Saturday, June 7, 2014

Mountains, Meadows and Rivers, Oh My - (6/4)

Mile 703.8 to mile 721.2
17.4 miles 

Just a little side note here... My feelings about my shoe color have changed. The neon orange and yellow shoes are growing on me. The color has dulled down a bit now that there is some dirt on them. Also, they are the only bit of color I have on me. Everything else is is a drab khaki or dirt color. It is nice to see a bit of color when I'm looking down at the trail. 

Onto yesterday. It was another freezing cold morning. I was up off and on starting at around 3a trying to get warm. The silk sleeping bag liner that we got didn't seem to help as much as I would have liked. I think part of the issue is that I toss and turn a lot in my sleep which let's the hot air out of my quilt. I will have to stop doing that.

The morning trail started out in a large meadow before taking us into some foothills. There we would enter the South Sierra Wilderness. At that point we would meet up again with the Kern river. We found a spot that was good enough of trees to where we could actually get to the river. I took the opportunity to soak my feet in the friged cold water in an effort to help the foot pain I have been having. Getting my feet in some water  probably helped with the foot funk too. 

Back on the trail with clean-er feet we would follow the Kern for several more miles before crossing it. There was a beautif wooden bridge placed at just the right spot on the trail to help us get across. At that point the trail began to climb through a burned out area. 

We stopped off at Crag Creek to have some brunch and to refill  our water bottles. As we sat there enjoying our mashed potatoes we saw a bat flying around the creek catching insects. Neither Mandie or myself thought they came out in the day time. It was cool to see none the less.

We continued to climb and climb. It was our first ful day with our heavy packs and it was taking its toll, especially going up hill. The trail was steep and rocky and because there were no trees there wasn't any shade.

We eventually got to the top of the pass at which point we were amazed to see this huge meadow in front of us. I love the meadows and wish we could walk through all I them but this isn't the Pacific Meadow Trail. We were allowed to walk through a part of it before heading into the hills again. With only 250 feet of elevation to climb before heading back down it was manageable. The decent down the mountain would take us to another crossing of the Kern river made possible by a metal and wooden bridge. 

This crossing was too beautiful to pass up. We bypassed the bridge and went down to the banks of the river where there were other hikers enjoying the grassy area and warm water. It was one of those magical places that we could have spent all day at if we didn't those pesky miles to do. We will have to come back at another time. We did spend an hour or so there though refilling water, eating, resting, and soaking our feet. 

While we were resting on the banks we witnessed something interesting. A hiker was was washing their socks in the river, which we are not supposed to do. The interesting thing was that a second hiker was gathering water down stream from aforementioned sock washer. We actually saw two hikers get water down stream and were amazed that neither of them thought to go up stream. Just seemed like common sense to us.

We crossed the bridge and hiked through another meadow for a short period of time before the trail made a right turn and started up another mountain. Our goal was to walk another 4 miles to Cow Creek, a reliable water source. The trail was steep and would eventually take us over 10,000 feet, 9000 being the elevation we would camp at. It would cross a slow flowing Cow Creek several times as it went up the mountain. We reached our 4 mile goal and there was no water. Thinking that maybe the water just went underground in that section we went up trail a little more, still no water. The water report, which has been accurate up until this point said that there was water. We checked our app and it said that we were off trail even though there were signs around us that said we were on the trail. We pushed on and up a little further. 

We eventually came to another hiker who was camped near the trail. We asked her if there was water in the area to which she said, 'Another 0.7 miles up trail.' But our app said that we had already passed it. We pushed on and up a little further. 

A quarter of a mile later we were both done and still had no water so we decided to drop packs there. Mandie would set up camp and I would set out to find some water. A half mile later I found some water and filled up our dirty bag to bring back to camp. The extra mile to get water was well worth it. 

Back at camp Mandie made us some dinner, Mountain House, while I filtered the water. Since we are really In bear country now we ate outside of our tent for the first time. Eating while sitting on a bear can isn't as enjoyable as laying down in a tent but we gotta be safe. 

Tomorrow we have to finish climbing this mountain and move onto the next one. 

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My pack is heavy
Full of gear, food, and water
Uncomfortable