CS1002.8 to Sardine Creek (1002.8 to 1016.3)
Daily miles: 13.5
This is the part where everything comes back. The couple camped next to me bickered in the early morning hours and woke me up, so I guess I’ll hike out at a respectable time this morning. By that, I mean before 9.
The forests are gentle and tall and the tread is easy and it’s neither too hot nor too cold. The bugs go away. I feel a great energy today, and it’s wonderful. The daily challenge is a 2000 foot ascent up and over the (maybe final…) snowy mountains so I stop and gather water for the trip up. It’s a nice stream, calm and steady instead of bulging and raging and out of control.
The mountains are brown and rust colored and dark, in contrast to the Sierra. The trail doesn’t just pitch me up the side either, but pulls me up gradually over a brilliant set of switchbacks. The way is easy, the snowfields are brief, and I crest the top in no time. The Sierra are there, in their waning moments, saying goodbye. They look peaceful and serene way off in the distance, but I think they’re lying to me. It’s a great scene.
Then ridgewalking, huge views, hidden mountain bowls with lakes and big snowfields and glissades forever. I drink from the snowmelt and the water is icy and pure. The hills to the north are green and rolling: I’m moving from one place to another again. With it comes the old feelings of the power of human motion, the passage of time, the transitions in nature.
Then comes the descent of Sonora Pass, which is another thing entirely. The north face is steep and covered in ice and snow. A slip would mean a serious fall down to some serious looking rocks below. My feet slide, looking for traction. I slip and fall, catching myself with my trekking pole and bending it in the process. My heart skips a beat. I take it slow, kick footholds in the path and pick my way down. Others choose to glissade, but not for me, not today. I’ll walk I think.
I make it safely down and feast on sugar: peanut butter, M&Ms, Snickers, Almond Joy. I had actual food for dinner as well, which I enjoyed to the utmost. A top 5 PCT day, brilliant scenery start to end. Worth at least a dozen Benson Passes.