra and Carl, who walked the same trail. We found out that they had a plan and schedule very similar to mine: they had started 2 days later than me but skipped Mt. Whitney, and wanted to be at Happy Isles in Yosemite Valley also 2 days after me. We continued together – they walked a bit faster but had more breaks – down to Onion valley. The next two weeks I met them often along the trail, until a farewell lunch at Tuolumne Meadows.
It got hotter and hotter walking down. I was happy to have enough water with me. Soon one had a first view into Owens Valley, and later even saw the road up to the Onion valley campsite, where I had stayed for one night a week ago. We were happy when we approached the parking lot.
At the parking lot I first had to search for the right bear locker – in which one had I put my bucket? – but finally could successfully retrieve my treasures. I filled the bear can and put aside some more food for tonight. I restarted around 2 pm. Now the hard part began, with all the food in the pack, and uphill.
Close to the pass I met a landscape photographer with his tripod and camera set up for a shot on the Pothole Lake. He told me he was now up here the 5th time, trying to catch the right mixture of dramatic light and clouds, but until now he had not hit the right moment. I fear he may have to make this tour up and down the pass some more times until he can meet his ambition. For me the light was good enough for a shot.
I arrived on top of the pass around 6 pm after an elevation gain of 2.700 ft. But then another 2.4 miles and 1.300 ft descent waited for me.
After a tough day of over 11 h I arrived back at my tent when it got really dark, around 8:15 pm. A late dinner, set up the camera for another milkyway timelapse, and then I slept well and long.