Wow! I don't know what else to say. This just might be the most scenic and fantastic view day of the whole trail so far. Climbing up out of Kennedy Canyon the mountains changed to gravelly and sandy slopes with wide open views and wildflowers. Only a few trees or bushes dotted the landscape and some of the ridges sported ragged rocky edges. Because it was so open you could see everything, the higher you climbed the better the views got. Even the lichen on the rocks were full of color.
The wind was gusty and strong but the sun was shinning and the wind added to the alpine feel. The trail switch backed up the slopes then along long ridge lines and passes. At spots I climbed to the lip of the ridges to gaze down on Turquoise lakes and green valleys. The hills were barren up high and a light brown with rolling slopes spotted with wildflowers and little else. The patches of trees down lower gave color. I should definitely return to this area to explore the side canyons and lakes.
Leverette Lake was very impressive from the ridge but I later learned it had a road and lots of car campers. So glad I stopped early yesterday so I could enjoy this ridge. Even higher the mountains around me opened up with patch work quilts of snow accenting the vistas. Next, as I climbed around another ridge it opened into a huge bowl that was nothing but gravel and sand. Nothing but a few wildflowers could be seen around me and it was like walking a rocky ridge of a moon crater or mars landscape. Then as the trail curved and twisted out of the bowl it opened up again into colors as you looked at the backside of all these lakes I had seen earlier up on the other side of the ridge through the windows.
Traversing a snow field and taking tons of pictures I approached and ascended a rocky passage through a crest of spires. Passing through the pass at the top of the spires the valley exploded in color below me. Greens and blues in the valley to the right and then on the left it was what I call the Painted Canyon. Instead of the browns of the previous canyons this area was a wash with colors: White, reds, oranges, all shades of brown and grey and accented with greens. And again, every shade of color could be found in the wildflowers that speckled the sides - yellow, reds, violets, magenta, turquoise, pink, white, blue...
As I climbed the long and winding trail down to the Sonora Pass the views of the valleys and mountains ahead were leaving me in awe. Stopping to fill my water bottles with melting snow and got a brain freeze - but the water tasted soooo good. Sonora pass had a monument that talked about the wagon trains that opened the pass and Grizzly Adams involvement in the pass. And it didn't end at the pass - up, up, and up the switch backs went as I ascended the flanks of Sonora Mountain. Large spires and rock formations carved by wind accented the sides and the views back across the pass to where I had come were wonderful. A late second lunch on the top of the rock spires had me thinking of climbing the true summit but it was still a mile away and a steep up since the trail hung on the sides, just below the summit cone and circumnavigate around the peak. I could see all the views anyway and it didn't look like a place I could camp without being very exposed on the rocky slopes. So I guess I will have to return here another day and pushed on to the valley ahead to camp in another seven miles.
The trail clung to the sides with great views as I rounded the top and it opened up into another lovely valley. The terrain changed to a maze of white rocks, mountain tarns, and then great fields of yellow, white and blue flowers around the white rocks. Hiking down into the valley the wildflowers got thicker and more melt water formed into streams. I finally found a nice stream side camp for the night. One of the best days ever on the PCT!