I know I’ve had a lot of good days out here. The standard has been set high. I’ve gone from desert wastelands to rocky mountains to bubbling creeks. I’ve touched the Mexican-United States ‘wall’, walked just about thirteen hundred kilometres from there, and climbed one of the country’s highest mountains.
Even so, I think it’s a safe bet to say today was the most spectacular day I’ve had yet.
By the time we finished, it was long, we were bone-weary and ready to cry. It had tested us to our limits, but it was spectacular nonetheless.
From the moment the sun peeked over the horizon, I was surrounded by beauty. Every which way I turned, I marvelled at my surroundings.
Actually, almost every which way.
When I looked down, the sun gleamed off my leg hair.
Better to keep looking up and around.
And because it was a perfect morning, I was in a brilliant mood, and I’d had a lovely trail of W’s yesterday, I took some time to leave a message of my own:
Part of the beauty here, I find, is the stark contrast and sudden changes of landscape.
My arms and legs were hot and burning under the sun, but my neck and ears felt like they were near hypothermia from the chilly breeze that swept across snow. Until I sat down under the sun. It thawed me out quicksmart.
Jefé and Songbird caught up as I hit the highest point along the trail: Forester Pass*.
And then we climbed straight back down the other side for lunch.
Jefé bounded ahead, and Songbird and I leapfrogged each other throughout the day as we walked along Kings Canyon.
We just had to reach the Kearsarge Junction and take the exit trail to the road, to hitch into town. From Tyndall Creek (where we’d camped) to the junction, was a total elevation change of +3,530/-3,637ft – so we had to climb UP more than a kilometre and climb back DOWN more than a kilometre.
Big numbers on my knees.
Big numbers for the hours in the day.
Big numbers that crushed our spirits when we made the final push to get there, only to realise the ‘exit trail’ was not only 12.2km long, it was another 1,341ft UP and 2,917ft DOWN. And it was 6PM. A couple tears of frustration may have been shed.
Girl power, though.
We are two chicks who have walked all the way from Mexico. We’re pretty badass, at this point. We’ve summitted Mt. Whitney. Heck, just this morning we passed over the highest point on the PCT. We’ve got this.
We shared a Snickers and a Cliff bar between us, turned on Songbird’s mini boom box and marched onwards. And upwards. Then downwards.
It took us four hours.
I’d forgotten about the spectacular day – momentarily.
All other thoughts and conversations (in between our singing) were focused on getting to the road, finding a magical hitch, heading straight to the brewery and having handsome men buy us drinks. We passed a few friends heading the opposite way, which absolutely helped keep us going, but those four hours were brutal.
We turned our headlamps off, faced opposite ways and peed within metres of each other.
This exit trail was definitely an experience.
We reached the bottom, and Jefé and Thibaud jumped out from behind bushes.
We smacked them with our hiking poles/Wilson the stick, gave them big hugs, and accepted the cans of Mountain Dew they’d saved for us.
Apparently there were no hitches, so there are a few of our friends waiting here. At least we’re together. Morale is slowing rising again. We’ll all camp in the carpark, and face tomorrow as a family.
Bishop, here we come.
*Note: as Mt. Whitney is an optional side trail, it doesn’t count as part of the Pacific Crest Trail – which is why Forester Pass is officially the highest point on the PCT