May 15, 2018
We were camped at 8,000 ft elevation and the next morning we all had a thin layer of ice covering our tents. My quilt got a lot wetter than it ever has before due to all the condensation my warm body was creating inside my little tent. When I took the rainfly off my tent and hung it on a bush to dry, the water droplets that fell onto the mesh of my tent froze almost immediately! I picked it up and gave it a good shake and all the ice came flying off. Just like that, my tent was dry. Nailed it.
I was moving about quickly to stay warm while I packed up my stuff and was the first one ready to go, so I started hiking ahead of the others just to keep moving and stay warm. The fog was so dense it was a little surreal to be hiking through it. I thought this was just the kind of situation where I might walk right up to a bear along the trail, since I couldn’t see very far ahead of me. This prospect was both thrilling and a bit scary. Alas, no bears were seen that morning. At least not by me.
Sparky caught up to me shortly before the trail left the woods and came to a lovely bridge over a river and a wide, open prairie called Beck Meadow. Here we came upon two other PCT thru-hikers whom we’d met before, Camo and Squeaks. Camo is from the same town in Idaho as me (as of the last few years, anyway. I moved from Indiana to Idaho in 2015).
It was past noon before we saw Ghosthiker. She was hiking at a mosey pace that day. It was nice being able to keep up with Sparky, but he had his Sierra extras weighing him down, so it didn’t exactly make me feel like my speed had improved. Oh well. It was still nice. Ghosthiker and I would be getting our Sierra extras (microspikes and/or crampons, ice ax, bear can, and cold weather layers) in Lone Pine.
We climbed up to 10,500 feet over about 10 miles before descending back down to 8,500 ft, setting up camp around 8,900. ft! It was tough but oh! So beautiful! We started seeing patches of snow close to the top, and in one such patch, someone had built a tiny snowman. I pulled the little gnome Oswald out of my hip belt pocket and set him in the snow next to the snowman for took a picture. So much whimsey!
When we reached the top we thought we could see Mt. Whitney again. At least, Sparky and I were convinced it was Mt. Whitney. Ghosthiker wasn’t so sure. We decided we’d find out once we got to Lone Pine.
My hair is getting long enough to be tucked behind my ears. I cut off 12 inches to sport a pixie cut a month before my hike, and having short hair made my life on trail infinitely more easy. I hoped by the time I reached Canada I would have two little pigtails at the base of my neck. When you’ve had long hair all your life it’s hard to track it’s growth. Watching my hair progress past my ears was actually pretty entertaining.
Toward the end of the day, the trail opened up to reveal a wide, flat expanse with ample room for tents. We were the first to arrive and had our pick of tent spots, and by the time we’d thrown down our things other hikers began showing up to claim spots, including Carmen San Diego, Squish, Gently Used, and Breaker. There was a fire ring and Sparky built us a nice little fire, where we sat letting the flames warm our legs while we ate our dinner.
I’d retired to bed while it was still light and woke in the night to discover that I’d misplaced my headlamp! I used the flashlight on my phone to look for it but it was nowhere to be found! Having to pee in the dark was the least of my worries. There are few things as crucial to a long-distance hike as having a good headlamp. I hoped I hadn’t left it behind somewhere.
We did 18.4 miles today.