Rock creek – tentsite
24 miles. 3543ft up. 2692ft down.
I didn’t set my alarm and I woke up at 7 after a good 10 hour sleep. I only woke up a couple of times in the night.
I reluctantly packed up because it was cold and windy out. But I was on the trail by 7:30am. My plan was to just see how far I get. The first 10 miles was uphill, but fairly gentle uphill. What I hadn’t remembered from last year is that the trail is made of sand, sometimes deep sand which made walking difficult and slower than I would have liked.
The day started ok, warm enough with my puffy vest on and mostly blue sky. I plodded along listening to some podcasts. The trail looked much the same for the whole day, sandy underfoot and surrounded by rocks and trees. As the day wore on it became a bit windier, gusty. The sun was still warm and it was pleasant enough when the wind wasn’t blowing.
I stopped for a moment to eat something and stretch my shoulder. I had resigned myself to probably not seeing anyone all day but I saw a man coming up the trail with his dog. He says he hadn’t seen anyone for days. But unfortunately the dog went nuts and was jumping all over me, trying to get the fruits snacks I had in my hand. His owner pulled him off and continued on down the trail. I’m pretty sure you aren’t actually allowed dogs in this part of the national park. I was a bit shocked at the speed of the interaction.
The wind became stronger as the day progressed and I was trying to find somewhere sheltered to have some ‘lunch’. Around 1pm I hadn’t found anywhere out of the wind so I just sat for a while and at my goldfish. On the back of a cliff bar it says ………. I am getting to that point now. They are becoming difficult to swallow. But I have so many of them and more in my next resupply. I put my buff around my ears and put my gloves on and moved on, the wind was getting a real chill to it. My face wasn’t happy about this at all, it’s not recovered from the pain of Whitney yet.
Finally the trail began to go downhill and I was speeding along, trying to make up a bit of time from my slow morning – I was just maintaining a 2mph pace. I saw a group of 5 people gathered around a log. I say hi and they ask me where I’ve come from. ‘Canada’ I say. They don’t believer me and I tell them this is day 94 and they are incredulous, they think it’s amazing and they want to take my picture, moments like that make you realise what you’re doing isn’t that normal! It’s a nice reminder. They were a lovely group and I stayed to chat with them for a while. The plan to do Whitney tomorrow and I hope I have been able to give them some good advice.
The wind was getting more consistent, blowing without a break and as the time was moving on the sun was getting weaker so it was getting colder. I made a big mistake with the water, I was going to go to a source just off the trail but when I looked at my GPS I had gone a mile past it. That pretty much means no water for the rest of the day. I haven’t drunk much today, maybe three quarters of a litre, and I had a quarter of a litre of squash and a quarter of plain water. That will have to do me.
The weather continued to get worse, the black clouds were gathering but they were also constantly changing because of the strong winds. I was getting really cold so I put on my jacket and hat and intended to go another 4 miles to a tentsite. The trail is still quite high up, around 10,500ft and it was more or less following a ridge, which meant the wind was whipping across. The found squirrels that had been running about all over the place had now all disappeared, gone underground I imagine. I was looking out for anywhere sheltered where I could pitch my tent but there was nowhere. When I came to the tent site I was aiming for it was so exposed I couldn’t stay there, it was only 5pm but I had done 22 miles and I was cold and fed up of the wind, I just wanted to crawl into my tent and try to get warm. So I had to carry on, I had to go another 2 miles to another tent site. It was still super windy but there were a few trees about. I checked the trees around the site I chose to make sure they looked stable.
I pitched my tent with difficulty in the strong winds, worried about if it was going to hold up, but by now I was done. I was tired, cold, hungry, thirsty and so so sick of the wind. I threw all my stuff inside the tent, zipped it up and watched the wind batter it. I hope all the stakes hold out, I have put rocks on top of a couple of them. I was so cold so I quickly changed and got into my sleeping bag. I ate the rest of my goldfish and had a sip of water. I needed a wee but there was no way I was going to go back out into the wind.
Some huge gusts rattled the tent and when I was sure that the tent was going to withstand the wind I lay down and relaxed a bit. I don’t think it’s going to be a great night. The people I spoke to earlier said that the winds are going to be at their worst tonight and they will calm down tomorrow. I bloody hope so. I am on the edge of comfort right now. I’m only just warm enough.
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.