June 24, 2018
I woke up the next morning feeling like garbage, but ready to get moving. That’s all you can do out here, really. Just keep moving. We got a late start, but that was okay. Couch Potato was still sleeping when we left. That was okay, too.
We were up and over Seavey Pass in short order. Sparky fell behind to use the restroom, and Ghosthiker and I had a chance to chat together while we hiked. I shared with her some of my feelings about Couch Potato leaving the trail, on how hard it was for me to even consider getting off and how the ease of his decision had shaken me.
Sparky caught up to us shortly before we came to a wide, rushing river. It wasn’t too bad, but none of us felt like changing our shoes or getting wet and there was a nice, big log laying across the expanse of the river a bit upstream, so we crossed there instead. We decided to take a break on the other side. It was a lovely day, perfect weather, and the bugs weren’t bad.
After a bit, Couch Potato appeared and threw down his pack for a break, but we’d already been there a while and were ready to keep hiking. Ghosthiker and Sparky had already donned their packs and I said I’d be right behind them, but I needed to get water. While I was filling my bottle, who should come southbound down the trail toward me but River! I couldn’t believe it! We hugged and immediately fell into conversation. We must have chatted for a good 15 minutes (I wish it had been longer), sharing our different triumphs and struggles and plans for the rest of the hike. Talking with her was so encouraging. I was surprised to find we shared a few mutual struggles on the trail and she seemed surprised that I was struggling with so much.
“Your Instagram posts all look so amazing!” She said in her charming Australian accent, “If you do end up getting off (for whatever reason), going through the Sierra in all that snow makes you a badass for sure!” I was tickled by her words. Being a badass was exactly what I wanted, and hearing it from the mouth of a definite, hardcore, badass woman like River, who had tons of hiking and adventure sports experience…well, it was definitely an ego boost, and one I was in desperate need of just then. River also shared with me that she’d been listening to a podcast called the Dirtbag Diaries and an audiobook called Mastering Your Mean Girl, both of which were really helping her stay motivated and focused while hiking. I wrote them down so I could download them later.
When River and I parted ways, I found Couch Potato still taking a break. He shouldered his pack when I did and hiked on with me, but I could tell he wanted to go fast so I eventually stepped aside and let him pass me. But not before we had to go really slow to let some very large deer cross the trail not once, but twice along some switchbacks. That was pretty cool. Shortly after Couch Potato disappeared down the trail, I caught up with Sparky and Ghosthiker again and gladly stuck with them the rest of the afternoon.
After Seavey Pass, we went over two other small, nameless passes that were extremely steep and exhausting, but the last one gave us a magnificent, final view of Yosemite Natl. Park. Sparky kept hiking but Ghosthiker and I lingered to scale some rocks and get a better view. I remember noticing how quiet and clear the air was, how serene the surroundings, and how there were no mosquitos here! And it was nice to just sit with Ghosthiker and take it all in, chat a bit, and just enjoy the moment. Why hadn’t I done more of this?
Later in the day, we crossed a wide, hip-deep stream with a very gentle flow, and Ghosthiker and I decided it was too nice NOT to take a little swim break, so we did. I had to soak my skin in bug spray again afterward because the mosquitos had gotten bad again, but it was totally worth it to spend the next few miles letting my wet clothes cool me off. While we were still wet and had just put our packs back on to begin hiking again, who should come meandering down the trail SoBo but Ninja Fabric! I couldn’t believe my eyes! Of course, we all stood around chatting for a while, catching up on how each other were progressing. She asked how the Sierra was and we asked about Northern California. We also learned then that not only had she and Satyr ended their trail relationship, but that Satyr had ended his hike at Kennedy Meadows. He’d been sick with a stomach issue since Walker Pass but had pushed on all the way to Kennedy Meadows before finally calling it quits. Poor Satyr! He was the first person I’d met on trail and the one it was always such a pleasure to see several hundred miles later.
We eventually bid farewell and good luck to Ninja Fabric and hiked on, but we ended up stopping after only a few miles, making it a 17-mile day. The sun was setting and the bugs were getting really bad, so we made camp next to a fast-flowing river. We had to set up our tents with our rain gear on to keep from getting eaten alive. I’d taken to using my shee-wee as a primary means of peeing once I was zipped safely into my tent. No mosquitoes would be biting this white ass, thank you very much.
No sign of Couch Potato. That was okay.