Mile 838.5 to mile 866.5
I sleep better than I think I will, all hopped up on caffeinated fruit snacks- I’m lulled by the warm, stuffy hut, by the sound of my friends snoring. I wake up to pee once, stumbling barefoot out into the hard snow, squatting below the milky way. In the morning I wake and think, ok, pack up fast! It’s not hard to do since it’s warm in the hut and I’m the first one ready to go. Yesss! I think. I am getting better at this.
The snow is hard and tacky and it stretches away forever, downhill towards the valley. We run, run! Down the snow, laughing and shouting, amazed at our abilities to move over this deep white stuff when it’s frozen as opposed to melted in the afternoon sun. It’s so much fun! Weaving back and forth, route finding, racing down the mountain. In no time we’re at the bottom, breaking next to a glittering lake, stuffing our faces full of food. I make another salami and mayo sandwich on my thick gluten free bread- I am happy, so happy.
We descend for twenty miles today- all the way down into a dry, hot forest, where Twinkle and I stop to take a break next to a clear, rushing stream. The plan is to hike 25 miles today and so far we’re “crushing it”, as they say, so there’s plenty of time for a break.
I use the last of my energy for the climb up to the lake just below Selden pass- we all planned to camp here and go over the pass in the morning, when the snow is frozen. Twinkle and I roll into the lake at 5:30, perfectly tired and ready to stop, thinking- camp! Camp! Camp! Psyching myself up to take off my shoes, sit down, eat some dinner. But when we get to the lake… there’s no-one there. They obviously got to camp earlier and decided to hike more. For whatever reason, this irritates me immensely.
“Why didn’t they leave a note?” I say to Twinkle.
“No-one has pen and paper,” he says. “When we left you that note at the suspension bridge I had to bum paper off a day hiker.”
“No-one even has paper?” I say. I feel overwhelmed by all of this. I was ready to camp and now, instead, I have to posthole super slow over a slushy pass and hike until who knows how late. Or, you know, camp by myself. But I’m not going to be seperated from the group again. Not in the Sierras.
I grumble to myself as we posthole up Selden pass but after a while I accept my fate. We reach the top, feet soaking, calves cut and scratched, and work our way down the other side. Step, step, posthole. Step, step, posthole. Ah, fuck. We haven’t yet descended below the snow when we find the others, camped next to a partially frozen lake. It’s beautiful but a cold wind is blowing and I quick change into my layers- it’s 7 p.m. and the sun is sinking. Still I’m shivering- this may be the coldest campsite we’ve had yet. I can’t seem to get warm, and Twinkle offers to heat my split pea soup over his little stove. As much pride and ego I have in being no-cook, I can’t say no to that. I lay on my stomach, happily spooning hot soup from the safety of my sleeping bag, and my morale and core temperature magically shoot back up. Night comes on with its cold fingers, moving over the snow fields, and I curl into a tight ball in my sleeping bag, safe.
Photos on instagram.