16.0 miles (Miles 795.3 – 811.3)
Arrowhead Lake – Kings River
Oh, the sounds of the Sierras, how wonderful they are! I know I talk about scenery the most often, and I’m sure I’ll continue doing so, but I don’t want to leave out the things I can’t show in a photo. So anytime you look through any photos of the Sierras, imagine the sounds that go with them…
The wind. The wind is chilly out here, and when I’m hiking through an open meadow or barren valley on my way up to a pass, I can sometimes hear a gust coming my way for quite a while. Sometimes I can tell when it’s going to hit so I can brace myself for it. Some gusts are strong and whip every loose strap on my backpack around, and sometimes they’re gentle, softly laying down a layer of goosebumps on my skin before I even realize it’s there. I can hear the wind toss around the treetops, or gusting over the peaks ahead and way above me.
The water. I heard water constantly all day long today. I hiked along a river with strong-flowing rapids and even a couple of waterfalls for a long part of the morning. The sound was roaring at times, then I’d hike behind a large boulder or a clump of trees and the sound would dim to a faint hum until the next bend. Even when there wasn’t water visible, I could hear a far-off watetfall waaaay across the valley on some other mountainside. Sometimes I could see the shimmery line down through the rocks where it was, but usually I could only hear it. A lot of the water I heard today was from small snowmelt streams trickling through rocks or rushing downhill through a crevice – I crossed a lot of these today, and I could usually only hear them when I got close to them, but as one would fade off behind me, I could almost instantly hear another coming up.
The birds. I hiked through some nice pine forest today, open meadows, barren and rocky flats, and up some pretty steep climbs. All these places had different varieties of birds chirping and chattering away. The jays seem to always be scolding one another, and I’m usually happy to get past them as to not make them more nervous than they already are. There’s another bird that sings the prettiest song, and it’s different each time – they always have lots to say, too. Others twitter, chatter and flutter about as I hike by.
My footsteps. One of my favorite sounds is the sound of my footsteps on a hiking trail, rhythmic and steady. Especially on uphill climbs, these footsteps create a song for me to breathe in time to, and then my heart beat can follow along. They guide me, lull me, and keep me going. They sound different on each surface I pass over, too. Sometimes I just focus on their sound for a while until I’m distracted by a critter, a new view, a gust of wind, or the sound of a stream inching closer…
Silence. If I get to a spot in the middle of a climb where there is no wind, the far-off waterfalls are so faint I struggle to hear them, and the birds aren’t around, I’ll stop. My footsteps will fall silent, and all I will hear is… stillness. I can look around and really just focus on soaking in the scene before me. There’s something really magical about silence out here, too.
The wind blowing, water rushing over rocks, birds chattering in the distance, and the rhythmic sound of footsteps… add that combination of sounds to almost any scenic mountain photo, and you can almost put yourself right here.
Underneath all these comforting sounds, I saw some fantastic scenes – we had quite the variety again today!
We crossed over a really cool suspension bridge that instructed one person to go across at a time. I found out quickly why – not only did the bridge sway up and down, but also side-to-side! It was pretty fun!
I saw a ton of vibrant flowers today, and the mountains, lakes and rivers as backdrops had me stopping a lot for photos!
There were a couple of snow fields to hike across, and some had deep suncups, which look like patterned dips spread across the expanse of snow – created by the sun’s warm rays melting it. One snow field had water running underneath it, even!
You know what else I saw lots of today? Mountains… yes, lots and lots of gorgeous, majestic, colorful mountains. Lakes, too. Lots of blue lakes. Every day is different out here and it just never gets old.
A couple of extras:
Tonight I love duct tape. I don’t even need to explain that one. :)