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Soloing the Sawtooths

Soloing the Sawtooths

After my friends had departed back to Portland, I set out back into the Wilderness alone. Hiking alone sounds antisocial, but for me it’s an opportunity for introspection and examination of my connections with others at a distance. As they say, ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’. I’m not sure that’s necessarily the case, but it’s certainly possible to realise or remember how much people mean to me when I’m alone. Alone in the mountains, anyway. It’s also about being…

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The Mountains of Idaho, a Solar Eclipse, and Intense Emotions

The Mountains of Idaho, a Solar Eclipse, and Intense Emotions

I find it incredible how much the mountains can amplify emotions. Everything is intense, the highs are higher and the lows much lower. The first three days in Idaho ran the gamut. I had set out with two friends, primarily to see the solar eclipse from a beautiful location. It turned out that was the easy part. There’s a lot on my mind at the moment, partly the company, partly my pre-existing “meta thoughts”. I’ve been thinking a lot about…

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Paying a visit to the gods of old

Paying a visit to the gods of old

Don’t you love friends who greet you not with “Hello” but with “Let’s go on an adventure!” whilst unconcealed excitement sparkles in their eyes? I do. So when my friend Alkis suggested flying to Greece for the weekend to climb Mount Olympus, I didn’t have to think long – I’d booked flights before I’d asked for the time off work. According to the ancient tales, Mount Olympus is the home to the Twelve Olympians, the major gods of the Greek…

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Day 63: Feeling Strong

Day 63: Feeling Strong

I woke up early to chattering squirrels in our tiny campsite. It makes a wonderful contrast with cars, sirens and shouting! Lion King stopped by as we were packing up our camp. We met him first when he was helping out at the hostel in Big Bear but he is now section hiking southbound. We gave him DEET to replace the bottle he had lost on his hike down, knowing how bad the skeeters are in the section he was…

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Day 62: Easy Day

Day 62: Easy Day

The same Ranger we had been leapfrogging yesterday caught up with us in the meadow after Miller Lake, where he had been aiming to camp yesterday. He told us he hadn’t managed to make it, being tired and ready to finish. He also revised his plans for his 3 day trip, originally heading for Benson Lake which would have been a 23 mile day for him today, but now stopping at the closer Smedburgh Lake. We should pass both lakes…

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Day 60: Yosemite Valley

Day 60: Yosemite Valley

This morning I saw Nell (Fran) for the first time since Wrightwood. She has zeroed a lot so has dropped back in the pack. Sababa and Spider who were hiking with her both left the trail so she is on her own again. Still hiking fast though, so maybe she will make better progress through NorCal. We showed up at the wilderness permit office as soon as it opened at 8am, hoping to get an overnight permit to hike down…

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Day 55: Red’s Meadow and Mammoth Lakes

Day 55: Red’s Meadow and Mammoth Lakes

I woke up today with town legs. Red’s Meadow was 15 miles away, over relatively flat terrain. I targeted 12:30 as an ambitious but achievable arrival time. We had a tiny climb out of Virginia Lakes, before descending into Purple Lakes after which we climbed straight back up again. Frustrating, as the day ended down a net several thousand feet. We could tell we were passing through much higher use areas. Creeks and streams had bridges and cut logs as…

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Day 53: Selden Pass

Day 53: Selden Pass

The trail began with a 5 mile downhill section along the San Joaquin River. The river appeared to change its name without changing its course, it seemed to become the Piute Creek with no warning. I remembered similar comments about the streets in London. The early morning sun and smell of woodsmoke played tricks on my imagination. I saw forest fires in my mind’s eye and thought of the Lake Fire which has affected Whitewater Preserve and closed a part…

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Day 50: A Slow Day Up Pinchot Pass

Day 50: A Slow Day Up Pinchot Pass

Today was a very sluggish day. A slow morning downhill was marked only by breakfast on the banks of the Kings River, whose canyon gives the National Park its name. We paused by a suspension bridge, amongst a group of hikers just packing up for the morning. A ranger was hanging out by the bridge checking permits and food storage intentions. We asked what would happen if he came across someone without a permit, and he gave us a bunch…

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Day 49: Kearsarge and Glen Passes

Day 49: Kearsarge and Glen Passes

Climbing up the Kearsarge trail from Onion Valley was easier than coming down, and the descent was also much more pleasant than it had been in the heat of the afternoon when we were heading out. We took the miles past Kearsarge Lakes pretty fast, knowing we also had to get up and over Glen Pass before the end of the day. Glen Pass was incredibly beautiful with views over Alpine lakes and forests, but also incredibly challenging. The trail…

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