Day 168: Toward The End

Date: September 29, 2017
Miles: 1127.2 – 1153.8

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

I had a wistfully emotional day.  The gray, cloudy sky matched my mood – it too seemed wistful, but not sad, about the end of this trek.  I like to imagine that the dusky hills and valleys of the Granite Chief wilderness felt the same.  An aching, ‘I have to say goodbye for now, but maybe I will see you again’ kind of way.   Continue reading “Day 168: Toward The End”

Day 167: Almost Done

Date: September 28, 2017
Miles: 1103.4 – 1127.2

It’s my second to last full day on trail. This adventure will be over soon and I’m not sure yet how I feel about that. All day I vacillated between impatience to get back to the creature comforts of home and family, and my desire to stay out in the elements I’ve become accustomed to – dirt, mountains, sun, wind, valleys, trees, stars.  Will I be able to slide easily back into a society obsessed with material things?  Will I feel like a weathered square peg trying to shove itself into a plastic round hole?  I don’t know. Continue reading “Day 167: Almost Done”

Day 164: Miles Of Mokelumne

Date: September 25, 2017
Miles: 1044.2 – 1069.7

“God never made an ugly landscape. All that the sun shines on is beautiful, so long as it is wild.” ~ John Muir

I slept in until 7 this morning, which is a rarity on trail. It was freezing cold, but better than yesterday. I felt pretty sluggish all morning and since I left camp later than the boys did, I didn’t catch up with JD and Fluff for lunch. At least I thought I hadn’t. Continue reading “Day 164: Miles Of Mokelumne”

Day 163: What Are You Looking At, Cow?

Date: September 24, 2017
Miles: 1023.2 – 1044.2

“The sincere friends of this world are as ship lights in the stormiest of nights.” ~ Giotto di Bondone

Last night’s temperatures tested the capabilities of my sleeping pad and quilt, and also my tolerance for discomfort. It must have been in the teens since I woke up every half an hour with some cold body part or another. When I finally dared to venture out of my quilt at 6:30, I found that a pair of my socks, my gaiters and my shoes had all been turned to blocks of ice. Continue reading “Day 163: What Are You Looking At, Cow?”

Days 161 & 162: From Cold To Warm To Cold Again

Dates: September 22 & 23, 2017
Miles: 1016.9 – 1023.2

We woke up at the pack station warm, if not totally dried out yet.  Luckily for us, JD’s sister Mandi came to pick us up and take us to a family cabin in the town of Arnold a couple hours away.  There  we were able to spread out and get everything really dry.  Mandi made us a bunch of food for dinner and breakfast the next morning, and gave us a ride back to the trailhead at Sonora Pass.  She basically saved our butts.  THANK YOU, MANDI! Continue reading “Days 161 & 162: From Cold To Warm To Cold Again”

Day 160: Icicles On Eyelashes

Date: September 21, 2017
Miles: 1005.9 – 1016.9 + 9 mile road walk to Kennedy Meadows North.

“It’s a winter wonderland!” ~ Seinfeld

Any gratitude that I had last night evaporated immediately when I woke up at 11 pm to the realization that so much rainwater had collected under my tent that it had turned into a waterbed. Water was splashing up underneath the vestibules of my tent and everything inside was damp, including me. I tried to go back to sleep, but instead laid awake for an hour feeling the clammy wetness of my quilt and wishing for the heavy rain to stop. I finally fell asleep, but woke up again at 2 am when Fluffy began yelling at me to get up because my tent was collapsing under the weight of the snow that had started. I instantly figured out that I was not just having a dream that someone was slapping me in the face with wet cuben fiber, it was actually happening. Continue reading “Day 160: Icicles On Eyelashes”

Day 159: Walking Home

Date: September 20, 2017
Miles: 985.5 – 1005.9

“She keeps walking. She stares straight ahead. She goes, always goes, always goes.” ~ Alida Nugent

Whenever I meet another hiker on trail, they invariably ask me where I’m from. When I say that I’m from Washington state, the response is almost always, ‘oh, you’re walking home!’  And for conversational ease I smile and say, yep I sure am!  But up until yesterday, I hadn’t felt that way, at least not in a physical sense. I was walking to the end of the trail, toward resolution of unanswered questions, to see spectacular landscapes, or sometimes just to the next place I could get a shower and a regular meal.  Every day is different. In a figurative sense I guess I am walking home, where home is a sense of belonging and acceptance of every part of my life – the failures and successes, the regrets and triumphs, my fears and loves.  Today all of those things were circling in my mind as I walked. Continue reading “Day 159: Walking Home”

Day 158: Let Me Finish Before I Get Eaten, Please

Date: September 19, 2017
Miles: 962.8 – 985.5

“Yosemite Valley, to me, is always a sunrise, a glitter of green and golden wonder in a vast edifice of stone and space.” ~ Ansel Adams

My wake-up time in the morning has been getting later and later as the temperature drops and the darkness lingers until close to seven. Today I slept until 6:30 and didn’t get going until 7:30. I was sluggish most of the morning and my legs nearly refused to finish climbing up to Benson Pass, but I kept reminding them that they didn’t have much of a choice at this point.

I’ve been feeling fairly lethargic for a couple days now, and I’m hoping that’s just the result of near-daily walking for five months.  Like anything else, it too shall pass.

We had lunch at Benson Lake, a spot that the ranger on Donohue Pass recommended to us as one of her favorite places in north Yosemite. It was such a surprise to see a big alpine lake with a white sand beach!

Benson Lake.

We relaxed there for nearly two hours before reluctantly hiking on. We had another pass and two hills to climb after that before getting to camp, so we had to get a move on. Seavey Pass was our first Sierra Pass under 10,000 feet, and the trees, flowers and lakes made it hard to remember that we were even crossing one.

We had two short, steep climbs of about two miles each after that and when it got dark on the descent of the second climb, we decided to camp next to the creek at the bottom.  JD was sure he saw eyeballs reflecting his headlamp light back to him, so I set up my tent really close to theirs and placed my bear can farther away than usual.  I’ve come too far to get eaten by something now!

Smedberg Lake.

The hiker messages are getting more elaborate.

Taking a tiny dip in Benson Lake.