Total Miles: 977.7
Well, that hurt. Today marked a significant change in the character of the trail. What had been consistently predictable for nearly every step of the first 950 miles—steady, moderate grade with good footing—turned into something very different, something more closely resembling the beast of the east—the Appalachian Trail—with its steep, jarring ascents and descents and its rocky, rooted tread. Physically, this was probably the most demanding day of the trail thus far despite very little of it being covered in snow.
Up and over two steep passes, the trail has a wilder feel the further north we push from Tuolumne Meadows. Even the trademark sloping granite domes and towers of Yosemite appear somehow angrier here, less genteel, more snarled and broken. Hopeful though we were that today we would be able to catch up with the group, even pushing twenty miles in this terrain we knew it wouldn't be enough. The next two days promise more of the same.
Gazelle felt a bit better today, though certainly still not 100%. I'm amazed that she's been able to push herself through days like today while being on what must feel like a day-to-day roller coaster of wellness.
Like the rest of the Sierra, the day wasn't short on scenery with the highlights being small lakes dotting the high country near the top of the second pass. We had taken a quick swim in a sun-warmed and shallow lake earlier in the day, and each successive one we passed offered the same crystal clear inviting water.
My clothes and pack are dotted with flecks of blood from the ubiquitous swarms of mosquitoes, and getting into my tent to write is the first opportunity for relief each evening. Next to me is the last of my goodies from the post office yesterday, this one a gift to myself: a new sleeping bag. My previous one had been along on my thru-hike of the JMT with Emily last year, and its warmth (or lack thereof) has continued to disappoint. My general tendency to sleep cold on the trail combined with a dwindling supply of body fat meant that it was time to make a change. After only one night, the new bag is a huge improvement.