Day seven - we picked up our resupply at MTR, and gave most of it away to friends we had made along the trail since we would have no more than a day or two left on the trail. We decided to get off the trail via Piute Pass, which would take us from the west side of the Sierras all the way up and over to the east side.
Thank you to my son
The Sierras will humble you!OK, this was not a normal year in the High Sierras due to record snow fall, which created many tiring snow obstacles to climb over, along with tons of flooded trails which made it nearly impossible to keep your feet dry. But all that aside, it is still way more difficult than you might think up there. I trained here locally in Las Vegas and did different routes on our most difficult local trails to 11,918 foot Charleston Peak. The trailheads here start out at around 7,600 feet, making the hike around 4,300 feet up and back down in 16-20 miles. While these mileages are similar to the Sierras, and I did this many times in the weeks leading up to the hike, it wasn't the same. It just seemed like I had a hard time getting into a rhythm in the Sierras. My normal average of 2 MPH (including all breaks...i.e. 10 hours = 20 miles) was more like 1.5 MPH. That's a huge difference and quite humbling. And it makes me want more!
Where were all my UltraLight counterparts?Really, I don't think I saw any backpacks (except a few day packs) that were anywhere near the size of JP's and mine. Some people were just in disbelief that we were hiking so far with such little packs, we were accused of not carrying bear canisters (we did), and one woman even slapped her husband when I told her how much my pack weighed (that one I won't soon forget). You don't have to be so uncomfortable on the trail, and I can assure you were were totally comfortable and full of hot nutritious food off the trail.
Pack Envy!JP says I'm understating when I say, at least 50% of the people we met asked about our backpacks. For those who didn't know what Cuben Fiber was, I explained it, but when I told them I made the packs myself, they were floored. There was a little buzz in our tiny transient community, which made my head swell (don't worry, I cooled it off in an alpine lake). And there seems to be a market for very simple lightweight packs, so maybe I will break down and offer them up for sale some day.
What I would do differentlyThe plan to hike 200 mikes in 14 days seemed like there would be plenty of extra time. I mean, an average of 14 miles per day has been quite easy before...1 day you do 20 and the next you only have to do 8 to keep up with the average. There were several factors during our trip that slowed us down, so maybe during a "normal" year this plan would be OK. But the beauty and serenity is so unparalleled, I would just like to slow the whole thing down next time. It felt a little too hurried this time and when I was in a place that was unbelievable, I felt compelled to keep moving. That's not what the Sierras are about. So take a lesson from John Muir, and go as slow as you can so you don't miss a thing!
Oh yes, there will definitely be a next time!