Day 43: mile 735.4 – mile 750.8

Elevation gain: 2,232 ft

Elevation loss: 1,657 ft

The Guthook app said our tent site had great sunrise views, and boy were they right…spectacular from 4:50am when Link got up to go to the bathroom, and it lasted for a good long while!

We lied in the tent for a while listening to what we call “the cheeseburger bird”. Have you guys heard this bird that sounds just like he’s saying “cheeseburger”…tweeeet, tweet-tweet? We hear him every time we go backpacking in the high Sierra and it’s like he’s taunting me with a cheeseburger he knows I can’t have 😁 Since we miraculously had service, we called the kids and Link did some blog stuff since we weren’t in a hurry to leave this morning. No huge climbs today with 15 miles to Chicken Spring Lake. This is the first time we have not had a huge uphill or downhill climb since we started the PCT…it’s just the way they do it, but not today! So we left camp at 8am.

We stopped at a cute little stream to make breakfast and tend to Link’s blisters and my cut finger.

The trail was just rolling up and down most of the day with tons of great trees and views. We could see Mt Whitney most of the day as well which we will get to summit in just 2 short days, I can’t believe it!

We stopped for lunch at 1:00 with a nice view of the valley and meadow below. We could hear a ton of frogs croaking away near the stream in the meadow below which was not particularly close by. We are wondering how many were down there to be able to hear them so well from so far away…great lunch addition!

After lunch we were on the north side of the mountain which made a big difference, snow-wise. We had been virtually snow free for the last 2 1/2 days when we had assumed we would be in the snow anytime we were above 8,000 ft. We’ve been over 10,000 many times already with hardly any snow to speak of. Once we went over to the north side, we definitely had more patches but it was very manageable. Sometimes we walked through the snow, and sometimes around it just like when there is a fallen tree. I would say probably 30 patches like these…which is nothing compared to what we had expected!

Something miraculous happened at 3:30pm…we were only 1/2 mile from the lake when Link noticed we got cell service again at Cottonwood Pass! It’s so funny that during all of our week long backpacking trips throughout the years, we have loved being completely disconnected from civilization with no electronics at all. But on the PCT it’s the exact opposite. We don’t have service everyday so it’s such a treat when it happens, especially in the Sierra! We got to call our parents, figure out some bill stuff, and download some pix to the blog. We still made it to the lake at 4:30-ish. It’s called Chicken Spring Lake but when we went with the kids on a backpacking trip here in 2014, they loved to call it “Chicken Finger Lake”. I have such great memories of that trip with them and sure wish they were with us now! It’s our first lake we’ve been able to camp near (only the 3rd lake we’ve seen, period) on this whole trip so we were super excited! It’s also the highest spot we have camped so far at 11,287 ft.

We both got in the lake (some more than others 😜) to wash up a bit and it was unbelievably cold! I would say 1/4 of the lake still has frost on it, just to give you an idea. I really wanted to ice and clean my feet, but I had to take them out 3 separate times until I was actually able to leave them in there. It literally felt like an ice bath…that awful pins and needles feeling until the body part goes numb!

While we were waiting for dinner to be ready, some other backpackers showed up but about 100 yards away so we couldn’t tell if it was anyone we knew. After we heard them talking, we recognized that it is this family of 4 who we met in Kennedy Meadows (mom, dad, 2 boys aged 15 & 17). They are doing this really cool thing where the parents are trading off, 2 wks at a time, to join the boys on the trail. For the next 3 weeks, they are on vacation so they will all backpack together…super cool! It was fun to catch up with them and I’m sure our paths will cross often. Their trail names are Thing One, Thing Two, Thing Chaser, and Mama Thing.

It must just be a frog kind of day because as I’m writing, there are multiple frogs on the edge of the lake right outside the tent having a party. It’s not just the usual “ribbit”, but multiple other sounds too. It’s super cool to hear and I hope they continue into the night. But I can also hear the “cheeseburger” bird as well, so my stomach is growling 😁. The frogs win for being the loudest, though! Thanks for following along on our adventure…Double Down