We’re up late – by the time I’m conscious and poking my head out of my tent like a turtle, the last of Sprinkles’ family is packed and pulling out, raising hands and friendly smiles in well-wishes. With a night’s sleep distancing me from the madness of yesterday, I’m feeling a lot better, though I’m not in a huge hurry. The others, even after their zero, aren’t in too much of a hurry either, so we head to the shop, charge things, relax our way into the morning.
I’m charged and ready to go, but we’re still waiting on U-Turn’s package – it’s supposed to arrive later today, but we don’t know how much later. After a while, we decide to move on, maybe stall for a bit at Glen Aulin – Evac says it’s pretty amazing – to let him catch up.
So it’s saying goodbye to to Tuolumne Meadows, and heading northward, ever northward.
For once, I’m feeling pumped – I’m off like a shot, hauling down the trail, feeling good. No back of the pack for me today, I’m out in front, striding, chatting with dayhikers and rangers and still managing to stay ahead.
I’ve stopped to admire some lovely water when I turn around and everyone is immediately behind me. Womp womp. I feel suddenly ashamed – ashamed that I wanted to be ahead, ashamed that I was comparing myself to everyone else, ashamed that, after basically a day hiking alone, I feel like I’m the king of the world. I relegate myself to my usual place at the back of the Pack, start trudging along.
Soon enough, the talk cheers me up, and we wind our way down to Glen Aulin past a pretty rad waterfall:
Two bridges later, we’re on a tiny beach in front of an awesome waterfall, with folks in bikinis sunning themselves on rocks and taking short dips in the icy water.
I’m like a child, all previous angst and weirdness forgotten as I throw my shoes off, crunch my toes in the sand, make my way out onto a rock in the water. Outro goes for a swim; none of the rest of us are brave enough to dunk our heads under.
I soak my feet, though, letting the bite of the water soothe the bites of the mosquitoes and spiders that pepper my feet and ankles. I poke around at my toes and discover that a flap of skin that was formerly a blister is now a harborer of dirt, and I freak out before cleaning it out and discovering it’s fully healed, nothing to worry about.
It’s so nice to sun ourselves, hang around, wait for U-Turn to catch up, but we’ve agreed to camp in nine miles, and the hour is getting late – if I’m going to make it there, I’ve got to walk. I begrudgingly put my shoes back on, and take one last wistful look at this Sierran oasis before heading out.
I hike out with Sprinkles and Homegrown – Sprinkles isn’t feeling very well, and I take up rearguard as usual. Sprinkles adds a title to my name, and so I become Zuul the Wolfherder.
Closer, closer – Sprinkles is pushing through, so strong!
We stop for water and they tell me the tale of Sprinkles, Warrior Princess, when she got sick on top of Mather and then pushed to get into Mammoth basically a full day ahead of me. Badass. Powder, another thru, catches us, shares her Red Curry flavored Kettle Chips. Those things have no right being as delicious as they are.
Up a last little bit, and then, camp! A full camp, where there’s already a fire going, and Ed, Charlotte, Hurdy Gurdy, and Half moon are already set up. Evac and Outro roll in, followed shortly by U-Turn! He apparently came in about 15 minutes after we left. He packed out stuff for s’mores, so we all huddle around the fire, eating sticky treats and laughing, until it’s super late and I retire as warm in heart as in body.
Start: 942.5 • End: 957.3 • Day: 14.8/em>
Notable Accomplishments: Saw Glen Aulin, took a great break • Got to hike with people • Actually socialized