|Halfway up Glen Pass|
This 16 mile day took a toll on each of us, mostly because it brutally dove to 8400 feet from our 12,000 foot pass, and then we had to endure a heinous 2,000 foot slog up a hot and dry canyon. There's usually a moment in every adventure where you question your sanity in choosing it, and this was the place. Because I stopped to dry out rain-soaked gear at a small tarn, it was nearly five when we staggered into Rae Lakes, a beautiful, shimmering set of connected lakes. It was our hardest day yet. Though I was feeling strong, so many days without a rest had begun to show diminishing returns.
|I guess the slog was prettier than I remembered.|
|Beautiful Rae Lakes|
We pounded down the trail in a hurry to meet our last food drop, the pack train from Onion Valley. Many people forgo this drop due to its expense and the fact that you sit and wait between the hours of eleven and one, which sets your hiking day back a great deal. We decided it was worth it instead of rationing food or trudging under an immense, nine-day load. We had met others on the trail who were victims of poor planning and faced a long hike out to Independence to restock. While we waited, we ate the last of our food and dreamed about what we really wanted to eat: salad. pizza. Instead, we received our resupply with more trail food. I munched on Goldfish without enthusiasm as we packed up our canisters and headed towards our river camp before Forester Pass.
|Headed to 13,000 feet|
|Peering down from the gap on Forester|
The rest of our hike we would be above 10,000 feet and often much higher. The nights were cool and occasional rain sprinkled overhead, but thankfully not the huge thunderstorms of Muir Pass. A ranger near Tyndall Creek told us we were caught in a monsoonal flow, wet air sweeping up and across the mountains. In the evenings we sat around in our puffies and hats. Gone were the hot summer days of the Valley and beyond.
|These pictures are of the Bighorn Plateau. Love.|
As I hiked towards Guitar Lake in falling rain, our last campsite, a nagging pain in my right leg intensified. I thought I knew its cause--the large stone steps of Forester Pass and the descent from 13,000 feet. It felt like a shin splint, but I worried that it might be a stress fracture. Gobbling Vitamin I by the handful, I knew I wouldn't quit now.
|The last campsite--Guitar Lake|
|Stark, wind-swept, beautiful.|