Day 70: A million more mosquitoes and fords

Day 70
June 27
miles 969.5-989.6
20.1 miles

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As soon as the sun came up, the mosquitoes arose, as well. I had to keep my head net on while I ate my granola and coffee. Before I could even finish, I had to run to find a place to go to the bathroom. With this problem, it wouldn’t even be possible for me to camp with anyone anymore! I got back on to the trail (turned river) and headed back into the woods, where the mosquitoes became even more bothersome. I had to stop to put on bug repellent before I could continue. The miles went by very slowly in the morning. There were a lot of creeks to ford and my progress was frustrating. A previous thru-hiker had told me that the trail would get easier after Tuolemne Meadows, but it didn’t seem any easier to me! Expectations always seem to make things more difficult.
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I didn’t see anyone on the trail until I ran into a female ranger going southbound around noon. She asked me where I was planning on stopping for the night and if I was carrying a bear canister. She wanted to know what kind, but didn’t make me show it to her. She did want me to get out my PCT permit, however. She had asked several hikers ahead of me for it and many of them told her they had lost it. She said she didn’t know what to do about that. She asked me if the mosquitoes were bringing me down. They were, but my stomach/intestinal problems were even more of a downer on my mood. She said that she always feels sorry for the thru-hikers because they go through the Sierras when the mosquitoes are at their worst. “It’s not always like this!.” She told me that today would be a taxing day with all of the climbs up and down the canyons, but tomorrow should be a little better. I was glad there was a reason why I felt like I was going so slowly today! She didn’t mention anything about the possibly dangerous ford ahead, so I didn’t ask about it.
At around 1:15, I saw two tents and then recognized Cory, who I hadn’t seen since the early desert! I was in a good mood because I had just had my first sign of small intestinal improvement a little while ago! Mountain Man was reading inside his tent and didn’t seem to recognize me. They had decided to take a long lunch break and set up their tents to protect themselves from the mosquitoes.
I continued on, fording creek after creek, and slowly climbing the steep terrain. I stopped to put on Deet twice when I couldn’t stand the attacking mosquitoes anymore. They grow worse after 4pm and even more so when the sun begins to set. The Deet wiped away my sunscreen and left me with new sunburns.
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When I found a nice view and a large rock to sit on, I spread out my groundcloth to dry while I cooked my Katmandu curry dinner. The mosquitoes would not leave me alone. A bearded hiker, who I didn’t know if I knew or not, stopped and asked me how my hike was going. I told him fine, except for my stomach problems that started back in Lake Isabella. “You’ve hiked the entire Sierras sick? That’s bad-ass,” he said. He went on and I finished my dinner and M&Ms. More water and an increasing number of mosquitoes awaited me as I tried to figure out what direction to go. I walked on more swampy land and then came upon a rock outcrop where the bearded guy had chosen to stop. He had picked a spot with a really nice view!
I kept going until 8:00 and then found another set of exposed rocks to set up on. I had been envious of the other hiker’s view but was pleasantly surprised to find mine at least as nice! And there was a nice little river not far away! I went down to collect water after setting up camp and ate a little snack while thousands of mosquitoes swarmed my head. I almost couldn’t believe it. I had never experienced anything like this before. Big clouds billowed up over the mountain in the distance and I was treated to an amazing show with the setting sun. It was absolutely stunning.
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Tomorrow, I would finally reach the 1,000 mile point!

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