Tenting near the confluence of Palisade Creek and Middle Fork Kings River (827.5), walked 18.3 miles today
Was surprisingly warm all last night even though my water bottles all froze, woke up to a baking hot morning by Sierra standards, meaning the sun was on my tent and I couldn't see my breath and my hands didn't go numb at any point. On the road by 8:30. Legs felt fine, but my mind was not fit for pushing miles today ... took indulgent, aimless breaks wherever I felt like it. Was about 2 trail miles short of Mather Pass in the midst of one such break in the late morning when I heard what sounded like a huge rockfall for about 45 seconds somewhere off in the distance. It was coming from an area that I didn't think was Mather Pass, but once I was walking again I realized that the trail was taking us straight toward that area. On the way up I half expected to see part of the trail buried and having to make sure no hikers were involved, but that wasn't the case, the trail was pretty clear ... Later I ran into some people who had seen it happen and they said boulders really were bouncing over the trail. That could've been me in the way if I hadn't been so lazy all morning. Can't tell if having been there would have been more or less exciting than witnessing yesterday's misadventure with the donkeys on Glen Pass.
Back side of Mather had a few sketchy snow passages, during which I even borrowed someone's trekking pole, then after that it was a long, slow descent for about 9 miles. Palisade Lakes after a few miles were definitely stunning, but about a half-mile after that the PCT gods cranked the scenery up to 11. Absolutely mind-blowing views of the Palisade Creek cascade/gorge leading down into a very deep valley with very steep slopes all around it. There are some pictures, including the one with me in it, and they do an okay job with the general idea but they don't do the scale justice at all. It was a YOOGE view from the top.
After getting down into that valley itself there actually wasn't a ton to look at, as it was all forested. Got to the very bottom of the descent, started back up again and after about a tenth of a mile of going uphill said the hell with this I'm stopping for the night. Ash, from Texas, with whom I'd hiked on and off during the day, helped confirm my decision by pointing out that our site overlooks not one, not two, but three different river valleys. Two other girls, Skedaddle and Beer Float, walked by later and likewise abandoned their climbing plans to camp here. Three ladies plus Scrub ... They must all be curious to see what I'm working with for Hike Naked Day tomorrow :o