Day 44 (Tape)

Kay, today is Wednesday, the 29th of May. And uh, we’re once again up high, probably higher than we were last night. But uh, last night was uh, not too cold. I woke up once, I was even hot. By the time morning came around I was about right. And it didn’t rain or snow on us, but… we did wake up underneath a big dark cloud. Which was kind of a warning to me that even if the sky is clear and blue at bedtime, that doesn’t mean too much in the mountains. So tonight we’ve pitched our tent, which we call Blue Land. And uh, we’ll sleep in there. See how it treats us, up high in the mountains.

Let’s see, how did the day go… It was a really nice day, um, I started out again in pain. And my, I don’t know, everything hurt. And it was hard to get going, but I got hobbling along, and uh, I also was feeling kinda… I started getting like altitude sickness symptoms: dizzyness, hot spells, a little feverishness. And that was kinda strange to deal with for a while. And that went on until we stopped for breakfast. After we did that I was fine. Had a good breakfast. Well, let’s see, we started off somewhere below Olancha Peak, is where we camped last night. Probably just a little below 10,000 feet. And we went down into a valley, into Gomez Meadows. And kinda crossed uh, crossed them. And crossed Death Canyon, which is around the area where we ate breakfast. And that one had a creek running down it, and then we climbed and climbed and climbed, and uh, was really a pretty nice climb, and it felt good to get high up in the mountains. We were climbing up towards this ridge and just as we were about to hit the top of it I looked up and saw our two old friends we met in the Jemez Mts, or no, we met in the San Gabriel mts after climbing, the day after we climbed Mt. Baden-Powell. Betsy and Brad are their names. And they were tromping along in front of us, and I looked up and said, Oh, hey, there’s Betsy and Brad. When we got to the top of the switch- backs we stopped and had a reunion. Kind of expressed our excitement at being in the mountains and our trepidation about the snow, but also our mutual encouragement about the small amounts of snow. And just exchanged some stories and sat down for a minute and then we got too cold and had to move on. We went a little faster than them, so we went first.

Headed off until, to our lunch spot. We were looking for a spring that we never found for lunch, so we just sat down by the trail and drank the rest of our water and hoped we’d find more soon. Almost all the rest. And they came tromping by while we were eating lunch, and just kept going. And that was the last we saw of them. I don’t know if they’re ahead of us, or they went off the trail and we passed them again or what. But if they’re ahead of us then they sped up considerably. Anyway, it was good to see Betsy and Brad again.

Let’s see, we were worried about water a little bit, that we would find some in time, I mean there seems to be a lot of runoff, creeks and everything and you cross them every minute until you need some water and then they all disappear. But we continued on the trail which descended a little bit, and passed over Ash Meadow which we never really actually saw, and over to Dutch Meadow, the bottom of Dutch Meadow. Which we could see, it was kind of on a saddle. We’re still above 10,000 feet this whole time. And, I don’t know if we really were at that point or not. But close. I think actually we were. And I saw on the map that was a spring just at the top of Dutch Meadow. Like a couple miles away, so we drank the rest of our water and trucked up to the spring, which turned out to be just a little foot-wide creek running through a cow pasture. A really high cow pasture, but a cow pasture nonetheless. So we filtered some water out of it and headed up to Mokie Pass which at the beginning of the day I thought was as far as we would get, the 19 mile mark. And uh, it was an easy climb up Mokie Pass, it wasn’t too high, it was like 10,350 or something like that.

And so we continued on, we felt good, we decided we’d shoot for Trail Pass for dinner. And Trail Pass was a little over a mile farther on I’d say, and we reached it just fine. Just barely squeezed in an animation shot for the day. Hmm, my tape is making noises. Yeah, we ate dinner there, had a good dinner, and decided to continue on. And uh, if I’d had some sense I probably would’ve known that it’d be easier just to camp there but we continued on up the trail which traversed across the north side of Trail Peak. And of course it started climbing. It didn’t look like it climbed on the map but it does. And it was covered with snow cause its on the north face and we’re up here, 10,500 feet. So we got a little bit depressed and we were getting hot cause we were in our full fleece clothes cause we were sitting around eating dinner and we didn’t take em off. There started being more and more snow and it looked steep and didn’t look like there was anywhere to camp. We got depressed and then, hallelujah, we came upon one little square, dry, flat spot. And so we’re sitting with our tent pitched in that spot, in probably, it’s not totally covered in snow here, probably 80% snow coverage. Maybe just 70. No snow around the trees but the rest of the slope is all, all drifted in. It’s actually pretty nice here. So its our, our first real experiment camping among the snow patches but I’m sure its gonna work out just fine.

And uh, let’s see, foreshadowing for tommorrow… I haven’t really, I should have reviewed the guide like I sometimes do when I go to bed first. But I know that tommorrow we’re hitting our first pass over 11,000 feet, Cottonwood Pass. And we might even, it’s a pretty serious pass, we might even have to bust out the ice axes for it. So ah, who knows, we might use the gaitors, and all the snow equiptment we’ve got that hasn’t seen the light of day yet. And uh, what else happens tommorrow, we, tommorrow we’ll try to make Crabtree Meadows. I don’t know how far it is from here, but I think its probably in the neighborhood of these days we’ve been doing. 20, around 20 miles or under. Today was actually probably 21 or around there, more. Well maybe 21. And uh, from Crabtree Meadows, then, Friday, day after tomorrow, we’re going to make an attempt on Mt. Whitney. See if we can get up to the top of that puppy. And uh, see what we can see from there, and then come back down the same day. And then Saturday will be one more tromp north, and then Saturday, or actually Saturday we’ll hit Forester Pass which is the highest, gnarliest pass on the trail. That’s gonna be covered with snow, and very steep, so we’ll definitely get our chance to use our boots and our ice axes and all that on that one. And get as close as we can to Kearsarge Pass where a trail breaks off from the PCT, 9 miles down to Onion Valley. And uh, then there’s a road from there to Independence that we have to hitchhike, about 15 miles. So thats kinda our outline for the week. Ah, hopefully its doable, we’ll see. Hope the weather is good for Whitney and that these passes we, these two passes that we went over today are really just nothin compared to whats coming up, so we’ll have to see how good we are climbing em and how much of a day it takes up in the snow.

That’s pretty much all the intrigue I can provide now, but talking with Brad and Betsy kind of reaffirmed the happiness I have to be in the mountains at last. After all the, all the other parts of the spectrum we’ve seen, we finally are consistently above 10,000 feet and the views are spectacular, the air is fresh and clean, and it just feels really good. And it only gets better, and it only gets higher. So they say. And so we’ll see.

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