Water: 3 from a creek; 4 from another creek. Too lazy for quarter miles side trail to springs.
I roll over, sniffle and then feel liquid running down my cheek. Yesterday a tent on the face, today a bleeding nose. Both lovely ways to start the day. Luckily Chef is a quick draw with the tissue.
I boil water for oatmeal to compensate, my first hot breakfast on trail. The sunrise is glorious up on the hill, I use the nosebleed as an excuse to get a late (7am) start and move slowly. I keep stopping to check for phone service. Last night in bed I mysteriously had full service for 10 minutes and then nothing at all.
Luckily I am paying attention to where I am walking: there’s a snake right on the trail getting some morning rays. I look at its head and tail, a small rattlesnake, diamondback is my best guess. It sneaks away into the rocks before I can take a picture, rattling a tiny rattle as it goes.
I catch up to Chef and ask her if she saw the snake. “No, but I did step over a strange stick” she replies. “A rattlesnake shaped stick?” It was. Twice before I have been in the other end of such conversations, wondering how close I have come to stepping on snakes.
The trail is lots of up, then lots of down, multiple times. We are definitely in the Sierras now. There’s more water. And more bear sightings, stories running up and down the trail. I later learn that Double Step went running down a side trail for water (the trail I lazily skipped) and almost straight into a bear. Someone yelled “stop running!” just in time.
There’s also a large bear print beside the trail that I missed. Though I did see more snakes, a very thin one, sage green on top with a shockingly orange belly and tail ring. There’s also a magical spring, where a previous hiker has rigged an adorably genius leaf spout for filling bottles from the shallow trickle.
I walked alone almost all day, passing the 1/4 mark, still more than half of California to go. But for the last few miles after a too big dinner, I dragged my way a few more miles uphill with Chef, a few miles closer to Kennedy Meadows. So full. So uphill. We camped together with our food, hoping for the best. There’s some kind of burned and deserted structure behind us and rusted bits and pieces strewn about. It would be creepy if I wasn’t so tired. Grey and Greg and Cheese are all here too. Cowboy campers and light sleepers on duty listening for bears.