Wednesday 7th August 2013
Little Pete Meadow to Palliside Lakes – 11 miles
The method in our madness of the last two painfully long days started to come to fruition today, a relatively short and manageable route lay ahead allowing our bodies to rest before the high passes looming on the horizon. Sadly, I don’t think Luke viewed it the same way, his painful blisters weren’t healing and today he dropped his first hints of maybe not finishing. We urged him to put these thoughts aside and promised him that we would have a few hours to rest and recoup this afternoon at Palliside Lakes.
The day started with the continuation of the descent down Le Conte Canyon from Muir Pass. The four mile 1,000ft drop to the junction allowed a gentle start to the day and we arrived before 10am. This was great but we knew oh to well that coming down to 8,000ft altitude meant climbing all the way back up again. We turned east at the junction into a new valley, meandering back up a similarly graduated path. With the lakes at just under 11,000ft we were worrying that the longer this continued the steeper the last section up to the lakes would be. We surfaced above the tree line with views over the forest covered mountain valley behind us. In front a wall of almost vertical switchbacks taking us high and up, over and around a huge, steep rocky buttress. We gained 1,500ft in one and a half energy sapping miles.
The sheer scale of the cliffs and rock formations that the path took us through were mind-blowing. We took regular breaks to take pictures but couldn’t stop for long due to the heat. It was also getting increasingly difficult to get started again.
Along the upper sections we passed a few path repair workers and had some interesting conversations with them. It must have been an incredibly tough job, climbing up to this altitude to undertake strenuous physical labour in very hot conditions. Their reasoning for taking this on was “How many people have an office as nice as this?” pointing to the view.
We found a beautiful area by the lake to choose where to camp and as we arrived there before 2pm we took full advantage to it. First on my list was to get off my filthy clothes and get my horrendously smelly body into the freezing cold lake to wash myself and my clothes. Clean and refreshed with all wet clothes draped among the bushes drying rapidly in the burning sun we spent some time reading, relaxing and generally soaking up the beauty of the surrounding area.
Chris and I also took it upon ourselves to help Luke redress his blisters. It was a good job we did, as they were far worse than we had thought. Luke had not made a particularly good job in looking after them. The dressings were filthy, loose and generally useless. Once removed we found open wounds between his toes and on his heels, it was a sight not for the faint hearted. We cleaned and properly dressed them, which could be achieved much more effectively by us, and I promised to lend him some better quality socks for the next day hoping to quash the thoughts of him not finishing the trail.
We were in bed before dark again hoping for a good nights sleep to prepare us for the big days ahead. AB