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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Sierra Sexy Sixty

Day 78 8/29

Mileage 60.4
Camped under the Ping-Pong table at Strawberry

Today was epic. Simply epic. In my nervous agitation, I couldn't sleep until around 11pm, so after one hour of uneasy sleep, I stumbled off down the trail. I listened to music and the miles flew by. I was understandably very sleepy throughout the morning. I stopped every once in a while to look up at the stars, which were absolutely fantastic, silhouetting the mountains around me, only visible as negative space without stars. I was tired, pushing up a switchbacking section of trail up to a ridge, when I came out at the top on an exposed ridge, staring into one of the most beautiful I've ever seen. I have to admit that I've only seen maybe five sunrises in my life, but even if I had seen more, I'm willing to bet that this would still be one of the best. Golden ribbons of cloud stretched across in front of me, contrasting with the lightening blue of the sky behind me. It was 6 am and I'd done just about 20 miles, and I was feeling great. After a snack, I pushed on, hitting 25 miles (halfway to 50!) and then 30 miles, by which point I had decided that 50 would not suffice, and that I would only be satisfied with a full 60. I was pretty tired at the 30-mile mark, and I allowed myself to drink one of my two backup Red Bulls that I had stashed for just such an occasion. I met a group of women in their 60s and 70s, one of whom had section hiked the PCT 40 years ago, when it was barely an idea, much less a complete trail! Awesome! After the mid 30s, things started to go downhill. The scenery kept me going. It was beautiful, mountainous, and grand. Then I hit the cows. The trail was covered in cows. They were standing in the trail, daring me to try to come at them. Finally, they ceded, after considerable anguish on my part. They were large and intimidating, and their little cowbells were making an incredible din. At 40 miles, the 20 I had remaining seemed like an insurmountably huge barrier. I was dizzy, my speech was slurred (which I only knew because I was talking to myself), and I was unsure on my feet. I collapsed on the side of the trail and began to question my resolve, unsure if I could continue any farther. So, like any half sensible thru-hiker, I buried my self-doubt in food. And, like most thru-hiker problems, my gluttony did me a world of good. 1500 Calories later, I felt reinvigorated and steeled. Apparently I had just been a dumb idiot and had let myself get too hungry. Low blood sugar is my worst enemy on the trail. It reinforced what I learned during my first week up in Washington: if I keep eating, I can keep hiking. It sounds simple, but it's surprisingly hard to remember to stop and take care of myself when I'm trying to make miles. Once I hit the 45-mile mark, I rewarded myself with my remaining Red Bull, a bag of fried onions, and a liter of Gatorade. After the descent into the river valley preceding the final climb into Sonora Pass, I stopped and chatted with a couple people, saw an absolutely enormous mushroom, and passed the 50-mile mark! 50 miles! Wahoo! The final climb, a 2500' vertical slog up to Sonora Pass, didn't end up being nearly as deathly as I was expecting. Behind me, I was treated to a stunning sunset with some singular cloud formations. As I passed the 10,000 foot mark for the first time on the trip, the end was in sight. At 9:30, I limped into Sonora Pass, met some family who were spending the weekend in Strawberry, 35 miles west of the pass, drove to the cabin, and passed out under the ping-pong table, feeling like a crippled badass.

Sierra Sunrise

Sierra Sunset

Sleepy Tim


  1. This one days post is simply... stupendous! Strawberry! Sleep well, you crippled badass!

  2. Wow! Felt like I was there (without the pain).