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Friday, July 5, 2013

Onion Valley/Kearsarge Pass - "wind roared, rain and hail crashed down and the lightning crackled across the cloud"

 We left the heat of the Owens Valley behind
 as we drove to the higher elevations of the Onion Valley Campground and Kearsarge Pass trailhead (9,200 feet).
 We were taking a gamble that there would be a site available this late in the day. Driving the loop through the campground we found all the sites taken.
 Disappointed with the result of our gambit we prepared to head for a boondock site near the top of the switchbacks when the campground host flagged us down and said that a family had just left and their site was available.
 We set up camp in Site Nine with Independence Peak in the background. Perfect site for truck campers with solar panels.
I set up my game camera at 10 PM but the only creature captured in eight hours was a bearded biped just before 6 AM.
We relaxed around camp until late morning while I considered hiking up to Kearsarge Pass. My procrastination proved to be fortunate because clouds began to form around 11AM and a massive thunderstorm broke an hour later. This was no late afternoon Sierra storm. The wind roared, rain and hail crashed down and the lightning crackled across the clouds, while the thunder boomed between the peaks. The storm raged for hours. It didn't have as much rain as the July 2008 storm but one backpacker I would meet the next day on the pass said that it was the worst storm he had seen in 30 years in the backcountry. (We were in the 2008 storm. I remember saying to Jan at the time, "I hope there will be a road to drive on when it was time to leave the high country.")
The clouds at sunset on July 4th, had an "Independence Day" the film, look about them.
Sunrise at Onion Valley Campground.
 Jan relaxed reading in the sun as I started hiking to Kearsarge Pass.
Our Four Wheel Camper from the trail.
Big Pothole Lake.
On my way to the pass I met Bob from Lemoore. He was crossing the Sierra on a solo backpack. We hiked together for about two miles and parted ways at Kearsarge Pass, where I took this photo.
Looking west into Kings Canyon National Park. I hiked back down to the campground where Jan had a hot meal of spaghetti waiting.
We stayed another day at Onion Valley enjoying the cool temperatures.
Jan appreciated the close proximity of the restrooms to her abode.
After spending three nights at Onion Valley we drove back down into the heat of the Owens Valley.

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