7/7: Forester Pass, Kearsarge Pass, & Kidney Stones

(I’m currently walking from Mexico to Canada, a distance of 2,700 miles, to help raise awareness & funds to help counteract the effects of human trafficking and the forced prostitution of women & children. I first came across this issue in Mumbai, India, while doing videography for Nick Vujicic’s ministry, ‘Life Without Limbs,” in 2008. Please join with me on this journey of freedom by offering prayers, telling others, and giving financially. Any donation, big or small, will be kept confidential, and will be appreciated beyond understanding. Please, please consider donating. You will literally be helping buy the freedom and put in motion the healing of those who have been unwillingly enslaved in the chains of human trafficking. Thank you!)

Videos on YouTube: ThruHike4Freedom and also ThruHike4Freedom11

Music Man, Grizz, Leader & I woke up early in the shadow of Forester Pass, literally. We had pushed on the night before until just about dark; enough time to set up our shelters, gather water, and climb in our bags to try to keep the icy chill off. We were camped up on large rocks that had enough dirt to either drive stakes into or use rocks to anchor our shelters, while around us was all snow and icy creeks. It was incredible. The wind was picking up a little, but I was all bunked down in my tarp. I made dinner with what little food I had left, and then fell fast asleep. I was exhausted today. About 21/22 miles, with a 3 hour rain delay!

I woke up at about 1:00 am, and stepped outside my tarp. Clear skies, and the most incredibly beautiful view of the Milky Way I had ever seen. I felt like it was so clear, so close, I could reach out and touch it. I thanked God for waking me up, and getting me out of my warm & comfortable down quilt to see such an awesome sight. Framed by the very close Forester Pass and the valley to our south leading to even more beautiful mountains, the sky was putting on a show. I looked to my right in time to see a star, bright as I’ve ever seen, streak across the sky. Not much could top that, so I smiled & went back inside my tarp.

Morning came, and we started our charge on Forester. Of all the passes, this one held my interest the most. The highest of the passes at over 13,000 feet, just the look of it was menacing. There were sections we had to guess where the trail went, and sometimes had to scramble up and over a section of snow or loose rock, but for the most part we handled Forester well. After we took a break & posed for pictures at the top, we put on our Microspikes and began the descent, which went smoothly as well. 

Later in the day, as we were beginning to make our way toward Kearsarge Pass, Leader, Grizz and I came across a father & son who had been hiking as well. The son, who was 15, was laying on the ground, covered in sleeping bags & jackets, and in very obvious, intense pain. The father had sent his other son and his friend to a nearby ranger station (which are few and far between), to try and get help. Knowing that some ranger stations have been closed and are now unmanned thanks to budget cuts, I suggested that I take Grizz’s cell phone and try to get reception to call 911. Leader would stay with the father & son, and Grizz would be following me. I took off running with my pack, and ended up running about 4-5 miles until I saw Music Man, who had been walking far ahead. I told him what was happening and dropped my pack with him, allowing me to run the rest of the way unburdened. I don’t know how many people have run over and then down the other side of Kearsarge Pass, but if you want to sleep well that night, I recommend it! I finally found cell reception far down the other side, and was able to call 911. Eventually the injured boy was airlifted out to safety.  (as of 7/10, we heard it was kidney stones and not appendicitis, and that he was doing well, thankfully).

Grizz, Music Man & I made it down to the trailhead and ran into Jaclyn, a forest ranger just getting off duty, and she offered to drive us down to Independence. There, we grabbed sandwiches from Subway (and bought her dinner for her kindness), and Grizz & I collapsed into the PCT hiker-friendly Courthouse Motel. Leader would not be able to get off the mountain in time, and would get into town the next afternoon, after helping lead another hiker who was suffering from snow blindness up & over Kearsarge Pass. We ended up staying two nights, using that time to resupply with food, make phone calls, do laundry, and even wash our sleeping bags. I’ve found that when you go into a town to resupply, no matter the circumstances, there’s never enough time to get done what needs to get done, and I leave town tired. I’ve spoken to other thru-hikers about this, and they have the same experience. Incredible. 

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