Miles: 9
Camping: Tyndall Creek PCT mile 779.7

Knowing it would be an under 10 mile day, I tried to sleep in through the cold morning. I could feel the chilly air from within my tent, not wanting to get up, but awake nonetheless. At about 5:30 I could stay still no longer, and I braved the frigid air to go about my day. I pulled the things I would need for my morning over to the giant log by my tent. There, I boiled water for coffee while bundled in every item of clothing I have with me, and ate a pro bar. Pro bars are actually something I have not grown tired of, and they pack nearly 400 calories per bar. It’s enough to start the day, but it usually isn’t long before I’m looking through my rations for more calories yet. Today would be an easy day though, and my stores dwindling, I had to save some food for tomorrow’s big hike over the pass. It will be similar to Whitney, falling merely 1000 ft lower in elevation, but we must pass before 11am to avoid slipping in the snow up top. These passes are about to rule our days, much like water did in the desert.

Pathfinder and I enjoyed a pleasant morning staring across the meadow while having breakfast. She is the first girl I’ve met out here who is my age, and though it doesn’t matter in my other relationships out here, there are certain things she and I relate on well. I’m glad I found her up there on that mountain. We both wanted to get our clothes washed out in the river before our hike, but Whitney kept the sun’s rays at bay for too long. My fingers and toes felt a bit numb, so I decided to wait until another river later in the day. Still such a novel concept, multiple rivers to choose from in one day.

We got packed away and hiked the easy 9 miles to Tyndall Creek. This puts us only 5 miles from Forester Pass for morning. The hike today was breathtaking! We walked through forests and meadows while jagged peaks broke through the skyline, towering above everything. It was a mostly chilly day, clouds periodically blocking the sun. We stopped and took leisurely breaks, knowing that we would arrive at our destination early in the day. I am at the point where I have to carefully ration my snacks to get me through the next couple of days. I am about a day short on snacks, and my fuel canister is dangerously low. I usually plan my meals so whatever is last can be hydrated and not heated, never the best, but necessary calories in the end. Plus, hiker hunger finds delight in even cold mashed potatoes (typically what is left for my last meal in the ol food sack). It is important to spread the calories out when I’m getting low on food though, and it saddens me when I’m low enough on peanut M&M’s that I have to count them out. They are my saving grace of caloric intake out here, I could eat nothing else and be pleased…though likely under nourished.

At camp by 1, we set up our tents and washed our clothes in the river. Not having any other chores and limited food, I opted to nap. Sleeping is just about the only thing that keeps me from plowing through my food supply. Hiker hunger is extra fierce in the Sierra, with the body battling cold and elevation. I am so looking forward to my next town restaurant raid. There will be a feast.

The nap was brief, as I was woken by a rumbling tummy. This hunger is no joke. I snacked slowly, carefully setting aside the food I could spare. I worked on some blogging, and chatted with Pathfinder about strategy in the coming miles. We both cooked an early dinner, and had a nice chat with Mad Hatter, an older man from Vermont who works on the AT. Apparently he and his wife were spending the winter readying a rental property when she looked at him one day and said, “You’re getting cranky, why don’t you go hike the PCT,” and he did. He’s a quiet man, and it took him 3 days to warm up enough to converse. I’m glad he did, as I enjoy him quite a bit.

We have been wrapped in our sleeping bag burritos since 6pm fighting off the cold mountain air here at 11,000 ft. I am not a fan of the cold, but the rest of this experience makes it worth it. I still feel like the Sierras are heaven, and there is no place I’d rather be. I’m going to read until dark and get up early to face the pass. Goodnight.

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