So, today was supposed to be an easy 12 mile day
Monday, June 9, 2008
Brrr, what a chilly night! Should have put the extra pair of wool socks on this night! When we dared to crawl out of our sleeping bags at 0630 it had warmed up to a steamy 26 degrees! Frost on the sleeping bags, frozen camelback hoses, and a wet tent! We waited for the sun to hit the area we were in and dried out all our gear and then finally got hiking around 0720. I usually get a good headstart on Neighbor and the Chief, I enjoy the warm-up time, leisure pace and rising sunshine. Not too many big climbs today, hiked over Cottonwood Pass at 11,000 feet and then we could see Mt. Whitney for the first time! Doesn't look to be a crazy amount of snow either! Views are getting expansive and amazing! We hit our 17 mile mark, but because the going was so easy, we pushed on and hiked almost 24 miles this day! (mileage usually drops in the Sierras due to elevation, terrain, snow, etc) Hiking the extra mileage today will make an easier day to Guitar Lake tomorrow (then Mt. Whitney the next day). Camped with Sauerkraut by a nice little stream. Turkey tetrazini Mtn. house meal for dinner with Idaho instant potatoes! Yummm! Also, love the Kona cola Nuun! It tastes just like flat soda and that is a luxury on the trail (even though neither of us even drink soda at home!!) It sure tastes yummy out here!
Chilly morning, didn't get hiking until almost 7am. Had a little Carnation Instant breakfast to get us going (yeah, right!!) Hiked up to 10,000 feet (from 8,600 where we slept) and as we were all quietly walking along the trail, I looked up and saw a HUGE brown bear coming down the trail right towards us! I let out a little eeeeek and then Neighbor started yelling, BEAR, BEAR, BEAR! And off it ran! It must have been 350 - 400 pounds of flesh! Thank goodness it ran! But it never even saw or smelled us until it was pretty close! Too bad I didn't have the camera out at the time! Wow! After all that excitement.....up we still climbed, through a few patches of snow, higher and higher, not sure if it was the elevation, the 7 days of food in my pack or what, but the uphills were killing me today. Took a nice break overlooking the valley below and a dried up salty lake. Reached our intended goal of 17 miles around 4:30pm and called it quits......unfortunately we were at 10,500 feet and it was going to be a chilly night, that's for sure. Camped with Argentina, Laces, Cliff and Chief near a water stop. Ate a Mtn. House dinner of Lasagna and then some alfredo dinner. Eating all double dinners through the Sierras......and 5 bars a day and breakfasts (carnation and some granola)
Well, I forgot some of my guidebook pages inside of the Kennedy Meadows store........so we had to hang around until they opened up at 9am before we could head into the Sierras! Atleast we were able to buy a muffin for the trail!! :) Pretty easy walking, the chaparral wasn't quite behind us yet, we were still walking in the 4 inches of beach sand for quite a few miles. Not sure if I mentioned the forest fire that we were about to head into, but there was yes, another fire in our hiking future (the Clover fire...they name their forest fires out here) Anyway, it was about 5-6 miles from Kennedy Meadows and as we got closer, you could smell the smoke and a helicopter kept going over our heads hauling a waterbag.......kinda eeeery! We passed a sign that said, "trail closed, federal offense to pass this point" or something to that effect.....but we were told it was okay to pass.....so, onward we hiked! Then we came to a fire crew along the trail taking a lunch break and they were fine with us being there. They just had one guy at the begining of the fire area and another at the end and as long as we checked in with both fire guys........we were out of the danger area and all was well! I will attatch a picture of the fire in a bit. Interesting stuff! Then we came to Beck Meadow (this HUGE green meadow, open space and a big ole mountain in the distance.........welcome to the Sierras!) yeah! Crossed the South Fork of the Kern river (on a bridge!!) and hiked a few more miles before we camped for the night. 16.4 miles into the Sierras....officially! We camped near The NewZealanders, Fireman, Sundown, Laces and Chief. The packs feel VERY heavy with the bear cannisters and ice axes and 7 days worth of food..........ugh.