30th May 2015
Mileage 18.1 (29.1km)
Sth Kern River (716.6) to Owens Valley Lookout (734.7)
Above 10000 feet
It was just before dawn when I was woken by the distant calls of Coyotes. The chorus from the distant hills echoed across the still and silent meadow valley. I realised I was cold. I wrapped myself tightly in my sleeping bag, only my nose protruding. I could not warm up. The dawn came slowly. When I was fully awake I discovered my sleeping bag was damp and lost a lot of its loft. One of the section doesn’t appear to have any feather down left inside. An internal baffle must be ripped and the down has leaked into another compartment. My bag is also dirty and smelly. I think I will wash it in the next town, that should bring back the loft.
I lay in my tent waiting for the sun to rise and warm me. I stuck my head outside the tent and discovered some birds feeding on the river banks. I identified a bird called a Killdeer. My bird app had its birdcall so I played one of its calls. The Killdeer stopped and looked at me. It was rather confused. I played its danger call. It stood tall, looked around the flew away, 5 minutes later it returned.
The 5 of us set off hiking at various interval along the meadow and up the never ending ascent to our first of many 10000 ft passes. None of us were in any hurry today so we enjoyed each other’s company and mainly discussed food. Constantly we have food fantasies. It never ends. We discussed our favourite foods, what we would love to eat right now, where next to eat in town and on and on. It is driving us crazy. It’s like our stomachs control our brains. Even clouds look like food.
When not discussing food we tried to identify the trees and shrubs. Even the dead trees here are amazing. Some look like they exploded from lightning strikes, some are fire damaged and some fell over in storms. Some have amazing trunks when they are uprooted and one particular tree has a twisted corkscrew internal structure when the outer bark is removed. The nature here is amazing.
We all stopped at a very small spring to replenish our dwindling water supplies. We planned to camp up high in a place with no water tonight so would need to carry extra for dinner and breakfast. There were also some rumours that phone reception could be had up high tonight. A couple of us discussed listening to music while making the climb up to camp. We all have music that gets us moving fast. I took off at quite a pace, only stopping at a view point overlooking stunning alpine scenery. Distant mountains dropping down to low alpine meadows. Our camp was near. Bearly kept going at quite a pace, the beat from his headphone noticeably audible. He must have been in a zone, cause when we got to camp he was not there.
Our camp overlooks the Owens Valley. I cycled past there last year on route to Death Valley so it all looked familiar to me. And there was cell phone reception, well only for those with AT&T. I updated some blog posts and checked the weather. Looks like we have good weather to climb Mt Whitney in a couple of days. We all cooked dinner together. A lone Mule Deer walked past us only slowing to take a cursory glance at us. The sun sank low in the sky and the bright moon rose, it started to get quite cold rather quick. But we are camping at 10383 ft (3164m). Hope my sleeping bag can cope.