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Mile 1018.2–1038.3 (20.1 miles)
Rose: accidentally did a 20 and I don’t feel wrecked (yet) Thorn: emotional roller coaster midday Bud: more pretty views tomorrow
What a terrible night’s sleep. The campsite we chose out of convenience was actually kind of terrible. Beautiful views in this rolling slopes hillside, but the only sites protected from the wind were nestled right underneath big widow makers. The ground was also rocky with lots of little alpine flowers. The others chose sites up top that were flatter. I chose one completely exposed to the wind downslope—and it was also sloped. I couldn’t get my stakes into the wind, and I didn’t want to chance deadman anchors. I cowboyed.
The wind came from both sides all night, rolling over my body, making me cough from microfine dust. I pulled my sleeping quilt around my face to keep the wind off it. I wore my wind jacket to bed to keep out the draft and ear plugs to keep out the sound. I pulled my hat down over my eyes, because the nearly full moon was like a floodlight. My sleeping setup kept sliding downhill all night. Around midnight I stuffed my backpack under my legs, which did help with the sliding, but I was by no means level. I could feel the swelling pooling in my feet. Every time I woke up, I thought about moving camp, but I hadn’t spied any better close spots. I’m just glad the night’s over. Hopefully I can find a napping spot today. It’ll be hot enough that I’ll want a rest anyways.
I stopped to refill water at a spot where there was three bars of Verizon service. Shuffles came passed. I said my goodbyes in case I didn’t see her again or for a while. She gave me some much needed Folgers instant coffee. I said the same to Pebbles when she passed. So with a very scenic view, I made a cup of coffee and called my mom for her birthday. I downloaded some podcasts. I sent some messages to Casey about my resupply box in Truckee.
The rest of the morning I proceeded to dive into the hard subjects in my head: my imposter syndrome ontrail, in the old tramily, and in my careers; my career(s) ahead; frustrations with the NPS; etc. I overcame a dayhiker in my reverie. In our talking, he dismissed my hurry to get to Canada (“You can always do a multi year!”), lectured me on compound interest for retirement when I expressed that Ill likely not be able to retire (“Just a little bit every month.”), insinuated the old “we didn’t have much and look at me now” (“You have to live cheaply!”), etc. Classic bootstrap bullshit from a boomer whose never known anything but middle class. I ditched him and proceeded to rage hike for the next couple hours. I cried in rage and frustration at the choices I’ve made, the corners I’ve been backed into, and the lack of quality opportunities ahead. You know, the hard stuff.
I eventually had to take a break and recenter myself with several rounds of solitaire and a quick nap.
The rest of the afternoon’s hiking went off splendidly. With just a couple 700’ climbs in the day and lots of rolling ridge line, the miles went off easily. I forgot my sunglasses at a water source. I asked a couple of SOBOers to send them northward if they found them—we’ll see if they get back to me by Tahoe. I also thought I was SOL about water for a second. I got spoiled with water in the Sierra. I only had something like 300 mL and thought the next water source was six miles away. Thankfully, it was only 1 mile away. That’s where I left my sunglasses.
I ran into the chatty boomer again. He’s a nice guy. A section hiker who updates the water reports. Chatty though. I have about a 10–15 minute tolerance for trail side chat. There’s places to go.
The landscape certainly has changed.
First, the trails are soft! Soft dirt, soft sand. Not the continuous rocks and boulders of the Sierra. My feet are very thankful for that so are my shoes. The Sierra granite really did a number on them. Only 200 miles in and the tread was so worn down that I was slipping on boulders. By 300 miles, there were holes in the uppers on the outside of my foot and big holes where my foot bends at the first met head. Altra Timps. What designed obsellesence garbage. Unfortunately, my feet are so wide (especially with the swelling) that they won’t fit into anything else. I worry that my ski boots won’t fit this fall. That’s an expensive replacement.
Second, the rock isn’t granite anymore. It is redder, crumblier, and I’ve even seen some columnar basalt. Some of the hills are shaped like the mesas of Wyoming. To me, who knows very little of geology, I think these mountains are volcanic in nature and not uplift and glacier polished. I really need to find a geology book.
I’m mostly hiking through dappled forests with many small creeks and meadows. Some plant life is changing. I identified 10 new flowers and the Sierra Juniper. I need a tree ID key to figure out the diversity of these trees. This section seems to have been hit hard by the Japanese beetle (as told by the guy at Kennedy Meadows North). There’s lots of dead trees and clumps of browned trees. Overall, a mix of species, size, and age of tree with dense meadow undergrowth. The meadows are lush but the ridges are dry.
That’s another thing! I’m finally hiking along ridge lines rather than up and down passes. It felt like a “crest” trail several times today.
With the elevation spread out and the trails soft, I made good time even with several long breaks. I had only planned on hiking 16–18 miles, slowly ramping up my mileage to make up time in Northern California (Pebbles said we have to average 21 miles per day without zeros to get to Canada by September 30th), but I ended up hiking 20! The last two miles were a little rougher—my feet were tired, my ankles and hips were starting to ache—but I missed the previous campsite and had to push on to the next.
This campsite is just up from a creek bed. Others are on the other side of the creek, but this side was higher up. I wanted to avoid any condensation.