233/365: Cathedral Peak.

Editor's Note: The following is pulled from the journal that I kept while hiking the John Muir Trail this past month. I'll post each entry, each day, for the next few weeks.

July 21st, 2010. Slept like a rock in the wrong position last night. Usually toss and turn and wake up severaltimes, but fell asleep fast and woke at first light. Was able to get another fire going, eat oatmeal and get almost ready to hike before someone flipped a switch and the bugs descended on us all at once. Again, worst ever. Dropped down into the Sunrise Meadows, a gorgeous glacial 'meadow-garden' (as Muir would say), but the mosquitoes only got worse down there. Swarms, all around you, landing and biting you thru your shirt, flying into your nose and mouth. Enough to drive me bat-shit crazy. Fastest mile yet across the meadow. Peaks in distance, Cathedral, Columbia Finger, Echo Peaks, Matthes Crest, all gorgeous.

Shot up Cathedral Pass (9700 ft), not too much climbing, and was able to take a shit without too many mosquitoes on my ass. They attacked for the water pumping though. Walked over into the marshy grass at one point to get a reflection shot of Cathedral Peak in a small pond; it was like kicking a hornets' nest, but instead of hornets, it was little bloodsuckers. Beyond anything I've seen. Swallowed a few more while running back to my pack.

Heat was rising, and stopping to swim in was out of the question, so with pushed thru without many breaks to Tuolumne Meadows, about 10 miles total. Got really tired and beaten-down feeling as we got closer. Pack is just too fucking heavy, camera gear is the culprit, but what can I do? Hike thru the large RV/car camp felt brutal, I was DONE. After camp setup, hit the grill for double-bacon cheeseburger, fries, and a tepid Sam Adams. No pole repair kits at store, but our new friend, 2008 AT Thru-Hiker 'Cookie Monster' had a great trick: cut up an aluminum can, use duct tape to wrap can around pole at break. Bonus: had to drink another beer. Worked like a charm on the tent pole too!

Cookie and fellow 2008 AT Alumnus 'Babu Simba' joined us at camp for a bit, then a dip in the Tuolumne River. Cold, but I stayed submerged till my whole body went numb and the water began to feel warm. Shoulder has a wicked knot in it, hopefully a day off tomorrow with more river dunks will loosen it up and give my feet a chance to recover. They need it!

Sunrise Meadow 180º Panoramic. Note that the sun is making my shadow on the right side. Click to view BIG.