Dirt road – tent site
22.6 miles. 4611ft up. 5980ft down.
I went out like a light and slept solidly, only waking up once. That made the 6am alarm a little easier. I was already awake and I could hear Catwater moving around but I didn’t move until my alarm went off.
At 6:20 when I got out my tent the stars were still in the sky, maybe we had got up a little early! But by the time we started hiking it was just light enough to be without head torches and it was warm! I have be so used to bundling up in all my layers every morning that I was too hot after only 20 minutes. When we made it to the top of the climb after 2 miles we saw Decaf emerging from his tent. We should have kept going last night, I thought there would be places to camp at the top, and Decaf did not look too well. He said he stopped hiking at 3:30 yesterday. We carried on and arranged to meet at the spring 4 miles away, our first water since Kennedy Meadows.
Even though he was still packing up his stuff when we left him he still blazed past us. He moves quickly! We congregated around the spring and chatted for a while – longer than we should have probably. It was cool at the spring (the trough had icicles around it) but as soon as we were back on the trail the sun was getting more intense. I had to duck off the trail for a poo, then a little while later I had to change into my shorts because I was just too hot, then I had to stop for a little rest. I thought I would have caught Catwater by now and my GPS wasn’t working properly so I could only guess roughly where I was. The trail seemed to be climbing forever.
The bugs were out in force, those bugs that just float around your face. They make me want to scream! I don’t know why I left it so long but eventually I stopped to dig my headnet out of my bag, as I was doing that I saw a couple of people coming towards me. One of them was Decaf. He had been throwing up and the man he was with offered to take him into Lake Isabella, the nearest town. We will be going there tomorrow, Catwater has a package there that she didn’t tell me about, so we will check on him tomorrow and make sure he is ok.
I carried on up the climb and found Catwater at the top having a rest. We sat there for a while before moving on. The trail then rolls up and down for a bit before you see a view across the desert and you switchback to walk along the other side of the mountain. Just after I turned I heard some snorting and I look down in the valley and there is something dark and bear shaped moving along. I didn’t get a good look as it went behind a log and then into the trees but I’m 95% sure it was a bear. I wait for Catwater to tell her. We have another break which is probably a bit too long.
The trail now starts to descend and we have 3 miles to go before we need to look for water in Spanish Needle Creek, the last water for the next 19 miles. As I’m going down the trail to my left is a little bear near the creek. He bolts as soon as he sees me and I see him running up the bank on the other side to me. It’s definitely a bear, no mistake this time. I see him side on as he’s running. I reach for my phone to take a picture and I trip and nearly take a tumble over the edge. I save myself but it’s too late and the bear has run off into the trees. He was a decent distance away but he still looked very small.
We get to the water and it’s just flowing. I wedge my bottle in and wait for it to fill up. It’s not the most desirable water and it’s full of floaty bits but at least it’s water on an otherwise very dry stretch. I just take 2 litres, Catwater has three.
After a little bit more downhill we have a bit of a climb which was a lot more brutal than it looked. The sun was intense as it beat down on the back of my legs and there must have been a minimum of 500 bugs floating around my head at any one time. And the ones that buzzed found thier way directly to your ears. I was being driven mad.
I got to the top at 5:50, our goal was to get down the other side of the hill and reach a campsite another 1.4 miles away. I saw a couple of camp spots and waited for Catwater. I thought she would say she wanted to camp there, and when she got to the top she said she wanted to camp. It was a nice spot and the one we were aiming for said there was only space for one tent so we called it a day here. We are under 6000ft and it might be warmer on the top of the hill than it will be in the valley.
I was really hungry so pitched my tent quickly, threw all my stuff in, changed my clothes and then got my dinner. Priorities have changed now because when it was cold I had to get my mat blown up and get in my sleeping bag before doing anything. Now it’s pleasant enough to sit in the tent with the doors open and nothing covering you up.
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.