I haven’t written much over the past several days and basically it’s because I’ve been too tired. Simply put, the Sierra Nevada is the best place I’ve ever been backpacking. It’s paradise! (Except for the mosquitos.) Water, once scarce, now is everywhere. It spouts out of rocks, drips from under snowfields, and gushes in torrents down through the valleys. The trail here has taken on a familiar pattern. It dips down into the valleys and then climbs up over a pass, only to descend down into another valley. The passes can be exhausting. A pass is essentially a gap between high mountains that allows hikers to move past the mountains without having to go straight over them. Today was the first pass under 11,000 feet. Up until then, the passes were higher and one, Forester Pass, was over 13,000 feet. The altitude for one, is difficult on my legs as simple steps and gentle upward grades become laborious. Additionally, even though this is a low snow year, there are still snowfields to contend with, which take considerable energy to cross if the snow is soft. Occasionally, I’ve lost trail coming down from a pass, or see the trail far below and just “bushwhack” down a snowfield or slide on my butt. The scenery, of course, is amazing; like something out of a fairy tale. I’m not going to even begin to describe what’s out here in words.
I’ve been doing some swimming in the lakes and streams during breaks. Very refreshing! The only real complaint I have is with the mosquitos, which are now out in full force and are probably the worst I’ve ever been around. There are literally clouds of them. I plan on picking up some DEET and long pants when I get to Mammoth Lakes. Thankfully the skeeters aren’t too bad in the morning or midday, but after 3 PM until dark you really can’t stand still unless you’re covered up. I’m making about 20 miles per day through here and it’s a pretty relaxed pace with plenty of time to relax, rest, swim and take in the sun since the days are so long. I’m upon my feet from dawn till dark. I know this for will be different as the days get shorter, but for now I’m taking full advantage.
A quick note: tonight I stumbled on a trail crew at around 6 PM. They invited me for dinner (salad and…chicken alfredo?) in the woods with a nice campfire. Lucky me.