Date: June 15, 2017
Miles: 19.6 miles (31.5km), from mile 675.9 to mile 695.5.
Health: My legs are very tired from all the climbing yesterday. Shin feels good.
The wind kept whirling around the saddle and while we were camping little bit below, it still got to us a little. I woke up few times during the night and the stars were really beautiful.
As my alarm went off at 4.45am I turned it off and turned on my side so I could see the sun rising behind the mountain range far in the distance, slowly starting to illuminate the Mojave desert floor far below us. What a view to wake up to!
Otter and Fyre were still asleep so I didn't rush out of my sleeping bag, instead I just gazed at the beautiful sunrise for an good 45 minutes. Then I noticed Otter was getting up so I started to get moving also.
Otter was fast out the camp as she wants to make the 23 miles to the Kern River before evening. Fyre and I are only doing about 17 miles to a campsite with a water source so we are in no rush. We're hoping that the rest of our tramily catches up to us today.
The trail goes down first for about 2.5 miles and then follows along the valley floor for the rest of the way to our first water source. The trail is easy and flat so we can just easily cruise while eating breakfast.
We fill our water bottles, eat the second breakfast and start getting ready for the 2,500 feet (762m) climb up from the valley. We heard some rumors about possible trail magic on the road before the climb but sadly there was none.
The climb is much better graded than the one we did last night. But it's still a long climb. After about hour and a half I stop at the last water source before our camp. The spring is at about one third of the way up the climb and I'm already winded. That's what resting for a week does to your legs.
I take a rest at the spring and eat early lunch as I'm still hungry. More people show up and we have an early siesta. But we can't stay for too long as the sun is getting higher and we still have a long way to climb.
After about an hour of climbing I catch up to Fyre while she's having a water and snack break in a small shade little off the trail. The trail climbs through a burn area so there's very little shade to be found. We sit on a log and talk about the others, wondering where they are and how we miss them.
As we're almost up we get back on the hot trail and start hiking towards the top. We can already see it in the distance. I reach the top first and as I turn around the corner I just start yelling in joy. Fyre is just few steps behind me and as she sees what I'm seeing, she starts yelling as well. We see a long line of tall, snow capped mountains. The Sierra Nevada mountain range. Our next destination.
The desert section is so close to the end and finally seeing the Sierras makes it feel so much more real. We can't believe we've made it this far.
From here we start the climb down to the last valley before the Sierra. Down there there's a small spot called Kennedy Meadows where all our Sierra gear is waiting for us. But we first have to reach it. Blis is pushing there already today, but we're fine getting there tomorrow and doing an easier day.
While seeing the mountains brought a smile on my face, it soon fades as the hot sun and trail melts me at every step. Even if we're going downhill, it still feels like I'm just draining energy. I rest at every possible shade but the trail just keeps going.
Finally I see the valley ahead of me and start the last descent. At the bottom there's a small stream and a camp site but very little shade. Fyre's already there. I drop myself and my gear in the shade and complain about the heat.
More hikers show up and we talk about the rumors that there's a bear that comes up to this campsite. While others head on to different sites closer to Kennedy Meadows, we stay here with Fyre as it's the one where our friends probably will make it tonight. It's the only spot where they could camp unless they'll do a really short day.
As others leave, we set up our cowboy camps quite close to each other, just in case there's any truth behind those bear rumors.
As Fyre heads out to "little girls room", I stay in the camp and start making evening snacks. After I get my food bag from my backpack I turn around and right behind me I see a large creature looking at me. A black bear less than 30 feet from me on the stream. I freeze.
I start going through all the things to do when encountering a bear in my head. The first thing I remember is yelling. Then I remember Fyre is somewhere out there in the brush. So I yell "Um, Fyre, there's a bear in here!". I hear a "what?" from not far. "A BEAR!" I yell.
I turn back to the bear and just as I'm about to yell at her, I remember, a photo! No one's going to believe me without a photo. Luckily my camera is right next to me and I quickly take two photos. I'm certain that she knows I'm there but she starts coming closer so I yell at her. No reaction. I yell louder and also yell at Fyre as the bear is moving to her direction. Again no reaction from the bear. She doesn't seem to be afraid of humans at all. Not good.
She's now about 20 feet from me so I take a large rock and throw it as close to her as I dare. As the rock is leaving my hand I start thinking how wise it is to anger a huge furry beast who's that close to me, thinking she can charge the gap between us before I can even start yelling out "mommy".
The rock hits a pile of rocks next to her and she jumps and retreats back to the stream. Thank god. But she's still way too close for comfort. I keep yelling at her but as there's no reaction, I throw another rock at her. It lands right next to her in the stream and she retreats to the brush. Fyre comes over right as the bear disappears from view.
I can still hear her not far and we decide that we're not camping here. As she's still close by, looking at us from the brush, I chase her off one more time. She still doesn't go far, but far enough that we feel safe to back up our things.
As we're leaving we leave a note for the others about the bear. It will be completely dark when they get here but hopefully they'll see it.
As we climb out of the camp the light starts to fade and it starts to get dark. We take out our headlamps and hike on. We make jokes that the only thing missing from this would be to run into a rattlesnake tonight. Less than fifteen minutes later I jump as there's a rattlesnake right next to the trail preying. Great!
We decide not to make any more jokes about any animal encounters and move on, giving the snake enough space. Two miles out we find a perfect spot and we set up our camp again.
Tomorrow we hit the Kern river in the morning and then make our way to Kennedy Meadows and officially end the PCT desert section. It's time for the Sierras! And I got to see a bear!