Location- pine grove near waterfall
Elevation- 9,803 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 15.3 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 802.6 miles
Weather/Temp- clear 40s-60s
Pain level- low
Days without shower- 8
Hunger/craving- pizza pizza pizza
Passed the 800 mile mark today, and strangely was reminded of the 800 mile mark on the Appalachian Trail. I don’t remember all of the locations of the major mile milestones on the AT, but the 800 mile marker is one that I do remember.
Today was harder than I thought it would be. I went over another mountain called Glenn Pass, topping out at 12,000 feet. This mountain surpassed Forester in terms of sheer danger and difficulty, in my own personal opinion. According to my guidebook, it’s not even the most challenging pass I’ll have to traverse.
The trail was mostly covered with snow on the way, rendering it invisible. You had to pick out a spot, and start climbing towards it over the snow and rock. The final steep climb up was a lot like the final push up Forester, if not slightly shorter, and maybe a little steeper. It was coming down the backside that set it apart. Nothing but a sheer wall of snowpack, with virtually no trail in sight. I had to make my way across the wall of snow, stepping in the foot prints of those who’d come before.
Needless to say, I survived, but it was one of the first times I’ve felt genuinely nervous in the sense that my life felt like it was hinging on my prowess to not make even one misstep.
The views today were the most spectacular yet. Once again, I was in a mountainous bowl. Meadows, lakes, ponds, rivers, snow, waterfalls, etc; it was all there, all the ingredients for a paradise on earth.
I had lunch on a cliff overlooking a lake bordered by snow covered mountainside. It was easily the most dramatic place I’ve ever rested and taken a meal, hands down. I stayed for an hour and a half; how could I rush pass something so spectacular? When would I ever be here again? The answer is, there’s no guarantee that I will. Nothing in life is guaranteed. You make the most of every moment you have, and try to treat it as you would your last.
I passed by countless more lakes throughout the rest of my 7.5 mile descent. One thing I noticed…they all had small trout in them. I couldn’t resist wetting a line. All I brought with me for fishing is a spool of 8lb fluorocarbon line, and a small Panther Martin lure.
Making my way down to edge, I spun the lure round like a lasso, then let fly. Each cast went out around 40 feet. There was no current to work the lure, so I’d pull the line quick, maybe two or three feet at a time, let the lure sink for a second or two, then pull it quickly again. In my first 12 casts, I caught 9 trout between six and ten inches long. The lake was teeming with them, and they were competing over the lure; it was almost too easy. I released them all, in hopes of catching some bigger ones later.
I killed another hour and a half fishing in the many lakes, and caught probably close to 30 trout; all of them in the same size range.
I finished the day going another 3 miles up the next mountain pass. One thing I didn’t realize, is that the Sierras have been nothing but one high mountain pass after another, most of them topping 12,000 ft in elevation. It’s taking everything I have to get over one of these passes a day. So far, each one has been snowy and rather technical, and I hear from the grapevine that all of them from this point forward are like this. If I do 25 to 30 mile days, it will put me over two of them, and in an altitude zone that’s safe, but I simply can’t physically do that many miles over this terrain, at these elevations. All day my head swims, my equilibrium is off, and I tussle with phantom headaches; I can’t keep the pace I need without making myself sick. It’s very disheartening, and humbling, but I’m not letting myself get frustrated about it. If I can’t get out of the “no dog zones” on time, then I’ll simply do another marathon drive to and from Florida to get her again, when I do hike clear of it.
I’m still going to hike hard, but I’m not going to overdo it to the point that I strand myself in snowpacks when the sun goes down. I haven’t lost sight of the goal, but I’m choosing my battles.
As I was laying here writing this, two deer walked by my hammock (giving me a momentary heart attack) and started grazing on some nearby bushes.
I’m craving pizza so bad that it upsets me when I think about it too much.
Side note, there is one other person camping in the pine grove with me; a Japanese man in his thirties named “Ma-sashi.” He is doing a southbound thru hike of the John Muir Trail, which runs congruent to the PCT for around 200 miles. He barely speaks any English, and I understand maybe 40% of what he says. We sat and tried to converse for about half an hour, but much was lost in the translation. Still, I feel I’ve made a friend, if only in passing.
I haven’t had contact with anyone in almost a week. It’s kinda nice, but I know people are worrying about me. This place is so closed off from the outside world; literally miles from nowhere, even the reach of cell phone towers. We’ll see what tomorrow’s “pass” holds.