Day 4                  
   
Dawn as I prepare my breakfast before a tough hike.   Looking out across the Upper Basin toward Mather Pass.   Later... approaching Mather. Last chance for water.
   
Looking back from the pass, out across Upper Basin.   The view on the other side of the pass. Palisade Basin.   The wind shifts, and Sequoia fire smoke rolls into the basin.

The weather has been incredibly mild. Even at 6:30 in the morning, at 11,000 ft., the temperature is about 65 F. I make my breakfast and get under way, using folded thick socks as spacers in my boots to keep my mashed going downhill. It doesn't work well, but it's better than nothing. As the first major downhill portion of the trip gets underway I can look out across the basin at Mather Pass, 6+ miles in the distance.

As painful as it is to give up a thousand feet of altitude crossing Upper Basin (and then climb 2000 at the other side), it's nothing compared to the swarms of insane, vicious mosquitos that wait in the lower part of that valley. It got to a point where I couldn't kill one of them before five more landed elsewhere, then ten, then twenty... until I couldn't breathe without inhaling one... and finally, in semi-panic, I shucked the pack, searched furiously for the dreaded jungle juice, and slathered it on, all the while, slapping furiously at the ever-thickening cloud of blood sucking fiends around me.

Later, just past noon, the approach to Mather Pass is before me, and I begin to ascend. Uphill, as expected, is something of a relief to my tortured toes, and the 12,100 foot pass is reached in less than an hour. The view from the top is mind-boggling, and beautiful, but by this time I've been completely exposed to especially hard sunlight for hours, with more hours to go before reaching shade, so I don the pack after a short rest and descend the long steep trail into Palisade Basin. Disturbing sensations from within The Boots of Woe make me wonder what sort of wreckage I'll find when I pry them off at camp. The day, crystal-clear for the most part, ended murky as smoke from the McNalley fire in Sequoia rolled into the valley.