The colours in the sky tonight are making up for my little buzzing friends trying to penetrate my head net. My bottom half is zipped securely in my bivvy sack leaving only my torso exposed. I’m still trying to figure out which was worse today, the relentless swarms of mosquitos or carrying a baby elephant on my back?
It was really hard to get up this morning as I was super snug and safe from insects inside my bivvy. I was told today that the mosquito alarm goes off at 7am, so I should try and break camp before then. That was not the case for me this morning. I woke at 6am, slowly rolled out of my sleeping bag, made breakfast, and didn’t hit the trail until 7:45am.
About a mile down the trail I caught sight of something big in my periphery. I froze when I realised it was a big brown bear staring at me. As soon as it realised I was there it galloped away like an uncoordinated puppy dog. I thought I might bump into it again up the trail but it completely disappeared. The bear sighting gave me a shot of adrenalin which boosted me for the first hour, then I realised just how heavy 45 pounds is to carry long distance.
During my first of many rest breaks today I was sending out yesterday’s blog when one of the Aussie boys from Melbourne that I met at kick off passed me. Two Aussies in two days. We both discussed the recent developments in Australian politics with Rudd taking over power from Gillard (someone’s going to have to fill me in), and more importantly discussed the extravagant weight of my pack. Focus (the Aussie) is resupplying in Tuolumne like every other sane PCT hiker, but it only drives my determination to make it to South Lake Tahoe like I set out to do.
I didn’t think the scenery could get any better than what I’d already seen, but today blew me away. The grade of the trail was also perfect right up until the last few miles heading to Donohue Pass, but with the heavy pack, the whole day felt like work. There was a long stretch without any trees, so I held out for lunch until I found shade, and was rewarded with a stunning view of the mountains. I’ve decided whilst in bear country that I’ll cook my dinners for lunch so I don’t have to worry about food smells around my campsite. I think this will work well except today I cooked up mac and cheese that I found in the hiker box at VVR and it tasted revolting. I honestly couldn’t stomach it. I had to bury it deep in the ground (I’m all for leave no trace but I’m too scared to carry mac and cheese through bear country for 10 days, and if I ate it all, I probably would have thrown it up anyway, sorry!!)
I drank so much water today as the weather’s heating up again and my body was working extra hard to make it up the hills. Chris your drink mixes came in handy when I rested by the most gorgeous river and drank at least 1.5 litres of water whilst soaking my feet. My poor tootsies are struggling with the extra weight, not to mention my knees! I’m having to walk this section with only one of my Dirty Girl gaiters after losing one in Mammoth. Luckily Xy, the infamous Dirty Girl has offered to send me a new pair to South Lake Tahoe, along with a new pair of Dry Max socks as one already has a hole, and a new pair of my SofSole insoles from REI. Xy you’re a saviour!!!
I spent the whole day wondering how hard it was going to be to get up Donohue Pass at the end of the day. I met so many JMT south bounders, and they all described it differently. When I finally hit the stairs and switch backs my back and shoulders really started to ache, except every time I tried to rest I got attacked by swarms of mosquitos. It was horrible!!
Luckily at the top there was enough of a breeze to keep the mozzies at bay and allow me to eat my peanut butter tortilla dinner and a twix bar for dessert. After the mac and cheese drama I had a pop tart for lunch, so I’ll likely wake up starving tonight after my sugar diet, and will need a big breakfast tomorrow morning! I knew there was a little bivvy site 0.6 miles after the pass from Halfmile’s app so I loaded up with water from the stream at the top of the pass and found the site just as the sun was starting to set. I’m actually more worried about marmots getting my food than bears up here!
I’m struggling in my bivvy sack tonight. My sleeping bag in tangled up, the mesh isn’t lining up with my face and I just hit myself in the lip with my iPhone whilst tying to find my water bottle. It’s actually really hot in here tonight so when I’m sure all the mosquitos are gone, I may have to zip myself free!