Day 13 – July 16, 2014

Odometer Reading:   134.2 miles

Miles today:  13.0 (GPS was turned off for approximately 2 miles)

Camped:  several miles down past Muir Pass – elevation 11,261

Today’s Key to Success:  Hair

Aidan pulled me closer to him and pointed.  I looked at the door of the tent.  The sunlight shone through the mosquito, her body ruby red with stolen blood.  I’d never seen anything like it.  She was lethargic.  Full.  He opened the door of the tent and gently helped her outside.  She already did her job, he reasoned.  She successfully got one of us.  She won.  Plus, he didn’t want to smash her and get blood on the tent.

My feet were swollen, and we both had finally developed what seemed to be a true hiker hobble.  It took a while to get the kinks worked out of our feet and legs whenever we got up.

The lack of sleep was getting to Aidan:  “It’s time to mix it up and get crazy today!  I’m gonna wear my OTHER disgusting outfit!  Never know what I might do next!”

I looked at my husband.  Electricity in his eyes.

Everything fit properly in my pack.  I hated that.  It made me uneasy.  What did I forget?  What did I lose?  “Where’s the rest of the food?”

“We ate it.”

Oh good.

He offered to let me carry his gear if it made me feel better.  I respectfully declined.

We got to a stream crossing.  The second I heard it I had to pee.  Why does that always happen?

The creek was swollen.  We didn’t feel comfortable with the crossing but didn’t want to take off our shoes.  Aidan went upstream a bit and leaped to a slick rock on the other side.  He lost his footing but his cat-like reflexes kicked in and he held on, making tiny bits of progress until he stood, hands in the air, triumphant and grinning on the other side.


He’s taller than me.  I’d never make it.  I walked to a different area but still didn’t think I’d make it.  Aidan encouraged me.  It didn’t feel right.  I worried about my electronics.  What few items I still had that worked.  And my notebook.  I couldn’t get my notebook wet.  I’d have a meltdown.  I wandered around, gradually counting out one crossing after another.  Aidan hollered from the other side, pointing at rock after rock.  YOU GOT THIS!  I finally chose a sketchy route, precariously balancing on one slick round rock after another.  It took forever and a half.  I made it across and Aidan high-fived me and gave me a bear hug.

We turned back to the creek just in time to watch another hiker cross on a log twenty feet down from us without even breaking stride.  Mother Nature, always teaching us to pay closer attention.  We laughed.  Oh well.

We talked to the other hiker for a while.  He was great.  Always happy, always positive, always with more wardrobe malfunctions than the last time we saw him.  This time he had socks under his shoulder straps, was shirtless, clothing and items hanging all over the back of his pack.  His shoe was completely wrapped with Duct tape.  He looked like a tinker.


I found some wild onions, grabbed a handful, chewed on them as we climbed.


We made it to Evolution Lake.  A quiet reverence overcame us.  Aidan waded in.  He’d dreamed of being in this spot his whole life.  I was so happy for him.


“Well, you’ve been wanting to come here your entire life, and now here we are.  How do you feel?”




It started to rain.  The scenery was made more majestic by the dark blacks of clouds and the bright whites of the spaces between.  It rained.  We climbed.  It kept raining.  We kept climbing.  We were headed straight up and into the heart of the storm.  We met hikers coming down.  They looked like they’d just survived something.  They looked haunted.  They shook their heads and wished us luck.  The climb was huge.  Jagged peaks tore holes in the sky.  Thunder ripped downhill.  Shook our insides up.




We stopped for lunch.  The second we stopped, the rain stopped and the sun came out.  The second we were done, it came back.  Very accommodating, I must say.


I was excited.  I loved the electricity in the air.  Everyone else seemed a bit nervous.  We came to another lake – huge and bright blue and so, so deep even ten feet from shore.  Clear and cold with giant rocks as islands in the middle.  We were aliens again in a foreign landscape.


Lightning everywhere.  And amazing thunder.  We were hiking with another girl at the time, and I turned to her and my words stuck in my throat.  “Your hair.”

“What?”  She looked at me, confused.  Her long hair stood straight out from her head.

I took off my hat.  We looked at each other.  My hair followed suit.  Hadn’t been washed in two weeks, matted down by rain, still standing straight out from my head.

Not yet a passing grade for this Hair Test

Not yet a passing grade for this Hair Test

The three of us took off, trying to find a low spot.  Barren alien rock landscape after more barren alien rock landscape.  We dumped our packs and took our foam pads and sat fifty feet away from them.  We sat in the rain.  And sat.  Periodically I’d take my hat off, and we’d do a ‘hair test’.  As long as my hair stood up, we sat down.

We were gonna get hit by lightning.  Aidan pointed out that it was good that we didn’t get hit while we were hiking, since all three of us had fuel canisters in our backpacks.  We wouldn’t have stood a chance.

My hair sat down.  We stood up.  We made the final push to the hut at the top of Muir Pass.  I’d wanted for years to be in that exact place, and here I was.  And I was tired.


Both of us had a dream come true in one day.  Amazing.


We thought we’d make some hot coffee or hot chocolate in the hut, but we were disappointed to find that it was leaky and smelled bad.  Aidan was still sleep deprived and it was showing.  He vowed to take a Unisom tonight.  He’d found some in the buckets at MTR but hadn’t tried it yet.  He hated taking medication.  But this was becoming a necessity.


It rained harder.  We left the hut.  My hands were so cold and wet.  My gloves were soaked through.  I was starting to worry about my hands a little bit.  The trail was a six inch deep stream.  Rain water so pure it coursed blue down the mountain.  Arctic-lookin’.  We climbed through boulder fields.  Aidan kept asking me if my feet were dry.  I kept answering in the affirmative.  He was shocked.  So was I.

The actual trail

The actual trail

We passed pristine lakes requiring complicated footwork.  We chose a camp when we simply could go no further.


The rain stopped.


I pulled out the footprint for the tent.  Shook it out.  Dropped it and squeaked like a girl.  A giant, fat spider crawled out of the fabric.  We’d been carrying him around all day.  I guess that is how species move.

We ate and watched the amazing sunset, stretched, and climbed gratefully into our tent.  As promised, Aidan took his Unisom tablet.


I peeled off my socks.  Wrung them out.  I stared at my pruned feet.  Unsure how I thought I’d been dry the whole time.

Aidan was right.  Today was a series of miracles.


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