Started: 09:30 @ MM 730.8 Death Canyon Creek (Elevation 8,948ft)
Finished: 16:30 @ MM 744.5 Malkey Pass, exit for Lone Pine (Elevation 10,394ft)
Miles: 13.7 + 1.7 on exit trail
Elevation Gain/Loss: +3,033/-1,587ft and a further -6,678ft hitching into Lone Pine!
Food: Oatmeal, Cliff Bar, Kind Bar, Trail Mix, Dates, McDonalds Double Quarter Pounder XL Meal with Vanilla Milkshake, Banana Cheesecake
Health & Hygiene: 0 Blisters, Days since last shower 3, Days since laundry 4
Once again I awoke to that magnificent feeling … today I would be heading into town. What’s more, this wasn’t just a quick resupply. I had very special friends from New Zealand planning to meet me at Lone Pine so I would be taking a double zero. Lots of food, clean clothes and all that other fun stuff to look forward to. First I had to negotiate an almost 2,000ft climb out of the canyon. This called for extra coffee and oatmeal!The trail continued in much the same theme as the previous days … epic views, and pristine trails. The steady climb towards the High Sierras was unremitting, but with every saddle the views became more and more enticing. The snow covered peaks grew larger and my anxiety about hiking through the ice and snow ratcheted up another notch. All the talk on the trail was about big snow, steep icy traverses and dangerous postholing. I tried to keep my mind in the moment and enjoy what was here and now rather than what might or might not be up ahead!The trail wound its way through beautiful mountain forests and I plugged myself into my music to keep my mind from obsessively dwelling on what lie ahead. There is way too much time to think and ponder when you are hiking for 10 or more hours a day. I try to walk mindfully and keep head clear but it’s very tough. Listening to music, podcasts and audiobooks really helps. Surprisingly it can actually get very monotonous walking everyday. Although the scenery is spectacular, when you are travelling at less than 3mph, it doesn’t change fast enough to keep my monkey mind sufficiently occupied. I talk to the animals and the trees And sometimes I worry about my own sanity!By late afternoon I reached the exit trail at Malkey Pass and it was a short but steep descent to Horseshoe Meadows, from where I would hopefully be able to hitch a ride down into Lone Pine. Myself, Deluxe and Red Flash managed to yogi a ride from a section hiker. The 15 mile journey was basically straight down hill, a 6,600ft drop to the desert below. At the top it was cool and fresh, I was wearing my “happy jacket” … when we disgorged at McDonalds it was like stepping out into an oven. It was about 100 degrees at almost 6 o’clock in the evening. I immediately wanted to head back to the cool of mountains. The trail had become my home and the only reason I needed or wanted to leave it was to clean myself and my clothes … Oh, and the Supersize Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese and Vanilla Milkshake of course!