The weather started out perfect and I was soaking in the crisp clear mountain air as I cruised out past the Beaver Ponds again. Once climbing Arrastra Gulch the altitude started to bite and I settled into a slow steady hike, my poles striking out the rhythm on the hard-packed rocky road. Above the tree line I again noticed the proliferation of wildflowers. The Indian Paintbrushes with their blaze of orange-red foliage were brilliant. The little pikas (think guinea pig) were out cheekily squeaking at me before retreating to their rock fortresses as I approached. A few big hairy marmots scampered across the path. How all this wildlife survives being buried in snow for 6 months of the year I have no idea. It was providing me plenty of entertainment and company today.
The final approach to the pass was now completely melted out of snow. But the clouds were closing in. I reached the pass and could see a couple of huge storm cells moving across the mountains. One was right over where the course markers would be. Boy I was glad I wasn't over there. I sat and had a couple of pop tarts, leaving plenty of crumbs over the marmot hole next to where I was sitting.
The thunder started and that was my queue to get out of there. Back down the way I came in 6 1/2 hours for 15 miles.