A small feeder stream about a half mile before crossing Evolution creek.

My back was pretty sore when I woke up and I didn’t get much sleep because of more apnea episodes, but I think I might have that licked.   And for the first time in a while, I did not ascend a snow covered pass, or any pass, but I am close to one that I will go over tomorrow.

The last few days my back has been sore if I bend over for too long and has been stiff in the morning.  I have had back trouble for 25 years, but it usually has not bothered me while hiking until now.  I have some guesses of what it is and what it isn’t.  I don’t think it’s the extra weight of the bear canister and snow gear.  I’m carrying less water and I’ve carried more weight before.  It could be accumulated stress of hiking, but I don’t think so.  It could be that I’m sleeping on a less supportive pad.  This thing does not give much support.  I have been sleeping more on my back than side lately, so maybe I need something under my lumbar.  I am trying putting my fleece pants under my back tonight.  It could be the poles.  I have been using them all day for the last week or so.  Without poles I can shift the pack around on my back in ways I can’t do while using trekking poles.  If the sleep changes have no effect, I’ll try that next.

On to the apnea.  I camped pretty high last night – 11,200 I think was the altitude.  Shortly after going to bed I began experiencing the episodes and finally about midnight I had an idea.  I was in the tent with the vestibule zipped up.  I have a double zipper where I can unzip it from the top to make a chimney to ventilate better.  I did that and then unzipped the screen enough to stick my head out.  After fifteen minutes of that, no episodes.  Plus I noticed it had gotten cold enough by then to drive the mosquitoes away so I just unzipped the whole netting and pulled it back.  That seemed to do the trick, so I took another sleep aid and went to sleep quickly.  I put my fleece over my head so the sun would not wake me up and that seemed to do the trick.  So basically, the higher the altitude, the more I am essentially suffocating myself with the tent all zipped up because the CO2 builds up inside the tent.  Easy solution if there are no bugs.

Entering the John Muir wilderness area. There’s not much difference here between a wilderness area and the normal National Parks on the PCT – they are both equally rugged and both well marked. On the AT, they are easy to tell apart and getting lost in a wilderness area is a normal occurrence as the trails are much less well marked and its very easy to go down a false trail.

So with the lack of sleep and the hard day before, I let myself sleep in as late as I wanted.  Which turned out to be 6:30.  There was a lot of dew and even some frost, so the later start allowed me to be able to dry things out before packing up and leaving.  Even with that, I still got out at 7:30.  It was pretty rocky and with my stiff back, I was not very comfortable at all.  It was slow going and one crossing early on I had to take my shoes off and that aggravated my back all over again.  It wasn’t until close to noon until my back felt better.  That’s one of the reasons I’m experimenting with sleeping first, because hiking does eventually make it feel better.

Can you tell the difference between lake and sky? It’s hard to tell sometimes.

A gentle breeze on this lake gives away which is water.

The highlight of the day was crossing Evolution creek.  It’s supposedly the toughest crossing so much so that they have made an alternate route that crosses at the meadow where it is much wider and not as deep.  Every south bounder I saw today I asked if they took the alternate route.  Every one of them said yes and when I got to the intersection, the normal way was blocked off with logs.  That settled that.  The picture is from the evolution meadow, but that was a much smaller feeder than the main stream.  When I got there, several people were there and had just crossed.  I decided to take my shoes, socks, and pants off and safe across in my skivvies.  It was about 50 yards wide and never got over mid thigh.  But even that shallow, it had a lot of force pushing me downstream.  They should probably make the alternate be the permanent route.

After crossing, I sat in the sun to dry off and talk to another PCT hiker who crossed just after me.  He has also hiked the AT, and we talked some about that.  But what we mostly talked about was food.  I was running a little low, to the point where I will probably stop at Vermilion Valley resort tomorrow, but he was flat out of food.  He was headed to Muir Trail Ranch eight miles away to see if he could raid their hiker box.  I saw him later in the day and he was able to get some oatmeal and noodles.  So he should be set for VVR.

Camping next to water is a recurring theme in the Sierras. It’s hard to find a campsite without it.

From about three o’clock onward, our downhill turned to an uphill.  We now begin another ascent of another pass.  There were camping spots a few miles short of the pass, so that was my goal.  The first one did not look good, the second one riddled with mosquitoes, so the third one it was.  It is overlooking the last lake before the pass and has quite a few mosquitoes, but is better than the other spots.