Mile 729.5 to Chicken Spring Lake mile 750.8 (21.3 miles, 34km)
I walked with Mission from Monterey Bay in California for quite a bit this morning. A young college kid on summer vacation with another year to go. We chatted about all and everything until the terrain pushed up and the altitude made it difficult to suck in air, let alone talk. He had the same resupply strategy as me and is suffering the same fate with such a heavy pack. He had to pull over a couple of times to rest the shoulders while I continued on.
There was an early climb to 11,000ft and it great to get this out the way early. As I was only to do 21 miles today I had time to take things slow and steady, and really pay attention to my surrounds. I’m loving the Sierras.
The terrain flattened but continued to climb on a low incline through forest like I’ve never seen before. Trees stand straight and tall with tessellated, rust coloured bark, looking like pipe cleaners with the bright green needles forming tufts along their length. They float over a sea of decomposing granite rock and boulders. The is an absolute lack of an understory, so much so that if it wasn’t for the slope and boulders you could play a game of Aussie Rules underneath.
Twisted and gnarled root balls of fallen trees, washed clean of soil by decades of rain and sun bleached, slowly decaying yet standing the test of time, form natural sculptures. No artist commissions required here.
It was amazing to walk through but difficult to describe in words.
Alpine meadows as well.
A second climb came late in the day towards Chicken Spring Lake where I came across the first remnants of winter snow. Just the odd patch up high and off to the side of the trail causing no issues with navigation or travel.
With only 21miles today I arrived at the lake quite early, around 4:30pm allowing plenty of time to select a tent spot and have a good look around. It is windy as hell up here and a chill is carried on the wind. Pitching the tent was an interesting affair. I’m glade I made the decision to swap out the tarp for this section of the trip. The tent is much more protected and solid in such conditions. But there are a ultralighters here still choosing to cowboy camp – not sure how they do it, it must be uncomfortable in these conditions.
The lake is beautiful. Situated in a deep mountain bowl surrounded by towering scree slopes, snow still clinging to the upper reaches. The water, crystal clear and cold. A great day.