Sleepless, as usual, I got up early and saw my first grey Sierra sky. The clouds immediately invigorated me. I sang the Rolling Stones' "No Expectations" loudly as I left my camp, nearly running up the trail. Darker clouds appeared in a mile or two. Three deer refused to move out of the trail until I was nearly close enough to pet them. A young buck followed me for a half mile before losing interest. I stopped to put on my rain jacket and pack cover, and a couple of guys walked past as I did so, complimenting my choice in jacket manufacturers. They sounded suspiciously Canadian. I caught up to them again, over a few miles, slowly gaining an inch or two at a time and passed them reluctantly. Really, we were walking at the same pace, and now I felt compelled to attack Mather's final steep switchbacks at an increased speed. Halfway up, I insisted they pass me. We started a long, joking series of half-breathless conversations and introductions. Eric and Bill. Calgary. Brothers and sensitive rednecks. We were immediate competitive buddies. Secretly, I began referring to them as South Park's Terrence and Philip in my mental log.
I had unknowingly passed Far Out and Blue Butterfly that morning, and only realized it midday when I noted the lack of Far Out's footprints. To give him a chance to catch up, I decided to set up my trekking pole fishing rig near the substantial creek running alongside the trail. Roughly six feet of line with a clear bobber in the middle and a fly on the end managed to attract the attention of a few trout in a pool. My hopes were raised. Far Out appeared. Together, we finished an 18 mile day, camping next to a huge meadow which seemed to be a popular place, judging by the bare spaces and human debris.