Day 60: mile 951.1 – mile 970.6
Elevation gain: 4,214 ft
Elevation loss: 4,339 ft
Good Golly…the trail was either super steep up or super steep down today as you can see from the elevation profile:
We knew what laid ahead for us today so we were walking by 7am. Man, we can really just get so much more done having that extra hour! Plus the mosquitoes are still sleeping and we really didn’t see them today until around 9:30/10. We got to walk through more super cool Meadows (I promise they are different than the ones we have posted pix of in the last few days 😜).
The trail was just brutally steep today. The ascents were filled with more granite staircases and the descents were the same, with a bunch of tree roots and rocks to maneuver around as well. This makes it virtually impossible to look around, so now we are doing all this hard work and have to stop walking if we want to appreciate it which is a bummer. So it was tough to get into a rhythm but we surprisingly made good time until lunch. We are so confused what constitutes a Pass because a bunch of these climbs this morning were way more gnarly than many of the Passes we have already done. Like Island Pass…that was WAY more mellow than these today! Link was “doin’ his thing” again and assured we wouldn’t be walking with wet feet. We had to be pretty strategic during many river crossings today, but our feet were dry!
We only walked by 2 lakes today: Miller and Smedberg, both super buggie so we had to move on in a hurry. I do have to say that I am loving the hood on my new shirt! It gives me a little protection from mosquitoes and sun…I can’t even feel it on my head and it always stays put! I use it more than I ever thought I would.
We had done about 13 miles when we decided to stop for lunch at 1:00. We were sitting on a rock next to a stream when one of the coolest things happened! Right across the stream a large doe ran right in front of our view. We assumed she would see us and just keep going straight, but instead she turned right toward us to cross the stream at the trail. This was literally within 5 feet of us! Link and I both froze and she seriously didn’t seem to smell or see us (maybe we smell just like the wilderness now 😂). She continued across the stream, now within just a few feet of us, stopped to smell the air, looked right at us, and then finally ran up the hill when Link said, “grab your camera”. I’m so bummed I didn’t get a video or pic of her, but I knew if I moved she would’ve run off and I loved watching her when she didn’t know we were there! She was breathing really heavy, like something had spooked her before she ran toward us, so then we wondered what that could’ve been 😳. Probably the coolest thing we have ever seen besides the time a few years ago when we came across a mama and baby bear playing in a lake together. This was definitely the best lunch entertainment EVER!
We had done one mile of the last climb of the day before lunch. So we just had 2 more miles to Benson Pass (10,107 ft) before the final 4.5 to camp. We can do anything for 2 miles, right? That’s what we told ourselves as we each put in an ear bud and tried to gear up for what we knew would be a doozy. We still had 1,318 feet of elevation to climb in just the 2 miles, and Yosemite did not disappoint in the difficulty factor. It took us 2 hours to go just the 2 miles and THERE WAS NO SNOW! It was our first Pass without any snow on the trail and it still took that long…YIKERS!
The descent was more of the same steep terrain that was actually pretty ridiculous at times. Basically no faster than if we were ascending, and our already weary legs were working overtime. Then to really finish us off, there were still a couple more climbs after the Pass before we got to the camp spot.
We made it to the tent site at 5:45, but it’s in the trees by a stream so we are being greatly out numbered by the mosquitoes. We both had to put on our bug nets for the first time EVER! We have carried these with us this whole time, and, thank goodness, have never needed them before tonight. We also tried to do all of our cooking and filtering water on a rock in a clearing away from the trees. A few less mosquitoes, but still fairly miserable.
We have 2 more big days of climbing ahead of us before Kennedy Meadows North, so we will both be taking Aleve tonight in hopes that our old bodies can handle it 😜 Thanks for reading! Double Down