Hiking, PCT 2015, Travels

Day 42: The Mountains Begin in Earnest

Less than half a mile from camp up the hill was a seasonal stream that was flowing! Double Step, Bad Camper and Shenanigans were already filling up, and we kicked ourselves for walking 0.7 miles each way to get cow water. We promptly dumped out all the stinky water, looking forward to drinking clear flowing water instead.

Whilst we were filling up Double Step indicated the marmot she’d seen watching her from a rock nearby. She had been singing to alert any bears that she was nearby, and the marmot had apparently been captivated and wandered over to investigate. Marmots are super cute, but also super sneaky. I look forward to meeting a lot more of them as we head further into the mountains.

The morning’s walk took us through a forest which I like because it’s shady but I feel cheated by because I can’t see through the trees to the amazing views over the mountains. But it provides lots of opportunity to notice flora and fauna and to talk to people. This morning talk was of people who made an impression on us. For me, that has been people like Frankenstein, Diogenes, and El Flaco. Whilst they’re all so different, they all have interesting stories and independent opinions and every time I see them I hope that we’ll meet again.

Later in the morning the trail opened out into meadows and rocks, a welcome new aspect of the mountains. I think I’m going to like meadows a lot. It also meant that we were climbing into lunch again. I find the steep and exposed climbs in the hot sun pretty draining at the best of times, let alone whilst calorie-depleted. Today however I was distracted by a fighter jet which I heard in the distance and looked ahead to spot, as usual. However the sound grew louder and louder, passing by so closely it looked the size of my hand in the sky.

After lunch we finished the climb to look out over the Owens Valley. Whilst it is in Inyo county, the Los Angeles water people own a lot of the land as the LA aqueduct runs straight through it. It has been contested and controversial for years. It was pretty mixed for us too: the start of a downhill section into a water source, but the end of the spectacular views for a spell.

After cooking and eating at Diaz meadow to leave the smells for the bears we made camp towards the top of the hill where a flat spot looked out in two different directions across the valley. We were treated to a pretty spectacular sunset and I was reminded again how the trail can throw magnificence at you so nonchalantly. Like the world saying “yes, this is what I’m capable of, what of it?” I think you just have to be ready for it when it comes, and I’m enjoying having the opportunity to appreciate it instead of being too busy to care.

Miles: 22
Camping: 743

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