Location- Side of hwy 108
Elevation- 9,652 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 34.6 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 1,016.9 miles
Weather/Temp- clear 60s 70s
Pain level- low
Days without shower- 6
Today was an incredible day for me; it was the end of my Sierra Marathon.
I was hiking by 6:30 am. At 2 minutes to noon, I’d hiked 14.7 miles, crested Dorothy Pass, and walked clear of Yosemite National Park. I had lunch. At a quarter past 2 pm, I crossed the 1000 mile marker for the third time in my long distance hiking career. A little after 5 pm, I climbed onto the ridge preceding Sonora Pass. At 8:52 pm, I walked onto Hwy 108, completing 34.6 miles, my biggest day yet, and a 2 week, solo marathon hike that’s had an affect on me I never anticipated.
The above paragraph is the speedy overview. It was one hell of a long day, filled with more obstacles than I can immediately recall.
I began the day with a steep 1,100 foot climb that I probably should have done last night, if only to make today that much easier.
I found a lake on the far side, and the trout looked active. I stopped twice to fish, but had no luck. I need more tackle…
I started crushing trail after that, and found myself on a 7 mile slog through mud, grass, creeks, and streams. The mosquitos were maddening! It was no day to pick and choose your path through the obstacles. I went straight through everything; no looking for solid ground, no rock hopping. Soggy, muddy shoes and feet, with a side of countless mosquito bites. That was my morning.
I crested the snow covered Dorothy Pass just before noon, logging nearly 15 miles. I was pooped. I took 45 minutes to eat and rest, then caught my second wind.
Busted out a six mile downhill fraught with even more mosquitoes, water crossings, and snow packs. I lost the trail once again in the scattered snow packs, burning up more precious daylight. Shortly after finding the trail, I passed the 1000 mile mark.
Next was a 7 mile climb to the top of the ridge that would lead me to Sonora Pass and Hwy 108. This climb, especially the last few miles through snow and over shale rock (all makeshift, non original trail) completely wiped me out, but upon reaching the ridge crest, I caught my third wind. It was totally open, and reminded me a lot of Franconia Ridge in the White Mountains on the AT.
The ridge Roller coastered over broken rock, snow, and dirt for miles. It wasn’t too bad, but after nearly 30 miles already, I was getting worn out. The constant switching between snow slogs and loose rock was draining me. I just wanted to get it all done before dark, and time was running out.
Within the last 4 miles, at 11,000 feet, a huge buck Mule Deer charged up the ridge like it was his job, and began walking along the crest above me, silhouetted against the dusky sky. He struck an iconic pose, looking out across the world, and it was the most incredible, iconic thing I’ve ever seen. The ridge was barren, why would he come all the way up here? To show off? To survey his kingdom? I have no idea, but I felt incredibly lucky to witness such an event
After some very, very sketchy scaling, and glissading of a snowy wall, then some trail blazing, I hit hwy 108, just before 9 pm, with slivers of daylight to spare.
I’d done it. 35 miles before dark. No more killing myself, day in and day out. Sierra Marathon complete, with a day to spare.
What I thought might kill me, ended up being one of the greatest growing and learning experiences of my life. I thought my body would break, but instead did just the opposite. Instead of falling apart as time went on, it only continued to get stronger, the more I put it through. The entire marathon culminating into the biggest day I’ve ever done on trail; a fitting finale.
I feel like a Titan