Mile 640 to Mile 668.7
I woke up early to hike down to Walker Pass where there was hopefully water and to continue on a rather long day. It was mostly eleven miles of downhill--which always means there will be a few small surprise up hills. I was out of camp at six and enjoyed the cool of the morning.
It wasn't long before I came to the road leading to a spring at a cabin. I ate breakfast there and debated going the .2 miles off trail for water. As long at the campground at Walker Pass had water than I had plenty. If there was no water at the camp ground than I'd be in trouble and from the sounds of the water report there was a 50/50 chance of water. I decided to risk it, and pressed on.
The trail followed a woods road for awhile. I'm starting to get used to having a couple of miles of dirt road to walk on every day. It really moves along the miles. Right after the road ended I saw the same two section hikers that I've been seeing for the past couple of days and another hiker, Wrongway, caught up with me. I hiked the rest of the way to Walker Pass with Wrongway right behind. We chatted about the A.T.--we are both southbounders--and other hiking related topics. We caught a quick glimpse of the Sierra's in the distance. They had some snow that shown against the blue sky. It won't be long until I'm in those mountains. It's something to look forward to.
At the Pass I met up with Samwise and a handful of other hikers. There were jugs of water on the picnic table and one beer waiting just for me. Wrongway was heading into town and he gave me three extra candy bars which I ate one right after the next. I would have eaten more if I had them. I stayed at the picnic table for way too long, not leaving until 12:30.
It was no surprise that after the pass was a major climb, but I wish the timing had been better. I felt like I was melting, so up went the Chrome Dome. I pretty much only use the Dome when I feel like I'm going to turn into a melty puddle of hiker in the middle of the trail.
Near the top I stopped for another snack break thinking I'd hold off on lunch for a little bit. I wanted to get closer to my end point before stopping for a lunch break. I had to make it to at least 668.7 for water--my longest day so far, and I felt like I needed to keep pushing to make sure it happened.
A couple hours later I did stop in some shade on the downward side of the ridge and scarfed down a quick lunch of summer sausage and cheese. I didn't even stop long enough to take off my shoes. Although at that point I had 10 miles and one uphill standing between me and camp.
The trail continued down all the way to a muddy little stream that was my back-up camping option. I had another snack--I was pretty determined to have no food left when I arrive at Kennedy Meadows. I drank nearly a liter of water to lighten my pack some more. Than it was onward and upwards.
This climb was nothing like the climb after Walker Pass. It was just a quick two miles of gentle up. It was five o'clock and the sun was still baking the trail, but not enough to still have the Chrome Dome out. I kept wishing for shade, but didn't want to wish too much, or find myself hiking in the dark.
At the top of the ridge I was hiking so in my own thoughts that I didn't see a hiker set up for camp until he said hello. It's not often that I'm hiking so lost in my own thoughts like that. I chatted for a bit, again about the A.T. which we'd both done. It looked like a nice spot to camp, but I had almost no water and had to push on two more miles. I regret a little that I have done any spontaneous camping yet. The other day there were great camping places at the top of the ridge, but it was only two p.m. so as nice as the spots looked, I pressed on. It would have been nice to stop, but it also would have been slightly boring to spend the afternoon sitting and trying not to eat too much food. In this section, water really does rule, and that extends to where I camp. Soon that will change, and I'm sure there will be time to camp in beautiful places.
The trail took its time going down the ridge. I could see trees below me so I had a pretty good idea of where I was headed. The sun had finally dipped its head below a ridge and the half moon was pale in the blue sky. Around seven I came across Samwise, Sweet-As, and Action all cooking dinner from their sleeping bags.
I had been looking forward all day to camping next to water and maybe washing away some of the grime that had built up since my shower in Hikertown over a hundred miles ago, so I was a tiny bit disappointed by the tiny stream that I found. Not too disappointed--I did after all have water to drink and cook with and carry for the next day, but I really wanted to hear water flowing to fall asleep to.
I was also disappointed that I was a mile and a half short of hiking a thirty. The water report listed another spring in a mile and a half, but I decided not to push for it. I didn't know if there was water or some place to set up camp. Where I was I had those things, and I didn't want to risk having to hike anything past thirty miles. So I set up camp and started my dinner pretty content to call it a day.