20 miles (Miles 730.8 – 750.8)
Death Canyon Creek – Chicken Spring Lake
I was thinking about my post yesterday about southern California. I didn’t want it to sound like the entire 700 miles was brutal – some of it certainly was hard, but not every mile. I know I was feeling that way in the last week of it, first emotionally then physically… so that difficulty I experienced was pretty fresh in my mind. I can say, for sure, that all 700 miles were beautiful and that I enjoyed them all.
We started our morning a little chilled, but quickly warmed up as we climbed out of camp. We climbed some switchbacks that wound us around some huge boulders, all precariously stacked on top of one another as if they might fall at the slightest breeze – but they never do, thank goodness!
Quite a few times today we heard those fighter jets fly over – the kind that do the flyovers at big sporting events. I know there’s a naval base nearby, so I suppose they’re working on practice maneuvers or something. I’ve been able to see a couple of them, but they’re always so far ahead of the sound that it’s really hard to spot them. When Tears and I were getting up from a break, one of them flew sideways right past the ridge we were standing on, just beyond the trees. We just looked at each other with our jaws hanging down as if to say, “did that just really happen?” It was pretty cool.
We got above 11,000 feet today – in fact we’re camped at 11,200 feet. The wind is very cold so I’m tucked inside my sleeping bag to type this. The trails were awesome all day, and they took us up, down, to water a few times, through meadows, forests, and finally ended us at a REAL lake! Our first lake since… I don’t even know – Big Bear? Too bad it’s so cold or I’d go for a swim!
My favorite part about today was the trees, and I found myself really wishing I’d have studied some so I could identify them. I know some are sequoias, but I don’t know which ones. They were all amazing, though. The landscape we hiked through had almost no vegetation other than the huge trees. It was strange to see no grass, shrubs or flowers. I had a couple of theories, but don’t know if either is correct. I thought maybe the only thing that can take root in the gravely ground are large trees, or maybe during a normal year this area would be covered in snow.
So the ground all around us for a large portion of the day had no green. It was a white and light gray gravel mixed with some coarse sand. The trees all had vibrant orange/rust colored trunks, and those that had needles displayed a pretty contrast of green against the orange. Orange and green is always good together – especially in nature! To top this all off was a bright, deep blue sky in the background. White, blue, orange and green… it dominated the views today. It was different and totally awesome.
The trees were all different from one another, too. It was as if God hand-sculpted each one as a separate work of art. A lot of them swirled up from a wide base, only to about 20 feet where they tapered to a point. It was like someone took their thumb and forefinger to the top and twisted it between their fingers. The different shades of oranges twisted all the way up, and if there were no needles, there were usually some totally twisted, gnarly branches. My goodness, who ever knew I could be so enthralled with a bunch of trees?
We had views of far-off mountains, too. They all laid in the background behind the trees layered in their different shades of blue, from dark to light until they blended into the sky. There is beauty everywhere, and I’m going to run out of ways to describe it all… and I’m worried my camera will not have enough memory for all the photos I’d like to take.
We are camped, coldly, at this pretty little mountain lake. Tomorrow we hike to Crabtree Meadows, which is where the side-trail to Mt. Whitney starts. It’s about 8 miles from there to the summit, so we’ll get as far as we can tomorrow – hopefully Guitar Lake, then maybe we can get in a sunrise summit on Friday! Yippee!
Tonight I love trees. Duh, right? Almost too easy…
A few more pics –