Start: Tyndall Creek, PCT mile 775
Stop: Kearsarge Pass Trail
3836 ft. up, 3679 ft. down
I’m up early enough that I can eat breakfast before leaving camp. And then the climb to Forester Pass starts. I chat with Puppy part of the way up. It’s a 2200 ft., 5 mile climb which is actually quite gradual until you hit the rock wall that is Forester Pass. Incredible trail building has the trail etched into the side of the mountain. I arrive just after 10am and I’m surprised at the lack of snow. A few photos and then time to plummet to the valley floor.
It’s my plan to camp at the Vidette Meadow bear box camp but Puppy says she’ll meet me at the trail junction. When I get to the junction, Puppy isn’t there and I don’t want to backtrack to Vidette Meadow. I’m suppose to camp at bear boxes because I didn’t carry a bear canister for this section. I push out of the canyon even though I heard there is a bear that frequents Bullfrog Lake.
I set up camp early, far above Bullfrog Lake near the PCT/Kearsarge/Charlotte Lake trail junction. I’m relaxing in my tent and at dusk a noise prompts me to look out my tent. There is Mr. Bear lumbering by, not 20 ft. away. He pauses and turns around. I shout out and he kinda nods. A nod like, Yeh I’ll be back for you later. He is not frightened by me and saunters off down the trail, to Bullfrog Lake I presume.
The adrenaline kicks in and I’m shaking. Mind. Racing. In a jumble of thoughts I know the bear will be back. I know I won’t get any sleep. Immediately I know that I must packup and get out of there. But it’s pretty much dark out. Thanks to the adrenaline I get back into my hiking clothes, breakdown camp and night hike 2 miles all in about one hour. It’s a frenzied walk as I constantly scan my surroundings for any animal attackers. Thunder rumbles above me. I occasionally clack my poles together and I’m breathing heavily so hopefully I sound like a big formidable beast barreling through the forest.
I look for mountain lions above and behind me as my mind continues to race with my options. Should I hike all the way to Onion Valley trailhead? But that’s 7 miles and 2+ more hours of self-induced frenzy. If I’m not careful I’ll be one of those morons you read about on the internet. About 10pm I come to a granite ledge with a camping spot. I contemplate stopping as it feels that the adrenaline is wearing off and I’m slowing. I set up the bare minimum camp and leave my hiking clothes on just in case. Around 12am the big dipper starts to slip behind the mountains and I let myself fall asleep. It’s not particularly restful but the rest of the night is silent.