1. Higher elevations are definitely cooler.
2. There is no such thing as having a meadow to yourselves.
3. Math is important.
While the evening was definitely cooler than we had previously experienced, bedding down on a soft sandy surface that had soaked up the warmth of the sun all day, made up for it. From our campsite atop Monument Peak, we made good time getting to Star Lake and found many a tent still pitched.
Our thoughts of diving in and taking a dip were dashed, as we felt a little too self conscious to strip down into our skivvies and frolic in the icy cold water. We sauntered up the trail another mile or so and then detoured up to Cold Creek (aptly named) for a quick ice cream headache wash up of clothes, body and hair. After “freshening up”, we began what the guide book said was to be a “4.5 mile gentle descent” from Star Lake. The book however, said NOTHING about the rigorous ascent, before the “gentle descent”. ARGH! While the descent was “gentle” in regard to the trail’s footing and steepness, it failed to mention that if you tripped or stumbled near the edge, you were a goner as the trail edge dropped into a deep deep canyon.
As we walked, I hugged the inside wall, while Paul got his kicks (literally) rolling rocks off the edge and listening to when it stopped rolling. One took several minutes to become silent. Needless to say, this part, along with the ascent up to Monument Peak was very angst causing for me (it felt as though I were standing/walking on the ledge of the Empire State Building) as I am not very fond of heights, nor am I confident of my footing…thus very few I pictures were taken.
This section too was hot, dry and tedious. My body and mind were attempting a mutiny, as my knee was acting up, and there was not much that one can do about it, as the ability to ice, elevate and rest it is severely limited when you are at 8500 ft with 25 lbs on your back. I felt like one (and probably looked and smelled like) one of the Walkers on The Walking Dead. It took awhile, but the mutiny was successfully averted. We ended the day at Big Meadow and had it all to ourselves…with the exception of a MILLION mosquitoes. It was a mad dash to set up our tent without being completely sucked dry. Thank goodness for mosquito netting. It was so bad that once we got our tent set up, we threw all of our gear inside and went from there…after of course smooshing the 100 or so that “snuck” in. Once inside, we discovered as we prepped for dinner that we had seriously under-planned or rather under estimated our caloric consumption and the number of meals needed for this leg. As we spread out our remaining food and took inventory, we discovered we had the following “food” left:
- 6oz Freeze dried eggs w/ Bacon (1 packet)
- 6oz Tuna (1 packet)
- 4oz Crispy Onions (1 packet)
- Baby Bell Cheese (1)
- Parmesan Cheese (2 packets)
- 4oz dried fruit and nuts
- Via coffee (2 packets)
- Oatmeal (2 packets)
- 1 Tbs Brown Sugar
- G-2 (1 packet)
We would have to stretch this through dinner, breakfast, lunch and a “snack”. The next day’s trek from our current location to Echo Summit would be 19 miles. As luck would have it, we also had no cell service and had forgotten to text our trial angels our ETA to Echo Summit. Luckily we had made a tentative plan to meet 3-4pm…ish.
Seeing as we knew there were big and strenuous miles to make the next day, we munched down all of our protein (Tuna, Eggs w/ Parmesan cheese and the crispy onions), exchanging bite for bite until it was all gone as the mosquitoes hovered outside the noseeum netting waiting impatiently to feed upon us. As the evening’s temperature dropped, the high pitched whirl of the “mosquitoes in waiting” faded into “white noise” and was replaced by the intermittent gurgles of still hungry stomachs.
*Just a reminder, this was a trip we did July 9-17, 2013. It’s a trip we’d encourage anyone to take, especially if you are training for the PCT or any other long distance trail.