A Beast

Day 8   20 miles

This morning my legs feel like cement.  We hadn’t even been hiking a mile and I wonder if I am going to have the energy to go on.   Am I physically worn down because we hiked 20 + miles yesterday ?   Or is it phycological because I know what lies ahead? 

Mather Pass.  The most gruelling assent I’ve ever hiked.   Climbing from 8100 feet to 12094 feet.  Stone stairways, switchbacks up and up.  Only to come to another wall of rock mountains.  It is the never ending Pass when one is attempting it southbound.   Same as last year.  Mather was, and still is a beast of a Pass.   In my experience anyway.  (If there is a next time, I’ll try it northbound.  Maybe it won’t be so tough for me?) 

Today it was extra… “special”  As we neared the last few tortuous miles the skies turned black and the thunder boomed all around us.   Earlier, at lunch we had been sitting in the warm sun.  It just shows how fast the weather can turn at this higher elevation.  The rain turned to hail.  It was nerve wracking.  Paul and I carried on.  There were no others with us for the last 2 hours.  Everyone had hunkered down and stayed below the Pass.  

To add to my anxiety I started to get “food panic”.  I was considering what was left in our bear canister and realizing it wasn’t enough to last us the next 4-5 days.  I’m feeling really hungry.   I could sit down right now and eat everything in it.  

We made it to the top of the Pass at 5:30 pm in the wind and hail.  A quick photo then we raced down the south side of the Pass,  hail pounding down upon us.  In spite of the cold and hail, or maybe because of it, there is an overwhelming, but lovely scent of lemongrass and sage coming from the few flowers along the trail.  

We hiked on for  45 minutes,  to reach lower elevation.  Thankfully the rain and hail eased off.  By the time we had our tent up and eaten dinner the sky was blue again. 

After dinner I told Paul about my food concerns.  We spilled out the contents of our canister and Paul agreed we are about 1 day short of food.  

I woke in the night freezing and hungry.  This is my vacation, not crash diet hiking boot camp!  Tomorrow I’m going to eat everything in that canister.  Starting with ramen noodles for breakfast! 

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