Date: June 14, 2017
Miles: 19.1 miles (30.7km), from mile 656.9 to mile 675.9.
Health: Feeling great! Still careful not to put too much stress on the right leg.
Fyre had setup an alarm but we somehow missed it and woke up at 6am. We could watch the sun rise over the desert floor from our sleeping bags, it was so nice to be back here again. Sadly we couldn't enjoy the view for too long as we had to get some miles in before the heat returns.
The weather report is predicting +100 degree (38c) weather here in few days. I'm so glad to be out of here by then but feel bad for the ones behind us. Today is thankfully "cooler", with the highs of 85 (29c).
Fyre leaves before me and I'm soon hiking after her. I catch up to her as she's eating breakfast on the side of the trail, looking over the Mojave from high up the mountain.
The trail is really beautiful. We're now in the Southern Sierra Nevada mountains and you can slowly see the desert starting to change. The trail follows along the mountain range and we're constantly climbing upwards. It doesn't feel that bad as the grade is very subtle.
My new backpack feels amazing. I was a bit worried about going hipbeltless but it actually feels really liberating to hike without the hipbelt.
On one of the saddles I notice writing on the trail. It says "Blis" with large letters. This is probably where he slept last night. We were only few miles apart.
I soon reach the first water source of the day and as I get closer I notice a piece of paper on a rock next to the water. It has all our names on it and inside Blis has left a message. He's doing a long day today. We could in theory catch up to him but I don't want to push too much with my recovering leg. And there's no rush, we'll make it to Kennedy Meadows on the same day anyway.
I sit down and have second breakfast. Fyre soon catches up to me, as does Taylor and the Swiss. We rest for an hour and fill our bottles. It's not a long carry to the next water.
As we left I take the lead on the trail and about mile out I'm stepping next to a rock when a snake dashes out from the other side of the rock and scares the living daylight out of me. I must have jumped a good feet or two. Not cool snake! It looked like a small baby racer snake which are not dangerous to us, but it still got me good.
Hiking feels easy and the miles go by fast. Soon I reach the next and last water source of the day. It's getting really hot so I setup my gear in the shade and start my siesta. No need to hike any more in the heat as it's getting close to midday and the hottest part of the day.
Fyre soon follows as does few others. After about an hour I hear a familiar voice coming down the trail and it's Otter. They've caught up to us. Otter's entire trail family follows along and there's a nice pack of hikers having a siesta around us soon. It's fun to swap trail stories with everyone.
The sun keeps moving and soon I run out of shade. I move my spot way down to the water where it's way cooler. I soon fall asleep.
As I wake up, it's about time to start hiking again. From here on, the trail climbs for quite a while. It's still hot but we need to get going as it's going to take few hours to get up.
I wet my bandana in the stream before I leave but it dries in few minutes in the heat. We snake up the hill in a long row, every now and then leapfrogging each other. I start way too fast because I'm so excited to be hiking again and soon run out of steam and need to slow down.
I set to my regular pace which allows me to hike easier without taking stops. At one point the grade gets so steep that I need to take out my second hiking pole to get traction. The mountain looks clearly different from the ones in the desert. Instead of yellow sandy rock, it's more granite and blue/grayish. The faces and drops from the trail are also steeper.
At one point almost at the top we run into an older southbound hiker who tells us that there have been a beer sighting not far where we are. Hi tells a story about how it apparently came to their camp. We're definitely getting closer to Sierra.
Finally I reach the campsite we had planned to camp on. There are two close to each other on a saddle. I check out the first one and it has great views down to the desert. As others are not here yet, I decide to hike forward to check out the other one. It's only few minutes from the first one.
As I reach the second camp it's all hidden in a thick brush and there are now views into any direction. Also there are already a lot of tents here. I decide to head back to the first one.
Fyre is already there setting camp and Otter arrives soon. We three decide to stay there while others push to the second one. I soon fall asleep watching the stars.