June 10, Day 37
14.3 miles [716.5]
Despite dozens of drunk and frisky campers I managed to get decent rest, waking early for an uninterrupted use of the porta-potty. Trepidatious about yesterday but feeling generally good, I finished the rest of my spigot-laundry, charged my remaining electronics, and attempted to stuff seven days of food into my bear can (where am I going to put these crackers?) Also, I learned the canister doesn’t fit horizontally in my pack. How did I not test it out at home? Adam and I hitched to Grumpy Bear for the famed all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast. I only finished one after an included plate of potatoes and eggs, legitimately, I was full. Waddled over to Triple Crown Outfitter where Adam upgraded his shirt and bought his own bear can. Got a miraculous hitch in a Ford Sport Trac back to the general store; 14 people plus a dog crammed in the cab, on the hood, and bed, tailgate down. It was a sight to behold. Took a few hours consolidate my new gear and figure out a comfortable packing style. Scored and ass-pad which should provide more comfort around my hipbelt area. Said our farewells to “Mio” and “Bigfoot” who are headed home today, having completed their planned section. I don’t like saying goodbye to friends. Hiked out 15 miles through gorgeous meadows, lichen covered rocks, and weather-worn pines, finally cresting above 8,000 feet. I’m home—the Sierra—it feels delightful. Set up camp at the Kern River and Monache Meadow junction and ate our second Velveeta salsa mac dinner. Always eaten on the first night of a preprepared resupply, the last time we had this meal was Warner Springs, 600 miles ago. Only eight more remaining.
June 11, Day 38
25.3 miles [741.8]
In the wee hours of morning I tossed and turned, never finding a warm position. As consciousness slowly arrived, I realized the interior of my tent had been covered in frost. I whipped off my quilt, jumped into laced shoes and unzipped the tent frantically. Rather carelessly, I had left my water filter in my pack which had spent the night outside. Rule #1: don’t let your filter freeze. It sparkled with ice crystals—welcome to the Sierra. A depressing chorus of “I fucked up” played nonstop in my head. I told Adam I might need to borrow his filter, he seemed to take it fine. Packed and hiked out, climbing to 10,000 feet for the first time on trail (San Jacinto doesn’t count). My pack certainly feels like a fresh resupply, it easily weighs 40 pounds. No matter how I arrange my gear or adjust my straps, it pulls on my shoulders trying to grind me to a halt. Demolished a tuna taco and tons of mom’s jerky for lunch while drying my soggy tent in the alpine sun. Rationing food and a night of cold sleep meant I was hungry most of the day. Hiked a vertical mile of total altitude and my legs are completely shot. Set up camp at Diaz Creek, ducking and weaving through clouds of thirsty mosquitoes. Adam prepared dinner, tortilla soup, while I refilled our water supply. Whitney is close, but quite a haul still lays ahead.
June 12, Day 39
25.3 miles [766.3]
I wasn’t the quickest packing up camp, however, Adam waited and paced around, albeit rather uncomfortably. I may have started off in front but quickly fell far behind as we continued to ascend above treeline. Around one set of switchbacks, two small flashes of fur chasing each other ran towards me. Instantly, I stopped and snapped my head up from the ground and tried to freeze. The two creatures stopped just as suddenly. Immediately I recognized one to be a golden-mantled ground squirrel. The other had a weasely appearance, sleek and slick, his tail tipped with black like a freshly dipped paint brush. I have a strong suspicion the unidentified creature was a stoat. They vanished as quickly as they arrived. After a few more miles, Adam and I lost motivation and shared an early, hot lunch just before the mouth of Chicken Spring Lake where Guthook claimed, upon arrival, “you will really feel like you have entered the High Sierra”. They weren’t wrong. For a few hours, we hiked through some sort of natural wonder Meow Wolf exhibit. Psychedelic thousand-year-old trees with twisted trunks, melted limbs, and horrific faces solidified in weather-worn bark. Stumbled another 16 more miles to Crabtree Ranger Station and set up camp. There must be over 60 PCT hikers here waiting to summit. While Adam and I ran pass routes (damn mosquitoes) and ate dinner, he told me he plans on sunrising—wheel’s up at 2:30 a.m. This seems pointless, but then again I always bitch and moan about rising early. No bear can or tent; get pumped, you can nap later.