Monday, July 2, 2012

July 2 - Day 72 - Easy Miles all day around 8000 ft.

From a campsite (approx Mile 1048.5) south of Ebbett's Pass to a copse of trees below Elephant's Back (Mile 1076.7)

Total PCT Miles Hiked Today: 28.2

Pan here.

In 12 hours of hiking today, we achieved our best time yet - and that was without rushing. We just kept our feet moving. Heat + volcanic dust in our shoes got our feet hurting early, though.

Beautiful landscape of the most dramatically sculpted old volcanic mountains: minarets, castle ruins, eerie carved faces, cascading pinnacles. Creeks and streams loud and full (and delicious).

Wildflowers just keep getting better and better ever since Sonora Pass: red columbine, sulphur flower, mule's ears, larkspur, phlox, paintbrush, mariposa lily, green gentian, pussy toes, wild parsley, daisies (of various sorts), four different penstemons, meadow rue, blue flags, mountain heath, potentilla, bluebells, primrose, forget-me-nots, etc. Some of these kept us company in the High Sierra - but here the season is more advanced and the numbers swell.

What lakes and valleys and uplands we saw today.

... all under the customary sunny skies we have had for 69 out of 72 days thus far. We are starting to see afternoon puffball mountain clouds in the afternoon, but nothing that waters anything.

Mozzies showed up in fits & starts, and seemed aggressive when they did show. But miles of the day we spent on the flowering volcanic slopes with a stiff breeze from the west (prevailing winds), and few bugs.

We talked some in the morning about Boulder plans when we return, but little has taken shape yet in our imaginations about that. We're content to wait. The men we have become when we complete the PCT will be better qualified to weigh in on that than we.

We were still high altitude, and wondering where to camp when we looked down into the gloaming cirque below us -- no one had hiked down there since the snow had recently receded. There was a meadow (mooshy) but a stand behind it of conifers. Maybe there? Past low banks of snow and new green we hiked down there, and found clearings among the trees -- but the ground is spongey.

The winds pick up.

Now we're camped sheltered from the winds among the hemlocks & white-bark pine below the ragged sheer walls and snow fields of Elephant's Back above us. We have some patches of snow here still -- and a larger snow field to cross tomorrow morning. We have the tent up with its screen, but not the rain fly. So we can see stars and the really bright moon, bat silhouettes patrolling for mozzies, and the tops of the conifers waving over us against the sky.

Tomorrow we break camp early to hike the 16 miles down to Hwy 50 and hitch into South Lake Tahoe for groceries.

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