Distance: 9.41 miles/15.14 km
Time: 7.5 hours
Elevation Gain: 2027 ft/617.8 m
Waking up on this morning was painful. My shoulders/back were aching from the mattress pad. This would be come a regular contest each night as I worked to find the optimal positioning for sleep (I never found it).
Our breakfast this morning was oatmeal with craisins and brown sugar - one of the "camp" breakfasts I always love, and actually pretty similar to how I eat normally. After packing up, we started uphill again for a "stiff climb" as our guide D said - in fairness, our guide often used a collection of unusual adjectives to describe what was essentially always uphill of some type or nature. I came to mistrust his "descriptions" a bit over time.
Our hike was continued in record time, almost half of what was expected on the "list".
The "list" was a sheet kept by the guides as provided by the hiking company's founder in terms of what he expected the average time between rest stops to be. It was a fascinating insight into how the hikes were organized and planned. I never actually saw "the list" up close, but saw it referenced often.
Of note, we more often than not beat the times listed.
After our initial ascent, we marched for a while along The Roaring River, which ran loudly and wildly along our path. The green water cleared over rocks and down granite faces, providing a pleasant backdrop for our hike in the morning.
Lunch on this day was charcuterie: beef jerky, string cheese, almonds, and dried apricots. This are my favorite sorts of hiking lunches (and probably, in real life as well): finger foods, and salty ones at that. The fact we have these lunches in the most amazing scenic beauty does nothing to ruin them either.
The hike, as we continued on, was through forests that I would usually associate with rivers at lower elevations as well; there was a noticeable humidity in the air. After a short afternoon of hiking, we made one more ascent into Big Wet Meadow (below):
Big Wet Meadow is an Alpine Meadow, probably the biggest one I have ever seen. The granite structure in the left hand side of the picture above is Whaleback Ridge (important as we will hike along side it and around it the following day). The meadow comes with rugged mountains and a river running through it.
After arriving and setting up our tents, we had 3-4 hours of leisure before we had dinner. Most everyone went down to the river; some to swim, some to wade (like me), and some to do laundry, which hung out on the trees and bushes. The weather was neither too warm nor too cold, almost a pleasant sort of Spring Day which belied the hotter weather we had left behind.
It is both a relief and a pleasure to be somewhere like this when one has not a lot on the agenda to do. I wandered back and forth between sitting at the river and my tent, spending a fair amount of time watching my fellow hikers enjoy their time here. The mountains loomed over us; not so much threatening as protective of the meadow that ran between all of them.
Dinner tonight was beef stroganoff - as with all of the meals, delicious (to be fair, dirt might have been delicious every day after hiking). Dessert was Vanilla wafers, something I have not had in years. The cookies, although beaten up a bit by transport, were none the less delicious.
The sunset as it dropped below the peak was beautiful.