4th September 2019
Grouse Meadows – Evolution Lake (844.4)
15.9 miles
Total miles: 130.3


So I tried a drink flavour in my water and it had caffeine in it, which I picked up in a hiker box in Independence, in preparation for today, I wanted to try anything to get me up that 10 mile climb. But I had a few sips of it before bed and I think it kept me awake a bit, it did give me some crazy dreams as I was drifting off and I woke myself up by doing a massive snort and I think I woke myself up by talking too. 

I was kind of restless through the night because I was anxious about all the uphill to Muir pass today, I couldn’t sleep well on my back because my heels hurt too much to rest on the mat. Plus all the skin on the soles of my feet hurt. They aren’t blisters and I hope they don’t turn into blisters. When we woke we packed up kind of reluctantly, we weren’t in a big hurry to get going. 

Last night there were people walking late with their headlamps on and their music blaring, this morning there were people walking by really early with foreign accents talking very loudly. Quite the high traffic area! 

It was all misty and a bit damp this morning as we were camped next to a watery meadow. We started off with jackets on but it didn’t take long before they came off. I was determined to do things differently today. I had three goals. Eat enough. Drink enough. Keep up with Catwater for as long as I could. 

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It started well. I had drunk half my bottle before we left camp and it had caffeine water in. Whether it was all in the mind or not, I think the caffeine helped. I was keeping up with Catwater step for step and sometimes I was a bit too close behind her because I nearly got stabbed with her poles on several occasions. It’s a 10 miles climb up to Muir pass but it is so beautiful, and it’s not as steep as some of the other passes. 

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We did everything together today. Stopped for water. Stopped for a food break. Stopped to pee. It’s not something we have done before but I enjoyed it. It was different, we were more aware of each other, and I was enjoying being able to chat as we walked. I really enjoyed being able to get to know her better. We hiked a really long way together in 2016 but we didn’t really chat that much, beyond the day to day stuff. We know each other inside out when it comes to hiking, but real life is a different story, and we both have some interesting stories to tell. We spoke about so many different things and I really felt like we spoke about more today than we did in the whole of 2016. That isn’t to say I would change anything about 2016, it was just a different time.

I made sure I was drinking regularly, and I actually had to stop to pee before 10am when normally I go through to about 3pm before I need to go! 

The more humid air was making it slightly easier to breathe and my nose has almost healed, but my feet were so sore, the skin really hurts. About 5 minutes after I start walking it settles down but if I stop for a break it takes a while to get going again. 

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It was sunny but regular clouds were building and providing us with some shade. It was a tough slog uphill but there were a few nice flat bits of smooth trail too. I felt good today. Much better than I have felt on any other day going uphill. Especially better than yesterday when my legs felt like lumps of lead. We moved through leafy ferns to forest to high alpine. We were doing well with our pace and regular small breaks helped. 

I filled up my water bottle twice and grazed on candy on the way up. We followed the middle fork of the kings river up through the valley so we were never short of water. Plus in some places the trail was like a river anyway, we met a couple who said they got caught in a big thunderstorm on Muir Pass yesterday and the trail was just a 4 inch deep river. They looked a bit shell shocked from the experience. 

I finally spotted THE ROCK! Twice now I have just walked past it without noticing and I have been envious of other peoples pictures of it, here it is!…

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As we climbed higher we passed our Korean friends who were the people who had passed our tents early this morning. They were taking a break and shortly after we stopped to have a snack. One of the men passed us and we waited and waited for the other one to appear but he never did. We heard a lot of bird activity and screeching and we concluded the other Korean man had died and the birds were closing in on his body. (It was of course a joke and we don’t really think that happened!)

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So we continued to go up and up and we were passing so many people coming the opposite way. Catwater was counting them. I was still keeping up with Catwater with only a couple of miles to go. I was so pleased with myself. I wasn’t sure if she was slowing down to accommodate me, but she seemed to be breathing just as hard as I was and she isn’t really the type of person to pull back on her speed for someone else! I think I was just doing better today and she was making me pick my speed up, had I been alone I would have probably slowed down. 

There was one point where I was gagging for a break and I was thinking she will stop in a minute, she will need a wee or food or water. And thankfully just a few minutes later she suggested a break. 

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With about 2 miles to go we saw a couple making very hard work of a small patch of snow and we waited for them to come down and they explained to us that there were two patches of snow and there was an enormous storm building in the north and we should think carefully about going up. He was a bit of a wally and we just went around the snow patch they had so slowly made their way across. 

We crossed the other snow patch with ease and we powered on through. With just 1.4 miles to go we were concerned about the clouds gathering and the dark colour but my stomach felt totally empty and I need to stop so we sat and quickly crammed some food into our faces, after all, if it rains then we don’t stop and then there is no chance to eat so we needed to take to opportunity. We were starting to get a little concerned about the storm so we tried to pick up the pace a bit. I started to think too much about my breathing and nearly had a little panic attack but managed to get it under control. We were a little more concerned about the weather than we liked to let on! 

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We passed some guys going our way and they started hiking behind us. I knew Catwater didn’t want to let them beat her to the top and later on she told me exactly that. I know her so well! 

I forgot how late you see the hut from this side and we were right there almost on top of it when we saw it, there was one tiny patch of snow to go through to get there and we had made it before the rain and at the same time. 10 miles uphill, 5 and a half hours. Pretty happy with that. 

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We hung around up there for a bit taking photos for people and getting some taken for us. We chatted to some nice people and then it started to spit a little. They guys we were talking to were going to opposite way, into the dark clouds so they got moving to try and get down as quick as they could, and we bundled up in our wet weather gear and made our way down the other side where the weather didn’t look so bad. 

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On the way down you can see the hut for ages, going down is much quicker and we were soon far too hot as the sun came out, and out waterproofs were on and off a few more times on the way down as the weather couldn’t quite make up its mind. We hiked along the most beautiful scenery and lakes and looking back up to Muir Pass where the sun was hitting the snow was so pretty. 

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We hiked along the edge of the lake and we were swarmed by all these tiny flies. Thankfully they weren’t biting but they were gross, I was absolutely covered so I got my bandana out and used it like a horses tail swishing it about to get rid of them. 

We continued on down for what felt like ages. I forgot how relentless the downhills can be. My feet were really starting to hurt and I was glad when we got to our camp site. All along it had been absolutely roasting in the sun and chilly when a cloud came over. 

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By the time we reached camp Catwater had counted 100 people who had passed us and 5 people going the same direction whom we had passed. 

We searched around for a campsite and found one up in the rocks, we were going to go right on top but I said we would be more sheltered lower down if it got windy. 

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We set up and got water and were on the same schedule as we have been every night, I was waiting until 6pm to start cooking dinner and busy taking selfies, and I looked out my tent and remarked at how black the sky was in the direction we had just come from. They must be getting battered on Muir Pass. As I was watching it I saw it was coming our way. I think we are about to get slammed.

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Then came the thunder and lightening and the wind picked up and the rain slammed down. I was having to hold the left side of my tent up as the wind battered it. The lightening was flashing and the thunder was booming. I had to quickly shove all my stuff into dry sacks to protect it, the tent was staying pretty dry but there were some drips bouncing off the ground. The ground was becoming saturated and it was pooling under my tent. After a while of being slammed by rain the base of my tent looked like a water bed. It was starting to come through where there was pressure on it. 

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All I could do was support my tent and hope it didn’t get any worse. Eventually the storm blew through and people were emerging. Catwater was outside digging trenches around her tent to drain away some of the water. She said a stake had come out and she was using her hands and feet to support her tent! 

I got out and started to try and redirect the water from underneath my tent. All my belongings were dry but the floor of my tent was damp. It also put a real spanner in to the schedule, it was now 6:40pm and I hadn’t eaten dinner. I quickly boiled the water and scoffed down a just about palatable freeze dried meal and set about re-staking my tent incase it rained again. My first pitch wasn’t a good one! 

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The calm came after the storm and when we emerged from our tents the sky was clear blue like nothing had ever happened. The clouds gathered again and gave us a beautiful sunset, and it just kept changing.

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My absolute favourite photo

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I was going to sleep very tired, and very happy.

What a day.

 

 

 

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