New Highs

Start: Raymond Peak (1059)
Camp: Disaster Peak (1035)
7:45 a.m. I didn’t wake until just before sunrise. I had Pearl Jam in my head and put on the album. I had eaten more sugar than the night before and didn’t sleep as well because of it. I had slept a full ten hours though. I was clear headed and I packed quickly. I was reminded of being a young teenager. “I am here because of how I grew up,” I said to a large and contorted pine as I stretched. I began to walk and eat, and I stopped to wash my feet in the first creek I came to. Pearl Jam was still playing. The water drove away the itch but my toes ached from the cold.
9:30 a.m. I find myself in a world of hoodoos, fins and spires like Bryce, but gray.
10:45 a.m. Arrived at a place to which I will certainly return, quite possibly the most beautiful and fun lake I’ve yet seen: Upper Kinney Lake (mile 1052.) I spent a while walking along the south side of the lake taking photos and exploring the cliff jumping possibilities. It is hot and sunny, but the water is low this time of year and too shallow for anything worth getting wet for. It would be easy enough to access this lake from Ebbetts Pass and it would be a fun place to camp with friends.
11:40 a.m. Ran out of water and had to fill at a dark pond reflecting black basalt cliffs. As I drink I watch tiny red arthropods fight the suction of my revamped Sawyer Squeeze. The new rubber washer is working wonderfully.
12:00 p.m. Reached a deserted Ebbets Pass and kicked off my worn tennie’s. I sat in a beam of sun upon a perfect rock throne eating that most affluent of aliments, the Golden Grahams treat bar. I’d prepared them two days prior at the Mellow Mountain, splitting the batch with Girly Girl. This was my last one. Fortified with 85% dark chocolate, the bar I’d eaten at 4:00 p.m. yesterday had kept me going until late in the evening; I was getting an earlier start today. Noting also that yesterday I’d spent between two and three cumulative hours taking breaks, I resolved to keep my stop short. I crossed the crumbling single lane blacktop and began a climb that quickly changed to a sunny descent into Noble Canyon.
12:32 p.m. I can see my path across the wide volcanic valley that is the head of Noble Canyon, switchbacking 1000′ feet up almost barren black lava. On my side, I walk on crumbling granite. In the back of this valley I find two icy creek’s that are unmistakably snowmelt. Today and over the last week it has become apparent that spurred by snow and rain the creeks have begun to flow again, colder than before. I fill two liters so that I can make lunch atop the saddle.
1:55 p.m. I walked slowly for the last few feet before reaching the saddle at 9,321′. This is the highest I’ve been and I wanted to revere it. Armin van Buren played a Ferry Corsten track that I’d loved and almost forgotten in his A State of Trance podcast #7 from 2001. I made lunch with precision and efficiency.
2:30 p.m. Packed and continued hiking.
4:00 p.m. Filled last water for 8.5 miles.
5:45 p.m. The air seemed not to contain enough oxygen. As I climbed I ran short on breath and had to stop to rest. My stove threatened to extinguish itself when enshrouded by a windscreen, and the water seemed to keep at a boil without any heat applied. I knew I was high.
Gushing spring below trail at Guthook 1036.1, Halfmile 1036.1.
There seems to be an unmapped spring 1/10 mile north of this junction, 15′ below trail. I’d be interested in knowing if it is there at other times of the year.
6:15 p.m. The effects of the setting sun on the surrounding formations – limestone, lava and granitic rocks all in close proximity – was so astounding that I stopped and took off my pack. I took photos and sought to make camp. I climbed a nearby hill but thought better of camping there or anywhere nearby once I approached the precipitous northern edge of the saddle and discovered a bone chilling upslope wind. I hiked on until I was in the trees and set up my tent.
7:40 p.m. With tent set and belly full, harmonica in hand and muscles stretched, I lay down, feet elevated, down jacket on.