Imagine walking along a trail, meandering around deep blue alpine lakes, flaked by walls of mountain peaks and ridges. You’re high above the tree-line. As you slowly descend, grassy edges begin to line these scattered bodies of water. It’s perfection. You round a corner to see a canyon below so deep that the magnitude of what you’re doing makes you stop dead in your tracks… Then the lakes and the meadows plunge over the edge as you pick up the pace down, down, down switchback after switchback watching what was a lake erupt into water falls and explosions of sprays over granite boulders and slabs…. Are you imagining it? It sounds too fairy tale to be true, but I lived it last Saturday. June 9 – Mather Pass. I’d climb a hundred passes to relive these moments.
It seems I’m getting a bit more accustomed to the altitude. Climbing is still wearing me out a bit, my legs still feel week after just a few switchbacks, but resting helps and gives me the energy to keep moving up. The last hundred miles or so seemed to be nothing but UP to a pass (often 11-13,000 ft in elevation) then down to the creek below (8-9,000 ft in elevation). Over and over this takes a lot of energy, but the incredible vistas and excitement of what views extend beyond the mountain passes keep me moving.
The mosquitos are beginning to make stopping anywhere near water (which is everywhere) a bit frustrating. I have a head net and deet, but I hear from beyond that they’ve become deet resistant on the trail. Blow downs from a storm gusting 100+ mph winds slow things up a bit as we walk around or climb over not just one, but sometimes clustered piles of trees. The forest service has been working for weeks to cut through the worst of it along the trails, the last 3 miles on the PCT before heading out for resupply showed beautiful but hard work on their part. It’s supposed to be worse ahead, so I hope the trails are cleared. Early hikers had quite the trouble finding the trail under thousands of downed trees. Walking around one tree, only to find more down, then having to find the way back to the trail is not so easy. What I’ve encountered though usually has a faint trail through the dirt, showing what others have done to traverse around.
I’m still hiking with on and off with No-Amp, Memphis, Chief and Cookie, and every day someone new comes along, for a day, an hour, or just a quick break to introduce. Either I pass them, or it’s a speedy thru-hiker that’s moving faster than I care to (or can) go. Last week, after hiking with someone for the day, I had to break free and move on. The constant complaints of sore feet, trail conditions ( “I HATE ROCKS !!!!” -the trail goes up, the trail is to steep down, the trail is sandy…), the weight of the bear canister and ice axe… it’s always something. While descending from the incredibly beautiful Mather Pass, I commented on how stunning it was, and possibly my favorite day in the Sierras, the hiker said “I can’t look – if i do, I’ll trip on all these rocks !”….
It’s mind over matter out here, and although EVERY day I hit a rough period (usually mid day heat causes this), I still manage to take the time to enjoy what I’m doing. My heart is in this. I suppose it doesn’t ring true for everyone.
We’re in Mammoth Lakes now, about to head off to the trail again. My new IMPROVED pack – The Osprey Atmos – carries the weight much better and makes the load feel far more comfortable. I sent my Ice Axe home, I only used it once and it was more of a hinderance than a help, but there for safety of course. There’s just not enough snow, and my Yana trekking poles are doing what I need to get me through.
Just ahead is Yosemite. I’ve never been and I hear it’s simply the best place in the world. I’m looking forward to what could be better than what I’ve experienced in the last 100 miles. I’m 1/3 complete now, but there’s so much more to discover (and 16 more dresses to get through LOL).
Thank you again for all of your donations and help through all of this. I can’[t do this without you all, and I’m glad you’re along for the hike !!!