Camping: PCT mile 806.22
We slept in today under the false illusion that we had all the time in the world to make it 15 miles. Typically that is a short day, but in the Sierra 15 miles is a lot of work! I did enjoy the relaxed nature of the morning, sipping coffee and watching the sun break over the mountains, fetching water from the lake as the fish jumped.
When we left camp, neither of us checked the time. It must have been after 9am. I was trying a new method of carrying my bear can inside my pack as opposed to strapping it on the top (which had been suggested to me by a previous year’s hiker). This made my pack feel as if it was even more full of bricks. My shoulders were feeling the weight in a few short miles, though I kept it packed that way until lunch. We stopped at the 800 mile marker after crossing a cool suspension bridge. The bridge made me feel a little bit drunk to cross, as it swayed with each step.
Our lunch was next to a cascading river that was like a giant water slide. If only we could actually ride it, but the water was swift, and large rocks aplenty. Instead we just appreciated it while we ate. For some reason my energy really began to flag after lunch, and I was making painfully slow miles. The air was humid and my breathing became labored as we climbed up above 11,000 ft. I had no problems with Whitney or Forrester, and yet approaching 12,000 ft Pinchot Pass was becoming quite the challenge. It was 7 miles of elevation gain of about 4,000 ft, and I seemed to feel every foot in my lungs. This lack of oxygen translated to lethargic muscles and a frustrated hiker.
After a few miles of lethargic walking, we decided to take advantage of a small grassy area just under a mile from the pass. We were making slow and labored miles, so it seemed best to stop and set up camp early. Otherwise, we would have to clear the pass and possibly more snow and then find camping. Who knew if we could accomplish that before dark. Now we have ourselves set up for another 2 pass day tomorrow, but in only 10.66 miles. We will then try to get as close to Muir Pass as we can for the following day. After that we should be able to catch up on a few miles, with only one more easy pass between us and resupply. This could take 5 more days.
At least the scenery is captivating as we make smaller miles. That, and we are still accomplishing something every day. We will come out of here so much stronger, and we are staying positive. For now, I am ready to close my eyes before the sun goes down…this day wore me out!