Sunday, July 31, 2016

Day 88- Get Er Done

July 29, 2016
Stealthsite(1205.5) to Alder Creek(1224.4) 28.9 Miles
Total up/down: +5314/-6416 feet 

Last night was epic. Since there was zero light pollution I had an amazing view of the stars. I woke up a few times during the night to drink water and I remember just starring at the sky until I fell back to sleep. It was very peaceful. I wish every night could be like that, but lately I've been condemned to the inside of my tent because of the bugs. My plan for this section was to hike fourteen miles followed by three days of hiking twenty five miles. Due to my short day yesterday I had miles to make up. Once again I left camp later than I had planned on. The days are definitely getting shorter. The sun isn't rising until six o'clock. I remember back in the desert when it was starting to get light out by five fifteen. I'll wake up around 5-5:30 and go back to sleep because it is still dark. I have to get better about getting up when my alarm goes off. It has been really warm out at night and by early morning it is uncomfortably warm. I barely even use my sleeping bag at night now. I open it up all the way and drape it over me like a quilt. When I set up camp last night I didn't even realize that I was facing east. It made for a nice surprise when I woke up to the sunrise. It has been awhile since I've seen a sunrise. Once again I was reminded of my time in the desert. 
View from my sleeping bag
Minutes later

I packed up quickly, drank my go-go juice, and started hiking. It was only six thirty in the morning and already it was warm out. It is going to be a hot day. Days like today are hard to write about. The more miles I hike the more everything blends together. To be honest today wasn't very memorable. The hike was a lot of minor up and downs that added up to a lot of elevation change. Usually I look back at my pictures from the day to help me remember what I did, but today I didn't take very many. The landscape wasn't too terribly exciting. I followed the contours of the mountain range for most of the morning. I passed by a few lakes, but I never really came close enough to any of them to go for a swim. 
Early morning lake
Later in the day lake

I passed by a few water sources early in the hike because I didn't need water. I heard from other hikers later in the day that that was a good thing. They were all at least .25 off trail and full of yellow jacket bees. I climbed up to an exposed ridgeline and walked along that for awhile. It was ridiculously hot up there. I started to quickly go through my water. 
Top of the ridge

At the top of the ridge I got cell phone service. I took a few minutes to post my blog and to check my text message. I put my phone back in airplane mode and continued on. I dropped back down in elevation and came to my next water source, A-Tree springs. Legend has it that a trail crew was doing routine maintenance when they stumbled across a tree that was swarming with bees. One of the trail guys said, if this is the B-Tree we need to have an A-Tree. They put up a sign on a random tree calling it the A-Tree. The name stuck and the spring close by was named A-Tree Springs. The water there was ice cold and came out of a pipe which made for easy collection. I sat in the shade and had a snack. Back in S. Lake Tahoe, Evac gave me a Starbucks powdered drink pack. It was strawberry lemonade flavored. I added it to my ice cold water and had an amazing treat. Starbucks Refreshers might be my new favorite trail drink. It had a light crisp clean taste and the caffeine was a welcome treat. The next several miles went by quickly. 
A-Tree Springs

The common trend for this section seems to include hiking through the forest in the shade, followed immediately by walking a super exposed section of trail. The forest is muggy and warm, but it is a good deal more pleasant than walking through the exposed sections. It seems like every time the trail went up it was exposed. When it was time to go back down it was through the forest. 
Out of the forest and into the blistering sun 
My second favorite pine tree out here(Jeffery Pine?)
Hot, hot, hot

Shortly after these pictures the trail descended back into the forest for the remainder of the day. Water was scarce at this point. I wasn't sure where exactly I was going to camp. I had two choices. The first was to get water at Whiskey Spring and dry camp a few miles past there. That would have been a twenty five mile day. The second option was to camp at Alder Creek for a twenty nine mile day. I decided to see how I felt when I got to Whiskey Spring. When I got there and discovered that the spring was located.3 miles downhill and off the trail the choice was made for me. I still had over one liter left and didn't want to walk that far downhill off of the trail. I pushed on to Alder Creek. 
Fat chance

My new shoes were working out fantastic, until they weren't. Just past Whiskey Spring I began to have a little pain around my achilles tendon. It felt like I was getting a blister, but that wasn't very likely because I had my heels taped up from a few days ago when my old shoes gave me hot spots. I was only a few miles away from camp and too stubborn to stop. By the time I made it to Alder Creek I could barely walk. I decided to get water before tending my feet. The spring was supposed to be 800 feet off of the trail, but it was much farther than that. Once I made it down to the water I filled up my bladders as quickly as possible. The spring was full of mosquitos and yellow jackets. I limped my way back up to camp. As I was taking off my socks and shoes I was swarmed by yellow jackets. They were everywhere. It was very difficult to just sit still and let them fly all around me. I expected to find out that my heels were a bloody mess, but I didn't even a hot spot there. It was more like irritation due to chaffing. Both heels were irritated. It looked almost like a carpet burn. I'm not sure what to think about it. I took off the leukotape and cleaned my feet with wet wipes. Just to be safe I put on some neosporin. Other than my heels being angry, my feet felt great. Usually towards the end of a high mileage day my feet are the first things to hurt. Once I cared for my feet I set up camp and started dinner. The yellow jackets just kept getting worse. I think I would rather deal with mosquitos. Nothing deters yellow jackets. I thought for sure I was going to get stung, but I never did. As I was eating three other thruhikers came by and decided to camp with me, Orange Blossom, Listen, and Squirrel. They were completely new faces to me. Squirrel and Listen hiked the AT in 2014. I love meeting others who have hiked the AT. It is nice to talk about the trail with them. Listen was stung almost immediately after arriving. After that they all cooked inside their tents and didn't come out for the rest of the night. I'm hoping that this is a one time occurrence with the bees, but supposedly this section is lousy with bees. Uggh, who thought that I would ever miss mosquitos. 

"No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God . . . and it is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire and which will make us more like our Father and Mother in heaven."
- Orson F. Whitney

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Day 87- Twelve Hundred Miles And Twelve Hundred Degrees

July 28, 2016
Sierra City(1195.4) to Stealthsite(1205.5) 10.1 Miles
Total up/down: +3307/-780 feet

I think it is time for me to accept that I will never get out of town as early as I would like. Something always comes up to delay me. The sooner I come to terms with this the better. I had a few delays this morning. Wolf couldn't do our laundry last night so it had to wait until this morning. Secondly, the country store was out of wet wipes, which I desperately needed, so I had to hitch to a gas station five miles down the road. The hitch there took almost forty-five minutes, but the hitch back happened within five minutes. The third delay was I had to go to the post office, which didn't open until ten. I still had a lot of food left over from the last section and I'm moving faster than I had planned on, so my resupply box had too much food. I decided to send some ahead instead of giving it away. The last delay was the country store grill had opened for the day and I couldn't say no to another hamburger(plus the laundry wasn't done). Just as I was getting ready to leave, Homegrown and Sprinkles, got to town. I chatted with them for awhile before leaving. 

Luckily, I got a quick hitch back to the trailhead from a nice older guy from Fayetteville, Arkansas. He spends his summers in Sierra City. I told him all about my Arkansas family. It was nice to have good hitching experience after the S. Lake Tahoe incident. By the time I started hiking it was 1:30, the hottest part of the day. It was 100 degrees in the shade at the country store and that was at eleven o'clock. All three of my hitches warned me about the difficult climb I had out of town. The elevation profile didn't look too bad, 2,700' over 7.7 miles. Sounds easy to me. What I hadn't taken into account was how exposed the trail was. I felt as if I was in an oven. The other difficult part was how overgrown the trail was. It was like walking through barbwire in some places. Oh, and don't forget about the danger of rattlesnakes(which couldn't be seen through the brush). I was not a happy hiker through these sections. I jumped at every rustle of leaves. 
Overgrown trail with very sharp pointy bush
Sierra Butte

Although it was a hot, stabby, snakey, kind of hike, it was also beautiful. There were very good water sources as well or it would have been torture. I was delighted to hit the twelve hundred mile marker. Alas, nobody was around to take my picture so I had to get creative. 
Shadow games

It had taken me almost three hours to hike five miles. Moving fast I was not. Once I made it to the top I was able to walk through a shaded forest. The miles came much faster then. It is probably too soon to know for sure, but so far I like my new shoes. I didn't get any blisters or hot spots, but I guess I'll know for sure in the next few days. I had wanted to make it fifteen miles today, but I settled for ten. I had to carry an extra 6.6 pounds of water with me to camp since there was no water for the next eight miles.  
Sierra Butte
Exposed hike up. See the switchback 

I found an awesome place to camp. I was going to hike for another hour, but I couldn't walk past this gem. This is definitely in my top five camp spots of this hike. I had a view of the south side of Sierra Butte and the surrounding mountain range. The colors at dusk were awe-inspiring. 
Sierra Butte to the far right
Risky choice to cowboy camp, but it turned out well
My trusty pack and poles(ULA Circuit and Carbon Cork Black Diamonds...I love my gear) 

I cooked dinner and ate just as the alpine glow was disappearing. As I'm writing this the mosquitos are swarming my face, but I couldn't careless. I should have a wide open view of the stars tonight. 

"Root out the violence in your life, and learn to live compassionately and mindfully. Seek peace. When you have peace within, real peace with others is possible."
- Thich Nhat Hanh

Friday, July 29, 2016

Day 86- Fifty Kilometers

July 27, 2016
North Creek Tentsite(1164.4) to Sierra City(1195.4) 31 miles
Total up/down: +3906/-6879

I woke up today and was on a mission. I really wanted to make it into Sierra City by the end of the day. I have two resupply boxes going to the country store there, one with food and the other has new shoes. I really, really need the shoes. My Solomons are completely shot, which is disappointing. I only got 500 miles out of them. My first pair made it 700 miles. I guess the Sierra took its toll on on them. I'm switching from Solomons to Altras. I'd say ninety percent of hikers are wearing the Altra Lone Peaks this hiking season. Everyone seems to love the big toe box and zero drop heel. They are significantly lighter than the Solomons. I really hope they work out. I needed to hike thirty one miles to make it in to town and I wasn't exactly sure when the store closes. I had information that said it closed anywhere from five to eight o'clock. My goal was to make it there by six o'clock. I've fallen short of my last few daily goals, so I figured why not go even bigger. I woke up later than I had planned on. It wasn't exactly a great way to start my day. I didn't start hiking until six thirty. So I had less than twelve hours to hike 31 miles. I needed to average 2.7 mph. Yikes, I usually average 2-2.5 mph with breaks. This was going to be a tough goal to meet. 
At first I thought this was a golf course, it was not

I was determined to hike for four hours without stopping to take a break. Over the first three hours I kept up a 3 mph pace. It was quickly warming up and I thought there was a water source at the ten mile mark. I decided to take my first break at the water source, but when I got there I discovered that I was wrong. The water was still 5.5 miles away. Doh! I really need to pay better attention to my water sources in the future. I only had three quarters of a liter left. I ended up hiking for five hours without a break and I kept up a 3 mph pace. I had hiked 15 miles in five hours, all before noon. I took a thirty minute break at the water. I was tired, but I still felt good. 
Brief ridgeline walk

The terrain was perfect for a high mileage day. I didn't have any big climbs or descents for the first part of the day. When I was taking my break another hiker gave me some Gatorade powder and I felt really well hydrated. I was hopeful that I could make my goal. Over the next two and a half hours I managed to keep up a 3 mph pace. I'm still not sure how I did it. I wasn't listening to music or an audiobook. I just got lost in my thoughts. Eventually I started to get bored, but I didn't want to distract myself. I ended up turning the first novel of the Game of Thrones books into a fairytale. I did it from Sansa's perspective. It was a fun game to play and I was able to lose myself in the story. Around the twenty seven mile mark I was really starting to drag. My feet were absolutely killing me. My shoes have so many holes in them that they were letting in tiny rocks and tons of dirt. I had to stop twice to clean my feet and treat a few hot spots. The heat was also becoming unbearable. I dropped a few thousand feet of elevation and I was roasting as I descended. 
Very hot in the canyon

Every time I wanted to take a break I would look at my watch and decide that I couldn't afford to lose the time. With only four miles left I wasn't sure I could make it. Then I would remember that the store I sent my boxes to has milkshakes and hamburgers. If I could make it before they closed I would be in heaven. I squared my shoulders, lifted my chin, and pressed on. I stumbled out of the woods and onto the road at 6:15. I had done it! I had just hiked an ultramarathon. It was by far my highest mileage day on the pct. I only hiked 31 miles once on the AT and it was my third to last day on the trail. 

Sierra City is located 1.5 miles away from the trail. There was no way that I was going to walk it. I decided to hitchhike. Just as I was walking across the road a car pulled over and let out a few hikers returning to the trail. I hopefully asked if they were returning to town. The said they were not and I thanked them and stuck my thumb out to hitch a ride. I must have looked pretty dejected because the next thing I knew they honked their horn at me and told me to hop in. It was only five minutes out of their way, but it would have taken me thirty minutes to walk it. Amazing!!! That might be the best trail magic I have ever gotten. They dropped me off at the store minutes before it closed for the evening. I picked up my package and got my hamburger and milkshake. The burger was half a pound of deliciousness and the milkshake was coffee and caramel heaven. 

I had a few friends in town and I sat down with them to eat. They filled me in on what the town had to offer. It wasn't much, but it was exactly what I needed. The visitors center had a free shower, although it was ice cold(I mean like jumping into an Arctic lake kind of cold). The church next door allows hikers to camp on their property for free. The only thing that was missing was a place to do laundry. Even that worked out in the end. Wolf caught up to me just before dark. He came staggering into town looking very haggard. He had hiked a 37 mile day. He ended up staying at a resort which offered laundry. I was able to provide the detergent and he snuck my clothes in with his. Score! 

I went to bed clean, full, and personally satisfied. I don't think I can do this everyday, but my self confidence has been restored. It is amazing what one can accomplish when you set your mind to it. 

"There's strong data that, within companies, the No. 1 reason for ethical violations is the pressure to meet expectations, sometimes unrealistic expectations."
- Stephen Covey

Day 85- The Heat Wave

July 26, 2016
Stealth Site(1144.9) to North Creek Tentsite(1164.4) 19.5 miles
Total up/down:+3275/-3767 feet

Today should have been an easy 25-30 mile day, but events from last night threw my day into total disarray. I woke up at two o'clock lying on the cold hard ground. My sleeping pad had deflated. I thought, hmmm that's a little strange. I blew it back up and went back to sleep. Twenty minutes later on was back on the hard ground. It became obvious then that I had sprung a leak. I spent the night waking up every ten to twenty minutes and reinflating it. I didn't exactly get a good nights sleep. 

I knew that in 8.5 miles I would come to the trailhead at Donner Pass. I decided to get there as quickly as possible and try to find a water spigot. My trail guide mentioned that there was one hidden behind a building there. My thoughts all morning long were consumed by fixing this problem. I can not spend another night lying on the ground.  
Still hazy. Reminds me of the Blue Ridge Mountains

The hike to Donner Pass went by quickly. I was really in the zone. I hiked up to a ridgeline and followed it to the pass. Just before the pass I hiked through Donner Ski Area. It seemed like a nice small mountain. Probably where all of the locals go. 
View from the top of the ridge 
View of the ridgeline hike

I enjoy walking ridgelines for the most part. I'm up above tree line and I have a 360 degree view. It was still early in the morning, but it was already ridiculously hot out. With only a few miles to go I came across Roller Pass. It was marked with a historical sign describing the significance of the area. The emigrants of the 1800's were amazing. The fact that they could get their wagons up and over the pass blows my mind. Read the informational plaque for the details of their ingenuity and determination. 
Roller Pass informational plaque
Rollers they used with the oxen
Roller Pass

Quickly after leaving the pass I began the descent to the Donner Pass trailhead. Donner Pass is named for the tragic Donner party. 87 pioneers wintered here in 1847 on there way from Springfield, Illinois, to Sutter's Fort, California. Only 46 members of the group survived the winter. Whether or not they resorted to cannibalism is a matter of historical dispute. It is now a tourist attraction for hikers, skiers, and motorcycle enthusiast. 
Donner Pass

I made it to the trailhead in under three hours. I searched in vain for the hidden water spigot. I tried pouring the remainder of my water on my pad to find a hole. That also proved to be in vain. My last option was to walk .25 miles down the road to Donner Ski Ranch, a bar and restaurant. I got there just before they opened. As I waited for them to open I threw away my trash and cleaned out my pack. When they finally opened I was given a free beer and the bartender found me a bucket and filled it with water. Armed with said bucket and my beer I set about finding the hole in my pad. It took awhile, but I finally found it. Luckily it was a large slice in the fabric. If it was a tiny hole I might not have been so lucky. I patched it up and went inside for lunch. I made the mistake of getting a chicken tender basket. I don't eat a lot of fried food, French fries excluded, on the trail. Later in the day this would prove to be a catastrophic decision. The bartender had the news on and they were discussing the heat wave. The temperature would climb over 100 degrees by the end of the day. Tomorrow it will top out at 106 degrees. I'm not looking forward to hiking in this heat. 
Donner ski area

I didn't get back on the trail until 1:30. It was miserably hot and exposed hiking and the greasy lunch was not sitting well. As I made my first climb uphill I felt very nauseous. I stopped at every water source over the next few miles to hydrate, but I think that made things worse. I was hoping to hike another 12-17 miles today, but when I threw up around mile four I didn't think that would happen. I took the rest of the day slow and took a lot of breaks. 
 Someone had too much time on their hands

I took an extended break in a tunnel. It was nice and cool inside. The cars driving overhead on Interstate 80 made the whole tunnel shake. I slowly sipped water and as I cooked down I began to feel better. 
Tunnel under I-80

I hiked another few miles and was surprised to come across a shelter with a privy. I think it is the only shelter on the pct. It was built as a backcountry ski hut and now hikers get to use it as a shelter. 
Peter Grubb hut
Double decker privy

I could have stayed inside the hut, but it was only five o'clock. I promised myself I would hike until at least six thirty. This would prove to be another bad decision. The next two miles belonged to the mosquitos and biting flies. I ended up camping in between three stagnant ponds. It might have been my worst tentsite to date. I didn't even bother cooking dinner. My stomach was still upset. I forced myself to eat a few bars and went to bed early. The good news is my sleeping pad seems to be holding air and I'm hopeful that the problem has been fixed. 

"Perhaps ultimately, spiritual simply means experiencing wholeness and interconnectedness directly, a seeing that individuality and the totality are interwoven, that nothing is separate or extraneous. If you see in this way, then everything becomes spiritual in its deepest sense. Doing science is spiritual. So is washing the dishes.” 
– Jon Kabat-Zinn

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Day 84- Feeling The Pressure

July 25, 2016
Tentsite(1123.2) to Stealth Site(1144.9) 21.7 Miles
Total up/down: +4312/-3605

I never really worried about finishing the AT before winter started in Maine. It was never a consideration. I hiked whatever miles I felt like. This hike is completely different. I set out from Tahoe planning to hike 25 miles per day because I felt like I was falling behind. I keep hearing that I am at the tail end of the bubble for this hiking season. The pressure to finish before the weather turns ugly is real. I don't like"having" to hike a certain mileage day in and day out. I prefer to let the terrain dictate my daily mileage. 

I woke up this morning dreading the day ahead of me. I just couldn't make myself motivated which is strange because usually I like to challenge myself. I think it is the pressure of having to do something. I had a quiet night in camp. The bears did not return to check on me. The air was crisp which is perfect for hiking. Within two miles I came to a trailhead parking area that had a privy. I was happy to not have to dig a cathole. It was shaping up to be a great day. I banged out the first six miles rather quickly. The terrain was cooperating nicely. I was worried that it might rain, but when I got up above tree line I could see that it wasn't rain clouds that I was seeing. It was smoke. I became nervous that there was a fire close by. 
Bear free campsite 

I checked my phone to see if I had service and lo and behold I had great reception. I noticed a text message from my dad. I had made a major mistake with having him ship food for me. I had forgot to tell him about my next stop in Belden. I had told him about another mail drop 150 miles farther down the trail. Luckily he was on top of things and noticed the mistake. If he hadn't caught the error I would have been majorly screwed. I asked him to check on any fires in the area. He got back to me that everything was good. I would find out later that the smoke I was seeing all day was coming from a fire in Agua Dulce. I hope the Saufley's are ok. 
Hazy scenery 

I spent the next several miles walking a ridge above tree line. I wish it wasn't so hazy out, but the views were still nice. I could even see Lake Tahoe a little bit. The ridge I was walking is part of the Sqaw Valley ski resort. I wonder if people realize that they are skiing and snowboarding over part of a national scenic trail. Probably not. 
Lake Tahoe
Such a cool name for a ski run
Close encounter with a marmot 

Shortly after walking the ridge my excitement bargain to wain. I knew I was behind schedule for the day, but I just couldn't make up any time. It was extremely hot out and the miles were passing by slowly. I was still on track to make twenty five miles at noon, but by one o'clock I had fallen behind the curve. Unfortunately, at that time I was also walking through an extremely exposed section and the heat was really getting to me. I kept having to take short breaks in the shade to cool down. I was also drinking a ton of water. I think I stopped at almost every stream today. Filtering water is not a quick process. It takes time. Time that I didn't have today. 
Not a lot of shade

Around three o'clock I had a tough decision to make. I was coming up to a ten mile dry stretch. I had to decide to stop early and camp close to the water source or to go farther and dry camp. If I went farther I had to carry at least three liters of water up a thousand foot climb. If I camped close to the water source I would fall behind my goal of twenty five miles for the day. I discovered last night that I had packed an extra day of food, so that wasn't a concern. I'd really like to catch up with Outro, Evac, and U-Turn, but I know that Homegrown, Sprinkles, and Wolf are right behind me. I couldn't make a decision. I decided to hike until I got to the water source and then decide. 
Really hazy now
Imagine the kind of wind needed to do this to trees

The last water source of the day was midway up a thousand foot climb. My decision was made for me before I got to the water. Before I started the climb to the water I had a very long downhill to contend with. Just as I made it to the bottom my knee really started to hurt again. Every step was causing me a searing pain. There was no way I was going any farther than the water source. To my dismay the water source was a tiny stream with no camping close by. I regretfully filled up three liters and prepared to hike another three miles. My dismay turned to elation a quarter of a mile later. I found a nice flat stealth spot tucked away right off of the trail. I set up camp and cooked dinner nestled in a tiny spot under a big tree. Several people hiked right past me and never saw me there. As a bonus I had great cell reception. I almost forgot what it is like to have reception while on the trail and in camp. I was able to update my blog and to check some of my email. 

I'm hoping tomorrow will be a better day. I really want to start doing big mileage days. I just need to find a new way to motivate myself. 

"We are what we repeatedly do; therefore excellence is not merely an act, but a habit." Aristotle 

Monday, July 25, 2016

Day 83- Eleven Hundred Miles And A Close Encounter

July 24, 2016 
Aloha Lake(1098.3) to Tentsite(1123.2) 24.9 miles
Total up/down: +3187/-4109 feet

I never even heard my watch alarm go off this morning. I woke up and immediately realized that I had overslept. It wasn't too bad though. It was only 6:15. I had feared that it was much later. I quickly packed up and drank my go-go juice (2 Carnation Instant breakfast packs, instant coffee, hot chocolate, and Chia seeds). I was hiking north by 6:45. Before I left I took once last picture of the lake. It was gorgeous. 
Early morning view

I only had to hike a few miles before I hit the eleven hundred milestone. It was the first time that there wasn't a marker already in place. I took a few minutes to create one. 
Only 1,560 to go

I can't believe that I still haven't hit the halfway point yet. Oh, well. All I can do is just keep walking. Last night I started hiking in the Desolation Wilderness. I've really been looking forward to this. Everyone says it is a beautiful hike and they were spot on. I spent the day hiking from one lake to another. I must have hiked past fifteen lakes. It was amazing. I really regret hiking past them all. I should have taken the time to swim in at least one of them. I just got so caught up in making miles. I forgot that it isn't just about the miles. It is about the experience. I know there will be other lakes and I vow to stop and jump in as many as possible. Unfortunately, I can't do that during this stretch. I only brought enough food for four days and this section is 103 miles. I have to do 25 miles per day so that I don't run out of food. 
Perfect reflection
Suzie Lake
Half moon lake with Aloha Lake in the far distance 

By midday it was really hot. I haven't had to deal with heat like this since the desert. Some of the hike was really exposed, but luckily most of it seemed to be through the forest. I stopped to filter water a lot. I think I drank seven liters today. Water is becoming more and more scarce everyday. I have to get better about paying attention to my water sources. It could have been a really bad day for me if it wasn't for all of the lakes. I usually try to avoid drinking from the lakes. I prefer to filter from fast moving streams and creeks, but I think the days of being choosey are over. I'll just take what I can get and hope that they aren't too far apart. 
Lakes everywhere
Sweet wildflower bloom

This would be a cool section to hike southbound. The southbounders haven't seen the Sierra yet, so this is their first taste of epic awesomeness. Alas, this is probably my last taste for quite sometime. I hope I'm wrong, but I don't think Northern California will be this pretty. 
Bristole Pinecone(I think?) 
Last lake of the day

By the end of the day I was pretty shot. My knee was starting to act up again so I decided to call it quits. I looked at my map and found a place to camp that had a water source close by. It was only one and a half miles away. I was plodding  down the trail towards my destination  when I saw something strange. It took my brain a second to process what my eyes were seeing. At first I thought there was a dog on the trail, but that didn't seem right. It wasn't until I saw the second animal that my brain snapped to attention. It was a very large bear and a small cub. Just about the time I processed all of this they saw me. Their reaction wasn't the worst thing that could happen, but it was pretty close. The cub ran up the tree immediately to the left of the trail and the momma bear ran to the right. If I went forward I would be in between them. Usually they just run away when they see humans, but the momma bear wasn't going to leave her cub. She started back to the tree where the cub was hiding. I stayed where I was and didn't make any fast movements. The momma bear stood on her hind legs and started huffing at me. I slowly backed away to give them more space. When I got far enough away the cub came down and they ran away.... Or so I thought. They really only went twenty feet to the right of the trail. The momma bear had put the cub up in a different tree and she was trying to hide behind it. As I came around a slight corner(very cautiously I might add) I could see her. Once again see got up on her hind legs and started huffing at me. I was far enough away that I felt confident making a lot of noise and trying to scare them away. It didn't work. She just kept staring at me and huffing. I decided to continue down the trail, but I kept my eye on them. I kept making noise as I went. As I turned a slightly away from them the cub came down and they ran away. It was one of my longest bear encounters and it was super cool. I was a little unnerved by the whole thing, but never really scared. The fact that my chosen campsite for the evening was only .2 miles away was a little disconcerting, but I was hopeful that they wanted nothing to do with me and would not come back. 
Can you see the bear? It is next to the tree in the middle of the picture. I have an awesome GoPro video that hopefully I can get posted soon

I quickly set up camp, but I went farther away from my tent then usual to cook dinner. I could hear ATVs on some nearby trails so I hope that will discourage them from coming back. Unfortunately, I can't find any trees to hang my food from tonight. I guess I will be sleeping with it(with one eye open). 

"Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you." 
- Nathaniel Hawthorne