Day 47- the one before Whitney

Today was shortish but it felt really long. We trudged through slush next to a river for what seemed like forever. We passed the tents and hammock of DB and his group that had gone up Whitney.

We got to camp around 12 and set up our tents in the SNOW. My very first snow camping experience of the trip. I took a nap in my tent which basically turned into a sauna. Due to the reflective-ness of the snow and the sun still being out for hours it was extremely hot.

I had the time so I brushed my hair for the first time in a week…. It was not a pleasant experience.

Kind of getting worried about whether or not I will have enough food to make it to Independence but I think I should just make it if I diligently ration. My least favorite thing.

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Day 46- the one with the falling tree

There was a gorgeous sun rise this morning. Not unlike any other morning but today we got to see it rise behind snow topped mountains and it was magical. Started the day off with crampon right away and wore them for the majority of the day. AH crossed the river without his pack to test it out and was not too enthusiastic about crossing it again with all of his gear. After a little bit of searching we were able to cross our first major creek on a log. Once we were across and had set up camp, a large tree fell over not 100 feet away from my tent.

Throughout the day I had thoughts creep into my head about going home when we reached Independence instead of waiting to get to Yosemite. I will evaluate my situation when I get there.

Crampons are amazing but they kind of hurt your feet and your ankles especially if you walk sideways on a slope in one direction for a really long time. But. On the bright side I feel like wolverine when I wear them. So. Winning.

Much of the time you do not actually know if you are on the trail or not unless you are constantly looking at your phone (which has an app which tells you your GPS location relative to the trail) but that takes up a lot of battery and you would probably run into a tree. In the snow you can’t just look down and see the trail so you have to try your best and occasionally look at the map to correct your course. Because of the snow we got a little lost but we ultimately found our way back onto where the trail would be. A couple of feet bellow us buried in the snow.

Tomorrow will be a relatively short day to set us up for our summit of Mt. Whitney the day after!

Day 45- the one with a goodbye

It is our third day of getting up early. Still getting used to the early schedule but am really liking the early end times of our day. My booties have lots of sunlight so dry them out once we are done hiking for the day. DB has decided to leave our group in order to make it to the summit of Mt. Whitney for his birthday. P slipped and slid a few times today so we had a quick crash course on how to self arrest with an ice axe. The fact that I have never practiced self arresting was a cause of concern for AH. I just told myself I would not fall… Not that I would have much control over if and when that would happen.

After one of our breaks one of my crampons fell off my pack and luckily we caught it in time. AH went with me to find it.

I did not feel queasy today but I do feel the effects of the high altitude when we are going up. Going down hills I do not feel it as much.

Day 44- the one with crampons

Leaving at 5 is more code word for 515. I can not seem to get ready fast enough no matter how early I wake up.

Right out of camp we hit snow and it was a completely new experience for me. The snow was hard so it was pretty easy to walk on and if you planted your feet well enough you would not slide very much. I was still pretty skittish about this new terrain but I was trying my best. About 30 minutes into hiking I started to feel a little queasy. I had not eaten breakfast yet so I quickly ate a bar, not wanting to make P and AH wait for me. A couple questionable traverses later, I finally put my crampons on for the first time. Boy. Wow. Crampons may be a pain to put on your feet but they are SO worth it. After a morning of questioning each step and just waiting for the slide that would take me off a cliff, once I had the crampons on I felt invincible. Probably one of my favorite pieces of gears at that moment.

After getting to the end of the snow fields we heard a whistle and went down to check what was going on. A woman that we had met the day before from France had gotten sick, presumably from the altitude. As a group we took her pack and helped get her down to lower elevation. After we got the woman and her hiking partner safely down lower we went a few more miles and ate lunch. I ate my dinner so I would not have to carry more water up to camp than necessary.

 

Throughout the day we heard fighter jets flying overhead and on a couple of occasions they flew right over us through the middle of mountains in the valleys were walking in. Pretty cool stuff.

We ended the day with a bit of climbing (not actual climbing but going up the mountain rather than down) to get us back up to 10,000 feet. We made it to camp by 3 and I had my house all set up by 4.

I explored a little around the site and was able to see the mountain that we had walked on this morning.

Day 43- the one with 10,000 feet of elevation

It has been six weeks since I was looking over the fence at Mexico! It is crazy to think about how different everything is now. Less than a week ago I was commenting on how hot it was and soon I will be surrounded by snow in a very much alpine environment.

Today was our first full day in the sierras.

Hiking as a cohesive group is much different than the hiking I was doing in the desert. We are walking at P’s pace (even though I consider myself the slowest one of the group due to my stride length being half of everyone else’s) which means we take a break about every hour or so. It is a nice change in pace for me, especially with all the elevation we are gaining it is nice to let my legs just lay there.

THERE IS WATER EVERYWHERE. Gone are the days where I needed to carry 12 pounds of water around. We made our way to 10,000 feet in elevation and then camped near some snow. Dinner was in my tummy by 4 and my tent was all set up by 5. I am laying down ready to sleep by 7. It is still sunny outside so it might be hard to fall asleep but I am so tired from getting up at 345 that I am not too worried about it.

Day 42- the one with the monster packs

Today is the third and final day of staying in Kennedy Meadows and our first day of hiking into the Sierras!

Before we head out to the unknown we, of course, took a trip to the restaurant and loitered for a bit and ate. And ate. And ate. I had two veggie burgers and a banana and two more oranges that I acquired from Saunter.

After we had filled our bellies with all the food we could, we hopped in the back of a truck that took us back to the general store and our tents where we would pack up our stuff and head back onto the trail.

I was able to somehow fit all of my new and improved gear into my pack AND get it onto my shoulders without any outside help. I was pretty impressed with myself. 10 days of food is way more than I have ever carried before and it is extremely heavy. A little over 20 pounds heavy. Phew. After my intense game of tetris our group waddled our way to say goodbye to the other hikers and head towards the trail. DB, P, and AH decided they wanted to take a quick dip in the river before continuing to hike so I waited, slightly anxiously on the side, drawing in the sand until they were ready to go.

The going was extremely slow because of the additional pounds we were carrying and we made it just four miles before we decided to have dinner and “lighten” our packs. Continuing on we made it another about four miles and decided to make camp because it was getting dark. We also wanted to be rested for our first real “alpine start” aka getting up and leaving by five o’clock. Ha Ha Ha. That will be fun.

Day 41- the one with limited “food”

Happy Monday! Today is the second day of being in KM. Apparently the Grumpy Bear restaurant that we ate at yesterday isn’t open on Mondays and so we had to forage for food (well at least the vegan did) at the general store. Needless to say my pickings were slim and the options weren’t the healthiest.

Because he knew I was vegan, Saunter had made a veggie curry the other night in case one of the hikers that passed his van didn’t eat meat. This was of course after I had gone by that morning. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Anyways. He had some left over and he shared it with me for breakfast. It was very good. I ate with a real spoon and everything!

P got to KM after he rested an extra day in Ridge Crest and we finalized our plan for going into the sierras. We are going to attempt to summit Mount Whitney if the weather allows and we will stay together as a group and average about 10-12 miles a day.

Shortly after my experience with the curry i went into the store to find something to eat for lunch (currently lunch is used as a loose term that refers to the food you eat in between 10 am and 4 pm). Because hikers are continuously hungry we tent to continuously eat… so one lunch isn’t really realistic. Back to my “lunch”. I found some chips that I had been introduced to prior to setting off on the PCT by my mom so I got a box of those, an avocado that was extremely under ripe and ultra hard and for the first and probably the last time in a very very long time I drank two, yes two, soda pops. One that the hiker fam recommended and that I have only ever seen on this trip, Cactus Cooler (pineapple and orange… need I say more) and then a ginger ale. I didn’t feel too good after all the sugar and carbonation but at least I learned my lesson. The little burger place that is conjoined to the store opened post sugar and cracker/rubbery avocado consumption and I got a veggie burger and more chips. Naturally. I was so full after that that I actually layed in my tent and took a nap. What? Ya. That never happens.

After my nap and saying I wouldn’t have any more food for a year  (ya right) it was dinner time. Of course, sugar leads to wanting more sugar so my dinner consisted of hybrid oreo, nutterbutter sandwiches and vitamin water. My body was going into shock.

Being in KM around so many people all at once is very different from what I have become accustomed to on the trail… not sure I like it.