Day 157: Soda From The Ground And Dinner In A Ditch

Date: September 18, 2017
Miles: 942.5 –  962.8

“I can say for sure that this is the first time I’ve eaten dinner in a ditch.” ~ Fluffy

It was really cold in the Tuolumne Meadows backpacker’s camp this morning and everyone there got up a little later than usual. I don’t typically heat up water for my breakfast, but I did this morning mainly so I could warm my fingers next to my stove. We packed up and waited for the grill to open so we could get some coffee, and then we headed to the meadow across the street to warm our limbs in the sun, which had finally climbed out of the low-lying clouds.  Continue reading “Day 157: Soda From The Ground And Dinner In A Ditch”

Day 155: From Lakes To Canyons

Date: September 16, 2017
Miles: 923 – 942.5

I thought I would wake up in a better mood than I did, but it was still windy and freezing cold, my sleeping quilt was covered with condensation and blown-in sand, and I had a weird emotional hangover from the dream I had in which I attended a party with a bunch of my friends from home but they all ignored me the entire time.  I was also really hungry. With all of this, I desperately wanted to sleep in but instead I got up, put on every item of clothing I had for warmth and hit the trail. The mountains around Thousand Island Lake reflected a fuzzy pink glow from the rising sun and I was really glad to see it since I couldn’t see anything on the way in to camp last night.

Thousand Island Lake at sunrise.

The wind traced ripple lines onto the surface of the lake as I walked by the edge and then headed up a hill toward Island Pass. I passed small lake after lake, crossed Island Pass nearly unnoticed, and kept climbing toward Donohue Pass.

Small lake on the way to Island Pass.

Even though it was not nearly as challenging as the previous passes, my legs moved like wooden stumps and my chest felt tight all the way up the hundreds of steps to the top. I was surprised to find JD talking to a Yosemite Park Ranger. She was spending the day at the pass to see how many people were using the trail in that area. This marked the first time anyone had asked to see my permit other than eating establishments that offered free food or drinks to PCT hikers.  We spent a few minutes chatting with her about her job and Yosemite-related things, then headed down the pass to a campsite to have lunch. We ran into Rabbit, a hiker we hadn’t seen since Bend, and hung out with her until it was time to head out for Tuolumne Meadows. The walk in to Tuolumne was beautifully flat through Lyell Canyon as we travelled by waving yellow grasses and a winding Lyell Creek.

Lyell Canyon

About a mile from the campground, a healthy looking coyote followed us over a bridge until JD yelled at it. We walked through the campground to the store and immediately ordered double bacon cheeseburgers. The worker at the post office was awesome and let us pick up our resupply packages outside of the regular hours, and we headed to the backpackers camp with almost full bellies and arms full of food.

Lyell Creek

Lembert Dome.

Day 154: Did The Devil Really Do It?

Date: September 15, 2017
Miles: who knows – 923

“Beauty and the devil are the same thing.” ~ Robert Mapplethorpe

On the agenda this morning was a stop at Red’s Meadow Resort and Pack Station near Mammoth Lakes.  We had breakfast at the Mule House Cafe, caught up with Scoops, then headed out for a side trip to see Devil’s Postpile.

The short walk to see the hexagonal basalt columns was a worthwhile trip.

Devil’s postpile.
The top of Devil’s Postpile.
Devil’s Postpile.

From there we made our way into the Ansel Adams Wilderness, where the piles of horse poo far outnumbered the hikers and recent rains had turned the trail into a very long mud pit.

As the sun started to set, we got closer to Thousand Island Lake, where we intended to camp.  We didn’t quite make it there before it got dark, however, and we had to search for flat spots by headlamp in the biting wind.  I got crabbier as I got colder, and when I finally found a spot that was somewhat sheltered from the wind, all I wanted to do was get in my quilt and go to bed.  I weighted my tent guy lines down with some big rocks since the ground was too hard for all of the stakes, ate some bars and went to bed, hopeful that I would feel better in the morning.


Thousand Island Lake at sunset.

Fancy hair day on the PCT.

Sunset in the Ansel Adams Wilderness.

Day 153: Heaven Has You

Date: September 14, 2017
Miles: 881.1 – honestly, I don’t remember

“We’re in heaven right now.” ~ JMT Sobo hiker.

There is a point in the afternoon when the sun starts to head toward the horizon, and if you’re up on a ridge above tree line the rivers in the canyons are the same size as the sweat that trickles down your cheek and you feel like you’re walking out of your old life into a new one and you know that if you broke into a run and flung yourself from the trail into space you would fly.

You would be ok.

The wilderness would catch you and whisper, ‘you are wild and real and free.’   Continue reading “Day 153: Heaven Has You”

Day 152: Into The Hail

Date: September 13, 2017
Miles: 878.7 – 881.1

“Are you going to eat that?” ~ Joe Dirt

I spent the entire afternoon reading a fiction novel for no educational purpose whatsoever. I can’t remember the last time I did that.  With no Internet available at VVR to distract me, I did my chores quickly in the morning so I could settle in to a sunny spot on the lawn, graze for hours on snacks gleaned from the hiker box and read a Dean Koontz mystery.  Continue reading “Day 152: Into The Hail”

Day 151: VVR

Date: September 12, 2017
Miles: 866.5 – 878.7

“If you want to see the sunshine, you have to weather the storm.” ~ Frank  Lane

Even though none of us talked last night about sleeping in this morning, we each made the same decision to sleep in until about 7 am when the sun could rise up above the mountains that surrounded us and dry out all of our gear. Continue reading “Day 151: VVR”

Day 150: Hiker Buckets And Thunderstorms

Date: September 11, 2017
Miles: 848.1 – 866.5

‘Sometimes only nature felt real, while all human monuments and actions seemed to be the settings and the plots of dreams.’ ~ Dean Koontz, The Face.

The wind was lively in the canyon last night. I had situated my tent so that I would have a view of the creek and the valley when I woke up, but the direction also turned it into a wind tunnel, and everything inside was covered with a fine layer of sand by the time I woke up.  I dusted myself off and got ready for the day, looking forward to stopping at Muir Trail Ranch, where legendary hiker boxes (buckets, really) are said to contain all of the good food that JMT hikers leave there when they realize that they sent themselves too much of it. Continue reading “Day 150: Hiker Buckets And Thunderstorms”

Day 149: My Legs!

Date: September 10, 2017
Miles: 827.4 – 848.1

No part of me wanted to get up at 5 this morning and since we only planned to cross one pass today, I slept in until 5:50. When I finally got packed up, I started up the ten mile climb to Muir Pass. The trail followed the Middle Fork of the Kings River the whole way and had some spectacular waterfalls, and lazy meanders through meadows and lakes. Continue reading “Day 149: My Legs!”