Day 41: Mountains Of Snow

June 4
Start: somewhere 5 miles from trailhead
Stop: rocky ledge over 12000 ft.
14 Miles
Total miles: 657

The alarm goes off at 4 am for a 5 am start. We’ve got to make as many early morning miles as possible before the snow softens. The sky is light enough that we don’t need headlamps. Even still, the going is slow and we average about 1 mph. And despite being surrounded by snow, we are running out of water. We depart from the ridgeline and happily find snowmelt full of little woody debris chunks.

Not long before lunch I look out across the mountain and see a bear lumbering across the snow. Boy, wish I could move that fast. By noon we’ve managed to cover about 8.5 miles. After lunch we descend into a bowl, lose the trail for a while and do extra miles. Focus spews negativity as group moral dips. We slowly pick our way through the trees. I posthole and my snowshoe gets tangled in some small branches. My forward momentum wrenches my right knee and I cry out until I’m able to relieve the strain. Somehow my knee feels pretty good and I push on.

Exhaustion and fatigue sets in. With heavy packs and breath, we drag ourselves up and out. We curve around onto a glacial tidepool ledge over 12,000 ft. We take off our snowshoes and move along the rocks. We’re so happy to have our snowshoes off that we skip along like five year olds. We pass up a decent camping area for another half hour of hiking. This only nets us a shitty campspot among rigid tufts of grass and rocks. The view makes it all worth it though. I miss the sunset because I’m preoccupied with crying. After 30 minutes of tinkering, my stove will not ignite. I eventually push myself out of my tent and Fun Size boils me some water. Serena surrounds me with down warmness. Darkness falls as I inhale my warm dinner. I lay down to start my journal but fall asleep immediately.

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