Mile 996.4-1022.1 (25.7)
I started hiking over the snowfields near Dorothy Lake with the two Norwegians close at my heels. We worked together to avoid crossing Cascade Creek twice, bushwacking and hopping small creeks. Then I hiked out in front and was alone the rest of the morning. Had a little lunch by a creek, then started climbing.
Dorothy Lake Pass was the end of Yosemite for us, but we still had a substantial climb this afternoon. It was wishful thinking to assume it was all rolling hills and high desert from here out. We climbed to nearly 11,000 feet, Curly and Chris and I together for most of it. The ridge was unbelievably windy. Then we crossed over to the north side of the mountains and it was steep snowfields for miles. Though I’ve enjoyed hiking alone, I was glad to have the company of these two Scandanavians. They watched me run/sneaker-ski/fall down a snowy slope and laughed and said it was my Scandanavian heritage. It made a forlorn mountain traverse, with few footprints to guide us, fun instead of excruciating. I also saw P-Dog flying down the mountain when we were a mile from Sonora Pass, he said hey and something else but I couldn’t hear him because he was already halfway to the road.
When we got to Sonora Pass, I said goodbye to Curly and Chris, bound for Bridgeport, and walked up the road to hitch to Kennedy Meadows North. I watched two cars pass and half-heartedly stuck my thumb out. I had enough food, I could ship my bear can away in 75 miles, I didn’t want to get stuck in town and have to spend the night. I wanted to keep hiking.
So I walked back to the trail and continued hiking north. The landscape has certainly shifted. I climbed back up to 10,500 feet over some sketchy snow traverses then created the ridge. It was 7:30pm and I panicked slightly when I saw the steep snowfield that lay ahead. I even called Spider for a pep talk, since I had cell reception for the first time since I left him at Mammoth. “Slow and smart,” he told me. I repeated it like a mantra as I made my way down. The snow was freezing again, the icy crust biting into my shins, freezing my wet feet. I focused on the barest suggestion of footprints. Someone must have hiked this before me. Who was last here?
By 8:15pm, I had descended 1000 feet and felt safe, no driving wind or bitter cold, so found a small clearing under two pine trees to make camp. No alarm for tomorrow. I want to sleep in, recharge, be totally rested for tomorrow. The Sierra took all I had. I am looking forward to a change.