Olancha Peak — Page 6

Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail

The Pacific Crest Trail

I have fond memories of my 2008 Pacific Crest Trail hike from Onion Valley to Cottonwood Pass. That was one of my favorite Sierra experiences—a lifetime highlight, to be sure.

I've been meaning to do another segment of the PCT ever since, but...I just haven't managed to make it happen. So I'm happy to step back onto the PCT now, even if is just for a few miles 'till we get to Olancha Peak. Trevor and I rendezvous with the Pacific Crest Trail just past the end of Summit Meadow, and there it is: a sign pointing the way north and south.

Andy Lewicky at the PCT Junction Looking Toward Monache Meadow Pacific Crest Trail PCT: Looking South

Actually, this is a little triangle bypass, and it's another few minutes before we're on the main through-way, which we find empty save for one lone thru-hiker.

We catch up to him on the trail, and he relates a few adventures he's had so far on his planned Mexico-to-Canada endeavor—one of which nearly ended the whole effort.

He's got a pit stop planned in Independence, and he's obviously looking forward to it, not quite sure if he's going to keep going from there. We offer encouragements, and then gradually pull ahead.

There isn't much climbing to do on this section of our hike, but the grades we do encounter seem stout nonetheless. That grind up to the pass has definitely degraded my energy level.

Helping to counteract fatigue, however, is my considerable delight at seeing the interior Sierra again. Things are green and blooming in the South Sierra Wilderness right now.

Bright splashes of wildflowers sprout up through surprisingly thick grasses and green brush, contrasting with a vibrant blue sky overhead, and a scattering of white early monsoon clouds.

Grey Sierra granite rises to our east, while to the west, we have a fine view of the massive Monache Meadow. Accessed via the highway to Kennedy Meadow, you can use the trailhead at the Kennedy Meadow campground as a starting point for a south Sierra PCT segment, or even as an alternate Olancha Peak approach.

Rumor has it there's also a way to drive remote and rugged 4WD roads very nearly all the way to Monache Meadow itself—which would be by far the easiest way to get to Olancha Peak. This route is said to be viable only during a narrow window after the snows have melted, and the meadows have all gone dry. Otherwise, it's a mud bog, impassible.

next: West Face Talus

About SierraDescents

When there is snow, SierraDescents is Andy Lewicky's California backcountry skiing and mountaineering website. Without snow, sierradescents becomes an ill-tempered hiking and climbing blog.

Pray for snow.