… and thus the longest post, ever.
July 6, 2013
Ok. Today was seriously nuts. See this photo below me? The trail here was never-ending. We even walked through patches of snow!
To start from the beginning of the day, we all woke up just around sunrise. I guess that’s what hours and hours of sleep will do. 🙂 After breakfast we topped off our water bottles and headed out. I discovered that my yoga pants were not the best idea, as those darn suckers (mosquitoes) were able to bite me right through my pants. I also discovered that the backs of my legs got sunburned on our first day, so I decided to stay in my pants and hike in them today (as opposed to my shorts). In the end I’m not sure they protected me very much as Rika pointed out they were also quite see-through, and my little calves were shinning right through the stretchy fabric. So right there, in this middle of this rocky trail, I dropped my yoga pants and slathered on sunscreen in the most classy fashion that I could. But once you hike for a while, you realize that no one is really looking at you, so it doesn’t matter if you drop your pants in the middle of a trail, right? Heh.
Kevin + Randi and little pup sped right up this mountain like it was no big deal. It was about this time that Rika and I declared this “Mammoth Fat Camp.” Surely no one else would attempt to cover the amount of miles, and this much elevation change, in the amount of time that we had allotted. Today was a 13-mile day, with like 6000+ elevation change between going up and down the various passes we crossed. I think there were definitely some tears, but we beat it. All we really could do was laugh at the ridiculousness that this was. Sadly we had another 10 miles to go on our final day, hence me thinking that perhaps our short seven-mile first day might have been a foolish decision.
Here, Rika and I are amazed that we are high enough to be in the snow!Ok ok, the view looking back at Little McGee Lake from close to the top of McGee Pass was quite pretty (see below).We made it to the top! Well, the top of the first pass. I think we could have all just stopped right here and call it a day, but we had a loooooong way to go still.The view into the valley on the other side. We hiked all the way across the valley this afternoon.Looking back from the top of the pass we just came from!So much beauty to be seen. I think that’s what kept us all going. And maybe the fact that we had no other choice – there weren’t any campsites between here and where we were stopping for the night.See that little path in the left photo? That’s where we were headed … And Rika and I thinking this is crazy!Aww Bogie! And hey!! We caught up with Randi! (P.S. Aaron was keeping it steady behind us. Smart guy.)Ah. And then I stopped taking pictures. We took our shoes off to cross a river, and when I reached the other side, I bent over to pick up the shoes I’d tossed to the other side and my full Nalgene bottle fell out of my bag and landed right on my right middle toe. OUCH! I ended up breaking it, and to this day (I’m writing this almost two months later) it still feels funny when I bend my toes quickly or push off the side of the pool when I swim. Again, with no choice here but to keep moving, I taped my hurt toe to it’s neighbor and shoved my foot back into my boot. Pretty quickly we started spacing out again and I found myself walking alone from a good forty-five minutes or so. Not a big deal really, I got some nice quite time. But then, I found myself happily walking on a trail and then all of a sudden that trail dead ended into another river crossing. Except this one wasn’t very clearly marked. I back-tracked a little to make sure I was in the right spot, and that’s when I saw another trail off in the distance a bit. Ahh! I tried really hard not to freak out. Apparently I don’t have the best directional skills, so I was not sure which one I was supposed to be on. I ended up backtracking quite a bit more, to the base of some switch backs which I thought for sure was the correct path. I took my pack off, and stood there for a second. I pulled out my trust whistle with the red string that my daddy gave me for “emergencies” when I was a kid, and said a prayer. I drank some water and tried to keep myself from freaking out, but it wasn’t working very well. Then my mind started to wander and I was making a list in my head of the food I had in my pack and how much water I had left. See, I didn’t have the bear canister or the water purification pump, so I could have been pretty screwed. My nerves would not calm so I started calling for Rika. No answer. I prayed again. Tried to keep calm but those dang mosquitoes were killing me. Finally after what seemed like forever, I saw Rika happily gallivanting down the trail. Sheesh girl! Did you not hear me calling your name? Heh.
After that we decided we might as well wait for Aaron, as I for sure did now know where we were supposed to go. He met us with a smile and led us the rest of the way. Those fierce mosquitoes would not stop biting me and I was fed up. I developed a nice slap sequence to try to keep them at bay but it didn’t work very well. My only decision was to keep going.
Finally, we made it to the junction of the McGee Creek Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail. Kevin and Randi were waiting for us at the bottom and we had some decisions to make. It was nearing sunset, and we still had over 4 miles to go. I don’t remember what the other option was, but we decided to go to some unknown lake I also can’t remember the name of. Purple Lake, perhaps? Kevin and Randi had had a nice rest so they were ready to go. Despite how tired I was, the bugs were out of control and I didn’t feel like I could stop moving. So I popped a few energy fruit chews that I got at R.E.I. that I’d been saving “just in case” and boogied up the mountain with these two crazies. I had no option but to keep up after my scare earlier that day so I just went for it. We pushed and pushed up this hill (well, I huffed and puffed) for 1000 ft of switchbacks (seriously?) and the view was unreal. The photo below was our view for most of it. And that’s about that last photo I took, because I was too busy tried to keep up.
We made it to our campsite just as the sky turned dark. We set up camp and I set in the safe heaven of my tent, hid from the mosquitoes who were eating me alive. I sat there rubbing my feet and catching my breath while Kevin pumped water (bless him) and poor Randi puked her guts out. In the end I think today’s hike took it out of all of us.
Once we had enough clean water, I started on dinner (beans and rice). Randi rested and in no time Rika showed up and soon Aaron did too. By then it was dark dark and we sat on a log nursing our wounds and eating dinner. Good thing we saved dessert for tonight! We shared a freeze dried meal of blueberry cheesecake. Yummmm.
Shortly after we cleaned up dinner, I hobbled over to my tent and crawled in. Aaron was sleeping in his hammock so Rika and I shared a tent. We started talking about my toe and how maybe I should put some ointment on it, so I took off my sock and the tape holding it together. Then we laughed. And laughed some more. Those who know me know that when I’m tired, I get real silly. My toe straight up looked like it had died. It was black and blue and puffy as can be. Somehow I’d hardly noticed because I spent a good chunk of the day trying not to get lost and running from the bugs. With the help of Rika we bandaged it up and went to bed. Except, we didn’t go to bed forever because we were sharing crazy stories. Then our campsite mates weren’t so happy with us.
Come 2 a.m., I hear Rika rustling around next to me.
“Monika, my sleeping pad has a hole in it. It won’t stay inflated. It’s so cold I can’t sleep.”
“Oh no! Here, come share mine. We can sleep opposite each other.”
And that was it. We slept like little cocoons, diagonally on this little sleeping pad, so that at least our backs were on the mat, with our feet dangling off on the bottom of the tent.
Needless to say, morning came way too quickly.