I’m one of the first ones up this morning. My tent is pitched all weird, deeply involved with a tree branch – and it bothers me until I take it down, trying to be quiet for all the still-sleepers. Outro’s out first – how quickly she manages, even with the bear can! – and then it’s me, off into the rocky ups awaiting us.
Between the million distractions this morning – I have to retie my shoe, I have to pee, I’m hungry, that’s a cool photo op – and my general sluggishness, Yoda passes me pretty quickly. Of course, I can’t much worry about that – I need to dig a cathole, and end up coming back with a 4.5-star rating. I wish I could tell someone, but there’s no one to tell.
There’s a lot of up and down today, granite making funny shapes as the planes buzz by overhead. I wish they wouldn’t, but what can you do.
I catch Wolf at the first water, meander my way down to collect from a nice, if shallow, stream. Even though it’s earlier than we’d agreed on for lunch, I shovel food in my face and decide not to stop at the meeting spot. Wolf moves on along; I hang with Evac and Pineapple as they show. Then it’s moving on along the trail.
The ups are fine, I guess, easier than I expect them to be but requiring a lot of attention to my breathing. I find Prithika at the Mulkey Pass junction, and she gives me an excuse to stop and chat a while before continuing on up towards Poison Meadow Spring.
Poison Meadow Spring, contrary to the name, is our first amazing water source – so much water, just cascading down the hill and over the trail. It’s clear and swift and ice cold, a magical experience after so much meh water. I collect and dunk my Buff and my shirt, which hurts to put on, but I’m much happier for it. And if this is what this water is like, what’s our first alpine lake going to be like?
Then it’s Cottonwood Pass, and the home stretch to Chicken Spring Lake.
Finally! Our first high alpine lake. So good.
The clouds are dancing, showing off the lake in fine fashion. People are wading, fishing, doing laundry in ziplocs. Sitting around and eating, taking it all in.
Wolf, Outro, and Yoda are all there, chatting with a bunch of other hikers, and I plop myself down with them. Yoda asks me what I think about five more miles; I get stoked – I’m in. Let’s go, she says, smirking. Lol no. I need a rest, at least for a bit.
I spend 45 minutes eating, soaking my feet in the lake, cooing over the sunshine, feeling the mountain magic this place seems to be exerting on everyone. Then I shake it off, dry my feetsies, stuff them back into my shoes, and we’re on our way.
Over and up and around – we ascend, pass a full camp with an amazing front porch, then head down. On our way back up, the tread turns into loose, loose sand – wait, are we back in the desert?
To soothe my rageflipping nerves, I tell myself not to fret – maybe Morpheus, the Sandman, tried to help the restless earth sleep one night; the earth had the sweetest dream of mountains and lakes and trees and dappled sunlight, and when it woke, the saw-toothed Sierra had sprung to life. Tread softly, for you tread upon my dreams, and all that. Such thoughts tide me over until the sandhill’s done.
And then it’s back to rock – and into Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park.
It’s only a little further until the land flattens out like I thought it would, offers us myriad campsites to choose from. The water we’d hoped for, though, is basically small pools, which sucks. Still, we set up in an excellent flat place, manage to collect enough to work it out for the evening. I put the bear cans a ways away, since folks put them close and we’ve been talking grizzlies and black bears and mountain lions oh my. The wind isn’t too bad this evening as I nestle down to sleep.
Start: 730.8 • End: 755.3 • Day: 24.5
Notable Accomplishments: Finally in the High Sierra! • 24-mile day after a 21-mile day! • Feeling good, despite the elevation