Sunday, September 9, 2012

Day 12: Sore Feet, Sore Body, Great Spirits

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Middle Fork Trail (mile 148.4) to South Fork Kings River (mile 165.2).

Today's miles: 16.8
Trip miles: 165.2

Last night's camp spot was really awesome. Secluded, friendly locals (squirrels, chipmunks, birds, deer), and a cold, refreshing river 20 paces due south.

I slept well, but my body ached and was talking to me all night. It required rest, so I slept in, crawling out of my sleeping bag at 7 am. I had planned to hit the trail at 7 because Mather Pass was 11 miles and 4000 vertical feet away and rain was a likely possibility again.

Bruised and battered feet, with 2 blisters and 1 hot spot. At least they're clean! 
But I listened to my body and rested an hour longer. As I was breaking camp, Scotty, Bryan and Mark from Thousand Oaks, CA rolled in. I first met them near Muir Trail Ranch. Good people. Always a fun time chatting with them.

After they left, I went to the river, washed up and was on my way. But my legs hardly moved. My shoulders protested the weight of my pack and my knee protested the incline of the trail. I took it slow and motored along gingerly.

the views, the wildlife and the flora and fauna helped me motor along
After about 4 and a half miles, I reached the Golden Staircase. Still not feeling to well, I contemplated resting for a while, but as I looked at the sky and the gathering dark clouds, I knew I had to keep going. The Staircase is an amazing feat of engineering. I can't begin to imagine the work involved in constructing that stretch of trail.

the Golden Staircase is surreal
Looking back down the Golden Staircase
almost atop the Golden Staircase
The Golden Staircase was the toughest climb of the hike so far. It was tedious and never-ending. I felt miserable and wanted to be done with it! Having said that, the view to the north where I had come from uplifted me every time I looked back.

Looking back to the north
I reached Lower Palisade Lake not a moment too soon. My body was yelling at me, demanding rest. I dropped my pack on a slick granite rock and laid down with my eyes closed for a few moments. I then got up and admired the beauty of the lake. Lower Palisade Lake is gorgeous!

Gorgeous Lower Palisade Lake
I know im beginning to sound like a broken record but it is my favorite lake so far. The jagged peaks that surround this crystal clear, blue body of water, and the abundance of playful fish easily visible to the naked eye make this lake truly spectacular.

Appreciating the lake's beauty, eating more wholesome, good food and resting for 30 minutes made all my pains go away. I was recharged and ready to go.

The clouds were getting darker but I decided to head for Mather Pass anyway. The climb was ruggedly beautiful.

Upper Palisade Lake, also beautiful
trail southbound toward Mather Pass
heart shaped lake west of the trail
another cool rock

The climb seemed never ending, but I did not mind as the views were spectacular.

rough, rough trail
more rough trail, but spectacular 
looking back at Upper Paradise Lake and beyond. Beautiful
Looking north just shy of Mather Pass
At 2 pm, I reached Mather Pass at 12,100 ft above sea level, took my shoes off, and rested.

Hangin out at Mather Pass
really? a cigarette butt at Mather Pass? 
Bryan - the young man carrying a backpacker guitar was already there. Today however, he was carrying both the guitar and the mandolin. I met him and his father, also named Bryan, on the trail heading from Purple Lake toward Lake Virginia. We passed one another today all the way up to the pass.

At Mather Pass, we finally had a second to chat. I inquired about the guitar, so young Bryan showed it to me, then played some tunes for us. It was surreal. Bryan played a great tune, in a great setting. I couldn't believe that we (Scott, Bryan, Mark, dad Bryan and I) were being treated to such a great time.

Needless to say that by now all my aches and pains were gone. I felt wonderful and ready to hike. But I had a 2000 ft decline ahead of me over 5.5 miles so I wasn't too confident in my feet and how they would hold up.

Bryan, Steve, Bryan and Mark descending from Mather Pass
Thankfully, this stretch of trail lacked the big steps of previous downhills and was mostly smooth dirt or gravel. And, it never rained which also made the hiking easier.

Upper Basin, south of Mather Pass
Beautiful Upper Basin
Upper Basin panorama
wonderful soft trail. great for the feet
My feet did begin to protest a half mile before camp, so I practically slowed to a crawl because there was no need to push any harder. I quickly found a flat spot way away from the trail, set up my tent, took my dinner and headed for the river to eat while I soaked my feet in cold water yet again.

While there, I noticed an abundance of red currants - or what look to be red currants - on both sides of the river. I'm not exactly sure what they were because these little guys had fuzz on the fruit, while the ones I've eaten do not. Also, I couldn't recall the shape of the leaves, so I avoided them.

currants? probably not. Oh I don't know

In all, it's been another terrific day on the trail. It's 8:30 pm as I finish ”penning” this entry and I am ready for bed. No yoga tonight as my body just wants to rest. So rest it shall receive.

Good night.
“The grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never dried all at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal dawn and gloaming, on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.” ~John Muir

posted from Bloggeroid

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