Where yesterday was broken up by long stops and good conversations, today was all walking, motivation provided courtesy of the mosquitos. As I had been warned by south bounders, Bear creek was thick with blood sucking insects, hoards descending within seconds of reaching Seldon pass. I snap one quick photo of Marie lakes, where not a soul had camped, before hurrying through mosquito clouds at a near run, windpants on, head-net at the ready.
Bear Ridge offers some respite, high, dry and far from the lakes below. I stop for some internet time, knowing from last year that this is the only spot on the JMT corridor with full AT&T service. I gleefully share this news with others, starting several technology parties, and turning one family afternoon of backpacking into a spate of instagram-facebooking. You’re welcome.
I keep pushing hard, despite again feeling tired. Mammoth is calling and I am way overdue for a zero or two. Too many thoughts of quitting this week. And knowing I can’t make it to Canada this year (yay job!), makes it more difficult to keep going on days when I am lonely and tired. But hopefully this is nothing that chocolate soy milk and a long hot shower can’t fix. And a new shirt. And gaiters and sun gloves without holes. And shoes that fit. And an external battery to replace the dead soalr charger. Did I mention that I was in need of a break in town?
After a rest by the creek, I begin the third and longest climb of the day. Three thousand feet up and over Silver pass, much of the trail a massive stairway to the sky, giant stone steps I remember as waist high. I make the seven miles fueled by a single pack of caffeinated honey stinger jellies, the stairs not quite as big as remembered, though definitely as many.
I’ve heard reports that the bugs won’t be bad over on the otherside, but the weather has warmed and the info is outdated. Dinner is made doubly challenging by bugs committing suicide in my hot chocolate while I attempt to eat with a headnet. Which I occasionally smear with food, forgetting I have it on. I drop everything to snap photos as the sun goes down. Reflecting alpine glow on politically incorrectly named Squaw Lake, another sunset reward at a west facing campsite above a waterfall.
I am typing this from under the first stars. In an act of brave-laziness, I have taken up the challenge of cowboy camping despite the mosquitos. I don’t want to spend every Sierra night in my tent, which, incidentally, would not be particularly fun to pitch in the inch of sand barely covering what I know is solid granite. Instead, I will cinch my sleeping bag tight, don my sunhat with headnet and hope the combination is enough to save my skin.