It’s good to be back.
After so much time off, I was dreading walking again. I was more than a little worried about Kearsarge Pass – although beautiful, it is a crazy climb. We’d just resupplied as well, so loaded down with a weeks’ worth of food and staring up at a four hour climb just to get back to trail was daunting. Also, annoying. These miles don’t even count as PCT miles – they’re to get to the PCT. You gotta do what you gotta do.
First, though, we played more Bananagrams.
Eventually, we knew we had to get back to trail though. Four full zeroes (and fast coming up to half a fifth) might have been overkill.
We hitched, as per usual. Jennifer picked us up, and somehow trusted us six hikers to squeeze in the van with four of her kids.
They were so much fun we’re planning on a picnic with them when we get to Mammoth.
Jennifer’s journey continued down the highway, while ours went west up into the mountains.
We said our goodbyes, swapped numbers, and then got another hitch with the first car that passed. Two had to pit stop at the post office, but the rest of us – four – managed to fit into the tray of their ute (or truck, for the Americans among us) with all our packs and a ladder!
The drive didn’t help with my pre-trail nerves. We wound around and up for ages. I’d forgotten how high the mountains were… and the road didn’t even go all the way to the top. From the trailhead where we’d be starting to the top of the pass was nearly 3,000ft of elevation, and we were starting at 3PM.
But you know what?
My new pack weight was around 5.5kg (12lb) lighter than it would have been last week. We didn’t have to lug water up (there were creeks and lakes along the way to drink at). Four days off had been a great rest.
My attitude was my choice.
I put on a power playlist and started marching. And I kept it up! I passed everyone, even the boys as they sat down to have a drink next to the river.
At 17.5kg (39lb) my load still wasn’t feather light, but I knew I’d be eating my way through more than half of that. And it included a bottle of wine I had packed out in a plastic bottle – always pack out wine!
I felt like I was home. And I felt like I was flying.
I looked down through the switchbacks and couldn’t see any trace of the others. I wasn’t sure how far ahead I had raced, but it was more than enough time to shrug off my pack, strip down to my undies and dive into one of those glorious lakes! I was clothed and wringing out my hair when Pickleback caught up, and the others weren’t too far behind.
We shared a snack of raw peas, broccoli and carrots and set off again. I was the first to reach the top, and couldn’t believe that it had taken me less time to climb UP than it had to go down!
And the view was one of the best we’ve had.
We were only heading to those lakes a little ways down, and reached a spot that we had all to ourselves as the sun was setting.
Now, we’ve all been hearing how easy it is to fish in the Sierras. We are yet to prove that correct. A couple of us had a line, hooks, and some sort of lure or bait, but without a rod to cast into the lake our efforts were fairly pointless.
We could see a family fishing on the other side of the lake, and hear their squeals of delight as their young boys caught a fish every now and again.
No harm in asking, right?
I walked around to them, introduced myself, and asked if they wouldn’t mind my trying a few casts to see if I snagged anything. Apart from being willing, generous and friendly, they wanted to know all about the Pacific Crest Trail: how long I’ve been walking it, what has it been like, struggles, best moments, etc etc. All the general questions, but it was fun answering with young ears listening. I love that my adventure might spark a light in a child’s heart or inspire someone else to go explore the world. It’s a nice feeling to be a positive example to impressionable kids, and to especially show young girls they can do whatever the heck they want.
The view from their side of the lake was pretty impressive, too.
I didn’t catch anything, but one of the boys did. They were a bit shocked when I asked if I could take the trout for my group to eat, but had no issue with it – they were just releasing the fish back anyway.
It was little, but it was tasty.
And a few nibbles of campfire cooked trout on our first night back on trail was a great way to start.
The wine and marshmallows we shared also went down a treat.
I’d give today a solid 10/10.