Wednesday, September 07, 2016

High Sierra Trail – Day 3 (Wednesday)

[Maryanne]The plan for today was (now) to get from Precipice lake, through Big Arroyo and on to Moraine Lake. While the map indicated about 10 miles, the park signs showed 13 miles. We rose early, early enough for Kyle to appreciate the stars, leaving by 7:20am and started the hike over Kaweah Gap (rising just 200 feet from the camp site – and after the previous day it seemed quite reasonable and a relief). At the top of the gap we found a plaque commemorating the parks founder Steven Mather (apparently there is one in every National Park).

An early start but soon the sun was out - along with this adorable marmot

From the pass we started the descent into the Big Arroyo Valley. Here the red and green of the Sequoias looked spectacular against white rock and with beautiful blue sky above. It was also hot, with the sun beating down on us, but the walk was (aside from the heavy packs) a pleasant stroll down to the Junction at about 9,560’. A couple that we had played tag with for the last day or so, left for a different trail at the junction – their trail went down while ours then climbed back to around 10,600’ – a long relentless climb. Eventually we made the top and had lunch for a rest, before a nice descent to Moraine Lake. While Moraine Lake isn’t technically on the High Sierra Trail, most take this slight detour as it is simply more pleasant (views) than the official trail.

A break for lunch

On route to Moraine lake we came across a dramatic cliff top area with stunning views down into a valley – we took another 30 minutes to just enjoy it.

Another excuse for a break - wow!

Moraine lake lies at 9,300 feet. We arrived late, and two solo hikers were buddied up and had already made camp. They were looking relaxed and ready for company. While we were more willing to climb into bed – we did make some time to chat, and found Julio and Greg great company. Since they were travelling in the same direction, and a similar speed as us, we expected we’d see each other again. We did make it to the lake early enough to actually bathe in the lake (cool, not toooo cold).

Camping by Moraine Lake

Despite our altitude, there were plenty of distant higher mountains reflecting in the lake, and we enjoyed a nice sunset, a hot meal, and were starting to feel quite proud of our modest achievements.

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