Start: Evolution Valley (851)
Camp: Muir Pass Hut
I woke up and realized what had happened. Just seconds before, I’d been undressing in a locker room and chatting loudly to a friend. Something about the coach of the Baltimore Orioles. Then I was standing in a hot shower. Sometimes life is too cruel to even make a lot of sense. I’d laughed until I’d cried before but never the other way around, until now. I thought about the last time I’d wet the bed, when I was nine. There, cold as I was and wearing everything I had, I now had to sleep in a pair of pissed in rain pants. I realized it was the first night I’d been warm enough in three days, and I went back to sleep.
7:00 a.m. Finally it was warm enough to move. When you’re that cold you just don’t move for fear that you’ll suck in cold air somewhere. All night I lay awake, just like the last three nights, wishing I could sleep. Once in a while I’d doze off and find myself in confusing hypothermic dreams that scared me for their lack of coherence. I longed for the workaday world of nine to five jobs that brought with them indoor plumbing and central heat. I told myself that in the morning is turn around, hike
I prayed for the sun to rise and guessed about what time it was. When the sun finally rose the world warmed. I felt strong the way I always do, and I felt surprised at how strong I felt, like I always do. I packed and made the biggest pot of oatmeal yet. All of my food still didn’t fit in my food bag, and that was a good thing.
It was overcast with dots of faded blue when I set off for Muir shelter. I glanced nervously at the two tone couliers as they came into view.
Made the Muir Shelter in record time. Not that I know how long that was, my phone is officially out of sync.
I take off my shoes but nothing else. I would be lying if I said I’m not extraordinarily scared right now. With both my shirts, my coat, my arm warmers, shorts, pants, beanie and socks – the same clothes I was just hiking in – I climb into my sleeping bag and bivy. This is a test and I truly hope that it works. The stone shelter echoes with the buffeting wind outside. Enduring wind and snow at 8,500 ft, or take shelter in exchange for lower temps at 12,000 ft? I’m putting my money on the stone shelter. Either way I need to rest now – if it gets too cold I’ll have to either hike or workout through the night.
It’s amazing. This might actually work. I’m warm enough and I can’t see my breath anymore! I had feared that the large twelve foot diameter building with its tall conical top would be too much for one body to heat. But maybe it’s going to work. I could still hike down and ironically I wish that it would hurry up and storm. Now it’s just windy and cloudy and I’m waiting. There’s even some blue sky. The storm warning starts at 5pm but I have no way to know when that is. If it doesn’t that will be great, I’ll hike tomorrow – 15 mile days instead of 18 to kennedy meadows .
My body quickly grew stiff lying around and I had retched gas, probably from the powdered greens drink mix if been putting in my oatmeal, and my three tops twisted and constricted my torso in various ways. Still, the overall effect was amazing – I had something to worry about other than freezing to death. I had gone to the lake a half mile below and brought back 4 liters of water, and I hung my tent over the door to help block the draft. I wedged a rusty nail into the catch to tighten the latch. I was ready for the storm that, so far, and it was almost dark, was just wind and clouds. Still, last night the wind kept blowing dirt under my tent and into my face and buffeting it, so this is heavenly.
I lay reading, remembering that I’d discovered a pretty severe hernia in my groin last night, and that I had in fact looked at aa batteries in Yosemite. If I had bought a package it would give me the option to night hike. As it is I only have whatever charge is left in the one I have and the half full moon.