Cowboying next to an enormous log (PCT mi 720.7), walked 19.2 miles today
Waited around for the store to open at 9 this morning, closed out my tab, bought 2 delicious muffins and a frappuccino for breakfast, then walked out around 10 with Gavin, Bow and Matan. Shortly afterward we ran into Gehaz the Gangster and the 5 of us ran together the rest of the day. Great conversation and a lot of terrible, terrible jokes all day long ... First time I've really done social hiking for longer than a few hours on the whole PCT.
One dirty secret of the PCT is that the desert doesn't end at Kennedy Meadows, though everyone looks forward to it as such. It's just the last place to resupply before the High Sierra section begins. Some people had said that the Sierra doesn't really start until like 40 miles after KM, but that's total BS, like so many things people say out here ... Anyone who walked it today can tell you that the Sierra started precisely at mile 713 when we crested a saddle and looked at Beck Meadow, pictured below, with huge brown granite peaks in the background. The transition was immediate ... Gavin said, "Whoa, we just stepped into high country." It's kind of also still the desert, because water is still in short supply, but that will end soon; in the meantime the scenery has completely changed and the trail gained serious elevation in the afternoon to the point where we're camping at 9,500 feet tonight and go to 10,500 tomorrow morning before descending a little. The woods are that high, snow-influenced, piney, not-too-dense Sierra canopy and the undergrowth is pretty sparse with a lot of white boulders. It's cold, my GoLite candy-apple red puffy is doing wonders and I don't think I could be warm enough right now (or sleeping later) without it. It feels _fantastic_ to finally be here ... I liked the desert more than most, I feel, and I basically went through it without a single setback, which is rare, but to be in the cool high country is just better than being in the desert, if I can be so declarative. And there's finally some solid company that goes my pace ... couldn't be happier.