It’s cold again this morning. In the twenties, I assume. 25? 28? I’m not sure exactly. I watch the sun as it makes shadows on our tent. The shaded imprint of branches wave across the rain fly. When the sun is sufficiently illuminating the bottom of the tent, my motivation rises, bringing me upward to my feet. Again it’s time to hike. It’s time to go to work. Today will be a good day I tell myself again. I’m hopeful for beauty, wonder, joy, and a pain free day.
The snow from last nights dusting is mostly melted, with only hints of it in the shade of giant conifers. A little bit of ice sits at the bottom of our tent, where the snow began to melt then freeze again. Near our camp is a river, we must cross first thing in the morning. We do it before our coffee. So, does it even happen or is this just a dream? I skip across the rocks, precariously placed. But, I make it with dry feet. Unfortunately, Lupine is not so lucky, dunking her foot into the stream. Burrr…
The morning climb is cold, but our bodies begin to slowly warm as we chug up the canyon slopes, zig-zagging back and forth under the giant trees. When we spot a sunny warm rock, we sit on it and eat breakfast, transferring heat from stone into our bones. The ants begin to awake, crawling around us, working hard, searching for new treasures.
When we arrive at the top of our climb to Miller Lake, a cold breeze hits our faces. The birds are chirping merrily. Today’s scenery is that of endless layers of sloping granite, punctuated by sturdy conifers. Yosemite National Park has so much granite. The bumpy and jagged stone is rugged, challenging our feet. So, we move methodically, careful not to twist our ankles on the numerous wobbly rocks.
We drop into a lovely meadow – it’s green grassy floor soft and slightly wet. Matterhorn Creek, a lazy stream, meanders through it. We stop and eat some snacks. It’s so peaceful, we could easily stay all day, exploring every nook and turn of the river. But we must keep moving on, thus is the crux of thru-hiking. If only we could stay forever. Instead we snap some pictures and continue our walk.
Lower meadows transcend into upper meadows surrounding Wilson Creek. Each meadow has a distinct look, and “personality”. Some are boggy and wet, causing your feet to move fast, so not to soak your shoes. Others, like Tuolumne are grand and wide open, filling the viewer with an air of majesty. These meadows we meet now are small, intimate, and comfy. The birds and squirrels scamper about, the sun shines through the trees, offering dappled shade to us fortunate ones who walk the earth.
We lunch just below Benson Pass (10,107 ft). The pass is almost hidden under the striking Slide mountain, with it’s huge granite face staring down at us. It’s a sandy steep pass, much different from the rocky terrain of the other passes we’ve crossed.
We hike long and hard, passing Smedberg Lake, and descending into a low, wet river valley. We camp near the Benson Lake cutoff. Here it’s very buggy and we hastily don our bug nets, tucking into a dark canopy of trees. When we emerge into the light, we pitch our tent near a patch of wild onion. It smells delicious and makes us hungry. The deer are also hungry. They inspect our campsite with curiosity, munching on fresh shoots. I get the feeling we camped in their dining room. Hoping not to interrupt their dinner, we try to be very quiet, cooking and eating a meal of our own, then tucking away for the night.