I've never struggled so much as I did when returning to trail. It might have had something to do with the altitude, bear canister weight addition, and being homesick, but this was tough... and I mean TOUGH! I was utterly exhausted. I took my first ever morning nap after hiking just 3.5 miles. The worst part was that my appetite dissolved. The thought of food made me nauseous. I knew I needed the calories not just for energy, but to also lighten the unbearable weight of my pack, but I could only stomach a cliff bar and a few spoonfuls of granola a day.
A storm was approaching. The wind was relentless. It sounded as though someone was holding a microphone up to the sky and blasting the bass on high. I had one more pass to hike over before I would descend to the Highway 108. I struggled to reach the top, when I realized I might be in trouble. The wind picked up and knocked me to the ground four times. I felt like I was skydiving, with my cheeks blown back to make a distorted joker face; snot and drool strewn about. I had to fight for each step. It was getting dark and there was no shelter in sight. An open faced barren cliff decent into total darkness. I put on every layer of clothing and made a run for it with my headlamp guiding the way.
The trail formed a small ditch near a stream so I decided to take refuge. Stars lined the sky and there wasn't room to pitch the tent so I thought I could make it through the night by cowboy camping. Wrong again. I woke up covered in snow near midnight. I pulled out my tent and wiggled my sleeping bag and pack into a little cocoon. I woke up with sheets of ice on my bag and on top of the makeshift bivy. I did not feel good. This was not fun. It took me several hours to muster enough energy and pack out. About ten minutes down the trail, I met an angel of a man on a short day hike. He offered me a ride before I had time to ask.
Because it was so early in the morning, we decided to make a little road trip through Yosemite. We stopped in Tuolumne Meadows, (which was my next planned resupply stop) and learned that they would be closing for the season the day before I was expected to arrive. Very helpful information. Even better, both roads entering the park were closed for the weekend, too. I would have been stranded! My new friend took me to the clinic and offered me his home to wait out the snow. What luck!
I'm still shaken up over that storm as I now enter the High Sierra. It's cold out here, and I am about to climb even higher. Mother Nature is stronger than me and she has her own itinerary. I hope I can make it, but I've started to get concerned. This is what I signed up for... with all it's beauty so comes the struggle. Please send me some strength and positivity, because in all honesty, I've lost my momentum. Only a few hundred miles left of the scary stuff and then I'll be in Southern California. Wish me luck, because here I come!!!