Day 52 South Fork Kings River to Big Pete Meadow

It was a day of ups and downs, literally and figuratively. After a cool night on a small hill top over looking a stream, we roused ourselves just before the sun came up. It was cold enough to freeze during the night, making us slide deep into our sleeping bags. The trail began gently enough, bordered on each side by grass. Soon we climbed above the tree line once again, into a small rocky bowl scattered with small lakes. Climbing steadily, we aimed for a mountain, before the trail swung strongly left, taking us across a rocky face. The now familiar switchbacks then kicked in, winding our way to the top of Mathers Pass. At the top we had our second breakfast and were entertained by the antics of a chipmunk. From here a somewhat technical descent over some larger sections of snow and short steep gravel slides led us towards a large lake in the adjacent valley. Shortly after stopping for water I slipped on a large smooth rock covered with small loose grit. Acting like ball bearings I shot forward and landed on my left knee, driving a piece of stone deeply into it. Once I had recovered from the initial agony, I threw some band aids over it and popped a couple of ibuprofen. The next couple of miles were tortuously slow, as my knee was a little sore. Only one mile down, I decided lying on the ground and not moving was a good option. It was at this point Ladykiller walked by, whom we had not seen since leaving the road to Tehachapi. Apparently he caught some form of illness, and upon starting off again met a day hiker who happened to be a nurse. She sat him down and stuck a thermometer in his mouth, which blew a reading of 102. He continued to hike for two more days with a fever. After a while, I managed to summon some energy to stand up, and limped down the trail to where Sole Catcher and Jo were waiting. Here, we bandaged my knee up, and took it in the gorgeous valley below us, with the prerequisite waterfalls. Deciding to continue on, we climbed down to the valley floor. Upon stopping for water, I noted that the bleeding had slowed and the drugs had truly kicked in. A pleasant trail by the river led us towards camp, with an easy gradient sparing my knee. This section also boasted a large number of deer, who were quite unfazed by us, crossing the trail ahead of us with nary a pause. Passing an impressive waterfall we eventually made it to the turn off to Bishop Pass, where dinner was served. With the bugs swarming, we took off up the hill, hiking onto a small plateau with great camping areas. More bugs led to a rapid camp and welcome beds.

Miles hiked – 19

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