When we woke up at Moraine Lake we were treated to an awesome gift…. the water on the lake was absolutely still. The reflection of the mountains and trees in the lake was absolutely stunning.
I always wanted a sweet lake reflection picture so this, was a real treat to wake up to. Like I said in my last post, I would have been totally fine going absolutely no where this morning. I did not want to leave Moraine Lake, but Mt Whitney was calling my name.
The lake was not the only good view of the morning, the forest surrounding the lake was also stunning in the morning light.
The morning of the 4th day started out with a easy hike down to some switch backs that would bring us down to the Kern Valley. We would then follow the Kern River north to Junction Meadow. Today would be the day with the least amount of climbing. After yesterday not being the 8 mile rest day it was supposed to be, I was looking forward to a day of no climbing.
As we started to move toward the switchbacks we hit one section of trail that looked like a hurricane blew through. It looked like every tree was blown down, and there were mountains of logs piled up everywhere all over the trail. My day of “no climbing” started off with climbing over downed trees.
We hit the switches backs pretty early and proceeded down toward the valley floor below. After the climbs the last two days you would think I would be excited for a down hill, but the constant pounding on my knees down the switchbacks, made me eager to hit the valley floor below.
As we approached the valley floor below we were treated to some amazing views of the Kern Valley.
Once we made it to the bottom of the Kern Valley my legs were relieved. Finally some flat easy ground to give my body a little bit of a break. The Kern River was flowing with intensity and was overflowing at the point we reached the bottom.
The trail down in the Kern River Valley crosses the Kern River once. Luckily for us this one crossing involves a man made bridge. The Kern River would have been down right dangerous if we had to cross with out the support of a man made bridge, this was a very welcome sight.
For the most part, Day 4 was pretty uneventful. The trail was flat and we pushed hard to make it to camp early and relax. We hiked for an hour and then took a 5-10 minute break, we kept this pace for the entire day. The views of the Kern River were great, the river was flowing over max capacity due to the snow melt. When we were stopped on our breaks, I was amazed at how deep the Kern River at points. The water was crystal clear and I could see straight to the bottom and the depth was quite impressive.
Unfortunately right before we made it to camp we lost the trail again. The Kern River was so high that it washed right over the trail, right before Junction Meadow. Again, I was fortunate that due to my job I have a lot of experience with navigating by map and compass. You can see our little detour in the map below recorded by my Delorme.
This is the point in my article that I pitch the Military Grid Reference System (MGRS) over latitude and longitude. I took a quick fix with my Delorme, and looked at where Junction Meadow was on my map. Due to the simplicity of MGRS I knew I was almost exactly 300 meters east of where I wanted to be without having to plot myself on the map. Also due to my job, I know that over easy terrain, I take about 65-75 steps per 100 meters and high 90 steps over rough terrain. I took out my compass and pointed it west and counted my steps, when I got to 300 meters the trail was about 100 feet in front of me ( I was only a little off on my step count).
Junction Meadow was beautiful in its own way, but I enjoyed Moraine Lake a little more. Junction Meadow had bear droppings scattered around and I was a bit nervous that tonight would be the night we woke up to a bear checking out our bear canisters. Thankfully despite the bear signs, we did not encounter any wild life other than a few deer. The mosquitoes were pretty strong and were biting us pretty good while filtering water and eating dinner. Once we ate and stashed our bear canisters a few hundred meters away, we went to bed early. The next two days would be filled with climbing and bring us to the top of Mt Whitney.
At the end of the night, we were more then half way through the trip, we had accomplished a lot and made it through some sticky situations. I was getting excited to be getting close to our goal, Mt Whitney.