May 28, 2017: Hiked Miles 702.2 to 722.2 (20.0 total)
We woke up bright and early to a beautiful hiker camp. The sun hadn’t quite peeked over the mountains, so the entire camp was in a light haze of the chilly morning dusk mixing with some random sun beams peeking through the trees. Everywhere you looked you could see tents and people curled up in their sleeping bags, cowboy camping. We could also hear a big group of people down by the store getting ready to get back on the trail. We packed up and went down to the store patio to eat our giant muffins and we had bought the day before and for me to make some coffee, and figure out how we were going to arrange our packs now that we had to fit our bear canisters inside. Everyone is required to carry a bear canister through the entire Sierra section to keep all their food in. It’s basically just a big plastic tub that is really tricky to open for bears (and humans). But it’s awkward and heavy and really hard to fit much food into. A lot of food smashing usually occurs to make this happen. We actually were able to rearrange our packs quite easily and also found spots for our ice axes and microspikes that we’ll need as we get into deeper snow.
We said goodbye to any friends who were awake and took off around 7:45.
It felt great to be out hiking again, especially knowing we were starting a new section that is supposed to be breathtaking. We hiked quickly in the morning and were up in the mountains before we knew it.
And at one point we passed over a rushing river.
Throughout the morning, we slowly passed all the hikers from the big group that had left camp early this morning. A lot of them seemed to be struggling with their added weight to their packs, but it gave us a chance to meet some new people we hadn’t before.
Before we knew it we broke through the treeline and were dropped into a gorgeous valley.
We spent our lunch break trying to stop a swarm of red ants from eating all our food and biting our feet and enjoying the perfect temperature of the late spring mountain air and the silence of the vast meadow.
We had hiked so fast in the morning, we only had 5.8 miles to go after lunch. The first few miles were easy, winding through the forest and crossing streams multiple times.
Every time we crossed a stream Colton would launch himself across like he was back in high school, practicing for the long jump. Then he would look back expecting me to be floating somewhere downstream after falling in. But really I would just walk three feet away and find somewhere I could just step across the creek.
We saw this cool plant.
The last couple miles of the day were pretty steep and we finally started hitting patches of snow. We stopped to fill up with water about half a mile before our tentsite, only to get to our site and find another creek 50 feet away. It’s amazing to have water be so abundant up here. We’re not used to it yet, still lugging extra water around, only to cross a creek every half mile. Hopefully we’ll quit that habit soon.
We found a spot to set up camp in between snow patches and instantly put all our warm clothes on since the temperature was already dropping. And Colton pretended he was a ninja warrior with his ice ax.
We busted out our new dehydrated Mountain House meals that we are ever so grateful to Kjerstin for sending us.
It was great to enjoy such a nice meal and not just eat to get full. Colton has been so excited about the Mountain House meals. He told me to “tell your friend that I love her.” I guess food really is the way to a man’s heart. Just didn’t know it was as easy as a dehydrated meal. Ladies, take note.
While we were eating, a guy we had seen when we were filling up water earlier passed by our tentsite. He must have been on a short trip because he was heading back down the way we had come. We said hi and he asked us if we had seen the bear earlier. We hadn’t and were surprised to hear him say that he had seen a bear just after seeing us and he was surprised we hadn’t heard his dog barking at it. We were a little surprised, a little scared, and a little excited to hear the news, proving that we really are out in the woods now.
We normally keep snacks in the tent at night to eat before bed, but we want to keep all our food in our bear canisters, away from our tent, so sadly we had to stuff our faces, seal the canisters and say goodbye to sleeping-bag snacking. I almost started to get worried about not having anything to eat for 12 hours, but I suppose I’ll survive.
So here goes our first night of many in the Sierras… the snow, the cold, the beauty, the calm, and the excitement.