The next morning I realized I had been ignoring my throat, which had started hurting on day two of our hotel stay in Lee Vining. Snuggled under a slightly damp sleeping bag I could feel my swollen lymph nodes on my right side pressing into my stuff sack pillow. Great. I informed Kyle that my throat hurt pretty bad. Even though the alarm had gone off at five we laid in the tent until six. Finally, we got moving. We had a climb right out of camp and the day didn’t seem to get any easier. I think both of us were trying to believe that the Sierras were over, that things were getting easier, that the terrain was changing. That was not the case. That day we actually had two passes to climb and even though they were shorter than the passes before Tuolumne and had less snow on them, they were still long steep climbs. We had planned on doing a twenty five mile day but we could not seem to hike to save our lives. It was taking us forever to get anywhere. My legs felt like lead and I was practically crawling on the uphills.
Kyle’s shoulder was feeling a little better, but it was still hurting so I was carrying most of the weight. After struggling up the first climb to Benson Pass I turned around to find Kyle looking ashen. He was nauseous, super nauseous. Whatever illness I had been harboring for the last couple of days had finally made its way into his system and was hitting him worse than it had hit me. He spent the rest of the day trying not to puke. Because we couldn’t afford any puking, we barely had enough food as it was. I actually had visions of Kyle puking and then having to eat his puke so as not to waste the nutrients his body had ejected.
Around six o’clock we were just starting Seavey Pass, our second pass, which was only a two mile climb, but it looked steep. We didn’t get to the pass until seven thirty and when we found water in the pond at the top we decided to stay for the night. Which meant immediately putting on all of our clothes because the mosquitos were swarming. Kyle was no longer nauseous but we were both completely exhausted. It had taken us twelve hours to do twenty miles and we were baffled. What had happened to us? Cameron had left and the wheels had fallen off the bus.
The next morning we didn’t even pretend to get up at five, we just turned off the alarm and slept until six. I blamed myself for making such a comfortable pillow. Also, my side of the sleeping pad appeared to have a very minuscule leak, because it was slightly deflated, which, in my opinion, was only making it more comfortable. It is hard to get up when the air outside is perfectly crisp and everything is cozy inside your sleeping bag. Plus, the mosquitos were already waiting on the outside of the tent. Both Kyle and I still felt like we had a touch of the cold, but his shoulder felt a little better, getting better all the time, so that seemed like positive news. What wasn’t positive was how dire our snack situation was. We were down to half a bar, at date, and a handful of GORP at each break. We were trying to go more and more miles between breaks in order to allow ourselves more snacks when we did stop. Our desserts had become snacks a long time ago.
This day’s claim to fame was the worst mosquitos imaginable. Typically, out here, if you keep walking the mosquitos have a hard time getting you, but not this day. These mosquitos could have attached themselves to you if you were Isane Bolt, running at the Olympics. We walked through clouds of them, terrified as to what camp would hold, especially since we were heading to a lake. Another twenty mile day that didn’t end until seven o’clock. And most of the campsites by the lake were already full, forcing us to look high and low for a level spot. We chose to cook in a heavy wind, hoping it would keep the mosquitos away from us, but they just landed on whatever side of our body shielded them from the gusts and hung out there. Hundreds of them joined us for dinner, so at least it wasn’t a lonely night. We both fell into bed, tired and exhausted.