Day 61 (Friday, June 17): mi 720.4 to Diaz Creek (741.65), 21.25 miles. (up/down: +3907/-3235 ft).
I woke up to find a strange thing had happened to my bear can. It had not been moved, but there was a decent sized dent and scuff on the top of it. There were no scratches like you’d expect from an animal. It almost appeared like a rock fell on it, but nothing was in sight. A mystery!
I packed up and left camp by 6:45, continuing up to find Cow Creek – not knowing if I would find more water or not. Thankfully there was still salvageable water that would get me up and over the mountain in front of me. It was a slow stuggle as I climbed, but provided beautiful views of the valley below. I leapfrogged shortly with another hiker who was also struggling with the thin air; others whizzed by. Finally I reached the top and could see far far away to the snow mountains ahead. From here it was a nice decent down to water! I took a short break, did some blister first aid, and filled up on enough ice cold water to get me 3 “flat” miles to another water source.
I arrived to Death Canyon Creek which surprisingly had a beautiful flow and many others were also taking their lunch break here. After about an hour I decided to make way. There were 10 miles until the next water source and I was considering dry camping at a spring 5 miles away to make for an easier 5 mile day as I was exhausted from the elevation.
I made my way up to nearly 11000 ft going less than 2 mph, painfully slow. My pack was nearly just as heavy as it was when I left Kennedy Meadows as my appetite has been depressed since getting into such high altitude. I I took a short break near Owen’s Peak where there was full cell service along with a crazy view toward Lone Pine – we could see how high up we really were. I had made myself eat a full meal at lunch and was starting to feel quite sick – nauseous, weak, light headed. I could barely continue, and finally made it to my goal of 15 miles at the dry spring. Well I made it to the junction, and had no intention of walking the 1/3 mile to check the accuracy of the water report.
I was still feeling aweful and like my head was going to explode. I was at 10400 ft and knew I had to get as low as possible and that I would have to push on another 5.5 miles to Diaz Creek and campsites that was almost 1000 ft lower. I cried on my way down. Well my body tried to cry, but I held back as I could barely breathe as is. I was still nauseous, short of breath, weak, could feel my brain expanding and could not walk in straight line (well less than usual). I was not cut out for the Sierra – at least not now. Strange too, as I was just fine when I went to over 13000 ft in Peru. I think one big problem was how quickly I pushed myself out of KM. I decided that tomorrow I would go down in to Lone Pine and re-evaluate. I was just hoping I could get there with out any major problems or need for rescue.
I finally arrived to Diaz Creek and found Honey! I was so happy to see someone I knew and could rely on. I dumped my stuff and started to set up camp. I could barely stand. I confided to Honey that I was in bad shape and she so graciously offered me some of her Diamox (altitude pills). Shortly after, I headed down to the creek to get water. I didn’t make it very far before I had to pull over behind a tree to throw up. Everything I had eaten that day and drank with in the last few hours came up. Shit – I hoped I could get out tomorrow okay. I continued down to get water and barely made it back to my tent with my head in a fog. I returned to Honey and asked if she would walk out tomorrow with me.