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Begins: Apr 1, 2008
Date: Tue, Jul 1st, 2008
Start: Tyndall Creek
End: South side of Glen Pass
Daily Distance: 17
Trip Distance: 2,323.2
Entry Visits: 433
Journal Visits: 69,254
Guestbook Views: 3,645
Guestbook Entrys: 9
Tyndall Creek to Glen Pass
In the morning, I got up in the half-light and quickly got ready. I thought I had crossed Tyndall Creek, but I walked less than a mile before I came to a much grander creek—wide and deep enough to force me to remove my shoes. This was probably another branch of Tyndall Creek. I removed my shoes and knee deep made my way across the icy waters. On the other side as I finished drying my feet, Cody became agitated and started to bark. At first, I thought he heard an animal, but before long a man appeared in front of me on the trail. He and his family had camped at this larger stream the night before. They had come down from Kearsarge Pass and were going out at Whitney in two days. We stood and chatted for awhile before I hiked on.
I saw two other pairs of hikers camped on the plain below Forester Pass that morning and I passed by both of them. The terrain was open and somewhat bleak. I passed lakes whose cold water was blue and partially frozen. It was dead quiet and I could see across the valley in all directions. Mr. Cody is pretty good about staying right close and most of the time he is on leash but this morning, with no one about he was off leash, trotting along beside me and enjoying the glorious openness of the plains around us. I was about to learn an important lesson. I had already spotted some deer and let him know in no uncertain terms that they were off limits. He was doing so well it never occurred to me that there were other animals out there to attract his attention: specifically, marmots. They innocently started up their high pitched whistle call, and this, to Mr. C. was an invitation to go and get them. In a flash, this sweet, gentle dog had crossed a hundred yards and to my horror was sitting with a marmot in his mouth. I screeched at him, “Drop it!” and unbelievably he did. Fortunately, the marmot hit the ground running before Mr. C. could have second thoughts. I was so relieved that the marmot was OK and I now knew for a fact that Mr. C. was perfectly capable of catching wild life and after that I kept him close to me especially in any open space. I’m telling this story because it points out that dogs, no matter how well trained have a streak of the wild in them that is primal and tends to come out when they start thinking seriously about food. I was justifiably concerned that they were too much of a temptation for him to chase.
Continuing on, I wound my way across the desolate plane, through snow and up the steep switchbacks to Forester Pass. I reached the pass at 10:30 a.m. and sat down to have a snack and rest before starting the descent on the other side. The sun gently warmed my back and all around me it was dead quiet—not oppressively so. It was the kind of quiet that makes you hyper sensitive to sound: the breathing of the dog; the buzzing of an insect, the movement of air. Every once in a while I could hear three hikers coming up the pass behind me, the voices echoing against the towering rock for there was nowhere else for the sound to go. I thought if they came soon I would ask them to take a photo of Cody and me.
Eventually, three people arrived. They turned out to be a father, possibly my age, a son and, I think a much younger man-boy who seemed to be a friend of the family. They reminded me that I had seen them two days ago when I was going up to Guitar Lake and they were coming down from Whitney. The son worked for the forest service and they were intrigued that I had brought along Mr. Cody so they not only took my photo for me with my camera but they took a second one, with their camera for the “family album”—they said something about not being believed if they said they had seen a dog on Forester Pass.
Since they had just arrived, I pushed on. On the Northern side of the pass there was quite a bit more snow and I spent a few minutes following the contours of the land to determine the best route to take. This sounds good in theory but once I started down the slope, I quickly discovered that the route was neither obvious nor straightforward. I looked down on the lake that I knew simply as Lake 11,972 (its elevation) where Dennis, Kerry and I had stayed at for our 25th wedding anniversary almost 10 years ago and remembered the cold and windy night that we spent there. In the middle of the night, with the wind howling Kerry and I heard this little voice, “Mom, Dad! My tent broke.” Dennis at 23 had busted his glasses disentangling himself from the tent he was using, which had collapsed and broken in the fierce wind. He crashed into our tent to sleep and keep warm with us. It was a well-remembered Sierra night that we still laugh about.
The hike down from Forester Pass was a tad scary—it’s a good thing the trail actually showed up under the snow every once in a while because to me it all looked the same: lots of sun cups, few or no footprints and no logical direction to go. I was glad that there were people behind me—I found myself thinking that if I did get myself in a pickle, they would catch up to me and then I would just follow them! But I never saw them again and in the end, the trail became visible more often than not and I started the long and tiring hike down to Vidette Meadow. I don’t know why but frequently I find hiking down hill more tiring than hiking up hill. Perhaps it is because when you are going up hill you are physically focused on the energy it takes to keep moving up. When going downhill, your momentum moves you down, which is hard on the knees and you have to use mental and physical energy to keep your body from going too fast.
The weather and the scenery were perfect: the incredible granite mountains so over-the-top beautiful—it made me wonder why we (Kerry and I) even bother to hike in other places. I saw lots of butterflies—swallowtails, sulphers and little blue butterflies so common at this time of the year. At Vidette Meadow, I refilled my water bottle and wondered if I had the energy to climb another mountain that day, but I did. I climbed to within a mile or so of the top of Glen Pass and stopped at a stream that flowed right next to the trail. I had planned to go over the pass and stop at the beautiful Rae Lakes on the other side but I was just too tired. It was a good decision to stop. I had time to wash my clothes and myself again and get myself and Mr. C. situated for the night! This always took a major effort because as tired as I was, it would have been easier to eat and go to sleep. I always felt energized and refreshed when I washed down. I felt human again. Food was another story. I had decided not to cook on this trip and I had brought English muffins, cheese, foil packets of tuna, chicken and crab and macadamia nut butter. I found the muffins dry and I couldn’t eat the nut butter. I should have brought mayonnaise for the bread but discovered if I poured the liquid from the tuna on the muffin that made it easier and tastier to eat. I have never liked peanut butter but I had reasoned that I might like the macadamia nut butter better and that I would need the calories. I found that hunger didn’t make me like the nut butter any better, which was just as well because Cody enjoyed it very much on his kibble. Eating was a struggle for me. I had never thought of it as a social thing but perhaps that was a part of it, with no one to break bread with I found I had to remind myself to eat.
I still had a little too much of Cody’s food to fit in the bear barrel so I worried a little about bears. I gathered a few rocks and put them close to my head just in case. I woke up at 12:30 and again at 4:30 and went back into a hard sleep.
Confessions Of A Serial Hiker
The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is a 2,650-mile national scenic trail that runs from Mexico to Canada through California, Oregon and Washington. The PCT traverses 24 national forests, 37 wilderness areas and 7 national parks. The PCT passes through 6 out of 7 of North Americas ecozones. Learn more: www.pcta.org
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