Early in the morning, as I got out of my tent in the pitch darkness to get my bear canister, I suddenly heard loud howling from a group of animals. I do not know if these were wolves or dogs and didn’t expect either here. Neither did I know how far away they were. It could be reflections from across the valley or something much closer. Needless to say, my pulse went up quite a bit. The howling came back twice shortly after, but was then never heard again.
The landscape was as interesting as yesterday with pines and white ground, but tall mountains slowly appeared in the horizon. There wasn’t much net elevation gain but I came to pay more attention to the fact that my breathing had become faster especially on the inclines due to the thinness of the air at this altitude. It was still very manageable but slowed things slightly down.
The day also brought the first river fords of the Sierras. The first one I could walk on a couple of tree logs. For the other, I took of my shoes and waddled across the shin deep creek in the ice cold water like the other hikers. Walking barefoot across rivers/creeks is usually ill advised because of the risk of severely cutting your feet to which wet feet of course would be much preferable. Here, however, the creek bed was just a coarse sand, so it went well.
I camped after just 18 miles. I wanted to camp at another camp site 2.8 miles further, where many hikers were planning to camp, but the Pacific Crest Trail Association started it wasn’t permitted and the Ranger at a nearby station wasn’t in so I couldn’t get a definitive answer from him. Well at least this tent site isn’t near a lake nor that exposed to the wind. Tomorrow something big is on the agenda, literally, and without spoiling the surprise, I am just going to say that I have set my alarm for 0:42 am! I quickly fell a sleep while listening to God Speed You! black Emperor!’s “Sleep”. I guess that’s a fitting title. I thought I would have been more anxious about tomorrow.
Update: Talking to other hikers, those howls were probably from coyotes.