Saturday, June 27, 2009

June 20th - Day 53

"Today was so long that this morning feels like yesterday, and maybe that's a good thing because the day didn't start out so well. Rain and hail overnight meant a freezing start at 5am, and a wet tent. Sometimes it's hard to remember it's June, and some of the longest days of the year.

Our first goal of the day was Pinchot Pass. It was only 3 miles from our campsite but there was snow everywhere and the trail was obscured. Chris and I wandered, following others' footprints, finding the trail, losing it. We were both on the verge of meltdown - Chris in a frustrated rage and me in disconsolate tears. But we made it and even enjoyed coffee at the Pass. Coffee is magical because coming off the ridge, we both were in better moods. Of course, the fact that the trail was easier to find also lightened our moods.

After Pinchot, we descended a bit into pine forest. There were 9 stream fords which is a chilly time-suck because I usually have to take off my boots and put on the Crocs. Most people with sneakers just plow right through - I couldn't stand the wet feet. With upbeat moods and blazing sun, we broke for a quick lunch and layed all our gear out to dry. But it was a short lunch - 1 hour - because we had another pass ahead: Mather Pass. Again we climbed into a moonscape with snow everywhere. This time though, there were almost 10 people not too far ahead of us so we could easily follow the path. That meant some switchbacks, some post-holing with ice axe in hand, and one vertical climb up a snow 'ladder'. Up and over, we slip-slided our way down, and even enjoyed some glissading on our butts.

With the long day, we trekked on through Kings Canyon on some annoyingly rocky tread. I totally face-planted and skinned my knee. Fortunately, no cuts on my forehead, just gravel. Man, with a pack on your back, you can really get some good momentum during a fall! The scenery was gorgeous and we hiked until almost dark.

Two slight regrets: 1-With such crappy tread and trail maintenance (tons of snowmelt and mud on the trail, plus fallen trees) you have to look at your feet all the time and can't enjoy the amazing sights as much as one might want to. 2-We're putting a lot of pressure on ourselves to make good time and make miles so we can meet Clare on time, and so Chris can get a beer on his birthday at VVR (Vermillion Valley Resort). Crossing our fingers that the next couple days can be speedy!"


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