By morning, my head has finally stopped trying to separate itself from my body - so we head north to Little Lakes Valley. Feeling disinclined to shop the evening before, and leaving Lone Pine before the markets opened, we are woefully unprepared for a long day hike. In my pack are a few crackers, a candy bar, and a too-sweet mango Snapple. No water. M has no water either - and there is no tap at the trailhead.
The day is cool, and the hike gains very little altitude over the next 6 or 7 miles, so we decide to forge ahead.
This hike is truly one of the most beautiful in this part of the Sierras. Every vantage point looks like a postcard; the photography here can't even begin to do it justice. We pass Marsh Lake, Box Lake, Chickenfoot Lake, Long Lake - and finally reach the upper Gem Lakes.
Gem Lakes are are almost eerily quiet, completely frozen. There are no other people, the silence is complete. But the sunlight is warm so we pause for a snack - then head back down the trail to the turnoff to Morgan Pass (11, 100 ft)
By the time we begin the ascent to Morgan Pass my trail runners and leggings are soaked from postholing through the snow. Still in the car are my boots, gaiters, crampons, trekking poles and ice axe.
I follow the footsteps M kicks into the snow and concentrate on not looking down. To my surprise we gain the top of the pass fairly easily, and relish the heat radiating off the enormous boulders strewn along the ridgeline.
On the way back to the car M asks if we might qualify for the Darwin Awards for setting off on this hike with no water, no snow gear/clothing and minimal food.
I ponder this for a bit. But honestly, I think the next day's activities have to win that award.