Sunday, June 3, 2012

3 June – Day 44 – Angelic breakfasts & a steep hot slog

Walker Pass Campground (Mile 651.4) to a ridge top (Mile 672.7)

Total Trail Miles hiked today: 21.3

Total rattlesnakes encountered on the trail to date: 12

Pan (Charles) here. 

I got up early after a fitful night of sleep. Really, it had nothing to do with sitting up off and on through the night and looking around in the moonlight to see if the diamondback was about. Nothing at all. Nope. 

Okie Girl said she’d be starting coffee and working on breakfast around six, so I got up at 5 o’clock and got my backpack assembled for our hike. I then took the iPhone and went to make journaling notes for our online journal. The tarps and the picnic table, the lawn chairs were comfy as I sat in the cool of the morning among the pinyon pines and open sage. Nice spot. 

When Okie Girl showed up, she got the coffee going (pinyon coffee from New Mexico) and I started cutting bacon. I fried 2 lbs of it up on the propane camp stove, then Okie Girl took over making scrambled eggs & bacon quesadillas. Meanwhile, thru-hikers who had stayed the night – and others who hiked in -- came in and gathered around for coffee. 

We all had breakfast together – then Sidekick (Sean) did the dishes while Dionysus and I went down for water at a parsimonious little spring that made us wait and wait while it slowly, dribblingly filled our liter bottles. On the way back to camp, I passed another green diamondback, curled up and enjoying the morning sun. A big one. He was really not of a mind to move – and was happy where he was. He didn’t even rattle at me. “Just keep moving,” seemed to be his attitude. “Nothing to see here. Just a rattler trying to get over his hangover. Keep moving.” But he was right on the trail and right where Chris would be stepping when he came up the hill, so I got a long stick and lifted and scooted the snake (big guy) until he finally unrolled his prodigious heft and laced himself back and out into the sage. [That makes 12 rattlers so far on the PCT. I’m not fond of snakes, you know - though this one was a beauty].

Okie Girl headed off to town to get groceries for the next batch of thru-hikers, and we hefted our packs on our backs and headed on up onto the trail. All the talk among the hikers at Okie Girl’s table was “Kennedy Meadows” – our next destination, and the gateway to the High Sierras.

Our hike today took us up and up, zigzagging steeply along really gorgeous steep mountain sides. The water situation on the trail was a bit iffy still – so we lugged 3 liters each until we found new water, and then refilled.

We stopped at Uranium Springs, which like every water source had biting flies and mosquitoes. We paused here to wash our socks and clothes, and bathe a bit.

Later, one water source had fresh bear tracks (size of a yearling) right ahead of us, and as we turned a corner following them, a big animal sprang off the trail up into the underbrush. Shucks. Missed it. Then we bumped into Big Wuss, and chatted briefly with him.

My food was running out, and so was Dionysus's. And I couldn’t stand what food was in my pack. UGH. But we continued up and up. Tough going having the uphill at the end of the day – and it was a hot day, and the mountain was long and the switchbacks seemingly endless. The shade of the pinyon pines was great, though. Then we arrived at the crest of the mountain – with a broad saddle. 

Pace was camped here already (he really does get the best spots). And 3Bears was here, too. So we quickly found places to throw down our ground covers and rain flies (the wind was pretty persistent, so we thought we’d like the cover). A blustery night. But we were only 29.5 miles from Kennedy Meadows -- and since our packs were getting very light, it looked like tomorrow would mean a concerted slog with little food for Kennedy Meadows. 

At KM, we will have a chance at food (if we can make it there the store is still open). So it'll have to be an early morning. We're only going to get about 6 hours sleep. *sigh*

Wonderful, however, being this close to KM. Gateway to the High Sierras!!!!

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