Mile 814.5-830.5 (16.0)
Barking Spider here again. I’m taking over the blog this week.
We got up early enough and found the snow that was soft and hardly strong enough to hold our weight yesterday had gotten very cold and hard overnight. It was so much easier to walk over.
Unfortunately, from the moment I woke up I felt like my right foot was broken. Something wrong with it. I found I couldn’t push off with it or even put any weight on my toes. Foot pain comes and goes constantly when you are hiking thousands of miles, so I just hoped it would pass.
Mather Pass was quick to ascend but definitely not easy. The well graded trail was buried by snow and our best bet was to step in the footsteps of the hikers who went before us. This lead us very steeply up to the top. It was nice to have our pass of the day over so early.
On the other side of the pass we headed down snowfields for a couple miles and made it to a lake. Here we kept getting off trail and it would cost us a ton of time. We’d get below the trail and end up having to scramble over rocks and cliffs, bust through dense vegetation or scale steep rock faces. It was always a great relief to find the trail again.
We took a break at the water and soaked our feet in the freezing cold snowmelt while fishes and marmots watched us with interest. We found that my claims of a broken foot weren’t just classic Barking Spider exaggerations, but maybe too true. When attempting to put my sock back on gave me excruciating pain, Homestretch was convinced I needed to see a doctor.
Still, we were not about to call in for a medical evacuation. We had to keep hiking.
The snow gave way and we had no problem following the trail for the rest of the day. We went down a steep series of stone step switchbacks into an amazing valley. The mountains on either side rose straight up thousands of feet. The area in the valley was lush with trees and plants and gushing with streams and powerful rivers.
We took a couple more breaks enjoying the beautiful trail, and got to our campsite for the night around 6. We are about half a mile south of the junction to Bishop Pass, an 11.5 mile hike to the northeast that exits at a road near the town of Bishop. Tomorrow Stretch and I will temporarily part ways there as I take my quickest route out of the Sierra to seek medical attention. She will continue north and see me when she gets to Mammoth Lakes. What happens after that will depend on the condition of my foot.