Mile 789 To 774
I wake way too early for the 7:00 am breakfast promised by Strider. The 5:00 am habit is surprisingly hard to break. I take another shower even though after yesterday’s I am cleaner than I have been for a week. Taking another one at least helps bring the weekly average up. At 7:00 all the guests gather for a breakfast of coffee, eggs, bacon and English muffins. I pile on as many blobs of butter as I can balance on a muffin. I won’t say exactly how many, just know that Cirque Du Soleil got nothing on me. My circus pants are falling off so I need all the butter fat I can get. It would be politically incorrect and wrong to compare my body to someone from a concentration camp. Let me just point out that I am camping and I have been thinking really really hard about my shrinking weight.
Strider then drove the three of us going back to the trail today up the 13 windy miles. She told us about the Sierra Big Horn sheep rescue program she is active with. She raises money by helping hikers with resupply packages and helps the science teams to capture, tag, radio collar and relocate.
When I reach the first lake I am surprised and happy to see the family that gave me a hitch to Independence. The girls wave enthusiastically, which is awesome. I hike back over Kearsarge Pass. It is not quite as bad as I had feared, but is still a lot of up. Once over the pass I take the alternate lower trail that goes along the shore of Bull Frog Lake.
Once back on the PCT I aim for Forester Pass. It feels a teensy bit like a nemesis, since this is the blizzardy whited-out pass that sent us on our flip-flop to Chester. On the way up this 13,098 foot pass I meet a group struggling. Several are showing early signs of altitude sickness. One dropped back to lower elevation (smart), but some were still going up (not smart). Their non-affected buddies are now carrying two packs. I advise going down, but they insist they are fine as long as they go slow.
I finally get over the top of this final Sierra pass. All I have left is the Whitney side trip and to exit at Cottonwood. I push on to a decent tent sight with water which makes this a 22 mile day, only 15 of which count as PCT miles.