The last nine days of hiking have again been spectacular. The elevations have been slightly lower than the last stretch, never getting to 13,000', but we spent at least a week above 11,000' at some point every day, and today is probably our first day totally below 10,000' in two weeks (and even the cabin we're staying at is above 9000'.) There have been a lot of really spectacular lakes. Unfortunately it's usually been too cold for swimming, and when it is hot enough swimming involves jumping in and then out as fast as possible, because the water is frigid. We also stopped at some lower elevation hot springs with a warmer lake, which was nice. Lots of wildflowers too. Hundreds of pictures forthcoming when my dad has faster internet access and can upload them.
We've had too much food on every stretch so far, so this time we decided to pack a little bit lighter. Unfortunately though, we stretched out the trip a day, and I multiplied by two instead of four to calculate how many snack bars we needed per day, so we ran a little bit low on food after seven days. The hiker box at Muir Trail Ranch yielded some olive oil and a bag of oatmeal, and a John Muir Trail hiker offered us, unprompted, a pound of cashews. By the time we got to our small resupply at Vermillion Valley Resort two days ago we were quite hungry, but fortunately not starving. We ate heartily there, and had plenty of food for the last two days in to Mammoth.
Some gear has started failing as well. One of my hiking poles snapped on a descent about four days back, and one of our tent zippers has failed. Fortunately, Black Diamond (hiking pole) and Big Agnes (tent) are graciously sending us replacements under warranty, to South Lake Tahoe.
We're mostly holding up pretty well ourselves. Marina's feet are the main sore point, so she's trying various approaches to making them happier. My right knee (the one I broke skiing) is occasionally sore, and occasionally has a fleeting sharp pain, but for the most part is doing really well.
We're looking forward to some more pretty high Sierra scenery, but as we get to South Lake Tahoe the terrain will get a bit lower, and after that will get a bunch flatter. We are going to start trying to do 20 mile days on a regular basis, up from 16 or so in the last while. We need to average 20 a day for the rest of the trip, so before too long we'll try to ramp up more to 25s or so, so we can take breaks in town.
More in a week or two!