Day 40: Thursday, June 13

Cowboying at Dutch Meadow (PCT mi 743.0), walked 22.8 miles today

It was really nice when I opened my eyes at 6 but did not have to immediately pack up and leave in a race against the sun. In general, it's nice to have a normal day schedule again instead of the 6-to-8-hour midday breaks and crazy night runs that everyone was forced into at the end of the desert section. Got out by 7:45ish and had a good morning, actually kind of cold, climbing up to 10,800 feet then dropping to 9,000 or so. Water was sparse still, but when we did get it it was pure heaven, the really really cold and clear stuff. Dat good shit.

Matan talks to Gangster in Hebrew all the time and he says Gangster's a genius, he graduated with a 99 average on a double degree in math and computer science from the second-best university in Israel, and was the equivalent of valedictorian all four years. I probably wouldn't have guessed this because he likes to say things in his Borat voice like, "Are you typing your blog right now?! No, dot orgy!" I like having the Israelis around, though ... they've done a surprisingly good job of leading us out of the desert. It's been nowhere close to 40 years yet. They make fun of Americans for saying "awesome" and "I appreciate it" and we make fun of them for taking extended afternoon breaks to brew tiny cups of sludgy coffee, and for plotting in Hebrew to secretly kill us all. It's a fair tradeoff.

All the hiking today was beautiful, we saw the really high Sierra peaks a few times, including what Gavin and I both thought was Whitney (he's climbed it before, I've seen a billion pictures of it on the internet). Aside from two climbs, it was surprisingly gentle wooded terrain with a ton of open space in the understory ... One of the small things I'm liking about the Sierra is that anytime you want to take a break, there is always a perfectly-sized sitting rock somewhere within easy walking. The landscape seriously encourages dallying.

My feet now smell worse than they ever have in their life, like something crawled up and died inside my shoes. I haven't actually cleaned myself with soap since the extremely weak shower at the Mojave Motel 6, 9 days ago, almost everything since then has been a dusty sweaty slog, and swimming in the Kern before Kennedy Meadows only kind of cleaned me up. My socks haven't been washed since the Saufleys and they're starting to fall apart ... hello Darn Tough lifetime warranty. All this has resulted in a level of filth I have rarely if ever achieved. Still got 3 full days before getting to town in Independence.

Tonight when we got to camp we built the first campfire I've seen so far on the PCT. I make fun of Bow a lot for selling the fuck out and getting not only trekking poles but a stove sent to him in Kennedy Meadows, but his hot meals actually did look kind of good compared to my cold beans this evening, because it's actually kind of cold here ... we're at 10,000 feet again. There's a lone hiker playing a didjeridoo at his campfire somewhere a few hundred yards from our campsite. Tomorrow we do a longish day to Crabtree Meadows to set ourselves up to climb Whitney the day after.