My new mantra: Nothing about backpacking is EASY.
I thought 7 miles straight uphill in the heat was killer? Now I find 9.5 miles down steep, rocky steps combined with biting black files is possibly even harder.
We did it, though. Sore hips, knees, shoulders and 2 killer blisters growing minute by minute. Alien toe could win a beauty contest...disgusting.
On the trail, it is gorgeous, following the might Merced River. Astounding views over snow glittered Vogelsang Pass..truly do feel as if we are on the top of the world. Meadow after meadow, water flowing like melted silver...nurturing dream-like wildflowers, even the spectacular Yosemite Lily.
Last 2-3 hours are extremely hot--so thankful to finally arrive at Merced. A cool high Sierra camp, a dunk in the river (though we feel as if we are on the "wrong side of the camp" as we stroll through with wet clothes just washed in the river.) Meet an awesome woman--in her 70s-- hiking the loop alone--an artist and wanderer with her sketchbook. We hang out with her at the river, peaceful and on the same page. A father a two sons in camp, one off to college, one off to grad school. Many people bringing and leaving pieces of the mountains in their life.
We have laughing fits as we take our place on the hiking social ladder, definitely riff-raff on the "wrong side of the camp" and loving it. So wonderful to be with my oldest and dearest friend.