Tentsite(672.9) to Tentsite(693.9) 21.1 Miles
The main worry for today was a 2,500' climb halfway through the afternoon. Everyone was slightly nervous about how difficult it would be. It turned out to be just fine. It was a very average pct type climb. Without actually agreeing on it everyone slept in this morning. I woke up at 5:00 and nobody else was stirring so I went back to sleep. Around 6:15 everyone was up and making noise. I decided to take my time getting ready to go. I was packed up and ready to leave by 6:45, but I didn't actually leave until 7:15. The early part of the hike was very pleasant, it was a gentle downhill with a nice view of the valley.
I was really in the zone this morning. I knocked out the first seven miles in two hours. I took my time through a cool looking boulder field next to the Chimney Creek Campground. All of the rock formations looked like chimneys.
I took a break for second breakfast close by the campground. There was a water source there, but I still had a few liters left. I didn't want to carry more than I had to with the big scary climb coming up. I'm not sure why I let people get me worked up over these climbs. So far none of them have lived up to the fear. I guess after hiking the Appalachian Trail I just have a different perspective on difficult climbs. The AT routinely has climbs with 2,000 feet of elevation gain over two miles. Today's climb was 2,500 feet over six miles. Most of the time I didn't even notice that the trail was going uphill. It was a very pleasant hike. The scenery was beautiful and varied.
Once I finished the climbing portion of the afternoon I had a six mile downhill to contend with. I wasn't really looking forward to it, but the downs are usually pretty gradual as well. At the very top of the climb I looked up and squealed with delight, I had the best view yet of the Sierra Nevada mountains. They are really close now. You could even see the snow topped peaks. I sat down and had a long lunch break and enjoyed the amazing view.
The rest of the afternoon went by slowly. The climb down was very exposed and it was getting hot out. I also have a hole in my socks so my feet were getting pretty angry at me. I took a few breaks to take off my socks and shoes and let my feet breathe.
I finally made it into camp around five o'clock. Outro and Wolf were nowhere to be seen. They had talked about doing a twenty five mile day, so I guess that is what they did. Evac and I decided to wait for Zuul and U-Turn to show up and then hike a few more miles. The campsite we had talked about staying at was one giant anthill. While we waited we cooked dinner and ate. Zuul finally showed up around 6:15, but by 7:30 U-Turn was nowhere to be seen. Other hikers said the last they saw him was six miles back. He was napping on the side of the trail. We decided to head out without him. He will catch up to us tomorrow at Kennedy Meadows. It was getting close to dark, so we only went half a mile farther. We found a relatively flat spot with no ants so we stopped there for the night. We will have a nice short day into Kennedy Meadows. I have a food drop waiting for me there, as well as my mountaineering equipment and bear vault. We will catch back up with Raging Pineapple, Homegrown, and Sprinkles. It will be nice to have the entire Wolf Pack back together. My next blog post will come to you from the Sierra Nevada mountain range!!!
Fresh beauty opens one's eyes wherever it is really seen, but the very abundance and completeness of the common beauty that besets our steps prevents its being absorbed and appreciated. It is a good thing, therefore, to make short excursions now and then to the bottom of the sea among dulse and coral, or up among the clouds on mountain-tops, or in balloons, or even to creep like worms into dark holes and caverns underground, not only to learn something of what is going on in those out-of-the-way places, but to see better what the sun sees on our return to common everyday beauty.
- John Muir, The Mountains of California (1894) chapter 15.