Date: Monday, 18 September 2017
Start: Camped next to Wilson Creek near Mile 965.3, 9469 ft
Finish: Camped by the trail at Mile 985.5, 8358 ft
Daily Miles: 20.2 PCT
Total PCT Miles: 2306.2
Weather: Sunny and mild.
Dinner: Rehydrated macaroni & cheese.
Aches: Head cold
Highlight: The hike over Benson Pass (10125 ft) and down to a high valley on a perfectly still and clear morning as the sun rose to illuminate the surrounding rocky peaks was spectacular. There were families of deer grazing in the high valley meadow who seemed unconcerned about my presence.
Lowlight: I fear I am getting a head cold
Pictures: Click here
This wasn’t the easier day I was hoping for. There was barely a section all day in which I could walk normally for more than a couple of hundred metres. The rest of the time, I was climbing or descending steeply on gnarly rocky trail that required concentration and energy. This northern part of Yosemite National Park is much more rugged and much less park-like than the area around Tuolumne Meadows.
After a very cold night, the day started with a short ascent from where I was camped over Benson Pass (see above) and then a very long and technical descent, passing by the pristine Smedberg Lake on the way, that had me worn out by 10:00am. Then there followed a long climb to Seavey Pass (9200 ft) which was really a series of rocky passes interspersed with some beautiful perched lakes through its length. It was quite unusual and very interesting to see these lakes in a series of little valleys at the top of the exhausting climb.
Then it was down to Kerrick Canyon, bordered by massive rocky dome-like mountains, during which time I met, going the other way, another PCT hiker I recognised, this time from Oregon. We stopped and had a chat about how much more we each had to do to complete the trail (I have less than him) and wished each other well. There followed two more climbs and descents before I found somewhere to camp as darkness closed in at 6:45pm. I didn’t get as far as I hoped today, given that I was walking for 12 hours with just a few breaks, but the terrain was relentlessly tough and my pace slow. Hopefully just one and a half more days of this until I reach Sonora Pass, and I’m told the trail gets easier thereafter.