September 19th, 2018
Mm 992 to Wilson Creek mm 965
Distance: 27 miles
0640 – 1800
Well, Taylor’s thermometer reached just below 30 degrees overnight. My water bottles were not yet frozen when I woke up but they started forming ice once I started hiking. It was strange. I hiked for over an hour in all my layers, including my puffy. It was all downhill, so it took awhile to warm up. I walked through many fields with frozen grass.
Finally the sun started hitting me and I had to shed layers. Before noon, I was back to my t-shirt and skirt. Taylor caught up and we did some climbing together. I let him go ahead, then tried to match his pace up a really steep, 1000′ ascent. I went too fast and blew up. I couldn’t catch my breath, felt dizzy and shaky, and even started getting a headache. The food I had just eaten was not sitting well, either. It felt like classic altitude sickness. Or, I was just bonking….a term for when you haven’t had enough calories and your body starts to fade.
I ate some energy chews, put on music, and started to recover. For a brief moment, I didn’t even think I could make it to the top, let alone keep going all day. There were 2 more climbs, including a huge one over Benson Pass. These Sierra certainly make one work for it.
Despite feeling weak and tired, I had earlier been thinking just how perfect conditions were. No bugs, hardly any people, and just a bit cold. And the valleys we were walking through were spectacular…just how you’d imagine Yosemite to be.
At the top of the climb, I passed Taylor, who was stuffing dry ramen into his mouth just to cram calories. I got my energy back on the downhill and cruised up behind Stellar T. I surprised him creeping up within a step and he finally sensed a prescense and turned with trekking poles raised in defense. I was close enough that he could have stabbed me. We had a good laugh and decided I make a decent mountain lion, at least when it comes to stalking.
We then caught up to Dorothy, who was recovering next to a lake after bravely going for a dip. The sun was intense but there was just enough breeze to make it chilly. I would wait for a hot shower later. Taylor caught up and suddenly we were 4 SOBO’s in the Sierra. It’s a great group, all over 30, which is unusual given the majority of young bucks out here.
We did the final climb as freight train. I was in the lead when I saw some bushes rattling up ahead. Then I saw a brown streak and thought it was a deer, then a fuzzy head with round ears popped up. Bear. Then another appeared. One was very brown, which is a color morph but still a black bear. It climbed up over a ledge so gracefully. The other adult followed and then two rolly-polly cubs appeared. They were so adorable!
We let them get ahead of us a ways, then continued up. It was a great excuse for a break. I found some energy reserves and flew up the rest of the pass. I always get fast in the late afternoon, anxious to get to camp and get warm. I stopped at creek with campsites and the others caught up. We all decided we’d had enough and were leaving only 23 miles to get to Tuolumne the next day. It was a hard day but very rewarding.