The trail passed through a foxtail pine forest, climbing a ridge only to drop down again into Wallace Creek. We climbed another ridge only to drop into Wright Creek. Climbing again, we left the foxtail pine forest behind as we climbed to a large, sandy plateau above treeline. Bighorn Plateau's high, sandy expanse provides views of the tallest peaks in every direction. A small lake in the center of the plateau is surrounded by a grassy meadow, dotted with wildflowers. It is the perfect place to while away an hour, or an afternoon, or a day.
But while hiking the PCT gives you a taste of all that these beautiful mountains have to offer, the schedule required to hike the trail in a single season does not allow time to sit and savor your favorite places in the mountains. For now, savoring these spots will have to wait. The trail calls.
We descended through a weathered foxtail pine forest with trees is all stages of life: golden yellow veterans, tall elder statesmen, scrawny teenagers, and tiny infant trees clinging to life. We dropped into Tyndall Creek (10,930 ft), then immediately began climbing again, this time toward Forester Pass.
We passed through alpine meadows. Yellow bellied marmots scampered across boulders and sat solemnly munching grass. Although it is yet early summer, the marmots already look fat and sleek, a result of the early snow melt.
We continued climbing above the meadows into a large expanse of broken rock and sand. Several lakes and streams dotted the rocky landscape. We crossed the last of these streams just before the final switchbacks up the steep rock wall to the top of the pass. Finding a sandy campsite, we decided to stop for the night. Forester will be waiting for us tomorrow.