My alarm goes off at 4:30, but it’s still dark-dark outside. And cold. At 4:45, I persuade myself to get up – my friends aren’t going to wait for me. Dally, yes. Wait, no. The bear can take a longer to deal with than I’m used to, and it takes me 45 minutes to get out. Still, I don’t think the Pack will be up this early, if past experience is any indication. I’ve got to use this time to move before they do.
Also, I want to get ahead of this film crew, so today is not as annoying as last night. I take a picture of the site once I get to the trail out of some sense of voyeurism – they were filming last night, I’ll put them on film. Show them how annoying it is. I’m feeling smug when I hear a “Hello” from behind me – there’s a cameraman standing just off trail in the bushes setting up a shot. All feeling of smugness dies as embarrassment blooms. That’ll teach me.
Then it’s up up, a little more time in the burned area I started last night.
Of course there are more sites up here. Nice sites, off trail. Not many, but enough. Oh well.
I’m rolling up when the trail levels off into a meadow – another proper meadow! – and it’s so nice I stop for breakfast near a friendly-looking rock.
Gentle ups, then gentle downs, down to the Sparrow Bridge over the Kern River. It makes sense now, that Spesh called it the Sparrow Bridge – they’re darting and swooping and cavorting wildly all around. I do some math, figure the Wolfpack is aiming for Death Canyon Creek1 – that means I need to pull 21 mostly uphill miles to catch them. I got this.
So it’s out of the beautiful river valley, up along the foul-tasting Cow Creek to find my friends.
I spook a deer about a third of the way up; it was just standing in the trail, minding its own business before I came along and butted in. I feel bad as it frolics away down the hill, but I’m a woman on a mission.
I get distracted by finally meeting Beast of Bourbon, whose name a) is awesome and b) I first saw on the sheet at Casa de Luna. His Beauty, who he met on the trail, is up ahead somewhere, and I’m to say hello and that he’s coming if I see her.
Suddenly, around a corner, PINEAPPLE. I shriek her name and make her jump; there’s a joyous reunion before we both make our way uphill.
Then Evac and U-Turn! And then I bonk from all the exertion, so I stop for lunch near the top of the climb. Pineapple comes to chill with me for a minute, before she moves on.
I catch everyone siesta-ing as the climb tips over into the down. We animatedly catch up and do some more eating as we wait for the afternoon to cool off. I find Beauty, and before I can say much her Beast comes trotting in. Love reunited.
Everyone leaves before me, but I come across Pineapple having a helluva day, so I agree to stay back with her, help her through the last few miles. We talk trail romances and gossip and race and gun control before we start to get close, seeing more and more people. The conversation in such mixed company makes me nervous, but when Pineapple’s a-raging there’s no stopping her – and I’m not going to shy away if she’s not.
She’s frustrated with the way things are as we cross the underwhelming, tea-colored Death Canyon Creek; I let her set up first, second guess my first site and move to a different one. I shovel food down my throat – a sorry state of affairs, given my inadequate resupply – then chat against the rocks as the sun goes down, hiding from the mosquitos when they multiply in the dusk.
Start: 709.5 • End: 730.8 • Day: 21.3
Notable Accomplishments: Caught my friends! • 21 mile day in the Sierra! • Didn’t die of elevation!
 WHAT A CHARMING NAME, GUESS I’LL DRINK LOTS OF UNFILTERED WATER THERE AND NOT EXPECT ANY ILL EFFECTS