Day 56- Highest mileage yet

It was a cold night and I bundled up in nearly everything I had and was still a little chilly. Jailbreak even commented on the cold as we were falling asleep. Since he tries to keep his pack as light as possible, he doesn’t have a tent and his foam sleeping pad is only as long as his torso- warmth and comfort are not his top priority. I gave him my insulating mat to lay on which apparently helped immensely.

I was packed and ready to go at 6am but Bandaid was still in his sleeping bag in his tent. His knee was really hurting and he wanted to stay in camp a bit longer. Ok, no problem, we had plenty of food to take it easy as we close in on the Sierras. I went to dig my morning cathole and discovered that my cycle had started. This type of hygiene is a bit more complicated when you are living in the woods, and to be honest, I had completely forgotten that it was coming and was totally unprepared. I dug through my pack and found one lonely half-smashed tampon. We were nearly 30 miles from town and were planning to take it easy- one little bundle of bleached cotton was NOT going to cut it.

I came back into camp and explained the situation to the guys. I am very lucky to have a trail family that I can talk to so openly, although it was still a little strange telling two men that I’ve known less than a month about it. I decided that I would push on ahead and try to catch Pioneer or Bubblewrap (a young English woman whom we had met a day or so earlier but my terrible lack of writing left her out of the story), and/or try to get to town ASAP. We exchanged “feel betters” and “safe travels” and I was off.

The morning was cool and lovely, with some short inclines and a long ridgeline descent with wildflowers and a beautiful view of the rocky peaks nearby. The trail was mostly smooth and inviting, and by 10am I had done over 9 miles. I passed Canyon Creek, where I saw a number of hikers, one of whom had been sick all night (Tuba, from the Cleveland area too!). I heard later that she doesn’t filter her water- I hope she’s ok.

The trail climbed gently out of the canyon, occasionally becoming incredibly rocky and jagged. I stopped at a spring and met Sixty Minutes, who apparently had run out of food. I gave him a Ramen and a snack bar. It seems like lots of people were having issues today. I got my water and hiked on. As I trudged slowly up the hill, my mind wandered to the guys, wondering how they were faring so far.

I took a quick lunch break under the most massive Juniper tree I have ever seen. The wind was blowing and I actually got quite cold while eating my couscous with shiitake mushrooms and coconut oil. I pushed on and met Chocolate Soup, a hiker from Florida who takes lots of snack breaks due to his Type 1 diabetes. I can’t even fuel my body properly out here all the time- I am impressed that he can make it work as a diabetic.

The trail continued its rising ridgewalk through a large burned area. There was hardly any shade but the flowers were beautiful and I got my first real view of the snow-capped Sierras.

The trail finally reached the last peak before Kennedy Meadows and I could see the smoke from a forest fire burning nearby.

I found Pioneer and Bubblewrap resting on the side of the trail and they were able to help me out with my “problem”, thank goodness. The trail provides! We continued hiking together for the rest of the day which was no small feat for me considering they trek far more quickly than my normal comfortable pace. We chose to camp about 6 miles from Kennedy Meadows and were joined by a young Swiss hiker named Swiss Bitch and two French Canadian section hikers named Sabrina and Ari.

We had a fun group dinner with lots of laughter. I am looking forward to meeting back up with the guys, finishing the official desert section and getting into Kennedy Meadows and the Sierras, but for now am just enjoying the sunset.

Miles: 24.1

Trail magic: 0

Hiked with: mostly alone, Pioneer, Bubblewrap

Camped with: Pioneer, Bubblewrap, Swiss Bitch, Sabrina and Ari

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