Day 47: Hitting the big 1-0-0-0…

Day: Friday, July 15th 2016

Miles: 973.5 – 1001

Remote Site 973.5 – Remote Site 1001

In an attempt to get back to my old routine, I set my alarm for 5:30AM. This of course actually means that I departed camp at 7:20AM. I really need to dial in my morning routine as these slow starts are eating away at those precious morning miles, when the body is alert and the temperatures are cool. After some ridiculing of myself I decided to look at preparing all my lunch and breakfast food needs at night, then pack the stored food and keep the days food accessible and separated. I’ll see how that goes, but the persistent time wasting in the morning needs to stop!

My first target today was an elevation gain up to Seavey pass – last night I purposely walked a few miles of the elevation gain to assist, as I was feeling really good and moving quickly. Thankfully that carried through to today, so I managed to conquer this particular morning nemesis by 8:30am! I managed to produce a really satisfying time to the top. The pass wasn’t like the others, with no major views to speak of on either side, however there was a mesmerizing series of reflection pools at the pass which I spent a lot of time gazing at in wonder.

After the pass came a downhill section dropping into a steep valley following Rancheria Creek. This beautiful creek was far below and barely accessible however the views were beautiful. At a few of the side-creeks lining the major valley, I found a very interesting smell of cinnamon. There has been many moments where I’ve enjoyed wonderful smells or unusual unidentifiable scents and I certainly could not be sure where this was coming from! Maybe a Cinnabon restaurant at the end of the valley!

At the bottom of the initial trail section was a pleasant water crossing before another climb to an unnamed bump. I completed it quickly although on the down section I took an awkward slide and eventually ended up on my left knee. It was about time I used my First Aid kit so I spent some time doing a cleanup. The sheer amount of dust around here makes it obvious that a cut would have a good chance of infection without some treatment. I was back on the road in no time following some more tiver crossings however.

After the second bump, there was one more ‘up and down’ before my target of Wilma Lake. At this point I’m struggling to name some of these bumps as they’re unnamed in the guidebook yet pretty huge in Irish terms – where a 3000ft elevation gain almost puts you above our highest mountain!

At the beginning of the third climb I dropped my foot in a creek so the initial progress was slow and squishy if cool for my feet. Eventually I reached the top after a short few groans of hard graft however. It’s amazing the instant feeling of relief and energy when you reach a mountain pass – those troubles and aches of the last several miles instantly evaporate into thin air. Especially when there is food ahead. I decided to have my lunch sandwiched by Wilma Lake on a giant rock outcropping. It was the one slightly windy place that was not overrun with huge buzzing flies and mosquitos which suited me just perfectly. Time for another hiker-trash lunch!

I ate some of the treats Mark and Susannah gave me in my box including buffalo jerky, a Crunchie bar, and a dashing everything bagel topped with tillamook cheddar and extra crunchy peanut butter. It was quite the perfect lunch, coupled with a repeated visit by a hummingbird who buzzed right up to my face. At one point a slightly unusual looking (even in hiker terms, as shirtless hiking is not something any of us do – that’s chafe country!) hiker came by asking if I could spare any pieces of chocolate. I was over-supplied with Snickers bars and sensed this guy needed more than just a piece so I gave him one. His next question was regarding where the next town was. I guessed he was on something or at the very least way off base. I subsequently found out that he had joined the trail in Mammoth with little gear  and was simply rolling with the trail – immediately worried for him, he seemed to be getting by with some kindness of strangers and a lot of good luck.

The trail now followed a huge and monotonous valley on the ascent to a final pass by Dorothy Lake. The pass itself and the lake was beautiful however the haul to get there was long and boring so I adding some music to the mix to roll it out. In the end, I was treated to an amazing sunset against Forsyth peak by Dorothy lake which was worth the effort!

I was a little sad as I departed Yosemite finally, and perhaps wouldn’t be treated to these views for a little while, but every part of this trail has led to a new wonder ahead so I rolled on (and kept looking back for that perfect last view of the granite tops). Thankfully a beautiful sunset framed the view ahead but it was worth remarking that for the first time in many many days, in one direction there was no mountains, just a horizon line. I guessed the Sierra was coming to an end as I disappointed walked the final few miles to mile 1000.0

Hitting a milestone like the 1000 mark at night and alone is a melancholy moment. You look at the number marked in rocks on the ground. You take a moment. Then you take a picture. Then you move on. I felt like the 1000 mark would have more for me but after 30 miles of walking I think I simply had no spare emotion to put into the moment! I ventured on and made camp a little further on, happy to finally bed down after almost falling into a river during a log crossing (night crossings are a little more difficult than you might think!). Happy, tired but fulfilled, I’ve a thousand miles under my belt and Yosemite done. The national park isn’t until Lassen about 300 miles ahead, so there’s a lot more work to do!
The 1000 mile mark isn’t so remarkable at night – maybe some neon might help.

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