A friend told me I was going to need a day to recover today. After a few crumbling moments precipitated by my email inbox, I realized she was right. I took a deep breath and decided that today I could be a teacher and all I had to do was answer the huge list of questions in the online classes from the 12 days I was gone. I have so far worked my way up to this past weekend, so I'm almost caught up. And I feel worlds better. Something about focusing on the questions of tapestry weavers is a lot of fun.
My hike was wonderful. I was unable to post to the blog from the trail, so what follows is a little photo record of my walk. I hiked for 9 days and I can tell you with firm certainty that this is my limit for not having a shower. There is only so much a little bottle of Dr. Bronners and freezing cold stream water can do. I came to the trailhead at the only major paved road ten minutes before a hail storm and nine days in and that was it. The second car by was a nice woman with two dogs who, though she did turn on her car vent a couple minutes after I got in, did not complain about my smell. Straight to a hotel through a hailstorm I went. Clean clothes, shower X2, pizza... all was well. Though I got off one day before I intended to, it was the unknown shower wall that demanded it. Nine days is the limit.
Here are the photos.
Often gear gets wet at night. Of course it rains, but also I use a tarptent and the single-wall construction means that unless it is quite dry or you are smart in your pitch, you have condensation inside it in the morning. Wanting things to stay dry so I'm not cold the next night, I spend some time each day drying out the gear. I stopped just after Searle pass in the sunshine and breeze to dry the tent and sleeping bag. I had great entertainment as there were a couple thousand sheep being guided down a steep slope opposite by a couple excellent sheep dogs and a shepherd on horseback. They do make a racket! I did some spinning of my own while waiting for the gear to dry.
I had one resupply during my hike, in Twin Lakes. This is a tiny village you can walk right through and it has a much-anticipated general store. They did have the Pepsi and ice cream bar I wanted! I picked up my box, sorted the new food into my pack, and headed out of town again. I was waylaid by the newly opened Punky's food cart which had gluten free burgers and fries. Couldn't resist though hiking on that pile of grease was not the best idea I've ever had.
There is a very long walk around Twin Lakes after leaving the vortex of Pepsi and Punky's. (I will admit right here that I took the shortcut and I was seriously proud of myself for sussing it out... but I wasn't on a thru-hike. Had I been on a thru-hike I would have walked around the long way with everyone else.) On the far side of the lake is an historical site, Inter-Laken which was a resort in the late 1800s. It is being restored and one of the buildings is open to the public now. And I mean just open. You can visit. There is no one there making sure you don't steal the door knobs (so please don't--they are gorgeous).
I didn't push myself too hard on this hike. It was vacation after all. But there was one day that felt monster. I left the shores of Twin Lakes and had over 8 miles to the Clear Creek Trailhead. From there it was only 6.4 miles to camp. But it was 3000 feet straight up and then 1200 feet straight down. I swear that climb went on forever. MONSTER was all I could say. I whimpered a little when I found a campsite under a bristlecone pine at the end of it. There were no Pepsis or ice cream bars and it was late and cold. But the morning view was amazing.
I did camp under some huge bristlecone pines that night. Bristlecones are a protected tree and I don't see them all that often. These trees were massive by high-altitude standards and were likely thousands of years old. A good omen for a quiet night (best bear bag of the trip there too! Nice high branches).
What a great adventure.
I did some spinning. Some was roving that I carded at home and some was "combed" on the trail using a flick carder. I enjoyed blending colors and seeing what I could do with minimal equipment. I wove a tiny tapestry, but just one. I will continue the experiment on future hikes.