Monday, June 23, 2008

June 18, Tyndall Creek

I got an early start at 6:15 and headed down the descent to Rock Creek. I'm glad I didn't camp at Rock Creek since it was perceptably much colder down there. My little meadow was at least 20 degrees warmer. It's best not to camp low, but instead to pick spots midway in a descent. It's much warmer.

After I crossed the frosty creek on some logs I began a steep climb up and met a woman named Blue Butterfly cooking breakfast and waiting for her ibuprofen to kick in. After talking with her, I went further and met her hiking partners, Tahoe Mike, Vegematic and Tailwinds. All of these folks were older and slower than me so I kept going.

I came to another creek crossing and didn't bother trying to stay dry. I just walked right in the water up to my knees. There were a bunch of backpackers on the other side, strapping young men full of the vigor and layer of fat characteristic of being fresh from the city. You can really tell the thrus from the ordinary folks up here. Not only are they fatter, they are cleaner, wear tank tops and T-shirts and all their gear looks new. They were talking with an obvious thru-hiker. When I got to the other side I learned his name was Southern Man. I ended up hiking with Southern Man the rest of the day.

We hiked over a small pass and saw our first marmot. We also bumped into Treebeard, who hikes solo and has this strange way of passing me all the time without me ever seeing him do it only to end up behind me again.

At around 3pm we arrived at Tyndall Creek, described as a formidable crossing. It wasn't bad at all. We decided to camp right there so Southern Man could wait for his hiking partners, the AARP crowd he called them, which were Tahoe Mike and the rest. We enjoyed the afternoon taking a dip in the creek and waiting for them to arrive.

It ended up being the coldest night I had spent in the Sierras. I think that was because I camped low near the water and camped early, leaving nothing to do between 3pm and bed time which allowed my metabolism to slow down. I think you stay a lot warmer if you hike into camp, eat and go right to bed. Take your breaks in the middle of the day. Enjoy a lake or stream or take a nap, then continue a few more hours. Then you won't have to sleep in all your clothes shivering the night away.

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