Day 4, Elizabeth Pass!

7:30 AM

It has been the longest night. More thunderstorms rolled through and near us all night long. Seemed like the lightning never stopped. I lay awake trying to count the seconds between the flashes and thunder. So much lightning that you can’t tell which thunder roll belongs to which flash. From about 1:00 to 5:00 AM, the rain abated. Now the rain has set in and is falling steadily. I am aborting the hike over Elizabeth Pass. Today we’ll go back down to Roaring River. Fording the stream may be difficult after all this rain. Tomorrow, we’ll head of Sugarloaf Valley and Silliman Pass, and see how far we get. That pass has a much better chance of being good weather-wise, as it’s quite a bit farther west and 1200 feet lower in elevation than Elizabeth Pass. Last time I left my tent during the night, the mosquitos attacked en masse. At least rain gear is impenetrable for them. We’ll wait out the weather a little while longer. I feel so responsible, if anything bad should happen. Not sure if I like being the “trip leader.” I barely slept. It’s going to be a hard day.

8:00 AM

The rain has finally stopped. Barbara and I are getting up and having breakfast, hoping our tents dry out a bit before we have to pack them up. Barbara thinks we should go ahead over the pass. I’m not so sure. I estimate we need at least four hours of clear-ish weather in order to avoid getting caught in the open in a thunderstorm. I’d hate to be responsible for getting Babz hit by lightning! She has decided to stop wearing her hiking boots in favor of my old pair of trail runners that she threw in her pack at the last minute. She claims that her feet are pain-free in them. Yes!

9:30 AM

The weather seems to be holding. We’re going over Elizabeth Pass.

The trail towards the pass. The actual pass is around the slope on the right, and can't be seen from here.

The trail towards the pass. The actual pass is around the slope on the right, and can’t be seen from here.

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Columbines. They came in all colors, but the pure yellow we saw only on the north side of Elizabeth Pass

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Somebody likes the rain!

Barbara is in harmony with her surroundings.

Barbara is in harmony with her surroundings.

The trail leads up and to the other side of these babies, and up some more.

The trail leads up and to the other side of these babies, and up some more.

Looking back the way we came.

Looking back the way we came.

Wildflowers everywhere.

Wildflowers everywhere.

The last stream crossing on the north side of the pass, Kings River watershed.

The last stream crossing on the north side of the pass, Kings River watershed.

The landscape up here looks like Scotland highlands or Norway.

The landscape up here looks like Scotland highlands or Norway. Barbara trudges upwards.

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The trail cuts west, and we can finally see the pass above us.

Elizabeth Pass, 11,327'

Elizabeth Pass, 11,375, looking back toward the Kings River watershed’

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The view east from the top.

Ahhhh...

Ahhhh… looking south into the Kaweah River watershed.

Little did we know that these peaks would be obscured in a matter of minutes.

Little did we know that these peaks would be obscured in a matter of minutes.

The first cloud whips up from the valley.

The first cloud whips up from the valley.

Another one follows. It will round that ridge and come right up our valley.

Another one follows. It will round that ridge and come right up our valley.

Where's the view?

Where’s the view?

Hearing thunder rolling in the distance. We hurry to get off of the exposed pass.

Hearing thunder rolling in the distance. We hurry to get off of the exposed pass. It’s a steep descent!

Looking toward Tamarack Lake. That side trip calls to me, but not today...

Looking toward Tamarack Lake. That side trip calls to me, but not today…

We regain the tree line.

We regain the tree line.

Thunder rolls and the weather closes in.

Thunder rolls and the weather closes in.

Wet manzanita. So pretty!

Wet manzanita. So pretty!

I have to stop myself from taking photos of every darned juniper.

I have to stop myself from taking photos of every darned juniper.

Pathfinder points the way

Pathfinder points the way

We stop for lunch and have a visitor.

We stop for lunch and have a visitor.

A glimpse of blue sky finally appears.

A glimpse of blue sky finally appears.

9:00 PM

My flashlight died. We’re at the High Sierra backpacking camp. Extremely hard day over Elizabeth Pass. Incredible beauty. Amazing views. Too tired to write. I have nothing but admiration for Barbara. She’s a real trooper. I’m going to sleep well tonight!

3 thoughts on “Day 4, Elizabeth Pass!

  1. The picture right above the wet manzanita is wicked scary! And what a night. To think a thin layer of silnylon and bug netting can shelter you from the enormity of what was thundering all around you for so many hours! Gorgeous photos…but some of this definitely falls into the “not fun while it’s happening, but fun to remember later on” category of fun.

    Like

  2. Love reading this and seeing you out in nature, being responsible and having fun. I hope to follow suit (in this lifetime). Great expressive photos too, thanks.

    Like

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