On today's ride we visited the site of the Manzanar concentration camp where ten thousand Japanese Americans were imprisoned during WWII.  All that remains are the stone entry gates, some of the stone foundations of the administrative buildings, and the central auditorium type hall that has now been converted into an "interpretive center".   We understand that more reconstruction is in the works with the recreation of one of the 100+ prisoner barracks.  

In any case, it's well worth the stop if you're ever on 395 north of Lone Pine.   Visiting there made us wonder how close we are to forgetting lessons like this -- dreadfully close, I fear.


After two years of immersion in hiking and climbing, Tina finds herself coming back to long distance cycling with fresh senses and new observations.   For instance, while we'd covered the stretch of road between Ridgecrest and Lone Pine many times in the rental car, Tina found herself seeing quite a lot that she hadn't noticed before --- entire lakes, water crossings, those little white crosses by the side of the road, historical markers (which we'd actually stop at), the smells - good and bad, and just generally being more aware of what's going on.   Of course, one also is keenly aware of where the road rises and falls, where the shoulder is rough and where it's smooth, where the breeze blows and where you're baked in the sun, etc .. ;-)

Yesterday there was a new one even for me.   We were spinning along when suddenly there were honey bees everywhere around us.   It looked like there was a swarm trying to move from our left to our right but a good many bees got caught up with us for a bit.   The interesting thing was that the bees brought with them a powerful smell of pollen.    That makes total sense but it's just not something I had thought about before -- that swarms of bees smell!


We're going to take a day here in Independence to let Tina recover a bit from some, um, "localized pain" and bruising as she gets her cycling legs back.   We'll update again in 2-3 days.  

All the best!  Hiker & Biker

Bike Mode!

We're on the bike headed north!

The water crossings up in the mountains are just too crazy for either of us to stomach right now.   Consequently, we're going to bike north while the snow pack melts off to a more manageable level and set Tina up to complete her hike as a southbound hiker -- ideally finishing back on Whitney just before the first major winter snows.   The math for that is nearly impossible but that's the goal. 

For now, we're headed up Highway 395 -- aka the "Eastern Sierra Scenic Byway".  At Lee Vining the Sierra Cascades Route crosses back from the western side of the Sierras and we'll then follow it on up to Canada.

Starting the new program, today we cycled the 55 miles up from Ridgecrest to Olancha.  Once there we were lucky to find shelter from the many thunderstorms at an RV park that had an fully-equipped 5th wheel we were able to rent for the night.   Score!

Until tomorrow, David

Trail Pass to Whitney; recap

Happy Independence Day everyone!   Tina and I are back at Ridgecrest gearing up for the next phase of our trip.   More about that in my next post, but meanwhile I'm overdue with the recap of last week's adventures.

As you may recall, last Monday evening I "released" Tina at Horseshoe Meadows so that she could climb back up to the PCT at Trail Pass to spend the night above 10,000 and re-establish her high altitude acclimatization.   I walked out with her to the first stream crossing.   The stream looked to be a small thing, I measured it at only 5 feet wide -- but it was flowing rapidly and I measured it at 4 feet deep!   Luckily a log had been placed across this creek but over the next couple days water crossings became a huge issue for Tina.   Keep in mind that all this water is fresh snow melt too -- at about 35 degrees!

Tuesday Tina hiked through beautiful territory but towards the end of the day she came to Rock Creek -- her first truly difficult ford.   At the very edge of the creek she was in just thigh deep but the current was raging so much she couldn't get her poles planted.   From there the creek got much deeper and faster -- clearly a no go.   After escaping that she eventually found a fallen log to cross on.   Usually she just walks across on those but the current was moving at dizzying speed and that proved impossible.   Crawling didn't work either since her pack kept trying to come over the top of her head and flop one way or another.  She wound up having to straddle it and very slowly inch her way across -- and as you can see from the picture above -- that was not a simple operation!

The fine scenery continued on Wednesday but it was a bit of a bleak day.   For starters, there were too many miles to reach Whitney, climb, and descend in just one day -- and that was before Tina had to take a 3 mile detour to get around another rough stream crossing.   Second, there were often scary clouds and the forecast spelled treacherous summit conditions through the night (winds to 60s, temps in the 20s).   Topping it off, Tina met two pairs of hikers coming the other way and both pair had said that they'd tried to climb Whitney but had given up.   A pair of boys had given up out of route finding difficulties and the other, a young couple, had just given up entirely (on the PCT) out of a combination of route finding problems, water crossing fears, and weariness of dealing with snow.    Not exactly the cheer-up one would hope for!    We decided that Tina would hunker down just prior to the Whitney snow and we'd evaluate things again in the morning.

By Thursday morning the front had passed through and Tina woke to stellar weather.  She decided to proceed with her Whitney summit attempt with me providing navigational assistance via GeoPro if needed.    After a bunch of snow walking and later a bunch of steep snow climbing, some bouldering, and a few intense route finding moments, Tina made it to Trail Crest a bit after 2pm -- that's where the eastern and western approach trails meet before following a ridge up to Whitney.   There she found a fair many hikers who'd come up the eastern approach.   After a bit of chatting they all dropped their packs and raced for the summit which was another 2 miles and 1000 feet up -- a long ways you'd think but I could tell from Tina's messages that she and the others essentially floated up that last bit driven by their excitement and joy.  Awesome stuff! :)

By the time summit festivities had concluded (almost 5pm) it was much too late to safely navigate the top of the eastern approach trail and so Tina elected to set up camp at 13,500 feet just a couple hundred yards down from Trail Crest.    Most other days of the year that would unthinkable but that particular night the forecast was flawless and so Tina camped up there in wonderful conditions with incredible views of the mountains and stars -- a perfect way to end the day.    The only fly in the ointment was that her stove malfunctioned and so she was unable to use it to melt snow for water (she used the remaining sun instead) or cook herself a nice dinner.

Friday it was time to descend.   By the time Tina broke camp and made it back up to Trail Crest she could already see the first wave of hikers / climbers coming up "The Chute" -- the ones who either camped just below the chute or had arisen at 1-3am at some intermediate camp on the way up.    Only 100 hikers are allowed to attempt an eastern ascent each day (there's a lottery settled in February each year for those slots) and so most of those have been preparing for a very long time.   Unfortunately for them (and Tina), in most years by this time the hikers are able to use a system of 97 switchbacks to come up the last 1600 feet or so to Trail Crest but with this year's record snows those were unusable and this forces everyone into the technical (Class 3) snow / ice chute covering that same rise with an average pitch of 57% with sections over 70%.   Many people have been injured and some have died as a result of an uncontrolled slide here.

Consequently, Tina thought it might be a good idea to see a few people go down before she attempted it herself!  :-}  .. but the people just kept coming, and coming, and coming .. most arrived completely exhausted, took a good long rest, and then headed for the summit after dumping their packs as Tina had done the previous evening.   But nobody was going down!    So Tina sat there on the rocks above the chute watching all of the slow struggles unfold and, as it turns out, her face was being absolutely cooked by the sun while she did that.  

Finally after hours of people coming up some started to head down and after a bit Tina followed.   It took her almost two hours to navigate her way down to tamer snow and she said it was some of the most harrowing "hiking" she has ever done.   Even though she was equipped with crampons (Katoola KTS) her feet slipped completely out from her many times and she was saved by hanging onto her carefully-anchored ice axe.   Somewhere down the slope she lost one of her trekking poles and a water bottle.   She saw them go but there was no way she could get to them.   Her remaining pole she bent during one of the falls and so now we're looking at getting her third set for the hike.  :-}

In any case, she did make it down and reported that the eastern slopes of the mountain were fabulously beautiful.   While transiting the chute her face progressed from merely burned to completely fried and so now she's peeling even up inside her nostrils!  

When I met her at Whitney Portal a bit after 6pm, her statement was that yesterday (Thursday) she had been overjoyed to have summited the mountain but that today (Friday) she was overjoyed simply to have survived and be alive!  


p.s. I sat on the Portal trail for a good bit and intereviewed most of the returning hikers / climbers.   Comparing my numbers with Tina's counts at Trail Crest I concluded that less than 60% of those attempting the climb that day succeeded. 

On Top of the World !!


After a long day Tina reached the summit of Mount Whitney!!

Tina's GeoPro message:

2011-06-30 16:20: WE DID IT!  I'M ON TOP OF THE WORLD!

Yay!!!   ...

Since it was too late in the day to head down the very steep "chute" and the foreign trail below Tina opted to camp at a nice site she spotted just a few hundred yards towards the PCT on the JMT (her approach path) up at 13,450 feet.   The weather forecast is great for tonight and tomorrow - plus she has stellar views!   Should be a great night!   

More details and pics later!


Hunkering down -- up in the mountains

Tina loaded to the max at Horseshoe Meadows - ready to head up and out (Monday evening).

A look at Tina's camping spot for last night, the 3 mile snow field she's about to cross, Crabtree Ranger Station / campground where she's planning to spend most of the day trying to stay out of today's high winds and cold temps, and Mount Whitney which she intends to summit tomorrow.


Tina headed back out late Monday afternoon more or less as planned.   Earlier in the day she tried for hours to pack 10 days of food into her pack along with all her winter clothes, ice axe, crampons, bear canister, and so on but it was a no go.   She had to change her target and load up for a much sooner exit at Kearsarge Pass.

Already, though, this has turned out to be a very good thing -- it's apparent now 10 days food would have never been enough to make the distance.   It's definitely tough going up there especially with the water crossings.    Yesterday Tina was nearly swept away trying to cross Rock Creek (which is a "raging torrent" by several accounts) but was able to retreat and eventually found a log that she could scoot over to reach the other side.   Tina is usually happy to walk the narrowest of beams but she said she couldn't do it on this one -- the raging water made her dizzy.

Originally she'd hoped to make it past a 3-ish mile snow field yesterday and camp at Crabtree Meadows and perhaps summit Mount Whitney today.   However, the troubles with crossing that creek took that option off the table and so she camped just a mile from the snow at  ~10,400 feet.

That's just as well, tho.   A storm has arrived north of us which is actually dumping 6-8 inches of snow on the mountains (north of us) and is resulting in high winds (38-43, gusts to 60) and low temperatures (a high of 35 forecast today) with a chance of T-storms near where Tina is at.

Consequently, she's about to cross the snow field and head towards a back country ranger station where she can hunker down for the day and camp tonight.   She'll attempt Mount Whitney tomorrow instead of today and will probably exit east down towards Lone Pine for some regrouping instead of returning to the trail right away.   As advised but is now very clear, you really need to have a team to cross some of these "streams" this year and some of the streams just aren't fordable without at least waiting until the next morning -- which makes for very slow going.


Ten thousand feet and climbing

Tina did make it all the way to Horseshoe Meadows on Friday evening just as we'd hoped.  We had had some tangle with the exact meet point but thankfully we were able to get that straightened out with some GeoPro messaging before we were both eaten alive by the tremendous flock of mosquitoes hanging around up there.   Yow!

So what's next?   Since then we've been doing some anxious relaxing back here in Ridgecrest as we wait for Monday's mail and the big batch of dehydrated food that will bring.  We've been reading every trail report we can get our hands on and I've been getting very handy at loading the daily snow analysis into Google Earth to scrutinize the the daily changes in the snow pack.   The whole situation has been driving us nuts as we contemplate every imaginable combination of biking / hiking etc that would somehow get the whole trail hiked before heavy snow fall at the north end of the trail or back down here (e.g., if we we were to "burn" snow melt time by biking north to Canada to hike south). For the moment, Tina's concluded that she's just going to go straight ahead into the snow, ice, and rushing water to see for herself how things are!

Assuming she can fit all 10 days of food in her bear canister, and that everything else can somehow get into or onto her pack, and that she can carry the result load, the plan is to get Tina back onto the trail sometime tomorrow afternoon so that she can spend the night re-acclimating around the 10,000 foot level.    If that works out the next day will hold a full day hike to the base of Mount Whitney to set up for a summit attempt on Wednesday.   From there, it'll be onward for another week to VVR or out earlier via Kearsarge Pass if the 10 day load just won't work (it's looking bleak tonight as Tina packs and repacks).

On Tuesday or maybe Wednesday I'll be headed out on the bike for either VVR or Bishop -- I haven't decided yet. 

In a strange turn, it looks like we'll be taking Sweep & Tripp up to Horseshoe Meadow with us.   We originally met them at Hiker Town and then bumped into them again last weekend at a McDonalds we stopped at in Isabella Lake while we were on our way to Monterey.   They were just about to catch a bus to Bakersfield as the first leg of a long journey to Soquel, a town very close to Monterey!   So instead they hopped in with us and made our own trip much shorter too.    Anyway, the strange turn is that when I wrote Tripp today for some of her Sierra snow knowledge I discovered they were planning to drop a vehicle off at Walkers Pass *tomorrow* and get a ride to Horseshow Meadows from a friend who was going to spend the day driving up from LA and back.   So now the stars have aligned again and it's going to be easy to fetch them on our own way to Horseshow Meadows -- a classic trail coincidence!  :)


Left KM yesterday - Lone Pine tonight?

We were late getting Tina up to Kennedy Meadows yesterday morning but found that even then at the very late hiker hour of 9:30, no other hikers had left yet either.   They say that Kennedy Meadows has a very strong magnetic pull and that it's hard to leave once you've arrived -- apparently so!

I launched Tina on a two mile slack pack across the "meadow" and agreed to meet her with her pack at the campground where the PCT started its climb back up.    To slack pack means to walk with no or a mostly-unloaded pack while someone else arranges for your pack to be waiting for you at the end of the day (or, in this case, just two miles).   Some hostels and motels along this trail (and the AT) get more nights out of hikers by dropping them off in the morning and picking them up at the end of the day to return to the hostel.   Some very strategically-located ones can actually pull this trick off for several days!!   Anyway, Tina has never slack packed before (on the AT or the PCT) but with her extra heavy pack it seemed like a good way to ease a couple miles at the start of a long day. 

When she arrived to meet me that couple miles later she said that it'd been a great choice because the path had been hot and all deep sand.   The funny thing is that I'd offered the same 2-mile slack to three other hikers that were ready to head out when Tina was and all had turned me down.   But when they finally arrived to where I had waited for Tina they had become enlightened and understood the error of their ways .. ;-)

Tina went on to hike about 20 miles yesterday with 4700 feet of elevation gain and camped above 9000 feet at what sounded like a nice spot (excepting the vicious mosquitoes -- the price for camping near water).    Here is her (GeoPro) text message from last night describing the day's hike and campsite: "Beautiful meadows with streams running through them.  Much greener.   Lots more water.  Some small waterfalls.  Gorgeous views from campsite.  Up high amongst boulders.  Can see some snowdrifts about 100 yards off.  Tenderfoot and Dreamcrusher in trees below, not far."  

Tenderfoot and Dream Crusher are a couple we met way back underneath I-10.   Tenderfoot is the guy and Dream Crusher is the girl, btw.  :)   I'll note now for future message excerpts that sending a message from the GeoPro is much harder than sending one from a cell phone and so you're forced into a telegraph style of talking.   The amount of text above probably took her 5-10 minutes to enter.


The original plan was for Tina to reach the 2.5 mile Trail Pass exit tomorrow with me picking her up at Horseshoe Meadows but with the 13 miles of progress she'd made by lunch today and stretch goal has become to come all the way today yet (~46 miles and ~9000 feet elevation gain for the two days).   We're both hoping that works out.    I'm really looking forward to seeing all the pictures plus she reported that she'd both seen and photographed her first marmot of the trip.    We gather that they'll be common throughout the High Sierras.

The biking is still good.   I rode the 47 miles out, up, and back to Walker Pass this morning to get some good trial time on a new hydration pack I bought yesterday.   Good ride and everything with the pack was fine.   Later I went to hang out again with Bob at the bike shop and petted on the shop dog and cat, Abby and BobCat a bit more too.  ;-)

Until later, David

Kennedy Meadows -- High Sierra Time

Tina reached Kennedy Meadows around noon today as planned (passing the 700 mile mark in the process!) and tomorrow morning heads out and up into the High Sierras.   For hundreds of miles on it'll be a rare for the trail to dip below 9000 feet and after 3 more days walking she'll enter continuous 100% snow coverage with no visible trail and very high & fast water crossings.   In normal years the trail conditions wouldn't be nearly so tough, but this year the western mountains received something like 450% more than usual!!   Hikers closer to the front report their daily mileages are nearly halved and their food requirements doubled.

As the plan stands now, I'll meet her about 2.5 miles off trail near Trail Pass for resupply in Lone Pine in about three days.   From there we're not entirely sure what our strategy is going to be.    Hikers are successfully reaching VVR and Tolumne Meadows a few days beyond VVR, but so far the hikers at the lead of the pack have found un-fordable water crossings just after and have had to turn back.   

The operating assumption is that Tina will proceed on from Lone Pine to VVR passing the possible exit at Kearsarge Pass (since that'd involve more than a day's hard travel for the out and back from the trail to the road-accessible trail head) while I bike the 350+ miles over to and up the west side of the mountains.   Other possibilities include some sort of complex hybrid bike/hike flip-flopping to give the snow a bit of time to melt while (somehow) not running into end-of-season issues with new snow on the northern end of the trail.

We're just going to take it 100,000 steps ;-) at a time, tho, and see again how things look once Tina reaches Lone Pine.   It's clear there are no real issues reaching that point at least.

Meanwhile in bike news, I did a 50+ mile shakedown ride yesterday with the newly-machined hub and rebuilt front wheel and everything seems to be working perfectly.   I think this issue is finally behind us.   Again.  ;-)

Thanks again for all your support, David & Tina

Flashback: Tina's account of her first day on the trail

The trip to Monterey went well and this morning Tina headed out from Walkers Pass (mile 652) north towards Kennedy Meadows.   She hopes to reach there (mile 704) fairly early on Wednesday. 

Today I thought I'd transcribe Tina's journal entry for her first day on the trail (April 23rd) and post it here.    I'll use this color for her words.

Flashback: Tina's journal entry for Saturday, April 23, 2011 -- Today I started my thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail.   David woke me at 4:30AM and gingerly handed me my standard chocolate protein shake mixed with instant coffee.   After finishing my drink I got up, dressed, ate half of a wheat bagel and started getting my backpack ready to go.   I made a sandwich for lunch and filled all of my water bottles.   And since I had packed everything else the night before we headed out to the truck.

As we approached the border we saw border patrol agents everywhere.   We saw about 20 of them coming and going as we fueled the truck near Campo and earlier had to pass through a checkpoint.  Then at the trail start there is the big steel fence that runs along the border and a dirt road paralleling it.   There were white border patrol jeeps and trucks running all around here too -- up and down the fence but also blanketing all the little dirt roads feeding into that.    Occasionally they act like they've spotted something and all go rushing off towards one clump of bushes or another.   

When we arrive another vehicle is already there.   Two older women (mother & grandmother, it looks like) are launching a young fellow named Hugh.   Hugh is about Keith's age and is just doing a section hike to Warner Springs (about 110 miles).   He could only get a short time off from work, he said.   He and I wind up leap frogging each other all day.

After taking the obligatory pictures and signing the register I was finally off!   It was about 6:30AM, 42 degrees, cloudy & misty.   This mostly burned off by 8:30 at which point it got decidely hotter.   My thermometer said 62 degrees which felt really hot at the time and I got a pretty good sunburn on my arms and hands.

About 3 miles in I met an older (and by "older" I mean about our age) hiker named Joe is also a thru-hiker, although he said he was very slow.   I didn't see him again today.

I hike for awhile above a beautiful green little valley and could hear roosters crowing and cows mooing far below.    This was spoiled somewhat by the occasional mortar fire from one of the many military bases in the area.   Military planes & helicopters passed over throughout the day.

I forgot to mention that I finally understand what chaparral is after years of watching "High Chapparal" on TV.   It is a community / mixture of desert plants such as sage, greasewood, manzanita, scrub oak, etc with cacti mixed in.    This is mostly what I hiked through today.

I stopped to eat a snack & call David about 10 miles in.   Up ahead I could see the two Australian girls, Emily & Alisa, whom David & I had dropped off at the trailhead yesterday.    I caught up to them a short while later.   They look to be in their very early 20's.   They'd found a good camping spot and said that they had "slept in" and were just getting started.   This was probably around 11:00AM.    They were also headed to Lake Morena for the night and so I'll probably see them again on Monday.

Around mile 14.5 I started down a steep canyon where the trail was pretty overgrown with brush.   Hauser Creek runs along the bottom with several campsites just west of where the trail crosses the creek.   I met Hugh again here who stopped me from taking a wrong turn straight through some Poison Oak.   There were 6-7 hikers lounging around along the sides of the creek.   Many hikers stop hiking during the hottest part of the day and I suspect these guys were doing just that.    Some of them may have been planning to stay the night but Hugh and I headed out.

The climb up out of that canyon was the toughest climb of the day.   After awhile I saw Hugh stop and talk to a "hiker" coming from the opposite direction.   Pretty soon I met up with this fellow, too.   He stopped me and asked for some food.   He looked fairly young but was very thin, dirty, and his clothes were ragged and very ill-fitting.   He had rolled up the too-big pants he was wearing so high that he looked like he was wearing a saggy diaper.    He was wearing a small day pack and carrying a canvas tote bag.   He was deeply tanned and looked like he had been living on the trail.   It was obvious he had some kind of mental disability.   :(    I gave him all the snack food that I had easily available as well as a liter of Gatorade because it didn't look like he was carrying any water.   He also asked me for rain pants and a razor but of course I told him "no" on those requests. 

I went on but felt uneasy since I wasn't sure he was capable of taking care of himself out there.   He was headed for all those hikers along the creek, though, and so I went on.

Climbing up the bottom I kind of drifted off until a loud rattling in the trail in front of me startled me back to attention.   A large orange and very angry-looking rattlesnake was coiled in the trail about a foot and a half in front of me.   I quickly backed off to reconnoiter.   The snake was in the middle of the trail with thick brush and rocks on both sides.   Unless I got really close to the snake I couldn't get around it.   I threw some sticks and small rocks at it but that just made it madder.   Then I tried just making a lot of noise but it just stared at me.   In fact it seemed more interested than scared.

Finally I just sat down and was real still for a few minutes.   It eventually quit rattling and slithered off into the brosh and so I went on.   I had never seen such a bright orange rattlesnake and later found out it was a Western Diamondback.

After another bit I nearly stepped on a much smaller black and white rattlesnake that never made a sound until I plopped my foot down about 6 inches from its head.   It gave a very small rattle, I looked down, and then jumped about a mile, 30lb pack or no!    But it was very timid, unlike the other snake, and quickly crawled away under a rock.   I didn't get a very good picture of it but later found out that it was a Western Rattlesnake (i.e., not a Diamondback).

Between the two rattlesnakes I saw my first horned toad.   I haven't seen one in years so I was thrilled.   It was a nice big and spiney one, too.    Later I saw another smaller, lighter-colored one.   I caught it and took some good pictures.    I was so happy to see them!

So now I've come around 17.5 miles and I'm really starting to get tired.   Every time I think I've reached the top, the trail turns towards something higher (just like on the AT).   Finally I reach a high saddle and someone has written in the sand "This is the TOP!".   Finally!

The trail leveled off for awhile but then climbed very gradually for a ways more.   I started catching glimpses of Lake Morena far below in the distance.   I knew I still had a ways to go so I didn't get too excited but I did start hiking with a little more energy.   That didn't last long, though.   The lake kept getting bigger but it was taking forever and I was starting to wonder if I would make it.   Then I came to where someone had scratched in the sand, "You can do it!".    It came at just the right time and cheered me up to where I could muster a little more energy.

Soon I met a bunch of moms with little kids and I knew I had to be close to the campground.   Sure enough, I started seeing RVs, etc in the trees below me and before long I saw the truck waiting for me.  I managed to sneak up to the driver's side window because David was looking away at his computer screen, monitoring my track.   It shows where I am at 15 minute intervals.   He was just getting the latest one when I startled him.   He said it showed me very close and when he looked up he jumped because I was standing right there!

He had cold bottles of ice tea & lemon cookies.   Awesome!   Great first day!

20 miles from the Mexican border to Lake Morena Campground.

--- From Tina's account of her first day on the PCT (April 23rd).

Pictures from April 23rd -- Tina's first day on the PCT

Until tomorrow, David

Into Walkers Pass & Bike Surgery Complete -- off to Monterey

Tina blazed through the final 14 miles into Walkers Pass showing up just a few minutes after noon yesterday.   The bike's front wheel was still being built up at the bike shop and so I was there waiting in the car.   That turned out to be best anyway since the wind was blowing ferociously from the west.   While waiting I'd had to give up on wearing my cap and, earlier, Bob, who normally rides 50 miles each day into his shop, had been forced to give up on his normal route due to safety concerns.   It's the 40 mph gusts hitting you from the side either blowing you into traffic or off the side of the road that are the main issue.

In any case, Tina reported that for the most part the last three days on the trail hadn't been too awfully hot.   Occasionally when she'd get on the sunny side of a mountain that was also blocking the wind there'd be some real baking going on but most of her time was not spent in those conditions.   The main annoyance over this last stretch were the many miles of deep sand trail conditions -- with over 10 continuous miles of it at one point.   That made for slow grinding progress -- particularly on the second day.

I've included a number of general "trail shots" from this stretch.   Occasionally the snow-capped High Sierras are starting to show up in the background of these photos -- a glimpse of the coming very scenic but also very challenging times ahead.   I just met a hiker yesterday who had been waiting at Kennedy Meadows for three days but had decided to fly home for a couple weeks to let a bit of melt happen before going back in.   The stories of those who have gone in are certainly "spicy" .. :)   .. I'll share some of those in a future post.   Kennedy Meadows is about three hiking days away.

Oh, in the news, the "baby rattlesnake" of a couple posts ago we've decided was actually a Pacific Gopher Snake.   Tina's seen more now (and there's a picture of one above).   They do look something like the plain Western Rattlesnake but of course don't have the triangle head or rattles (or venom!).

The bike is now back together and the brake rotor is finally looking right -- centered in the calipers and a good distance away from the stanchion.   I haven't been able to road test it yet but it's looking very good. 

Packing up for Monterey but waiting until ~11am to launch to make sure that at least the first of two "Action Notices" that Keith's company will get today doesn't generate a conflict.   We're going to go look for a hat and different trekking poles for Tina in the meanwhile.  

ATB, David