Mile reached: 670.1 (+18.8 + 2.1 bonus)
High: Stunning 360° views from the top of Owens Peak
Low: A thunderstorm came out of nowhere in the late afternoon cutting my day short.
Times tent has been set up: 3
Rainstorms on trail: 1
The morning started off lazily. The Walker Pass Campground was in a shadow, so it took longer to finally feel the warmth of the rising sun. So, I was content to wait patiently in my quilt. Eventually, Matt was up and offered to make breakfast. We split a Guinness and ate corned beef hash, which I rolled up in tortillas (Irish breakfast burrito?).
I said goodbye to Matt, collected some water from the cache, and set out for the other side of the pass. The climb up and out of the pass was on sunny southern exposed slopes. In contrast to all of the trees on the north side of Scodie, it was mostly just grass and scattered Pinyons. The trail definitely still felt like the desert. However, the Owens Range is much more dramatic. There were beautiful views of the numerous desert ranges to the east, and Owens Peak itself towered above.
Eventually, the PCT crossed a saddle just 1,200 vertical feet below Owens Peak and maybe a mile away. Owens having over 2,000 feet of prominence (P2K), how could I resist? So, I dropped my pack in the trees and followed a climbers trail to the summit. Unlike with Scodie this route was well cairned, and the only challenge was the modest amount of class 3 scrambling across talus fields along the ridge. I briefly enjoyed the summit and was back at my pack by early afternoon.
The rest of the day seemed to drag on. The cool weather was finally gone, and it was sweltering in the afternoon sun. Also, scrambling with shoes that have been so worn down probably wasn’t great for my feet. At some point, I decided to take a short break, when all of a sudden it started raining. There was a localized thunderstorm right over me and blue sky elsewhere. I waited for a bit, but the intensity of the rain continued to increase. Finally, I relented and set up my tent to get out of the rain, which continued for another hour or two.
With camp all set up and various things aching, I opted to call it a day. Rather than try to push a few more miles in the night, I’d wake up early in the morning to crush the remaining miles to Kennedy Meadows and the end of the desert!