7/19/18 – First Thunder

Day 29

Miles: 1,050.03 to 1,033.74

Morning at Kinney Lake is a nice one. The smoke has cleared some, its remnants are far away, and the sun that rises through them makes colors the sky and water pink.

Out of Kinney Lake we have 4 miles of rolling terrain. Scenery is gorgeous. Boulders and rock walls, non volcanic kind, the rock is smooth and polished, and marbled with water cracks.

Our first uphill takes us to Noble Lake. We hike up a canyon with several waterfalls rushing down. Up above us are still some snow patches stubbornly lingering in the shadiest gullies. The trail meanders through the water shaped landscape. The thread is mostly on loose gravel, occasionally we have to cross a small washout but the grade is very forgiving and with the striking scenery, we hardly notice we had climbed 700 feet.

From Noble Lake the uphill continues to a saddle with a great view. The smoke is returning. It’s not as bad as yesterday but even the closer ridges are now concealed in haze. We also have a cell service here. At least I do. I think it’s one of the last spots where Verizon wins over AT&T. I double check weather. There is still chance of showers and thunder storms predicted for the rest of the week and into the beginning of next week. I’m not thrilled about the storms. Everything is so dry. Any lightning can start a new fire.

Unexpected surprise awaits us once we descend from the saddle. Our friends Swayed, Roller, and Lady Meow Meow are having a lunch by a swiftly rushing creek. We thought they were miles ahead of us, trying to be at Kennedy Meadows on Friday morning. Turns out they are heaving a lazy day. They merely hiked 7 miles.

Afternoon brings up another climb. Close to the top, our friends are resting by another creek. They are still very optimistic about making it to Kennedy Meadows tomorrow morning, tough it most likely means hiking very late into the night.

Right then it starts thundering. Through the smoke, it’s hard to say where the thunder clouds are located, or which way they are going. We hurry up the last 200 feet, cross a ridge that under different circumstances would probably be very enjoyable, and then we hurry to a creek where we plan to camp. Our friends pass us in a last leap frog off the day. We briefly consider going 3 more miles to be in a better position if weather comes in sooner and we wanted to walk out tomorrow but it’s getting late, the place is pretty, and so we decide to stay put.