From the top of the switchbacks to the top of more switchbacks
Between mosquitoes and damp, we hadn’t cowboy camped in a long time – since I can’t remember. Last night was perfect though, open sky, clear night, no moon. We watched the milky way appear as we drifted off, and I looked at galaxies every time I turned over.
It’s the full sun on my face that’s getting me out of bed though. It’s more effective than any other alarm I’ve got. We’ve got a cool walk ahead of us, too. We’re up above the timberline on the backside of Sierra Butte, with a climbing traverse around it.
Sweeping views, and it looks exactly as I’d imagined northern California – mountainous, but not jagged, and carpeted with pine trees. The rock outcrops are sheared and crunched. All messed up. “You could butcher an animal with this rock,” says J, kicking a loose pile. It’s true – we’ve been waking on loose, sharp rock all morning (hard walking) but this takes the cake.
After coming around Sierra Butte we follow a ridge to the north. There are big, beautiful lakes below us on both sides. While eating lunch, we watch a swimmer cross from one side to the other of one of the lakes. We’re hot, and we stay that way. No swimming for us. J is out of sorts all afternoon. “The trail couldn’t take us down to at least one lake?!” We take long breaks at our water stops. Both our sawyer squeeze bags have developed pinhole leaks today – I hope they hold together for a few more nights…
(No lake for you! Or us.)
More walking, more trees. Lots of jeep roads and jeeps and ATVs. One jeep that passes us, where the trail intersects with a road, stops and says: “didn’t I see you guys earlier today? Still walking, huh?”
“Yeah,” we reply, a little glumly. “We’re always walking.” It’s feeling less like adventure and more like work today. So much walking left to do. We’re not even halfway yet.
We stop for the night on top of a saddle, right before a set of switchbacks. Another great spot, and all to ourselves tonight. Maybe better attitudes tomorrow.
You can see the tippy top of Sierra Butte on the right side of the photo – the peak in the far background.