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The High Sierras: Day 2

September 14, 2013
We awoke at dawn.  This feels very intuitive to do out in the wilderness.  We broke camp quickly & got our food down from the tree.  I’m sort of glad my dad was dealing with that.  It looked complicated.
We hiked to the first creek crossing and stopped for breakfast.  I was definitely ready for coffee.  Over a tiny stove, we boiled water for oatmeal.  I was feeling the altitude so I ate & sipped my coffee cautiously.  My mood was fairly hopeful at this point.  I was feeling overall weak from altitude but hadn’t had any problems with my knees or legs.  I definitely felt benefitted from the training.  I reminded myself that last summer it had been mile 3 where my knees fell apart.
 I figured that if we hiked slowly that my brother might catch up with us during the day while we were on the trail.  During the walk my hopes started to fall apart.  It became apparent that there were multiple routes to get the lake.  There were also trails that had been made by animals.  The other problem was that after the creek we stopped at for breakfast, we couldn’t find any water sources.  We had a lot of water between us but I was worried about how my brother would do.
About 2 miles in, we popped out of the dense trees & the maze of trails we had been navigating through and hit the crest of the canyon.  It was lovely.  We saw granite rock and stunning views from all sides.  We hiked along the ridge for a while before the trail went down into the canyon.  My legs were starting to feel the miles but mostly in my hips & thigh muscles.  My knees felt okay 🙂
Since there were so many trails to get to the lakes, the trip leader (my dad) decided we needed to pick up speed to get to the lakes as quickly as possible.  I was feeling worse and worse about the chances my brother had alone in the wilderness.  But there was no cell phone service.  So nothing for it but to do what we said we were going to do.  We dropped down into the canyon floor and saw the lower lake.  We filled up on water and waited for the tablets to kick in.  The plants around the lake were lit up with the colors of fall.  It was right up there in the most beautiful views I have ever seen.
We set off for the upper lake after filling up on our treated water.  Pretty soon, we were climbing on a rock carst.  The trail was invisible and we were following ducks (rocks piled on each other).  I was feeling tired and very scared for my brother.  I tried to keep up an act for my parents but in a hiking group like that, everyone gets very attuned to everyone else’s moods.  I felt tears stream down my face as we pulled into camp that evening.
We set up camp.  I felt too unsettled to eat.  So I set up my tent and got ready for bed.  I heard my parents on the nearest ridge calling for my brother.  We have a special call that we use in the wilderness.  It can carry over a surprisingly long distance.  So I knew that when there was no response it meant he was nowhere near our camp.  Or he was unconscious or worse.  I tried not to think about that.  The sky quickly faded from day to night.  I was nestled snuggly in my little one-man tent.  I felt tired and a little nauseated but my knees felt great.  We had hiked for roughly 6 miles and had done some intense elevation gains that day.  We were camped at approximately 9,000 feet.

From → Hiking, Monsters, Travel

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