Day 57 I Met a Bear

Miles: 19 very difficult ones
Total: 987.4 (Every bit counts today)

Oh not again, I think, looking at the dark clouds congregating one ridge over. It’s shaping up to be a repeat of yesterday late afternoon, minus the company. Here I am, on a long climb up increasingly exposed granite ledges, with thunder grumbles and drops of rain.

I keep hiking anyway, waiting to see lightening before deeming the situation dangerous enough to seek cover. Yes, I know, if you can hear thunder, you are in striking distance, but we can’t stop at every sign of danger out here. The questionable circumstances, however, are grounds enough for pushing as quick as I can up over the hill, the second or third sizable ascent on a day of constant steep ups and downs. The severity is not in my imagination: a trail crew confirmed that Yosemite refuses to build to gentler PCT standards. 

Perhaps the questionable weather was my ‘reward’ for dwelling in misery land again this morning. I am feeling physically slightly better today, but still have mega doubts about continuing on after Sonora Pass. The walking part of the journey has just not been any fun lately. And it is what I do mostly alone for ten hours everyday. I promised myself before I began, that I would stop hiking if and when it stopped being fun.

I woke to condensation everywhere. Not exactly a surprise lakeside after rain. I stayed in camp an hour late to ‘yard sale’ the moisture from my gear in the morning sun. The trail is difficult to follow today, washed of footprints and covered in deep puddles. I can feel the humidity rising from the damp earth in the sun, making the day feel that much warmer. The way continues to be too steep. I barely lift my eyes from the tread, worried of falling and tired of Yosemite’s granite everything, cliffs, ledges, stairs. Out of patience, I stomp straight through several creek fords, shoes socks gaiters and all, adding sloshy feet to my list of woes.

The trail does continue to be rewarding in other ways. I had my first bear while hiking sighting, I was alone too. I heard thumpity noises to the left of the trail, turned and saw the back end of a fat bear bounding away. I was too busy processing the fact that the big furry beast running from me was in fact a Yosemite bear, to be scared. Other hikers are jealous, “Fixie Saw a Bear!” they say, sharing my story.

There is also an abundance of wildflowers trailside. It must be peak season. Many times I felt I was walking through a rock garden, that the stone steps were intentionally landscaped. The colors changing with microclimates and all the accompanying butterflies helped distract me from my dark mood.

The day ended with yet another ford, shoes off this time since they had managed to dry and I had regained some composure. After pitching my tent as refuge for mosquitos, I take a quick plunge, stepping into water that is surprisingly deep, and thankfully, surprisingly wam. I wash eighty miles of sweat and worries into the gentle creek, then make a mad dash for safety. Safe, clean and dry in my tent, I never, ever, think of quitting. 

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