Day 49: Breaking bad…

Day: Sunday, July 17th 2016

Miles: 1016.1 – 1027.8

Kennedy Meadows North (Sonora Pass) – Remote Camp 1027.8

You can’t win them all. We’ve already figured that one out. Today was quite a fun day for the most part, and the karma or luck or something else that was previously generously on my side, simply ran dry, leading to an evening of frowns and a night of aches.

I enjoyed Kennedy Meadows North to the very last. After a morning shower and a phenomenal breakfast, I spent a lot of the day simply hanging out with people on the deck and enjoying the rest. It was a busy spot with some good people watching. I wasn’t taking a zero – but rather my preferred generously proportioned early entry and late departure strategy that lets me keep rolling out the miles, but feel like I’ve had a rest.

Hanging out with our temporary “Dad” whom we adopted for the night.

Hikers heading up to Sonora pass:

It was about 2:30PM when Nelson and I actually wandered out to the gate of KMN and started the hitch back up 8miles of road switchbacks. We almost immediately lucked out with a couple from Nevada and climbed into the flatbed of the truck.


Sadly the couple thought we were going to Bridgeport on the other side of Sonora Pass and didn’t see nor hear our frantic shouting waving and banging on the truck asking them to stop at the pass, hence we overshot by 4miles on the wrong side of the pass. A little weary, we walked to the other side of the road to hitch back the way we came! By the time I actually got to the trail, it would mean a start at 4PM and probably a little late evening hiking. Firstly, I met a trail angel from Seattle named Rootbeer Sue who was handing out root beer whilst awaiting the arrival of her husband on a southbound track. A nice little start to the evenings festivities!

Hitting the trail I was content and enjoying the beautiful alpine flowers and views back over the terrain I navigated yesterday. This area really is supremely beautiful and the unique mix of granite and volcanic features into the horizon is really quite a spectacle.

As befitting any Shakespearean tragedy however, all this happiness had to end in disaster. About 3 miles up the trail, whilst navigating a small gravel patch that circumnavigated a snowfield, I took a spectacular fall and managed to blow one of my tooth fillings straight out of my mouth. I have *NO* idea how I managed to do this, but with a nasty scratched up knee and thigh, and a feeling of something not quite right in my mouth, I spent the next 3miles trying to figure out how the heck I fell in such a spectacular manner, never mind how the heck I managed to blow out a filling with a knee-graze! As I walked further I eventually got the sensation that something else wasn’t right, my pack was out of alignment, which led me to realize that I had managed to blow a full liter of water out of my platypus water reservoir A *WITHOUT* bursting the bag. The sheer force blew the water out of the rubberized neck of the bladder before perfectly reselling itself. Walking further, I then realized something wasn’t right with my left wrist. Flexing up and down, and with no recollection of banging it in the fall (I skidded to the right and fell sideays), I realized that my left hand trekking pole was perfectly snapped at the single point where it’s not reinforced by the inner telescopic section. Sweet mother how the heck had I managed to do this in what could only really be described as a drunken stumble!

Feeling particularly sorry for myself and angry with myself sinultaneously, I spent little time appreciating what was a beautiful section of trail. The broken pole was taking up my mind, and the odd “something is missing” feeling in my mouth was preoccupying me for no good reason whatsoever. With neither a dentist nor an REI in my near future, I wish I could have just programmatically deprioritized these from my mind – by the human brain really does love to dwell on our single weaknesses or small irregularities. A filling has no bearing on my trail progress, but at this point, thinking about it is an enormous distraction!

As the sun dipped for another day, I finally began to appreciate that I had descended some very tricky snowfields with suncups as big as myself, as well as water crossings and difficult trail sections with just one pole. And I didn’t die.not even once.

Meltwater streams rushed from many of the gullies in a frantic downward push, with lots of wet trail sections and water crossings in a short section.

I passed Nelson who was perched a few miles before my target, so we agreed to meet tomorrow as I completed one final ascent to a quiet pitch with an amazing clear view of the moon and the steep valley we had entered. As I fumbled around with how to raise my tent with a broken pole (my tent poles *ARE* my hiking poles), I  lamented a personally disappointing evening, but I figured that a missing filling and a wonky pole was probably the least of most people’s worries in this world. All this can be fixed, and none of this can be fixed right now. Time for bed, a new day tomorrow.

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