Day 51: Ground Hog Day

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Mile 957.3 to mile 982.3 (25 miles, 40.2 km)

There wasn’t a lot going on today. It was more of the same. Walking miles and wearing smiles through similar alpine terrain.

Right off the bat I had a wet creek crossing to get out the way and I wasn’t about to get my shoes wet first thing so it was a bare foot crossing. The water was painfully cold and my feet went numb about half was across. I couldn’t feel a thing for several minutes until I had got them dried and massaged blood back into circulation. Putting dry shoes on was the best thing ever.

I had two passes to cross today. Both much lower in elevation then other passes in the Sierra and both snow free on both sides but boy did they both kick my arse. I totally underestimated the steepness of both. Thinking that the worse of the high crossings was behind us I really haven’t pay any attention to the passes coming up above Tuolumne Meadows.

The first pass Benson Pass was really slow going. Lots of false summits and hard work.

The second was late in the afternoon and I think it was the heat more than anything that made things hard. I’ve lost my thermometer and am not sure just how hot it was but the hottest day since being in the Sierra. No wind to assist in keeping chilled either.

Passed many stunning alpine lakes today and while it’s hot and swim would be nice, two things keep me out of the water – one all lakes are fed by snowmelt and the waters are freezing; two the bloody mozzies love to hang out on the lake shores too.

Moving through huge granite slab country.

At camp I had a decision to make. There is a river that has to be crossed with camps on both sides. I could camp on the southern bank and ford it in the morning or cross it now and get it out the way. I choose to cross knowing that I could get a fire going and at least partially dry my shoes for the following day. I didn’t want another frozen foot start to the day.

I was surprised that know one else was camping where I was. It was a big site enough for 8 tents, sheltered under pines, has established fire pits and water from the creek. Fine. I’ll take it. I have the place to myself.

I got a fire cranking in minutes and laid out my shoes and socks go dry. I even took the opportunity to wash some other clothes and get the drying as well.

One of the many bonuses of solo hiking or camping is the close animal encounters you have. While preparing dinner two deer strolled into camp completely unfazed by my presence, getting with 10 meters. Initially I shit myself as it was getting on dark and all I saw was movement of a large animal and hearing the sound of brush moving – thinking bear of course but it turned out fine.

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