The PCT thru hikers were at the grill and store en mass, and were enjoying a break from the trail, and a cold beer (or 2 or 3 or more)
Met up with Craig W and Luann from meetup and drove up 395 to get to Tuolumne Meadows. Nice scenic drive. We stayed at the backpackers camp in TM for 6 bucks per camper. We met Mike, Susan and Caleb, as well as Ralph and Carmen. We arrived to late to eat at the grill(closed at 5) but got sandwiches at the store (open till 7). The backpackers camp was crowded, but had lots of good spots still available, although the rowdy PCT’ers were very loud till about 10.
June 25, Friday.
We all were ready by 7:00 a.m and shuttled cars to Dana meadows about 5 miles east on 120. The plan was to go over Parker Pass, then go over Koip Pass at 12,300 feet elevation and summit Parker or Koip if we had time or energy. We would camp 2 to 3 miles down the pass, and rejoin the PCT the next day along with Gem Pass and Donahue pass the next day.
The plan was to start semi late each day, do 13 miles with lots of elevation gain, and camp. The plane worked well, but it was tiring as we climbed about 3500 feet day 1 and 2500 or so day 2, mostly above 10,000 feet elevation, which does affect you
With a group of 8 hikers, we obviously had major speed differences. Caleb, Carmen, Ralph and Luann are speed demons and Susan and I brought up the rear. Craig was our organizer and kinda watched us all from the middle of the pack. We utilized a “slinky”’or “stretchy dauchsund” stile of group hiking with the speeders cruising ahead till we reached a pass, camp or agreed meeting place. It was nice hiking as a group, but you still got solitude while still seeing everyone at various spots and at camp and at meals.
The initial section of the trail was quite easy, but we knew the gradual climb into Parker Pass would start soon enough.
Smooth early sailing. It was warm early and hot later.
Very nice early views.
Parker Pass was somewhat anticlimactic, as you just get there and then continue on to the very daunting Koip pass.
As we continued past Parker Pass, Koip pass continued to loom ahead (the dark patch of the mountain straight ahead). It looked barren, steep and hot, and did not look climbable at all.
Eventually we were able to see a series of semi steep 22 switchbacks leading to the top of the pass. Lots of loose rocks and tough climbing with no water once the 1k climb started.
We did reach the top of Parker pass easily. When we later reached the Koip pass, Luann went on the a 1/2 mile detour to the Koip peak, and Carmen went on ahead to find good camp spots at Algers lake.
Koip off in the distance.
More shots of the Koip pass approach.
Mono lake off in the distance as you climbed.
It just does not look climbable and looks like a moonscape.
More Mono lake
Somehow we made it to the top of Koip pass. Ralph and Craig taking a well earned rest with Mike.
The Koip peak is off in the distance. I was to tired to attempt the summit, and needed to save strength for the rocky, downhill descent to Algers camp. The 12,300 elevation did make breathing harder, but no one got altitude sickness.
Excellent views from Koip Pass.
I think that’s Algers lake downhill.
Eventually we made camp at Algers. Carmen found us nice spots, the wind was not to bad, just enough to keep mosquitos away.
Craig, Luann and Ralph improving the photo.
Carmen made it into this shot.
It was a hard but doable 1st day with between 13 to 15’miles, and about 3500 feet of elevation gain reaching 12,300 at the top. Tomorrow we go down briefly, ascend Gem pass, and then rejoin the PCT and tackle Donahue pass.