Tent site – Kennedy creek
21.9 miles. 4858ft up. 4617ft down
I had the idea of setting my alarm for 5:30 so I could get going at 6 but when the alarm went off I realised that was a ridiculous idea and reset it for 6. My goal was to catch Catwater at Sonora Pass where she was getting her resupply. Annoyance forgotten. It’s a new day.
I like to have a routine, and I have a place for everything. This makes packing up and knowing where all my things are easy. But last night, instead of leaving my gloves in the pockets of my vest I had them in my sleeping bag with me, this meant I packed away my sleeping bag with the gloves inside. I had to unpack and repack. This is why everything has its place!
I wrapped up in all my warm layers but it wasn’t really that cold so I spent the next hour gradually peeling off the layers. I was in the shade, surrounded by huge granite walls, but I was going uphill for the first 8 miles. It was a long slog but I powered on through. About half way up the sun came out and it got really warm. There were a couple of false summits but I eventually found myself at the top. I checked my phone for service, and I had a text from Catwater with an apology and a mile marker and time stamp. I was only about 10 minutes behind her! I allowed myself a little rest, a quick check of my messages and then set about going downhill fast. I estimated I could be at Sonora Pass by 12. The scenery was so beautiful I kept stopping to take pictures, but eventually at about 11:30 I saw some people on the trail. It was Catwater talking to a couple of dayhikers. We were reunited before Sonora Pass. Goal exceeded.
We caught up. She explains exactly what I thought yesterday, and I told her how I felt about it and that was that. Sorted. Except we had the issue of another hiker to deal with. He passed me yesterday morning as I was packing up. I had a brief chat with him and told him Catwater was up ahead and we are getting picked up at Tuolumne and taking a couple of days off in Mammoth because Catwater had tickets to a beer festival, as I don’t drink beer I would be mostly lying down instead. He is a fast hiker so he caught up with Catwater and told her a bunch of lies, like I’m really angry with her and I can’t stand people who drink beer. Basically a load of exaggerated bullshit, which I had experienced before (he told me Catwater was really angry with me for not waiting at a water source, which I knew was rubbish so I didn’t say anything about it). Luckily I think Catwater knows me better than that. I think the fact he also told her he saw a horse on the trail yesterday but thought he was seeing a unicorn may offer up some explanation to his state of mind. When he told me he likes to get high I assumed he smoked weed. Now I’m not so sure. Anyway, what he did wasn’t cool.
We made it to Sonora Pass by 12 and Casey, the Sonora Pass Resupply man was there waiting for Catwater. He offers a service to hikers, for a fee, where you can order stuff from him, send him stuff and he will bring it to the Pass on a prearranged date. Last year he also sold bits and pieces out of his van which was a real help to hikers, but this year they ‘the powers that be’ have stopped him doing this. An example of breaurocracy gone mad.
He greeted us with a coffee for Catwater and a soda for me. She collected her packages and bear canister and we had a rummage through the hiker boxes. I ate some cheese-its to keep me going. Catwater had messed up her resupply box and didn’t have enough food so he brought out a resupply box that had been left by another hiker who had got off the trail. She managed to supplement her resupply and I swapped out my Knorr rice sides for a mountain house and a backpackers pantry meal.
We were able to charge our electronics and fill up out water and we were just packing up to go when he offered us one last treat. He said southbounders get a raw deal when it comes to trail magic (we do!). If Catwater could have chosen anything it would have been an IPA (beer) and I would have chosen ice cream. And that exactly what he had. A beer for her and a chocolate ice cream for me. Perfect.
Then it was time to leave. We had a climb ahead of us and 11 miles still to do. We saw Broken Toe trying to hitch into Kennedy Meadows north, which means he will probably pass us again.
I remembered the descent into Sonora Pass being pretty tough last year but that was mainly because of all the snow fields. Zero snow this year so the climb up felt relatively easy and we were soon at the top. The next 8 miles to camp were really rocky, loose rocks that are hard to walk on. The trail was gently rolling and after 5 miles I took a break. You can’t break concentration for a single moment when you are walking across the rocks because if you do you will fall so it’s pretty exhausting. I lay on the side of the trail and waited for Catwater to catch up. She arrives and said something like ‘I’m not walking this part of the trail ever again’, there may have been a few extra words in there.
The last 3 miles were downhill but still rocky. I took my eye off the trail for just a second to check where the path was going up ahead and bam. My feet slid from under me and I was on my backside. With my heavy pack it was a struggle to get up and I felt like I had to use every muscle in my body to get upright again.
We made out way down the long exposed switchbacks and down into the valley towards the creek where we planned to camp. We were relying on the creek to be flowing, most of the water sources had been flowing today, not trickling, properly flowing. It made me wonder where the water was coming from. There wasn’t any snow about, other than a few tiny patches.
I slipped my way down the trail, feeling a bit of a pain down my shin towards my ankle, so I was really glad to find the creek flowing and a couple of flat tent spots. We had made it by 6. I quickly got water and set up and got dinner going before it got dark. I decided to eat the backpackers pantry ‘beef and broccoli stir fry’. I don’t know why I don’t learn my lesson. Backpackers pantry meals aren’t very nice. This one hurt my mouth and lips to eat. At first I thought it was the spice, but I soon realised it was the salt. Reading the back, this meal had 68% of my daily salt allowance. That was all it tasted of really which was disappointing, but I forced most of it down and I also had to drink about half a litre of my water with it. Not ideal just before going to sleep. I hate having to wee in the night. I already know this will make me fart excessively. Not that I haven’t been doing that already for days and days now. I’m starting to wonder whether this is just down to diet or whether I have some sort of bacteria in my guts.
It’s early, like 8pm, by the time I’m done with everything, I’ve had a last (hopefully) wee and I’m cosy in my bag. I have loads of messages I want to write that I could get ready but I choose to read my book instead. I can hear very faint music coming from somewhere. I have to strain my ears to hear it. I’m burning up in my bag, I think I may have got a little sunburnt today.
I’m walking thousands of miles for Just A Drop because everyone should have access to clean water. Donate here.