The whole hike, it seemed, we had been hearing about Benson Pass. It dominated the elevation profile, a behemoth of mystical proportions. Today was the day!
We rose from our creekside camp and immediately began a rocky ascent, because, Yosemite! Both Flash and I admitted we were tired from the day before, and so kicked it into granny gear. We knew we were facing more steep climbs and descents as the trail dropped in and out of huge canyons. A lot of the PCT is built to a 5% grade because it was originally intended for equestrian use. This section did not get the memo.
We had long been counseled to stop at Benson Lake and lounge on the "Riviera"--a long, sandy beach. But it was--gasp--off the PCT and in the end we chose to climb on to Smedberg Lake. Nobody was there, and we took an extended break soaking our feet. This was what I had hoped for, a mild sunny day, cool water, and solitude.
Having had all available camping spaces taken by the Sierra Club two years before in Washington, forcing us to sleep on a trail bridge, we were gun shy and took the first campsite we came to. It had a sandy swimming hole and trees on which to hang our laundry, which was about all we could ask for in a site. It had been shy of 17 miles due to our extensive hanging out at Smedberg, but we only had about 21 miles to go. Twenty one miles and it just seemed like yesterday we had 215! I lay awake in amazement at what two feet can do.