Our final stage of stage 1 of the sierra is complete, and not without moments in which our heart leapt into our mouths. Yet, we are through and are brimming with pride, happiness, relief and gratefulness. We have completed this section with an amazing bunch beautiful friends. We have endured and celebrated the sierra together, it’s harshness and boundless beauty. The landscape bound us, we laughed, cried, and found solace in one another’s daily struggles and conquests. It’s been real.
Last night snow fell. It falls softly, barley audible leaving our tents, the ground and the day’s trail covered in soft, fluffy powder. It was freeezing when we woke and by yelling through our tents we decided that we would get up at 5 am instead of 4.30 (sleep ins rule)! We packed, all the while chattering our teeth and blowing hot breath onto our freezing hands. And then, off we set toward the trail junction that would take up past Bullfrog Lake and over Kearsarge Pass. Through the snow we walked in our morning silence, Justin leading the way occasionally stopping to check the GPS. We crossed some streams using snow bridges on their last legs. Think light is our motto, and try jump across as much as possible.
My body was failing this morning, I had zero energy and lagged behind. My muscles didn’t ache but they had no go in them. After Bull Frog Lake I felt like I almost stumbled along a Meadow till we stopped on a large rock to eat breakfast. By now we could see the switchbacks leading up too the pass, they looked daunting, exhausting. We headed a little way along the tree line and then cut up the snow toward the exposed trail. It was at one point 10 steps, stop, breath, hang head and breath again. And then my fatigue lifted, and in moments I was once again revilalised to my normal energy levels. Luckily this happened just as we left the snow and scrambled up some shale to the switch backs. It wasn’t long till we passed over Kearsage. We stopped on top and looked down toward the trail beneath. Mountains and whiteness greeted us.
The walk down off the pass was relatively pain free other than a sketchy part in which we had defend very steeply on slushy snow and cut down the valley. It was the most uncomfortable I’ve felt yet, the soft new snow on top of old stuff wasn’t very stable and we hurried along it eager to get off. After patchy snow drifts we eventually hit the switch backs that got us down to Onion Valley car park. By this stage I had my homing beacon on, and while this part of the walk was very beautiful I seem to have forgotten it in some ways. With another bunch of hikers we ate food, hung out oi tents to dry and waited for a lift down to Bishop. I had luckily wrangles a spot in a car off two day hikers as we were coming down off the pass, they eventually arrived and Bruce and I hitched into Independence. It’s a sleepy town with not too much going on. Here we picked up parcels from the post office, recharged our phone credit and waited for the others. I am very burnt right now and everyone has commented on it. I feel guilty and ashamed. The snow burns like nothing else. My nose is a wreck. The others turned up in dribs and drabs. Phone came with some other hikers, Harriet and Mushy got all the way to Bishop and Justin picked us up as we walked along the highway trying to get to Bishop. To be in the car hurtling along the freeway away from what we had just completed was a surreal feeling. Smiles filled our faces. We are now in Bishop, at the hostel, and it’s great. Tamika hung around to say hello. She has headed back to the sierra this evening, and for now I think Justin, Bruce and I plan to follow her. We are going to eat lots, sleep lots, drink lots and hang out lots. We have a private room for 6 of us and there is a shower with my name on it