June 8, 2015
Ridge after Walker Pass (656.1) to Chimney Creek (681.0)
24.9 PCT miles
693 miles total
Today’s Elevation Gain/Loss: + 5,560 ft, – 6,208 ft
Wow, today was a hard one. This morning we finally had the chance to meet a hiker whom we had heard a lot about, Jaba, and he threw out a challenge that was quite tempting, but eventually proved unattainable. When we told him that I was turning 30 tomorrow, he suggested that we hike 30 miles today, one for each year of my life, and leave only 15 for tomorrow, our final push into Kennedy Meadows. For anyone who knows Pickles and I, you know we like a challenge. This one seemed especially enticing, and we spent the first 10 miles of the day committed to the idea that we would hike a full 30 before bed.
Unfortunately, the trail had something else in mind. It turned out that today ranked right up there with one of our hardest days yet, and even 25 miles proved an extraordinary challenge. Most of the day was spent back in the desert, and it got ridiculously hot. We’re pretty sure it was over 100 degrees for much of the day. Also, today’s hike was full of climbs and descents. We’d go up one mountain, right back down the other side, and then up another, over and over again. It also didn’t help that when we saw Mama Bear at Bird Spring Pass, we changed our shoes out for our Sierra shoes, and we were breaking in brand new shoes over these two 25-mile days. Pickles’ shoes work quite well for him, but mine have turned my feet into hamburger, and I spent most of the day with the sensation that my feet were being crushed in a vice. Actually, we do think this portion of trail deserves a tougher shoe than our Altras, it’s just a shame that mine aren’t doing the trick. It’s actually a very frustrating process, since all I can do is either hope they continue to break in, or order a different pair of shoes and hope they work better. I still haven’t decided on a solution, but we’ll figure out something during our zero day at Kennedy Meadows.
Anyway, today never really got any easier and we gave up the clever idea of hiking 30 miles and instead focused on just getting through the 25 so we could get to more water. Tonight’s campsite did help turn today around a bit. We had heard that the creek near where we wanted to camp was flowing well, so we put all our hope in the idea that we might get to clean off and ice our achy bodies this evening. Our dreams came true when we got to Chimney Creek and followed the small path to a protected pool of deep, clear, flowing ice water. We spent the afternoon posted up right by the stream, chatting with new hiker friends who came and went and chugging bottle after bottle of the good stuff. We finally gathered up our belongings and set our tent up within earshot of the gurgling stream, allowing the sound of water to hydrate even while we sleep, and give us something fresh and new to wake up to in the morning, my first day of my 30’s, and a day we’ve looked forward to and daydreamed about for weeks. Kennedy Meadows, here we come.