What Makes a Hard Day Hard

But really, what is it? Some long days, with lots of elevation, go by in a jiffy. And then there are those 11.8 mile days, like the one we did out of Independence after our zero, that are hard. To be fair, the day after a zero always seems hard. Maybe it’s all the laying around, or the fifteen apricots, or the taco truck food, or episode after episode of “Say Yes to the Dress” but the day after a zero always hurts. 

On our day out of Indpendence we started with a 4.5 mile climb up to Kersarge Pass and then, after we had rejoined with the PCT, we had another steep climb up Glen Pass. The first climb was strong and steady on a well graded trail, the second climb was slow going up a steep trail partially covered with snow. When we finally reached the top we still had to descend down to Raye Lakes to camp. Raye Lakes was unsurprisingly gorgeous, we are seriously surounded by unending beauty out here, and we found a nice little camp spot tucked away on an isthmus. The feeling of solitude and peace was short lived because we soon discovered we had a friend. A coyote who was interested in the trash that someone had left behind, stuffed under a rock. 

I can hardly put into words the rage I am filled with when I see something like cliff bar wrappers and plastic bags stuffed under a rock next to a remote alpine lake. I want stomp around, screaming “who the FUCK” at the sky and then I want to find the perpatrator and follow them around for the rest of their life sticking garbage into all of their most sacred spots. What asshole thinks it is okay to enjoy a lovely night in the backcountry and then leave all their food wrappers behind them? Do they think it is going to decompose? Why do they think they have the right to reduce that wiley scavenger of a coyote to a dog that hunts for trash. That dog was born wild as they come, in the back mountains of the Sierra Nevada Range and now, thanks to you, it is out in the middle of the day trying to digest foreign materials that take thousands of years to biodegrade. It. Makes. Me. So. MAD. 

So there was that. 

Also, there were mosqitos. I mean, we had already had some mosquitos, but this night was bad. The moment we got into camp they swarmed, giving you that claustrophobic feeling when you suddenly realize you are in a cloud of insects, forcing us to finally apply the dreaded DEET. You know how it is, you are constantly weighing the options: cancer or mosquitos (and everything they bring with them).

Once the DEET was applied the mosquitos faded away. We managed to throw just enough rocks at our coyote friend that he was scared of us again. Our mac n’cheese dinner was fabulous and our campsite was flat, so all was right in the world. Exhausted from our 11.8 mile day, Kyle fell asleep holding his book up and I didn’t even bother to try and write. We fell asleep at 6:oopm and when the alarm went off at 5:00am the next morning we snoozed it for another hour. That is what I call a solid twelve hours of sleep. 

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As Edward Abbey said, "An indoor life is the next best thing to a premature burial."

10 thoughts on “What Makes a Hard Day Hard

  1. My husband and I were up at Sunrise yesterday and I found myself repeatedly infuriated by stupid people. What part of “stay on the path, fragile meadows” do people not understand? One couple and their baby stood on a patch of snow literally 10 feet directly behind one such sign. Because they were standing on snow…and thus can’t damage the meadow….right? Summer at Paradise and Sunrise…..grrrrrrrrrrrrr.

  2. I love that you show me place I will never meet and greet and as far as Skeeters go I say deet on!! The only true skeeter is found in a Harry Potter book and she was annoying as well. PMS

  3. Hiking and camping and packing out my trash always makes me cognizant of how much waste we humans create on a daily basis. If we all had to carry our trash around with us on a daily basis, we might decide to create less trash. Apparently, the backpackers before you just want to pretend that it’s not a problem…

  4. So beautiful! I am with you, it makes me angry to find trash left behind by some asshole. Why mess up such a pristine natural place. Grrrr….

  5. Great photos! Great journey! And I have exactly the same reaction when I am camping or hiking and find other people’s trash. Almost everywhere we camp, the first thing I do is pick up all the trash, every last little scrap, ranting the whole time. When you are backpacking, it is hard to take all that trash with you, but what to do with it??? People like that should be confined to their own dirty apartments where they continue to throw trash on their own floors, in their own toilets… well, you know what I mean……… But, aside from that, the landscape here is gorgeous. Thanks for sharing your photos and your story.

  6. Looked at the photos before I read the text. Thought I recognized that place! Love this stretch of the PCT.

  7. Great post and love the photos. I also hate and avoid DEET but because it stinks, is oily and kills fabrics… but it hasn’t been proven to cause cancer after 20 years of testing. So don’t let that be the reason to be eaten alive 😕
    Happy 4th!

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