Independence – tent site
7.6 over Kearsarge pass. 6.5 trail miles. 4605ft up. 2577ft down.
A much better, less noisy nights sleep. We thought the window was closed the night before but it seems it probably wasn’t, I didn’t hear the traffic tonight. Although I did take an Aleve PM.
We got fuelled up on a good breakfast of bacon eggs and English muffins and then I loaded up my bag. My goodness me I seem to have a lot of food! I think I might have more food for 6 days than I had for 9! But without the bear canister my bag felt like it was a semi-reasonable weight. I’m just going to have to eat more!
Strider then gave us a ride back to Onion Valley Trailhead, up the very windy road and I concentrated on not feeling sick. She hiked out with us up to the top of the pass with her dog, but she was up and half way down again by the time we were only half way up!! It’s nearly 3000ft of ascent over 4.5 miles to the top of the pass and I was very pleased to get to the top. The weather started out really warm and by the time we got to the top it had cooled off significantly, and black clouds were gathering. Oh dear. Maybe we haven’t escaped the storm after all!
On the way up we saw the 4 people we saw at Rae Lakes, they said they had been thinking about us which was nice, and one of the guys asked if ‘the other lady’ was still with me because he thought she was a ‘goddess’. An older couple stopped to chat to me, they couldn’t quite believe I had hiked from Canada and they thought I was 21. Too kind!
At the top I wrapped up and waited for Catwater. A couple of guys reached the top of the pass from the other side and I chatted to them for a while, they had seen Crusher and Spice Rack a few days ago so it was nice to get an update on them. Another guy then reached the top of the pass and was stood with his back to me taking a photo. But I thought I recognised those little red shorts. He turned around and it was, it was Running Red!!
He came and gave me a big hug and we caught up on what he had been up to. He found himself a girl – who I met and was lovely, and I’m so pleased for him because he is such a nice guy who hasn’t had it easy – so he has been doing a little skipping and flipping and hitching and just generally having his own fun adventures. He has been in a car crash, dealt with his friend getting a concussion, his girl getting giardhia, finding a dead body in a tent, I mean I really couldn’t take it all in!! He has plans to come back and do the PCT ‘properly’ maybe next year. The trail will always be there.
Then it was time to get going! We had been sat at the top of the pass for over an hour. Thankfully the weather had cleared up a bit and it got really warm going down the other side. We had a nice break at a lake and ate some snacks, not that I was particularly hungry. I had eaten my cereal bar, twix and belvita thing on the way up, so I ate 3 packets of fruit snacks and shoved my sweets in my hip belt.
Eventually we were back on the PCT and headed up to Forrester Pass. We wanted to get as close as we could to it without being in a windy exposed campsite so we stopped about 3 miles before the top, at over 11,200ft we are hoping it isn’t too cold! On the way up we felt it was eerily quiet. There are very few animals around, just a few ground squirrels, a few birds and a rogue Grouse. If we couldn’t hear the sound of the water in the creek it would be even creepier.
To make it through the trees and uphill I try and listen to a podcast, but now my headphones aren’t working. All they do is trigger ‘voice control’ on my phone or play it at double speed. So I gave up on that. No headphones. Great.
We didn’t have many miles to do and so I felt like I was strolling up the trail. We made it to our camp site by 5pm. Luxury. It’s sheltered in the trees.
I’ve had a couple of problems today, one has been my right eye. I don’t know if I got soap in it or there is something in it but it’s been sore and weeping for the last couple of days and I have been rubbing it a lot. It seems to be connected to my right nostril feeling blocked and simultaneously running like a tap. The second problem has been excessive wind. No surprise there. But I’ve been wondering, does the rise in altitude affect the body the same way it does a crisp packet? Do the gasses expand inside your body as you get higher meaning you fart more? Well I think it’s a solid theory and it feels like that is happening to me. I don’t feel hungry, I ate a Cliff bar on the way up and I’ve nibbled on some cookies but I don’t think I can manage a whole meal so I don’t eat.
About 7:30 I get hungry so I decide to have half of one of the backpackers pantry meals. I had been carrying the same fuel canister since the start, and although there was some gas still in it I was concerned it wouldn’t be enough for the next two weeks, especially if Kennedy meadows don’t have any, so I got a new one in Independence. I went to light my jetboil and nothing happened. The igniter was sparking and the gas was coming out but no flame. Great. It’s been working fine up to now. Catwater heard me getting frustrated and came over with a match. The gas lit. But I won’t be with Catwater after tomorrow and I don’t have any matches or a lighter so I’m screwed.
I’m not going to eat cold rehydrated meals and my jetboil is my only source of heat if it gets really cold again. I eat the meal, I force it down. Those meals just aren’t that nice. I zip up my tent, bury my head in my sleeping bag and lie there being thoroughly pissed off. It just seems to be one thing after another at the moment.
I’m walking thousands of miles for Just A Drop because everyone should have access to clean water. Please donate here, every little bit helps.