I've been AWOL for a few weeks, so it's time I caught up on a few things. The Vision Quest 2013 is complete and, for a number of reasons, was not what we had planned. Still, some visions were had, I look forward to more. The first change was abandoning the ascent of Olancha Peak. Since the number of participants had dwindled to just four total, there was no point in taking two vehicles, so the shuttle between points on the trip would not work. More worrisome was the possible lack of water. After ascending Cirque Peak earlier in the month, we could see that Olancha Peak was dry, dry, dry. Since this is the second dry year in a row, I couldn't be sure the spring on the descent would be available, and for sure there would be no snow. What to do? We shifted to a hike in the Kearsarge Pass region further north that had streams and lakes and, because of higher altitude, snow, as you can see above. While not a brutal outing as I'd expected on Olancha, it was extraordinarily beautiful, sufficiently hydrated, and still challenging. From a camp near a lake, we ascended to Kearsarge Pass and topped Gould Peak from there, over 13,000 ft. above sea level. The main challenges we faced were thin air and very stout winds, so much so that we only camped one night because no one was getting any sleep--oh, and I forgot to pack Jodi's sleeping bag! I carried a queen-sized comforter from the camper instead, but it was not fully up to the job with the cold weather. The upside was that we saw few other hikers, and the mosquitoes were yet to make their appearance. It was good to be in the high country again.
The next complication was Kevin's illness. He'd contracted some bug at the end of the semester, and while he was able to hike in and get up the peak, it wasn't easy, and the infection was still growing. By the time we got to the rock climbing portion of the trip, Kevin was an unhappy camper. He rallied periodically so that we could chat around the table in the camper and such, but the very cold--low 20's F.--nights at the rock climbing area were not good for him, so the trip was cut short by a few days and we worked our way home. So, all in all, an okay but not great outing. Below you'll see some photos that show the best of what it had to offer, which was still pretty good.
Django carries his own gear:
Camp windy chill:
Let's get to the heart of the matter;
Max, Kevin, and He Who Eats Kibbles on the trail:
Ice on the water:
The High Sierra posse:
Tree of mystery:
Taking a break on the way to the top:
I took no photos from the top due to extreme winds and Django stuck below the summit blocks giving me an anxious look. We hiked back to camp, packed up, and headed out.
We did, as I said, some rock climbing. The route below is the most dramatic:
So there it is. Done. Over. What are you gonna do? I think I'll go back to a bike tour for next year's adventure, probably a repeat of the N.E. California/Oregon loop we did in 2012. Now that I've worked out the kinks, we can make the trip even better. Max, recently graduated high school, has signed on, and Kevin is always up for adventure. We'll see who shows up at the starting line.