Started: 08:30 @ MM 987.4 Ford Falls Creek & Camp (Elevation 7,959ft)
Finished: 17:30 @ MM 1,005.9 Kennedy Canyon Creek & Camp (Elevation 9,063ft)
Elevation Gain/Loss: +2,373/-1,268ft
Food: Oatmeal, Tortilla w/PBJ and Goldfish, Tortilla w/Jerky, Trail Mix, Tuna w/rice, Gummi Lifesavers, Starburst, Swiss Miss
Health & Hygiene: 0 Blisters, Days since last shower 6, Days since laundry 7
In spite of my exhaustion from the previous day’s horrors, I slept very poorly. I routinely take AdvilPM at night, and although it definitely helps me get off to sleep, I have noticed that it’s anaesthetic qualities seem to wear off around 3am and then the aches and pains in my legs and feet return to wake me up. I toss and turn for what seems like hours, struggling to find a comfortable position. Finally, I drift back into a sleep of sorts only to be woken again by the rustling of hikers … hikers far more committed to big miles than I am. I groan as I pull the plug on my air filled sleeping pad and the last modicum of comfort is lost.
I pack up my home and belongings with swift efficiency. I have so few possessions but everything that I do have has a very specific place and my pack is arranged in a very specific order. My OCD personality seems surprisingly well adapted to this aspect of thru-hiking. However, my tendency towards low self-esteem and negative self-talk is significantly less well suited to life on the trail. As I finish my coffee and oatmeal, I wonder if this repetitive diet of sugary junk is impacting my mood. I vow to binge on spinach and kale when I reach the next town.
The day begins with a gentle climb up to Dorothy Lake and Pass. Over 9 miles the trail gains just 1,500ft. The ascent is so gradual that it feels like I’m barely walking up hill. At long last, the trail is giving me a much needed break and I am oh so grateful. The path meanders through a beautiful meadow, at least it would have been if you could have stopped and spent any time there. While the terrain my have relented, the mosquitos have most certainly not! Southbound section hikers look like amateur beekeepers, frantically trying to escape a malevolent swarm. I try to stop one woman and ask her about the conditions on Sonora Pass. She looks at me with abject horror, shakes her net covered head and hurries past. As if by way of an apology, she glances back at me and shouts “They get better after South Lake!”
I stop for lunch at Lake Dorothy, where thankfully the higher elevation means significantly less mosquitos. My gratitude for the opportunity to sit in peace and eat without constantly flapping and slapping cannot be overstated! I scratching around the bottom of my bear thing, trying to pull together sufficient nutritional value to get me through the afternoon. After lunch I finally reach the northern boundary of Yosemite National Park and officially I am no longer required to carry the stupid bear thing. There is of course nowhere to dispose of the stupid bear thing, so along it comes … now mostly empty and wholly redundant!
Once again I walk alone for much of the day but I am in good spirits and make solid progress. I reach the 1,000 mile mark and briefly marvel at my accomplishment. However, with nobody to share this achievement with, it seems somehow meaningless and superficial. For a short time I walk with an Australian doctor by the name of Shaggy. We discuss politics, immigration, the UK referendum result and weight loss … something which is becoming a bit of a concern for me. I have no idea how much I weigh but my new shorts (which were already a size smaller than my old shorts) can now be removed without any unbuttoning or unzipping. My legs are also in a real mess; scaly, dry and covered in bites, cuts and scratches. The trail is beginning to take its toll on my vitality and physique!
Crossing the final creek of the day, I arrive in camp at a very respectable time. The mosquitos are once again out in ludicrous numbers so I eat quickly and, after almost choking to death on one of the sodding things, I seek refuge in my tent. Tomorrow I will reach a civilization of sorts. I am desperate for contact with the real world and looking forward to my resupply, but before that I have to deal with a treacherous climb and descent into Sonora Pass. I pray that there won’t be too much snow to contend with!