Fish creek – camp site
16.3 miles. 4006ft up. 4422ft down.
It was below freezing again last night. But it was warmer than the night before because there was no ice on the tent. The water was still semi frozen though. At 4am I had to get out the tent and have a wee. I tried to put it off until getting up time but my bladder was at least as twice as full as it’s capacity. With thoughts about the talks of mountain lions we had last night, I quickly got out the tent, went as quick as I could not far away and dashed back inside.
I still couldn’t warm up my feet. I was warm, I had my puffy on inside my sleeping bag but my feet were like ice. I rubbed them together and I wrapped my vest around them and I put my gloves on them but they were still cold.
I forgot to set my alarm and at 7 I heard Catwater packing up. I told her I was running behind schedule and she said she would make a start and I could catch her up. She sounded good, I think she must have had a better nights sleep. Plus I was feeling crappy so she must be feeling good. That’s how it seems to work.
I packed up and had the same problems with my hands being so cold they hurt and my feet, my feet were so painful, I shuffled along the trail like an 80 year old lady and I prayed they would warm up quickly. It took about half an hour until I could walk almost normally.
The climb up to Silver Pass was cold, I had all my layers on but I was worried about overheating and feeling faint so I went slowly. I didn’t realise how slowly until I saw I was making just under 1.5 miles per hour. I stopped several times, I was still so thirsty and drinking was difficult because the water was so cold it kept giving me brain freeze, I gradually delayered, I had to have a couple of wees and I had to get rid of the kids and I had to eat. All of this made for slow progress. And I was stopped in my tracks several times because it was just so beautiful.
Eventually the sun pumped out some heat and I was down to my base layers and wishing I was in my shorts. I feel good today, despite the slowness. I feel like I’ve got this whole Sierra thing under control. If Catwater wants to quit then I’m happy to carry on alone, I feel free, I feel light, I feel positive about everything. I feel like a strong independent woman. I feel happy with the people and things in my life.
I felt crappy this morning, and I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it up the pass, but of course if you just keep putting one foot in front of the other you make it eventually. I don’t hang around too long at the top because it’s windy and the wind is cold so I make my way down the long descent and try to catch up to Catwater. I’m further convinced she is feeling good because she is moving quickly, I haven’t caught her up yet.
The descent is so beautiful, the colours, the lakes, the blue sky. I try and make up some time as I’m much quicker going downhill. It’s not easy though as the trail gets pretty steep in some places and very rocky. But I keep pushing forwards. I think I see Catwater so I try to catch up and discover it’s two JMTers (people hiking the John Muir Trail – the JMT and the PCT are the same trail for quite a while). They say they have seen Catwater and it was only about 5 minutes ago. So I make my way down the steep rocks to a creek where I fill up with water. I’m so thirsty today. And a good thing about the Sierra in October is that I haven’t had to ford any creeks yet. The water is low so I can just hop across on rocks.
I catch her up eventually and she tells me she doesn’t want to quit anymore, she is feeling good and wants to carry on so we have some decisions to make. She has to go to VVR which is an extra 8 mile round trip because the ferry which runs in June – making it an easy side trip – doesn’t run in October so you have to walk. I didn’t send a resupply package there (mainly because they charge you $45!!) and decided to haul 9 days of food instead. But now I only have 6 days of food my pack is much lighter.
So I could carry on and constantly be half a day ahead of her for the next 5 days and we would hike and camp alone, or I could carry on and do a short day and have a lazy morning and wait for her to catch up and we carry on hiking together. By not going to VVR I preserve my energy and food and I would have enough to be out here an extra night and half a day if we need it. So that’s what I decided to do. No point being out here alone for the sake of half a day.
So I only needed to do 5 more miles today, most of which were uphill unfortunately, so I took it really easy. I plugged myself into an audiobook to get me up the climb then I found a nice looking camp spot with a small stream nearby and set up at 5pm. Everything was done leisurely and I sat in the sun for a little bit. But at this time of year the sun looses its strength around 4:30 and the wind is chilly so I got in my tent and ate my couscous, cheese and Fritos and watched the sun set. Hopefully I’ve picked a good spot and it want be too cold or condensation-ey. Tonight I have made myself a hot water bottle and stuck it at the end of my sleeping bag. I’m determined not to have painful feet in the morning. Right now I am super toasty.
I suddenly feel an overwhelming sense of loneliness. Not just because I’m out here ‘alone’ on the trail I know there are people in front of me and people behind me, so it’s not like you’re really that alone. But just generally I feel really alone. And I don’t know why I feel like that now because I’ve been feeling like an invincible badass champion all day.
Maybe I’m just going mad.
I’m walking thousands of miles for Just A Drop because everyone should have access to clean water. Donate here.