Passes and Snow and Rain
Avocados? Packed. Beer? Drank. Fuel? Yes. Electronics? Charged.
Heading back into the woods from being in town for a night is always a wonderful feeling. It's becoming home out here. Rain falling from the sky made me both happy to have an umbrella while hiking, and excited to set up camp early in the day to just sit in the warmth of my sleeping bag and tent while the rain settles for the evening. We knew the forecast, but didn't stress at the 60% chance of rain and thunderstorms. You just deal with it, and honestly, I freaking love the sound of thunder when it barrels deep through the valleys below. It makes me smile and become aroused by the energy of the clouds. It's a rush. Staying dry can be a daily struggle, but it becomes normal to be taking precautions on a hour to hour basis. Gore-tex shoes make jumping in the sloshy snow and sludgy mud a pretty fun pastime, and the Golite umbrella rules for both sun and rain.
The Sierras are fucking incredible. Beautiful passes that climb a few thousand feet and then quickly drop thousands of feet reveal pockets of California's incredible forests. John Muir Wilderness, Ansel Adams Wilderness, Saphire Lake, Evolution Lake, the Golden Staircase... These places take my breath away on a normal basis. Seriously, I am always saying, "Jesus Fucking Christ" or "Oh God Damn" as I drop my jaw and trip out on the epic and monumental landscape. It's fucking unreal how beautiful it is out here. There are times where I am walking for hours, literally hours, uphill nonstop - switchback after switchback. I find my mind completely clear when I'm fighting exhaustion and focusing on my breath, pace, hydration level, and each step. Then flashes of thoughts roll in my head and then quickly out again. And then back to clear. It's like the world's greatest meditation stair master workout plan. My legs are fucking nuts. Super strong and lean, but also beat the fuck up from ice, snow, and twigs. I am climbing over fallen trees, hopping on rocks and balancing on logs to pass over rivers frequently.
Shit, fording rivers is not a surprising daily thing either out here. The other day, I wanted to make it to the Muir Ranch hot springs, and after a long ass day (26 miles) down from Muir Pass (where I stealthy slept to avoid bad weather and melted snow), and then afternoon showers, I finally made it, but didn't know you had to ford a river to get there... Shitty. Fording rivers is kind of sketch, and lame when you wear slow drying shoes and the level is high. Luckily that night, even though the water current was strong and up above my thighs, I was going to get into the hot springs quickly after, and would be okay... So the silver lining? Crossing back over the next morning, when the temperature was cold and so was my body. Luckily, the 8 miles of uphill immediately after the river helped. Every up has the down out here... And it's all up and down in the Sierras. Lots of balance. It's been good for reflections and thoughts.
It's an incredible feeling to stand on top of a mountain pass and look back at the thick forested mountain range you either just crossed, or are just about to cover. Rivers and waterfalls flow from the snow melt up top, and fall loudly into the lakes and streams below. Wild onion grows near water beds, and marmots and chipmunks quickly travel throughout the terrain. No sign of bears... yet.
Everyone I meet and pass are each so inspiring and loaded with a warm heart and positive outlook on life. We say you can't be an asshole and hike this trail... You wouldn't make it. Attitude is a huge part of one's success. Hiking in the rain for hours... Fording rivers at fucking 6am when it's fucking cold as balls... Cowboy camping next to your bear can... Getting your feet soaked right after changing into clean socks... Carrying the extra weight of four avocados because they make every meal better... Missing a sign and getting miles off trail and having to backtrack... Post holing up to your waiste and having to crawl out of the snow and ice... But this is what I came out here to experience. This is the challenge I knew I would face. It's been everything I dreamed and more.
My attitude and the attitude of the other hikers make this trip so solid and loaded with endless smiling and laughs shared. Daily, I am breathing so deeply from my lungs and laughing so deeply from in my stomach. Since we battle the same challenges, everyone is instantly connected and bonded by humanity, courage, and perseverance. It's fucking beautiful. We share ideas, hobbies, memories, dreams, goals, and accomplishments. They are trail-family to me, and have so much charisma, charm, and beauty. Surrounded by those who inspire me to never stop growing and acquiring knowledge through experiences is amazing. This shit is amazing.
Mosquitos suck. Hiker-hunger is real. Mammoth Brewing rocks. Balance is critical. People are amazing. The earth is huge. The universe is magical.
Stoked on life.
The Sierras Baby
Holy cow, so I have not had any service since before Kennedy Meadows, so my apologies for the delay! This trip is aasammmaazzziiinnnggg. Everyday something new and exciting happens, which both challenges my physical strength and my mind. I have finally hit the Sierras - a dream come true. The landscape has changed from cacti and water shortage, to sequoias providing balanced shade, rocks that stack high above 10,000 feet, and rivers every few miles or so. I've been using my life straw lots, which saves times used filtering through the Sawyer mini, and weight in my pack. The bear barrel though... is a pain in the neck... but highly valuable for protecting my food. I saved a ton of money preparing my food before the trip, but I still find myself running into every grocery store while in town to resupply on produce and other fresh foods. Avocados are a popular carry-out on trail, also cheeses and beer. The things people carry to gain that little bit extra comfort while in the mountains make the world of a difference for food-happiness.
Sooooo I climbed Mt. Whitney!!!!! It's the tallest point in the southern 48 states! And it was the day after my highest mile day - which was 27 miles!! Let's just say I was pretty exhausted climbing over Forester Pass (which is the highest point on the actual PCT trail). The weather has been amazing, so every mountain top reached has shared incredible views and a remarkable feeling of accomplishment. The down hill from Forrester Pass was both hilarious, and fucking difficult. It faces the north, so the snow level was high, but the afternoon when I was going down, the snow was slushy and a total pain. I remember at one point, I was trenching through the snow waste deep, my knees were bloody from the ice ripping off knee scabs I acquired while running downhill days prior, hands were red and sprinkled with sharp ice... And as I stood there, with over 200 feet of snow left to make it to solid dirt, all I could think about was my mom being pissed if she saw me in my current state. Bloody, icy, sun burnt, and in a possibly dangerous position if I sunk too deep into the icy snow. Anyways, made it through, laid in the sun near a beautiful lake to dry off, and continued on my way. Every difficult situation renders someone beautiful once complete. As I walked down the valley that evening to my campsite, baked in every form possible, the smile on my face was so large, pure, and satisfying.
The amount of people on trail lowers each day... But that's okay because thousands of people registered for thru hike permits. Either people slow down to rest and recover, or they are skipping ahead to avoid the snow, or are leaving trail, tired and beat. Everyday I hear of someone else stopping... I don't think I'll get to that point, but I know I have some difficult terrain ahead.
Now since in the Sierras, lake swimming is a daily activity, which is so cool! I want to get my fishing license so I can eat some of the fish I swim with on the regular.
Hitch hiking is more comfortable, and don't worry, I never hitch alone.
My pinky toes hate me.. I feel bad for the little guys.
I eat so much... Or I CAN eat so much. Food is such a treat, but super mandatory when you start feeling your energy level drop. There are times, when you have to climb a few thousand feet, for over 10 miles... So for hours, you're walking up hill! Shit is exhausting.
Life is amazing, I can't wait to write more later. For now, I need to pick up my resupply box, and head back to trail. Love you, thinking of you always.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.