Excerpts from the trail journal:
Day 4: Even though the tent reeks of feet and garlic, I don’t mind. At 10,400′ feet tonight, gonna be cold…
Day 5: After waterproofing my boots, I unintentionally shrink them half a size leaving me in pure agony. I hobble behind Vona in my ill fitting, hell-on-earth boots toward Mammoth, a giant ski resort town. I hope to find the new love of my life there, boots that are made for walking.
I find the two new loves of my life and subject them immediately to my smelly, blistered feet. We hike into Red’s Meadow to pick up our box of food and then dig through the free leftover food of past hikers. Large quantities of oatmeal and granola fill the boxes. We search for treasures like cookies, chocolate, dried fruit, and the occasional salami.
We set up camp in our moonlit tent perched over the poor saps who paid twenty bucks for a campsite. Ah, the life of thrifty backpackers.
Day 9: Worst day on the trail. We pick up our last package containing ten days worth of food and struggle to fit it all into our bear canisters. Weighed down by a 40-pound pack, I struggle up Bear Ridge. Halfway, I collapse onto a rock and begin catapulting granola and dried fruit out of my pack. I knew I would regret that decision later, and I surely did.
Day 17: We hike with our amazing trail buddies and sing Sinatra, Beach Boys, and random show tunes. The scenery is mostly a sandy forest of twisted, tortured Fox Pines. Each seems to tell its own epic story. Some twist sharply east; others reach upward in a fork, looking as if they were trying to rip away from each other.
Our tent is perched about fifty feet above Guitar Lake. A beautiful sunset dazzled us with violets and golds reflecting on the crooked teeth of Mt Whitney. Vona lies almost passed out next to me in what has been our home for the past three weeks. We’ve come so far; it’s flown by in a heart beat.