Location- Death Canyon
Elevation- 8,967 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 26.1 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 730.7 miles
Weather/Temp- warm, freezing, rain, snow, hail, 70s-30s
Injuries- sore feet
Pain level- moderate
Spirits/Morale- slightly overwhelmed
Days without shower- 4
It seems that every time I ascend above 9,000 feet on this trail, it rains, snows, sleets, and hails.
I had a hell of a first day in the high Sierra. It rained last night, so I was lucky to have my rain fly up, if it wasn’t for the distant thunder, I would have gone without it. This morning however, was beautiful.
Started hiking at 6:30am, and right away the entire environment was different from everything up until today. Meadows, valleys, rivers, giant trees, distant snowy mountains, giant boulders; I don’t even know where to begin painting this picture.
I woke up this morning at 6,000 feet, and before the day was over, I’d climbed to more than 10,600 feet. I had more continuous elevation gain today, than on any other day previous; and it was my biggest day so far.
This big day didn’t come without a price though. I’m breaking in a completely new, and different pair of shoes, and today my feet were feeling it. They haven’t been this sore since the AT. They’re very comfortable, but I can tell the break in process is going to be grueling. How terrible that I would be breaking in a new shoe during the time that I need to be doing almost a marathon every day, for the next couple weeks. Just one more challenge to add to the list.
I was slightly zoned out today, without Katana to monopolize my attention. I did some deep thinking, but mostly I was doomed to focus on the soreness of my feet. I finished 12 miles a little after 11am, and cooked lunch by a stream.
After lunch, it was up, up, up over 10,000 feet. About 16 miles into the day, and a little over 9,000 feet up, thunder began to roll in the distance, grey clouds floated in, and a sleeting rain began to fall. After a few minutes, it turned to a very light snow, then stopped all together after about half an hour. I enjoyed about another half hour of peace, then the real hail storm pushed in, and lightening began to crack deafeningly above my head.
I was faced with a conundrum; hunker down, or finish the last few miles up to 10,600 feet, then make for lower ground on the other side. You couldn’t pay me to sleep on anymore mountaintops during storms, so I decided to go over it.
For almost 3 hours, the hail came down torrentially, and I got very cold. Thankfully it was mostly bouncing off me, so I didn’t get completely soaked; nevertheless, it was quite the un-enjoyable experience, but a welcomed experience as it was.
The storm cut off around 5 pm, and I was left with blue skies and sunlight for the last several miles down. I barely got below 9,000 feet, but it’s better than 10,000+.
I miss my little dog. I feel like a piece of me is missing. She’s my “plus one” everywhere I go, and now I feel like “Mayor minus one.” Although it’s nice to be rid of the extra responsibility, I can’t wait to get her back. I’m going to feel even crazier having conversations with myself, instead of Katana.
I truly hope my feet aren’t as sore in the morning as they are now. It’ll be an incredibly uncomfortable day if they are…