Destination: Mile 736ish
Last night we slept at our highest camp yet (9250 ft). This morning we struggled to wake up. Once up, we continued yesterday's climb to approximately 10,300 feet, only to drop back down to 9000 feet and climb again.
The morning climb of about 1000 feet was very slow going. Our pack weight combined with the elevation, and annoying mosquitoes was very difficult. Fortunately, the mosquitoes kept us moving, even if it was at a crawl nearly half our normal pace. Nearing the 10,000 feet mark, we started to see some snow. At the top of the climb we had a close up view of the rocky Olancha Peak, as well as a magnificent view of the sierras, our next month of hiking.
We dropped down to 9000 feet, passing through sage covered hillsides and forested woodlands. Exhausted, we stopped two miles down, and again two miles further. Psycho filtered water while Apricots napped. One hour later, we walked another three miles, passing Gomez Meadow to where we had lunch.
After lunch, we took a long nap. We had decided it would be better to do this leg of the hike in seven days, rather than six. Our bodies are still acclimating to the higher elevation, so we move slower. Not to mention that starting tomorrow we should see a lot more snow, which will slow us down considerably. Fortunately, every hour we become more adjusted, and every day our food supply diminishes rendering a lighter pack.
Just as we were getting up to go, Axilla, General Lee, Wizard, and Uncle Tom walked up. We chatted briefly with them before starting our hot dry climb to 10,650 feet. The climb took us through several switchbacks of granite covered land, and offered us some of the most beautiful terrain we have encountered. Rich red stringy bark clung to trees, while other trees showed signs of fire damage. Their twisting bare trunks, and limbless bodies shot skyward like spires on a cathedral.
Large granite boulders were thrown across the trail, with over sized out croppings provided obstacles for the trail to wind around. Soon we reached the high point where views down to the valley to the east showed colorful fields and lakes.
One mile later we reached camp, where we fought off mosquitoes while we prepared dinner. Tomorrow we will climb to over 11,000 feet. Tonight's sleep should help us further acclimate to our elevation.
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