June 8, 2018 | miles 709.2 to 735.3 (26.1 miles)
Cheap says he’s going to teach me how to slow down and enjoy the outdoors more than just my raw focus on hiking. I agreed to camp with him for as long as we’re together in the Sierras. Also hello Sierras! These first miles didn’t differ too greatly from the section into Kennedy Meadows, but the availability of water was already noticeable. Plus the snow capped peaks in the distance…We made a late start enjoying our first morning in the Sierras. We took a break at a crossing of the Kern River, watching swallows dance about as they flew in and out of their nests under the bridge. After our lunch break, Cheap and I decided to swap backpacks for a while to see how each other’s packs compared. While his Exos frame was excellent, his pack is carrying way too much weight. By comparison my pack was much lighter, but the frame didn’t carry nearly as well.We ran into Mugwart in the afternoon and made plans to attempt sunrise on Whitney on 6/10: Cheap’s birthday. With the Whitney trail at mile 766, we decided to aim for two longer days to set up for Whitney. However our plans were waylaid. Cheap and I found an excellent campsite just 26 miles in, and we were smitten. We chose to set up camp early at nearly 6 pm rather than hiking on like I normally would, enjoying the sunset before escaping to the warmth of Cheap’s tent – the only shelter on an otherwise exposed saddle.