3rd September 2019
Kings river tent site – grouse meadows
16.8 miles
Total miles: 114.4 miles


Last night was weird. Once again I was asleep before it got dark. Then around 11pm we hear a bear bell. Some hikers carry these on their packs. It could have been a horse, they sometimes have them too, but it went on and on for ages which made me think it was a person moving slowly. 

It was cold and damp in the morning. I don’t think it rained anymore in the night but for the first time there was actually some humidity in the air and I didn’t wake up feeling like all the moisture had been sucked out of me. My nose felt like it was starting to heal and my lips weren’t so tight. When I poked my head out the tent, as this was the first night I had slept with the doors closed, there were 3 deer just munching on some, we think mushrooms, next to the trail.  

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We were packed up and ready to go at 7am. I had a poo before we set off. Maybe things are settling now! 

We had a 5 mile climb up to Mather pass ahead of us. 3 miles less than yesterday and not so much elevation gain so hopefully there wouldn’t be too many dramas. We hiked together for a while then I stopped to filter some water. My sawyer is so painfully slow I was there for a while just getting half a litre. We hopped across the creek easily on rocks, and I was amused watching this woman take off her shoes and wade across, then she spent an age cleaning her feet and putting on her shoes again. 

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I continued on, my legs were feeling like lead weights so I was going slowly. I looked for Catwater up ahead but couldn’t see any sight of her. I plodded on pretty slowly, enjoying the views and the terrain. It wasn’t too steep but my legs just felt so heavy. There weren’t enough clouds for my liking and I could feel the sun beating down on the left side of my face. I also had a very runny nose and a bit of a cough. I think my body is trying to expel the last 8 days worth of dust which have built up inside me. 

I was having trouble remembering this pass from ’15 or ’16. I couldn’t even remember which part of the granite wall we would be heading up. I got to a mile away from the pass and that’s where it becomes clear where you are going and you see a bunch of ant like figures moving up and down. I was starving by this time so I stopped to eat my Twix. I scanned the wall. I could see Catwater about half way up. She’s really moving! 

I have had a problem all day with my knickers. I have a permanent wedgie and every time I try to sort it out they just go right back up there. 

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The pass is the dip in the middle

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I got my arse in gear and slogged up the switchbacks. They weren’t too bad, quite nice soft trail for the most part and not too steep, but when it’s a struggle to lift your legs up it’s still hard. About half way up I looked to the top and I saw Catwater and waved. The sun was rising and it was getting hotter. I took a micro break on the end of every switchback. Eventually I made it to the top. 5 miles in 3 hours which I figured wasn’t that bad in the end. 

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This is why she always has a dirty bum!

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As soon as I got to the top I remembered the other side from 2016. It’s a beautiful pass but it’s a long descent, 8 miles. I didn’t remember that ascent in 2016 being that long but I guess I’ve done a good job of blotting out all the shit bits! 

Catwater out-paces me on the way up but I am quicker going down, I took the lead but I was holding back a bit so I didn’t get too far ahead. Plus it was so pretty I kept stopping to take pictures. There were so many beautiful little plants and so many pops of colour I kept walking and looking around which slows you down. After 2.5 miles we took a break, we had just got down to tree line and found some shade. The clouds were gathering a bit but didn’t look too threatening. 

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After a couple of snacks I decided it was time to really get moving and get down this thing. The trees didn’t last for too long and we were back in exposed rock. We descended down to the lake and walked along that for a while, then we went down into the canyon where there was a waterfall flowing through the middle, and then began what’s called the golden staircase. Why it’s called that I’m not so sure. It’s a very tight and steep series of switchbacks and on a handful of them there have been steps built out of rock. It is long and and goes on forever and is so so hot with the sun out. Going downhill so intensively really takes its toll on your body. It was so rocky and changeable that you couldn’t stop concentrating for even half a second. My skin was crying out to not be on the sun anymore. I felt the tops of my knees burning and my neck. I left it way too late to out some suncream on because I just didn’t want to stop. I just wanted to be down in the trees and the shade. 

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On and on and on and on the descent went. I figured that once I got to the tree line I would wait for Catwater and I would get some water. I was very dehydrated by now having gone from 7am to now around 2pm on half a litre of water. 

When I got to the trees there were a couple of hikers there, an older guy, Jeff, finishing up the PCT and a girl from Germany doing the JMT, and they were both going the same was as me which so far has been unusual. They were pretty chatty so we hiked together for a couple of miles. I crossed so many streams where I thought – I should stop to get water – but didn’t.

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Just Jeff
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Christine

The trail turned into a nice rock free dirt path for a while and we ran into a couple of guys doing trail maintenance. I did manage to dip my bandana to cool off a bit. Eventually the clouds gathered a bit and it looked like it might rain. There were a couple of rumbles of thunder in the distance and when we felt a few spots of rain we decided to stop and put some waterproofs on. They had to stop and rearrange their bags to make it all waterproof. Rookie mistake, keep everything waterproof at all times. 

I decided to sit and wait for Catwater to catch up. The soles of my feet were feeling quite sore and I took off my shoes and shook out my socks hoping that would help. About 10 minutes later Catwater arrived and we set off and I told her about my new friends. The sock shaking and the rest had probably made my feet worse. They were now really sore and I could feel areas on the balls of my feet and my heels which felt like blister hot spots. I really hope they aren’t going to be blisters. I think it’s because my feet have been pounded with that down hill and they got really hot and the skin was soft. 

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When Catwater stopped to put on waterproofs as it started to drizzle I ducked behind a log to have a wee, something I had been meaning to do for about 3 hours. It was very concentrated. Now I had gotten rid of the last bit of moisture in my body, I was on a mission to find water. It was about another mile to the creek and I tried to go as quick as I could with my sore feet and I was starting to really overheat in my waterproofs now the sun had come out. I was getting some odd looks from people on their way up and there can’t have been any rain on that side. 

We passed so many people today. I didn’t envy any of the people slogging their way up the golden staircase. They looked like they were having a terrible time! Plus I think they were walking up into another afternoon storm. I think we were low enough to escape it. 

I found some water and filled up a bottle, I was just starting to filter when Catwater caught up. I couldn’t filter it quickly enough. My stupid filter is just a trickle and I was squeezing and taking in a mouthful at a time. I haven’t felt this dehydrated in a long time. I was desperate for water. We only had about 0.8 of a mile to get to where we wanted to camp. There were a lot of people setting up already and we were worried it was going to be really crowded. Neither of us wanted to walk any further than we had to and we certainly didn’t want to turn back on ourselves! 

I managed to keep up with Catwater on the slight uphill, only because it was near the end of the day and she was tired! We passed Christine and Jeff and walked another 0.1 to find a flatish spot. The mosquitoes were horrendous. They were in swarms around me. I put on my puffy in a bid to keep them off my body while I set up my tent. I got bitten multiple times. We then had to backtrack on ourselves to get water back where the others were camped. There were three section hikers there getting water and I got bitten more and more as I tried to get water and tried to have a conversation with them while jumping around and hitting myself. 

On our way back to our tents we spoke to Jeff and Christine and I introduced them the Catwater. Jeff has a cut on his arm which is weeping through his shirt which is concerning. None of us are carrying any type of medical kit to deal with that so I just hope he is able to keep it clean for the next two days until he gets to Muir Trail Ranch. 

Now I had been bitten more times that I can remember and I had blood splats on my legs. The backs of my calves had now started peeling where they got burnt on the way to Kearsarge Lakes a few days ago. 

When we got back I ran into my tent and stayed there until now when I’m just about to get out of the tent for a pre-bed wee. 

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We had to wait an hour until we could eat dinner. We have decided we can’t eat before 6pm because it’s too early and we would be hungry in the night. So I sat and watched the clock until it was time to boil water. This time it was chicken curry which I was dreading a bit because it was the same brand which gave me the shits the day before, but this one was actually quite nice and I was able to eat it all without much bother. That took up half an hour and then it was just sorting out the tent and wasting time and trying not to lie down too early so I don’t fall asleep to quickly. 

We have a 10 mile uphill tomorrow to get to Muir Pass. I can’t really say I’m looking forward to it! Uphill is not my strong suit. I’m also on a slight downhill so I will probably wake up with fluid pooled in my eyes in the morning. I’ve tried to prop up my mat as best I can with my jacket. 

After I got out of my tent to have a wee I reached for my head torch which was in the little side pocket and also in there was half a sachet of drink flavour powder. It went everywhere. So now most of what I own smells of sickly strawberry and it the morning everything will probably be really sticky. Excellent. I tried to put some more water in my bottle and spilt that so now everything is really sticky and sweet smelling. Let’s hope bears aren’t a fan of wild strawberry drink mix. 

My heels are so sore after going outside with my shoes on. I really hope they get better by tomorrow otherwise it’s going to be a really tough day. I’ve covered them in paw paw ointment in the hope that will help like it helped my nose and lips. It’s a little more humid again so hopefully that will help too. 

 

 

 

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