Direction: Southbound

Trail location: 1303.3

Cumulative miles hiked: 2042

Miles hiked today: 6.58

Elevation: 5400

High/low temp/humidity : 89/62/20

Spinning on the turntable:

Noelle here:

Today’s hiking was a lot better for me! We discovered the keys: bear, cool darkness and downhill.

I woke around 3:30 to the sound of branches crashing and deep growling. For a couple minutes I lay frozen trying to figure it out. I shined my flashlight across to the area we’d hung our food bags and only saw one. There was no denying the sounds.

I quietly woke Steve and told him a bear had gotten one of our bags. He heard the growling and snorting and was quickly wide awake. We could hear her shredding our “bear bag” and eating its contents.

Steve yelled, “Bear, go away!” and we clapped our hands loudly but it didn’t matter. Mostly we worried that we were simply irritating her.

My insides turned to liquid. It sounds dramatic but my body had a basic response to that low pitched growling. I was too scared to go outside but we knew we had to. Steve stood guard with a rock and flashlight while I did my thing. Then we took turns packing up our belongings.

We could see two cubs in nearby trees. They scurried further up as we moved around. We could still hear the mom but we never saw her. There was no doubt in our minds that she was watching us as we watched her babies.

Once our packs were loaded, we had to go closer to the bears to get our other bag. Letting them have both just wasn’t an option. I felt terrified actually but somehow still calm. What else could we do. We talked smoothly to the mom that we meant no harm and thankfully she left us alone.

The cubs started getting agitated because of our nearness so we quickly packed the remaining bag and started down the path. I’m not sure I slowed down for a good mile or so.

Once the adrenaline wore off and we were far enough down the trail, we stopped for a break, some breakfast and to change out of sleeping clothes. What a start to our 4th of July! Holy smokes.

I’m not sure what we could have done differently but I think it’s apparent that the requirement of bear canisters for that 19 miles means thru hikers and section hikers will not be carrying them at this section. We don’t pick ours up till Kennedy Meadows North, which is where north blunders would have dropped theirs off. NoBo’s are likely in good enough shape to hike that whole part of the trail without stopping. But we couldn’t. And neither could the many weekend hikers/campers we saw out there. For the forest service not to have bear cabinets seems like a disservice to both bears and people. It puts all of us in a difficult position.

Perhaps we shouldn’t have hiked this section at all? I don’t know. But I feel terrible about a bear getting our bag, I mean terrible for the bear. She doesn’t need plastic in her belly. And she sure doesn’t need Steve’s meds and vitamins. 😳

We hiked to the campground and got a ride into Chester. Steve called the ranger station to let them know a bear got our bag. No one has called him back yet.

We’ve restocked our food and gotten Steve another food bag. Today we’ll pick up a new prescription for him. Then we’ll start out again tomorrow.

But, my biggest challenge still is I don’t know if I can do this hike. It’s hard for me to get out of my own head. But beyond that, I don’t know if I can physically do this.

A bear scare in the early morning helped me hike quickly. The dark and the downhill also helped. If I don’t figure out how to do this, what does that mean for Steve? What does it mean for me? It’s a lot of pressure to try to help Steve meet his goal. To just be able to spend the summer with him.

I feel torn because this hike puts me literally at my physical limit and beyond every single day. But if I don’t try then we’re back to that weird place of 2019 of being alone so much. That wasn’t super either.

I know even writing about my concerns sounds whiny. And maybe it is. But this is hard hiking with a lot of weight on my back. Our next stretch is 2500 feet uphill. Yes, there’s the cliche that a day hiking is better than a day in the office. And that’s surely true. But I’m not sure I’m built for this. And I’m not sure any amount of positive thinking is going to change that.

Disappointing Steve again feels horrible. But slowing him down again feels just as bad. He is kind and understanding and I know he wants to have this adventure together. So do I.

Tomorrow I will go for a walk with my best friend. It’ll be uphill and it’ll be hot. I will put one foot in front of the other and I will grow stronger with every step I take. At the end of the day I’ll sleep peacefully from the exhaustion of realizing my body can exceed my expectations. This is my goal for tomorrow.

Well. This daily post covers several days.

I didn’t start hiking again. Instead I will take some buses to friends who will let me cry for a minute and then take me to get Cupcake.

Steve is still hiking and he’s going strong. I am still reeling at my decision so early in the game.

Hike your own hike. We hear it a lot. I made a new decision based on new information. There are so many words.

But this time, I will keep them mostly to myself.

%d bloggers like this: