Lake Palisade Mile 819 to Middle Fork Kings River Mile 833
Rough day for me - I couldn't ever kick it in to drive after a really tough 3 mile descent on something called the Golden Staircase that took almost as many hours, which is awful mentally. It's weird, in this amazingly unreal beautiful place, I felt lonely. Everything is so grandiose and beautiful, it makes me feel so tiny and insignificant being so far removed from the real world, hiking among 14,000 foot mountains. I think 12 days is just too long for me to go without a town stop. Most hikers went to Bishop, and I think that would have rejuvenated my spirits. All day, I only saw 2 other NorthBound hikers, and only one was a PCT hiker. Being so disconnected is weird and challenging. I know I should (and I want to) embrace where I am and enjoy every second, but I can't think about anything but getting to Mammoth. While it's great to have something to look forward to, I think it's also been slightly detrimental as well. I literally fantasize about being there - with friends, eating, drinking, lounging, hot tubbing, etc. all day, every day.
I just didn't really feel like hiking today. My legs were sore from yesterday's push, my head was hurting, the terrain was challenging - it was hard to get excited about hiking the next four days. I feel guilty I didn't appreciate where we are, because this place is nothing short of magical. Sometimes, though, I wish I could appreciate it from the comfort of a camp chair with friends by my side!
We had a long lunch, and I took a nap to try and muster energy for the evening. I felt much better afterward. Soon though, afternoon clouds started building and Brett suggested the possibility of making camp earlier than planned. After my rough day, I couldn't say no! We stopped about a mile and a half short of where we intended to go, but got set up right as it started raining. Our campsite was as awesome as everywhere else in Kings Canyon National Park seems to be, and we're right on a river. There was a deer lounging in the campsite when we arrived, and she kept coming back to see if we'd left - I think she was annoyed we took her flat spot. There are so many deer here, and they're so different from deer at home - they're completely unafraid of humans! It's funny how close you can get before they scoot off. Even then, they often seem more annoyed about moving than afraid.
I can't believe tomorrow will mark 2 months that we've been on the trail. I can't believe I've hiked over 800 miles - there have been times I thought I couldn't. Brett amazes me more and more, while still managing to make me crazy sometimes too (my trail name may be Smiles, but I think my Indian name is Rolls Her Eyes). We've made a pretty good team - our decision making and general trail attitude, as a team, is pretty fantastic, and I'm happy we've been able to make decisions together that we're both happy with. It's fun to be having fun out here, too! Took long enough! Trail life is finally feeling more like real life - and it's a pretty simple life.