Amazing hike up, what, 5000 ft?? from the Sage Flat trailhead, in about 4 1/2 hours to a campsite about a mile passed Olancha Pass right before we met up with the PCT. It was straight uphill, on loose dirt which felt like sand, through many switchbacks. If I had the energy to look back, I saw magnificent views, beautiful rocks and an awesome horizon. It was a very difficult hike for me and the altitude did not help. We arrived at camp around 5pm, it got dark around 6pm, slept at 7pm. Only while camping am I able to sleep from 7pm til 7 am!
Our plan was to hike up to Olancha Peak the next day and stay another night by Cow Creek, which the PCT follows for a mile or two, however all the creeks were dry, and we did not pack enough water for another nights' stay. D'oh!!! So, the next day, we attempted a hike up to Olancha Peak. It was about 4 miles from our campsite, meaning we had only a limited amount of time to hit Olancha Peak and hike back down to our car.
The hike up the Peak was somewhat difficult through boulders. Even just the views from treeline made it worth it. But we had to book it and hiked the last 10 miles back to our car, without water, and extremely exhausted. We made it back just as it got dark, and have enjoyed the following two days with extremely sore legs.
All I can say is that I would've rated this hike a 4 or 5 stars if there was water available at the route we took. But cutting our trip short a night made it feel rushed and ended up exhausted, but still somewhat satisfied. I would say this was probably one of the most difficult hikes I've been on with the sudden ascent / descent to and from Olancha Pass.