Day 28Mileage: 32.4
Total distance: 835
I woke up to the sound of the river behind me and rolled over to see the sun beginning to cast its shine on the peaks of the surrounding mountains. I had slept all through the night only to wake up once to blow my pad up. It was warmer than usual and I felt refreshed and renewed from a deep sleep.
I started eating breakfast and a woman came within feet of my tent and dropped pants to piss. I suppose she didn’t realize I was up and looking her direction so when she made eye contact she abruptly covered herself and apologized profusely. I laughed it off and told her I didn’t mind at all. You gotta pee! I remember on the AT my friend had to pee, but it was raining and we were in the top of a shelter with a window so she got on my shoulders and peed out the window. This woman peeing next to my tent didn’t even phase me.
Things were slow moving this morning on my ascent of Pinchot Pass and I ended up getting lost within a mile of the summit and had to climb a wall of snow to get back on trail. Super sketchy, but exhilarating. The views from the top were spectacular, but there was a ton of snow going down the back side. I ate food quickly and began skidding down the mountain, which has become my favorite way of getting down.
The trail did its usual up a pass and down into a bowl with mountains surrounding and lakes and rivers everywhere you looked. I met a ranger and found the names of some of the pines I’ve been seeing. There are Western White Pine, or Silver Pine, and Lodge Pole Pine to name a couple.
I went up Mathers Pass without much difficulty and on the down side witnessed a woman take a tumble a couple hundred feet down a snowy bank and wreck herself on some rocks. Another guy and myself rushed over to her and she was sobbing with a couple of cuts on her legs. I think the trauma mostly upset her, but I don’t blame her. It looked terrifying and she’s lucky to have walked away with only a few cuts. I slowly made my way down the rest of Mathers.
The most beautiful views came into sight on the way down to the valley where Middle Fork Kings River collided with a million waterfalls rushing down cliffs in all directions. Snow patches were everywhere and the sound of rushing water was blaring through the air. The trail followed the river all the way down and then wound its way up another river with more waterfalls and massive peaks surrounding.
Today felt fast. I feel like I started hiking only hours ago, but I am happy to be here on this lip overlooking the river and a lake with views of mountains to the south and the moon just now rising over the ridges. Its crazy how different I hike on this trail compared to the AT. I hardly listen to music and find myself looking all around instead of at my feet while I walk. Its hard to do big miles in the sierras because I keep stopping every five minutes to behold the wonder of this land. I am so lucky to be here and doing this. As I stopped to take my daily reminder to be present while looking at a waterfall and a cliff I felt as if I were dreaming. This is all so big and magnificent. I feel so small and invalid in beholding it. Like I’m not worthy of this grandeur. I feel like I should be doing more to show my appreciation, but I don’t know what that is so I take these moments to remind myself that I’m experiencing this in the most real way I possibly can so I don’t feel guilt later down the road. Honestly thought, I’m glad I don’t feel entitled to this as if it were my right. This is definitely a privilege that I respect and hold in high regard. I just wish I could drink it all in.
It’s a gorgeous evening after a gorgeous day. The mosquitos are really pissing me off and I’m cowboy camping so it potentially could be a long night. Muir Ranch tomorrow for a resupply and hopefully some contact with loved ones back home. I may lay awake for a while watching the moon rise and the stats begin to shine. And killing every damn mosquito in sight.