Sunday, June 03, 2012

Day 43- Mountains and Meadows

Mile 721 to Mile 742

I slept great last night.  I think I was asleep before full dark. In town I fill my food deficit, but always end up with a sleep deficit.  I think I'm caught up now.  I was out of camp just after six and on my way up the same steep ridge as the night before.

The smoke had cleared, so I blamed the altitude-climbing to 10,000 feet for the first time-for my slow forward progress.  I really think it was just the pack-most PCT hikers don't have problems with altitude sickness because we've had time to adjust slowly.

At the top I had breakfast, and the climb had ended a lot sooner than I had expected.  For where I sat to eat I had a view of the mountains I have waited so long to experience.  It was really something being there at last.  The view continued as I started the long climb down.

Near the bottom I stopped for snack and some water that I probably didn't need, but I did need the snack.  It was only 9, but I was already thinking about lunch.  Lunch was to be at Death Canyon. On the way there the trail passed through a meadow with granite monoliths ringing it.  I'm in awe of this area all ready and it's hardly began.

Lunch was popular today with thru-hikers and section hikers.  It was a short break though.  It seems I'm done with long breaks in the middle of the day.  I took about 2.5 liters of water from the creek there.  It was the last on trail water for 12 or so miles.

Without wasting any time the trail started to climb.  The trail was steeper than this morning even with 28 switchbacks.  Every time I stopped I looked back at the view unfolding behind me.  I could see the meadow beyond Death Canyon that I had walked through.  I can see why so many people do less miles in the Sierra's: so many photo opportunities.

The ridge had a few false tops, the first one offering the best view.  When hiking up the trail seemed to walk off into the sky, but actually made a hard right turn, but judging by the tracks everyone went straight to the cliff edge to stand and gape at the view. Half a dozen granite peaks were across the valley from me.  Some bare, some treed, all of them looking grand against the blue sky.  And that was it for the view:  mountains and meadows.  No buildings, power lines, or roads.

From the top it wasn't too far to camp.  The trail rose and fell softly over the ridge.  Just like the day before smoke started to blow in from the east making the gentle ridges harder.  The trail passed off trail springs that were marked by arrows made out of down sticks.  I stayed on trail figuring I had enough water to get to camp.  At the. Last junction I took a snack break and promised my stomach that dinner was coming soon.
At Diaz Creek where we had planned to camp at I found Nightingale and most of the other grouped around the trail junction. There was a note saying better water and camping could be found 1.3 miles north.  Uphill, of course.  There was some discussion, but in the end we decided to push on-my stomach voiced its displeasure at being lied to.  Nightingale gave me some water-I had a half liter left, enough for camping where I stood, but not enough for a thirsty hiker going 1.3 more miles.

The extra hiking went quick and almost before I knew it I was looking at pebbles spelling out H2O and an arrow.  I tossed my arms up in victory and Nightingale did the same.

Camp was at a horse corral made from unfinished logs-I almost didn't see it at first it looked so natural.  There was a small creek, campfire ring, and enough flat spaces for all of us.  As we ate, Honoh sang hiking ditties and played the harmonica.

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