Miles hiked: 13.7 (2.5 on the Trail Pass trail back up to the PCT from Horseshoe Campground, plus unknown amount ~ 1 mile? to pick up my bear canister at the pack station)
Camped at: random flat spot at 11002 feet
Tonight is the antithesis of last night’s crowded noisy campground, I have only the wind for company. I had figured it would take me 2 days of 13.6 miles each to reach Guitar Lake to set myself up for climbing Mt Whitney on Sunday, and so I didn’t want to go a step farther considering how tired I was yesterday doing longer miles, even with needing to dry camp. Tonight I was definitely ready for dinner, and so my energy was flagging somewhat at the end of the hiking, but I otherwise don’t feel so exhausted despite the poor night’s sleep I got last night.
Another elevation milestone – above 11000 feet for the first time on the PCT at Cottonwood Pass! This is apparently also the official starting point of the “High” Sierra, yea! I don’t seem to be having any worse problems breathing at 11K vs 10K, but I’m still having to pause and generally go slow. I’m thinking this will be what I have to deal with, which is ok. I just feel self conscious when other hikers are around. It’s funny I don’t mind others passing me when I’m on a break though. I could’ve descended a few more miles but I’m actually happy to be camping this high, the cold notwithstanding – maybe it’ll help with further acclimatizing.
I also encountered my first alpine lake today at lunch – with the unfortunate name of Chicken Spring Lake. Really, who thinks of these names?? The lake was lovely, and I took almost a 2 hour break there basking in the sunshine on the lakeshore and chatting with several thrus I met today. They spent some of the time planning their campsites for the next few days to set up for Whitney and then Forrester Pass. I had just done so last night, and it was funny to hear their group debate the pros and cons of the various choices. Looks like I may have company the next few nights along with some great folks to leapfrog with during the day.
I’m really hoping the sand and dust settle down soon – definitely not helping my dry hacking cough, which at least doesn’t seem to be getting worse. I’m getting sick of having to dump my shoes out at every break though! The views keep getting better and better – an awesome feeling of being on top of the world.
Many thanks again to the great folks at Cottonwood Pack Station for holding my bear canister the past few days! I retrieved it this morning to smiles and greetings from the crew. A later than normal start at 8:30 am was well worth it not to have lugged that thing since Monday :).
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