Total Miles: 813.2
Today was a very simple story of one thing, a simultaneous protagonist and antagonist: water. On the one hand, its beauty and abundance are part of what make the Sierra such a pleasure to hike through. On the other, the spring snowmelt has swollen even seasonal streams into bone chillingly cold shin-deep fords. Combined with the snow that still blankets large swaths of the high country, the days are increasingly defined by what degree of frozen each of us considers our feet throughout the day and most especially at its end.
Only a few miles into the morning, we crossed a suspension bridge that marked the beginning of a long, 4000-foot climb up to the next of the high passes: Pinchot Pass.
Moments after crossing the bridge, we hit another milestone: the 800-mile mark.
Making the starkest of contrasts to the first 700 miles of desert, water is everywhere here. If we weren't wading across it or gazing into its shades of turquoise we were following it. The rapidly melting snowpack has turned the landscape into a chorus of crashing water.
For the past two days, I've seen significantly fewer hikers than any other time on the trail so far, giving me an even more acute sense of the wildness of these mountains. It seems as though the hikers have been replaced by an army of these little guys, who were out in such numbers today that I thought this stretch of trail ought to be dubbed 'The Marmot Highway'.
Spectacular as the scenery was, the long ascent of Pinchot Pass took it out of all of us today, but there's no rest for the weary with another 20 miles and a high pass to cross on each of the next three days.
Here's hoping that at least we don't have too many more river fords like this one to deal with...