June 11th
E Mineral Creek(849)-1mi before FS 597(871.7)
Campsite Elevation: 9,968ft

It was a great night last night and it was so mild that I didn’t even need to zip my sleeping bag most of the way. Rockin’ and I got going by 5:45am and had a lot of climbing to do. A mile or so after we started, we passed where the crew camped and they seemed to be just waking. We had about 1,000ft to climb to get to our highpoint today of about 12,700ft. It came in two tiers and the first part of the climb was a killer. Pretty much straight up for awhile. The whole time I was going up just barely able to put one foot slowly in front of the other, I was thinking how I am not a mountain climber and that I’d never do Mt Everest. One I got over the top, I waited for Rockin’ and the first thing she said at the top was that she’d never want to hike Everest, ha! We took each other’s picture in our moment of accomplishment even though the climb wasn’t over.

We hiked a bit further and the crew caught up to us at a break. First was Cherry Picker who I overlapped with on the PCT. He got his name from choosing the best parts of trails and skipping to those parts. He just started two days ago and was splitting off to do a side trip of a 14,000ft peak. Today I decided to get pictures of everyone in this herd that we are in. On the trail, sometimes clusters form and you leapfrog one another throughout the day. It’s called a herd. Soon after Cherry Picker was the rest of the crew. I hiked with LoveNote and Stryder to the next highpoint before stopping to wait for Rockin’. Once she arrived and we got over the next section, we got water. While we were getting water the couple, Bloodbath and Rampage walked up, along with Bo. We were surprised to see Bloodbath and Rampage because they were going into town just as I started hiking out yesterday. They had heard about the festival going on in our next town (Salida) this weekend and decided to get right back on trail and push to make it by the weekend. I know Bloodbath from PCT 2011 in which he was the fourth hiker to finish that high snow year, but was actually the fastest northbounder. He can hike! His name comes from the PCT when he cut his finger and got a spot of blood on his white shirt. Rampage is doing her first thru hike here and has taken to it quite well. I’m pretty sure her name refers to her aversion to early mornings…especially on the trail. Bo is a hiker we have caught up to because he has foot injury and had taken a few days off. He said his name is an old nickname.

We saw them just as we were dropping into a valley for the rest of the day. We dropped into the 10,000ft range for the rest of the day and at the end of the day, below 10,000ft! It was nice to just cruise and we leapfrogged with the others. At lunch, we picked a destination a few hours ahead and walked separately. I walked up on the crew having lunch and got a great picture of all of them.

The hiking once down in the valley was great! It was actually hit out and was in the low 80s. We were along a stream the whole time and in and out if trees or open fields.

It was hard to believe we were up in the mountains gasping for air just this morning! I cruised today and finished my audiobook of Wildwood by Colin Meloy. Eh, it was okay, but definitely no Harry Potter!

When I got to our planned destination at 3:15pm, I waited 1hr 10mins for Rockin’ to catch up. It turned out that she had a blister that took some time to tend to. In the meantime, everyone hiked on by and said they plan to camp miles ahead of where we’d end up. They are trying to get to town a day before we plan to. There is a twinge of fire in me that wants to hike on and get more miles in, but I know Rockin’ needs to acclimate and that it’s different up here at the high elevations. We have been getting up over an hour earlier and are still doing less miles than I’d normally do if I got up at my regular time, so that’s something I have to swallow. The good news on my end is that I get long breaks and can blog during the day rather than at night when I’m tired. It’s still difficult for me to stop for long or frequent periods and go without my legs cramping up. It will be interesting to see how things develop, but for now I’m okay with the waiting. I’m not suffering in the desert heat. I get nice shaded spots by streams with great views. Plus, if this continues maybe I’ll find spots with reception to watch a show! Rockin’ is one of my inspirations for even hiking in the first place, so I’m happy to wait and see how it works out once she acclimates and we get out of the super high elevation. I just need to keep reminding my antsy feet of that!

We ended up camping in one of my favorite places…among the aspens! Here is a picture of where we are camped and the view from inside my tent with the beak up since it’s mild out.

Plus, we are below 10,000ft, and I can’t even remember the last time that has happened. It is in the 50s and is just perfect. Bo is camped with us and we are surprised not to see the three hikers still behind us on this leg, No Amp, Cheese, and Bone Lady. Maybe we’ll see them tomorrow. Overall, a pretty entertaining day!

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