Day 20: Unfinished Business

August 5th 2018: Lyell Fork – Tuolumne Meadows; 13 miles

It took me so long to write this final post because it took me this long to come to terms with what the following paragraphs are going to describe.  It should come as no surprise that I was not able to complete the trail in its entirety, as the Ferguson fire was not even close to being contained at this point.  More heartbroken I could not have been and it will take a very long time for me to accept the fact that 20 miles were left unconquered when I know full well I could have completed them.  But alas, here is it: my final day on the trail.

Last night was the first night on this entire journey where I was alone.  Granted there were nights when people weren’t nearby, but I at least knew there was someone within proximity of where I was staying.  Last night, however, I didn’t see a soul.  Which shocked me because I thought it was a pretty awesome campsite at a pretty awesome location! Right before Donahue pass going SOBO and right after the pass going NOBO.  Prime real estate! Well obviously I was wrong, or maybe the other hikers knew something I didn’t.  Because this was the worst night of the entire hike, and it wasn’t because I was alone.

Being alone didn’t bother me at all.  At this point, I think (I hope) I know what I’m doing when it comes to camp life.  I’m not worried about bears or things that go bump in the night, so I was actually looking forward to having a night completely devoid of human interaction.  But then the wind started.  And it didn’t stop.  Starting gently at 5pm, the wind soon picked up in gales and brought with it ash.  Thank God I set up my tent as soon as I got into camp, because with only 2 stakes (ultralight!) my tent surely would’ve blown away into the abyss.  To help out, I stayed in my tent to make sure with my weight and the weight of the pack, it wasn’t going to blow away.  I watched hikers come and go, wondering why they weren’t staying.  But like I said, I secretly hoped they would move on so I would have a night alone.

The wind got worse.  So much worse.  Because I was in a valley of sorts, it created a wind tunnel.  I could hear bad gusts coming up the valley 5 seconds before it would hit the tent.  Gave me plenty of time to prepare, not that any preparation would do any good!  The gusts must’ve been at least 60mph.  For the majority of the night, my tent was blown completely horizontal, right over my face.  Needless to say, I did not sleep very well.  I had visions in my head that the wind was so strong it would knock my bear canister over. Following the whatever law of whatever dynamics (physics wasn’t my strong suit), the canister would stay in motion until it met something that would stop it… and that would be a nearby stream. I was convinced that my bear can was gonna float away! Totally ridiculous. But I was in a heightened state of annoyance and sleep deprivation from the wind, so my brain wasn’t working so well. The only thing that would’ve made it worse would be rain.  Luckily the heavens didn’t open up on me, however, it did rain ash.  I wasn’t too surprised, considering how terribly smoky it was on Donahue and how low visibility was before I went in my tent.  Another nail in the coffin of my hopes of finishing the trail.

The wind didn’t die down until 6am the next morning, exactly when I wanted to wake up.  Good because I could break down camp in peace, but bad because it didn’t give me a chance to catch up on any semblance of sleep.  But knowing it was likely my last day, I didn’t need sleep.  Plus it’s all downhill to Tuolumne Meadows, so I could practically sleepwalk and be okay. And my bear canister took the wind beating well – it was still standing! The same cannot be said about my tent, however. The poles were bent from the wind. But with it already looking a bit long in the tooth, I personally think the bent poles add even more character to the old beloved Marmot tent.

Well I guess I was sleepwalking because I had a pretty bad fall down a steep decline heading down into the meadow in which I almost lost a Nalgene bottle and my pride. An older gentleman witnessed the fall and asked if I was alright.  I tried to brush it off like it was nothing, but it actually hurt quite a bit.  Nothing like a hard fall to wake you up in the morning!

As I continued the day’s hike, I took it all in.  I took more breaks and took in the views.  I also was super hungry which accounted for the majority of the breaks.  Leave it to the last day for my appetite to kick in full gear! I ate my entire day’s worth of food by 10am.  It felt so weird knowing that this was my last day on the trail.  I had a lot of teary moments, looking back on the struggles, pure joy, and breathtaking views I experienced on the trail.   I wasn’t ready for it to be over, especially cut short.  But I had no other option.

I saw a ton of people starting their SOBO journey.  With Tuolumne Meadows so close, I wasn’t surprised to run into so many fresh, bright eyed hikers who didn’t smell like weeks worth of BO.  They smiled happily and congratulated me on my journey.  I was happy for them and a little jealous that their journey was just beginning.  I ran into two older men and had a quick conversation with them before realizing one was wearing an ACA hat.  The ACA is the organization I used to ride the TransAm route and used their maps for the Pacific Coast Bike Route earlier this summer.  We talked about bike tours and how different it is from hiking.  Good to have a conversation about something other than the John Muir Trail!

When I arrived at the Tuolumne Meadows cut off trail, I ran into a ranger.  I asked him his honest opinion about Yosemite Valley opening tomorrow.  “Not a chance”, he said ,rather bluntly.  He also told me it wasn’t a smart idea to wait around optimistically to see if it’ll open in the next few days. He thought the valley would be closed for the entire season.  Though I wasn’t surprised by his response, it still killed me.  After we departed paths, I called my parents to tell them I’ll be coming home early.

When they answered, I couldn’t speak a word, phrase, or even a syllable.  I was crying hysterically, coming to the realization that this was real,  I was really forced to quit the trail.  They calmed me down and I was able to explain the situation.  After a few minutes on the phone, I saw something not far away come out of the woods.  “Oh my God it’s a bear!” “WHAT?!”, I heard my mom say (her worst fear is bears) “Get out of there!”.  I was only slightly alarmed, mainly because I had a pocket full of fruit snacks.  I hung up the phone, threw Big Booty Judy on my back, and walked to the wilderness center.  Mr. Bear followed along with me, keeping a good 40 feet between me and him.  He didn’t seem too concerned with my existence, so I tried to feign the same kind of indifference.  They can smell weakness, right?  Luckily I made it safely to the office.

There I figured out with the help of my parents how to get home.  I was going to take a 4:30pm bus from Tuolumne Meadows to Lee Vining, then take a bus in the morning from Lee Vining to Reno for a flight home.  While waiting for the bus to Lee Vining, I ran into Paul and Jeff, brothers from Seattle who completed the trail a few days ago.  They waited around to see if the valley would open, but gave up after a few days.  Paul was going to Reno to fly home, however, Jeff was sticking around because his truck was parked in Yosemite Valley.  Being retired and just recently widowed, he had plenty of time to wait for the valley to open.  Both were very nice guys and I enjoyed talking with them and getting to know them.  Finally the bus arrived and off I went for the journey home.

Lee Vining is a tiny town, but was a perfect place to stop for the night.  Paul and I waited for the ESTA bus (late as usual) and we were shocked by what came to pick us up.  It was an bus full of hikers from Mammoth who had to cut their journey short.  When I say it was full, I mean it.  Getting our bags to fit was an exercise in Tetris and patience.  There were no seats left on the bus, so Paul and I were forced to sit on the floor.  On a bus full of young, able bodied men, you would think one or two would offer their seat to a woman OR an older man, but nope.  The art of chivalry and manners was lost on my generation.

Eventually we made it to the airport where I had 7 hours to my flight.  I don’t even remember what I did to pass the time, I was so bored.  When I finally could check my bag, I didn’t have full confidence the woman who tagged my bag knew what she was doing.  I crossed my fingers that it wouldn’t be the last time I would see BB Judy.  My fears were justified because when I landed in Philly, Judy was no where to be seen.  Frontier’s baggage representative reassured me that she would be delivered within 24 hours.  She arrived at 1:30am missing one trekking pole.  Another reason to not fly Frontier in my opinion.

But I was home.  Not on my own terms, but here anyway.  Seeing my family and Addie was great, but would’ve been greater had I completed the trail.

I will follow up with one last final post soon reflecting on my experience.  Over a month later, I’m still digesting what I experienced and the feelings I have being home and returning to work.

Day 11: Untitled

July 27th, 2018; Evolution Lake – Evolution Creek Crossing: 7 miles

Today started slow. Marybeth is feeling worse so we didn’t head out of camp until just before 11am. We hiked slow and steady to McClure Ranger Station. We spoke with Victor who validated that exiting via the Florence Lake ferry from MTR was the best option for seeking medical attention. We hiked 2.5 miles to just before crossing Evolution Creek. Two women died here last year after getting caught in the current. Their bags weighed them down and they unfortunately drowned. Last year was a high snow year, making creek crossings high and violent. This year is in stark contrast – very little snow so fording rivers is less risky. We have 9 miles to MTR tomorrow. Marybeth went to bed early in hopes of getting an early start in the morning to get to MTR before it closes. The full moon out here is crazy. Last night, I woke up positive it was dawn. When I looked at my watch, I was shocked to see it was only 2:44am! The whole canyon was lit completely up just by the moon. The lake was gorgeous showing the reflection of the full moon. However it didn’t help with sleep, so I was forced to put my hat over my eyes for some darkness. Tonight we’re 3K’ lower in elevation and in trees so hopefully the moon doesn’t interrupt precious sleep again!

Day 10: The Infamous Muir Pass

July 26th 2018; Little Pete Meadow – Evolution Lake: 11 miles

Oh what a day. I am writing this from the most beautiful serene of places, very inspiring! I unfortunately am still forced to write this in my tent. Not because of rain though! Although there are some pretty nasty looking clouds floating by… I am forced to seek refuge in my tent because of mosquitoes. They are lined up on my tent like zombies – blood thirsty and dumb. The last few days have been nothing but ravenous mosquitoes. Makes sense with all the rain and tons of still water for them to fester. Ugh gross.

Today started a little slow. Marybeth hasn’t been feeling so great the last few days so we took it easy in the morning. During the first hour of the hike, she really started feeling (and looking) bad. We stopped at the nearest campground for her to rest. If we had to stay there all day, so be it… you can walk off a painful hip, but an illness? Not so much. At the campground we’re two sisters who were originally going to thru hike the entire JMT. However, after one hurt her knee, they went into Bishop to rest. Only planning on staying for 2 days, they ended up staying 6 (apparently Bishop is a vortex and is hard to leave). Obviously, this greatly affected their schedule, but they didn’t seem to mind. They’re planning on ending just before Yosemite next week. Probably a good call – who knows, it could still be on fire by then!

Just shy of 2 hours rest, Marybeth started to feel better and was ready for the 5 miles up and over Muir Pass. What a trooper! She definitely was feeling better because she certainly blazed right past me!

The hike up Muir Pass was out of this world. Lakes everywhere with ominous mountains standing tall over them. Water was everywhere. Up until early June, the two miles NOBO up the pass was covered in snow. Now the snow was all melted, contributing to the streams and rivers running through the trail. We did hit one small patch of snow we had to cross. Adds a little more to the adventure.

Muir Pass was kinder and gentler than the other passes, with gradual switchbacks and easy terrain. Going up one switchback, two guys joked with me. “We have some good news for you! You’re almost at the top!” In no mood for their shenanigans, I retorted (out of breath) “I hope you’re not kidding — oh my god it’s the hut!” “Ha! We told ya so!!” They were right… I was close. In fact, I was at the top! What a beautiful sight that hut was. Signaling the top of another pass! Marybeth was waiting up top and together we explored the hut, a memorial to John Muir made by the Sierra Club. Boy was it creepy inside. Marybeth helped me get in and I couldn’t wait to get out. Drafty and smelly, I couldn’t imagine having to spend the night in it.

Still feeling good, Marybeth wanted to push further than our original camp of 1 mile away. Sure! I felt great! I had no problem pushing it further. Because Muir Trail Ranch is 2 days away, we want to get there early for a pseudo off day so Marybeth can rest. With less than 20 miles (and all downhill), that should be an easy goal to accomplish.

We set out for 5 miles to Evolution Lake. Half way there, Marybeth started to feel sick again, but pushed on. We got there with threatening clouds, but enough sun for a quick dip in the lake. Marybeth was brave enough to go under. I was content just up to my waist.

Marybeth went to bed early. I am enjoying the views, thinking back on the journey now that we’re in the double digits! I never expected this hike to be so hard. I thought my body would be more accepting of this challenge, but physically, it’s defeating. However, I feel my body changing and adapting to the challenges. I am much stronger than I was 10 day ago. Mentally and emotionally the trail zaps the strength right out of you. But through that I am learning more about myself as a person, and for that I am happy.

Know how on Survivor (probably not- I think I’m the only one who still watches it) they bring loved ones in on day 20 and everyone gets emotional and sobs hysterically? I would give anything for any one of my loved ones to walk up to my tent right now with Addie in tow. I’m crying right now just thinking about it! Not normally a super emotional person, being out of contact with friends and family for this long during such an intense period of time sure does bring out the emotions!

Day 9: 2 Week Countdown!

July 25th, 2018; Palisade Lake – Little Pete Meadow: 13.3 miles

For some reason today felt like a really short day. But at over 13 miles, today really wasn’t short at all. In fact, we went further than we originally had planned! We had a huge descent this morning, a nice change of pace. In fact, I believe we descended the Golden Staircase but I’ll have to look into that. *yes, indeed we did* The views were beautiful, as always. The lake was gorgeous and we saw plenty of waterfalls. The last 2 miles into Leconte Canyon were all uphill, but that didn’t bother me much. Today was, however, hot. And the ascent into the canyon was all in the sun. I felt overheated in a tank top and shorts. Imagine how how horrible Marybeth must’ve felt in long pants and sleeves for sun protection! Don’t worry mom – I use plenty of sunscreen and have not gotten even one tiny patch of sunburn. We got into camp at 1:30pm and just plopped down our packs and our exhausted bodies. Guess what else decided to plop down with us?! Raindrops! But they weren’t bad raindrops. They actually refreshed us. After eating some lunch and the rain cooling things off, we discussed going further today to make tomorrow’s trek over Muir Pass easier. For some reason, I’m terrified of the 3K’ climb over 6 miles. I wonder why?! Just as we decided to go 1.7 miles further, I recognized the two SOBO hikers I met in Reno! A Dad and his young son were planning on hiking the whole trail in 17 days – and they were 5 miles ahead of schedule! Absolutely crazy. It made my day running into them. They were in good spirits and and definitely on their way to accomplishing their goal. Marybeth and I went on our way and as soon as we reached the exposed granite, it started to pour and thunder. 9 days of rain in the Sierras. Unbelievable. We ran into a ranger who reassured us the next few days were looking better weather wise. She also informed us that Yosemite Valley is closed due to wildfire and smoke. Yikes. I really hope it’s cleared and open by the time we roll through! The father and son told us that when they started, it was so smoky they couldn’t even see Half Dome! And that was a week and a half ago. Sheesh. After a 1.7 mile climb, we finally rolled into camp. We’re sharing it with a SOBO JMTer who started only 8 days ago. Talk about intense. He gave us a run down of what’s ahead and to check out VVR and Reds Meadow. While talking, a brazen deer came over and attempted to steal and devour his glove. The deer here have zero fear. They roam around the camp and come right up to ya looking for a handout. Sorry no luck buddy! By the title of this post, you probably think I’m in a rush to get done. No, absolutely not. I adore being out here, I can truly see why John Muir and anyone else lucky enough to experience the Sierras fall in love with it out here. It’s really magical! I just really miss my dog (I have dreams about her every night), I miss my bed (my air mattress has a small unidentifiable leak that doesn’t make for a comfortable nights rest – plus sleeping in my bed means snuggling with Addie), I miss real food (I can hardly stomach freeze dried dinners anymore), and I really miss Sunday night dinners with my family (where Mom makes great food). Although I wouldn’t trade being out here for anything in the world, I feel myself dwindling away. My pack isn’t fitting me right, causing nasty chafing and rashes. My hip still hurts and constant pain has a way of wearing you down. But end of my venting. I’m looking forward to Muir Trail Ranch, VVR, and RMCG. I’m also happy we’re all the more closer to Muir Pass! I’m off to bed – going to snuggle my phone (to keep it warm and preserve battery) and pretend it’s Addie!

Day 8: Don’t Jinx It

July 24th 2018; Lake Marjorie – Palisade Lake: 10.9 miles

I am writing this from outside. Yes outside! Staring at a beautiful lake with a bubbling brook to my right. In fact, I just used the brook to wash my clothes and body for the first time in 8 stinking days. The stench emanating from my body is unbearable. But at least I have that in common with my fellow hiking comrades. It seems the monsoon moisture has finally given up. Yesterday was my breaking point and it seems as though the universe is listening and showing mercy. But I don’t want to jinx it.

Marybeth and I woke up early to to pass over the last 12K’ pass this trip. Woo we’re going downhill from here on out! Mather pass was forgiving and definitely the easiest one we’ve yet to encounter. Don’t get me wrong – it was still mega tough, but the switchbacks were gentle and kind. And guess what?! My hip and knee are feeling a lot better! Every once in a while I get a twinge that lasts a couple hundred feet, but it dissipates quickly. I am truly thankful for that.

The ascent up the pass was slow. So slow, in fact, that I thought we were only half way done the 11 mile day when I got to the top. I didn’t feel like doing another 6 miles. So imagine my delight when my GPS said we already hiked 8.5 miles and only has 2.5 left! And it was still before noon! I was pretty impressed with us. We had lunch on the top and carried onward (and downward).

Because the monsoons seemed to have taken a break, we were both pretty beat from being in the sun all day. When we arrived at camp at 2pm, we laid down in the shade. But that didn’t last very long because storm clouds were spotted in the horizon. We pitched our tents but not in haste because they were slow moving clouds. We took naps with the intermittent drizzle lulling us to sleep. The clouds lifted and we were blessed with evening sun.I didn’t take many pictures today because I just threw on some tunes and kept my head down. Although today was spectacularly beautiful, my body is tired and lacks the enthusiasm it had a week ago. Oh man. A week ago. Back when I was puking at 11K’ and didn’t think I would survive. Thank god I haven’t felt like that since.

Day 7: One Wrong Turn

July 23rd 2018; Woods Creek – Lake Marjorie: 9.2 miles (but really 11.8)

Hey! It’s me again. Stuck in my tent for the 7th day in a row. Out waiting another horrific storm with plenty of rain. We have yet to have a relaxed “oh my god don’t keep your tent poles up so long, you’ll get struck by lightning” tent raising yet. We’re always stuck in a rush to make shelter from the elements. ^^crossing the infamous suspension bridge!Today was a horrible day. Let me explain why. After the bear fiasco yesterday, I had trouble sleeping. I was convinced he would come back knocking – and not looking for a snuggle. But I survived without a visitor. Marybeth and I departed at our normal 6:30am time. Perfect for a mere 9 miles! Ah, not so fast – literally. My hip is no good. Is it too early for a hip replacement?? So I took it slow. I told Marybeth I’d meet her st Sawmill Pass junction so as to not hold her back. A little bit of time passed and I checked my GPS. 0.8 miles to go at only 9:30am. Aside from the hip, I felt good. I should be there soon! I looked up from my phone and was instantly disoriented. I lost the trail but after looking around, I found it and off I went. Down. Down. And down. I began to get suspicious – I should be gaining elevation, not losing it. But I kept going. Until passing a father/daughter I saw last night who were going the same direction as us. Now they were going the opposite. Wait a minute. Something is not right. Instantly I whipped out my GPS. 2.1 miles until Sawmill Pass “WHAT?!” (With a lot of other colorfully worded words that scared a passer by-er). I was going SOBO! How?! I was instantly concerned by how disoriented I was. Was I dehydrated? I had already drank 3L of water, but I begged and electrolyte packed immediately. Was I hungry? Maybe – my appetite is still low. My hip belt is already as tight as it can go. I ate a small snack and off I went to meet back up with Marybeth. Nothing looked familiar. Likely cause I kept my head down the entire time due to the hip pain. And I was so stuck in La La Land thinking about how I was going to audition for Survivor when I get back. The hip pain was gone, with adrenaline pumping through my veins I felt nothing. With 2.1 miles, it could take me forever to get to the junction! Marybeth surely would’ve put out a search and rescue call by then, ha! But I gritted my teeth and eventually made it at 11am. Record timing. I collapsed at the sight of Marybeth in a tearful state. Marybeth thought my hip was so bad that it took me so long to get there. Nope. I’m just an idiot. The tears continued to flow due to frustration and the realization that we still had 4 miles to the dreaded Pinchot Pass. I felt horrible making Marybeth wait for my dumb mistake. But she had some sobering news – Sam was not going to return. That put things into perspective for me. Yes, I had a crappy morning. I was exhausted. But Sam would’ve been so happy to be in my spot. As would anyone else who got hurt or couldn’t get a permit. So quit your pity party and enjoy being in this beautiful wilderness!Pinchot Pass was a bear. Mainly because I was so exhausted from the hullabaloo of the morning. But I got up it and it wasn’t so bad. Left a lot to be desired view wise (oh I’m spoiled aren’t I? I blame Forester) but it was still nice to be on top of it. We didn’t stay long because storm clouds were approaching. We only had 1.9 miles left to Marjorie Lake. Wouldn’t you know it – it started to rain and hail. And lightning. Right in front of our faces. We were still over 11K’ and totally exposed. We assumed thunder position for a few minutes until it died down a little. Wow did we feel the burn in our quads! After 1/4 mile we found a tree for shelter till things looked better over Marjorie. I fell asleep and woke up half frozen to death. I put on some clothes and we figure now was as good a time as ever to hike the half mile down to the lake. And just in time! Once our tents were up, it started to rain. As it has been the last hour and half. I’m so sick of it. It’s so defeating being stuck in a tent watching all of your stuff get soaking wet for 7 days in a row. And there’s nothing you can do about it. Go away monsoon, no one likes you!!We have our 4th pass in a row tomorrow. Mather Pass. Our last one for a while. And after him the elevation of the passes gets progressively lower. Woo! My hip will rejoice!!

Day 6: A Sad Goodbye

July 22nd 2018; Bubbs Creek – Woods Creek Junction: 13 miles

Well, it’s sunny out! But it wasn’t always that way. I’ll get into that later. This morning at breakfast, Sam decided she was going to exit via Kearsarge Pass. She didn’t want to risk getting too far without an escape strategy. A tough decision no doubt, but being stranded in the wilderness doesn’t sound like a fun time either. We only had one mile to the junction. No one expected such a short distance to be so harrowing. It was straight up a steep ascent and took us longer than expected to reach the junction. But we made it.

We said a sad goodbye to Sam, but I doubt it’ll be the last we see of her. She’s planning on either re-entering through Kearsarge Pass tomorrow or meeting us at a different entry point further up the road. I couldn’t imagine having to drop out, so I hope she rejoins ya soon. So it’s just me and Mary Beth, for now. Off we went to conquer Glenn Pass. At only 12K’, I didn’t think it would be a big deal. I mean we went up Forester Pass, what’s the big deal?!

Well I was wrong. The uphill from earlier never went away. In fact, it got worse. Up and up and up. Although magnificent, I wasn’t too big of a fan. When I thought we were nearly done climbing, I asked a guy coming down if we were close. “Eh you’re about half way there.” “WHAT?!” I exclaimed in shock. Seeing my reaction, he quickly retorted “okay no maybe you’re 3/4 of the way there. Yeah definitely you’re almost there”. Bologna.

Soon after someone pointed me out the top of the pass. I could see people up there. and a bunch of switchbacks leading up to it. Yep. We were only half way there. So I turned on some tunes and slowly but surely made my way to the top. Marybeth was a little ahead of me and so I went my own pace. Maybe I was tired from the days before, but I thought Glen was way tougher than Forester. It was grueling. I was so focused on getting it over with I didn’t even take any pictures until we got to the top!

We made it up at 11am. We still had 7 miles to go. After taking some pictures, we talked with some folks up top. Including Eric from Boston, who prior to the trip I had some interaction with on social media. He was the one who gave the great news that the mudslide blocking access to Horseshoe Meadows was cleared. Because of the mileage, we went on our way down.

As horrible as our way was going up, SOBO has it worse. Way worse. More steep and full of rocks, it took us a great deal of time to make it down safely. Eventually we made it down to the beautiful Rae Lakes at around 1pm. It was gorgeous. Marybeth was brave enough to take a dip. I was content just soaking my legs. My knee was acting up so the cold water felt relieving. We didn’t stay long, cause guess who else joined the party?! Storm clouds and thunder too! So off we went to outrun the storm as best we could.

We had our rain gear out and ready to go. We ran into a ranger who said the monsoon moisture was supposed to end “early in the week… and tomorrow is Monday and early in the week, so hopefully this is the end of it?!” Wishful thinking. Right after talking with her we had to whip out the rain gear as it started to pour. After a few minutes, the rain started to hurt. Probably because it wasn’t rain at all, but it’s more spiteful cousin hail. The lightning got worse and we were pretty darn exposed. The first tree patch we came across we ducked for cover. In the midst of the confusion, I stepped on my sunglasses, greatly deforming them. After a few minutes things tamed down and we departed only to duck for cover again in 1/4 of a mile. The hail was a lot bigger that time around. Again it stopped and we only had to contend with thunder and rain. Alright… 4.1 miles to go.

Those were the longest miles yet. They took forever with periods of on and off rain. But we were not without a view. There were magnificent views of sweeping mountains ahead. They were huge and I was in complete awe of them. I loved looking at them as we got closer and closer with every step. They looked so far away at first I thought for sure we wouldn’t get to them until tomorrow. But when we finally rolled into camp I realized we were right at their base. I guess walking isn’t so slow after all!

It was 5:30pm by the time we got to Woods Creek – much later than normal for us. We both were starving. I was down right hangry. But with lightning in sight and rain about to come any second, priority number one was setting up tents. Which was no fun. To make things worse, a woman was just staring at us fumbling around. In my hanger rage induced state, I stopped what I was doing and stared right back. I didn’t care that my tent was going to get soaked, I had a point to make. Our stared own lasted a good 30 seconds before she got uncomfortable and broke eye contact to retreat back into her already set up tent. Once again, the infamous death glare of Emilie Keane strikes again! But I digress.

After the crisis was averted, we filled our bellies and did some after dinner stretching. Marybeth left early and while I was finishing up, I heard yelling and whistling. It sounded like someone was calling a dog. I instantly turned my head and saw the cutest fluffiest butt (2nd only to Addie’s, of course) running away. “Oh my God, Sheena, it’s a bear!” (I’m not sure why I yelled out Sheena’s name – it must be muscle memory from getting her attention on the bike all the time). The guy chased the bear right out of the campsite. First beat encounter! The drama caused the woman who I had the staredown with to come over and tell us the ranger told her there was a very assertive bear patrolling the campsite. Not aggressive, the bear was just a curious little guy. She turned out to be a really nice lady from France doing the Rae Lakes Loop with some friends.

So with nearly a week on the trail, how’s my body holding up?! Great! That is until today. Starting with my feet – they need a good rubbing. Too bad they’re so disgusting no one would be crazy enough to go near them. Skin is still sloughing off and I discovered a new blister on my big toe. Probably because I got annoyed with river crossings and just walked through sigh my non-waterproof boots. Plus they were already wet from the rain! My right hip started to hurt in the morning going up the pass. But that went away on the downhill, only to be replaced with the before mentioned knee pain. Everything better get its act together soon!

All in all, today felt like the longest day yet and was my least favorite day. We all have bad days, right?!

*While looking back on this day in present time, it was one of my favorites in retrospect. It’s one I remember most vividly and fondly*