Bishop to Mammoth

Day 55: Onion Valley Trailhead to Woods Creek Bridge (799.8)

June 3 // 18ish miles // Kearsarge pass & Glen pass

Woke up feeling fine, not sure what that was last night with the altitude dizziness but I did not like it. Slept very heavily for almost eleven hours without waking once. It was probably the warmest night so far, I had no issue getting out of my quilt in the morning. Had a quick protein cookie for breakfast and then set off at the back of the pack to tackle Kearsarge pass.

IMG_2282.JPG
IMG_2292.JPG

The combo of new socks and new shoes was an absolute dream. Took the switchbacks slow and steady and didn’t push, felt really good going up. Passing Bullfrog lakes, I ran into Smokebeard who I hiked with at the beginning of last year. It’s the first familiar face I’ve seen on trail and we had a great time catching up, although I think he was on a mission to get to town so said goodbyes and finished the pass in a great mood.

IMG_2301.JPG
IMG_2305.JPG

The top of Glen pass was only two miles after the Kearsarge trail intersected back to the PCT, and a fairly steep uphill climb. There was a good amount of snow near the top, and the final few switchbacks were extremely tiring but felt really good after the rest in town and got to the top faster than I normally would for uphill hiking.

IMG_2312.JPG

Had lunch on top of the pass with Eli, Honeybee and Bagels, I packed out avocado and a bottle of mayo to add to my tuna and cheese wraps. This is one of our longer resupplies and my bag is heavy with the extra food, but even so I made an effort to pack out relatively healthier foods vs relying solely on ramen and dehydrated potatoes. My pack is brutally heavy but it’s so worth it at meal time. Suck it ultralight masochists, you may be faster but I’m eating avocado. The north side of the pass was still completely snow covered and it was slow going down. There was some postholing but not nearly as bad as on Forester since there was still a very solid base of snowpack. Navigated back to the trail with wet shoes and started the descent to gorgeous Rae Lakes.

IMG_2316.JPG
 Bagels found a full suit at a thrift store in Bishop and hiked today in it. Unfortunately we saw no one else to appreciate it.

Bagels found a full suit at a thrift store in Bishop and hiked today in it. Unfortunately we saw no one else to appreciate it.

There was still ice on the first lake but the bottom two were mostly open so went for a swim. The cold water knocked the wind out of me, but still jumped in a second time. Bagels and PC both brought fishing rods for this section and they caught and fried up a few lake trout, which would take the bait on almost every single cast. Spent a good chunk of the afternoon lounging in the sun and enjoying the scenery.

IMG_2353.JPG
IMG_2410.JPG
IMG_2397.JPG

Got going after a lazy two hours and had a couple very icy river crossings straight away. Even with the wet feet I had a great afternoon, the downhill was easy and the sun was reflecting off lake after lake after lake. This could be the most beautiful place in the world, it is definitely my favourite place in the world.

IMG_2419.JPG
IMG_2422.JPG

Passed a ranger station overlooking a particularly beautiful lake (how do I get that job?) and finished the day off with another cold river crossing. Socks and shoes are constantly wet through this section but it’s really not so bad once you’re through the first icy blast of the day. After the feet are wet it’s almost enjoyable to “refresh” the feeling.

IMG_2424.JPG

Camped at the large site with the group right before a suspension bridge that crosses Woods creek. Dinner with a campfire using the bear canisters as chairs...they’re a real hassle to pack and unlock when it’s time to eat, but they definitely add a social element to group camping, it’s natural habit to set them up in a circle around the fire pit, even if there’s no fire. Cowboy camping tonight since there aren’t any bugs. Really great day, I absolutely love it here. John Muir trail in 2019 is a real possibility, it essentially shares the PCT for most of the Sierra section so you get one of the best parts of trail without having to “quit life” for an entire half year, though this feels like the farthest possible thing from quitting life. 

IMG_2427.JPG

Day 56: Woods Creek Bridge (799.8) to Kings River (811.3)

June 4 // 11.5 miles // Pinchot pass.

Woke up around 6:30 to the sound of everyone else packing up, (is there anything more depressing than the sound of the air being let out of inflatable sleeping pads?) and made a half assed attempt to get up, but rather typically fell back asleep. whoops.

IMG_2435.JPG

Dragged my butt out of camp after 8. A benefit to cowboy camping is how much faster I can pack up and hit the trail in the morning, if my tent is up I move like a slug. Crossed Woods bridge which is held up by suspension cables and has a rather ominous sign saying “one person only on bridge at a time”. It swayed like crazy and I put my phone away after trying to take a few pictures of the river below and instead held on to the side cables with both hands.

IMG_2436.JPG

Hit mile 800 and went vertical right out of the gate.  A big elevation spike today, 3600+ feet up Pinchot pass. Felt tired after only a mile, the steps were large and required a lot of leg effort.

IMG_2437.JPG
IMG_2444.JPG

Had a creek crossing early on so there was no point trying to dry out my shoes last night around the fire. Followed a rushing turquoise river and crossed the tributaries of snowmelt flowing down to it over and over, made absolutely no effort to keep my feet dry this morning after they soaked through. Really great views of the valley after the trail went above 11000ft.

IMG_2446.JPG
IMG_2445.JPG

Got a second wind after a couple hours of uphill, was still moving slower than usual but stopped feeling like there were lead weights hanging off my legs. Towards the last mile and a half came the snow and my late start meant the sun had made the entire trail very prone to postholing (when your foot punches through the top layer of snow and sinks to the knee or deeper). The last push to the top of the pass seemed to take forever, all in all it took me almost five hours to go seven miles. Yikes.

IMG_2449.JPG
IMG_2447.JPG

The reward for the brutal morning was the view from the north face of the pass...incredible panorama of the surrounding peaks, I ate my lunch slowly to enjoy the scenery and definitely burnt the heck out of my face...altitude+snow reflection means my desert tan isn’t nearly enough to prevent further burning. Going to look like a leather handbag by the time I’m thirty.

IMG_2451.JPG
IMG_2452.JPG

Had a short glissade down the north snow face which caused more ass chafing, I can’t hold my shorts tight enough to prevent them riding up and should probably just be wearing pants.

IMG_2453.JPG
IMG_2455.JPG

After I got below snow level the trail was easy to follow and I had a much easier afternoon. Lake Marjorie was unfortunately still mostly frozen over so that’ll put a dent in my attempt to swim every day in the Sierras. Had two relatively large crossings of creeks that flow down to the Kings River, but otherwise the trail was easy and curved down through pine forest.

IMG_2457.JPG

Reached the notorious crossing of the Kings River and was happy to see the group setting up camp in the trees just ahead of it. Last year we had to hike two miles upstream to find a safe place to cross the strong current and high water. Fortunately the water level looked slightly lower this spring and so hopefully it won’t be too challenging tomorrow morning.

IMG_2459.JPG

Laid out wet shoes and socks to try and dry in the setting sun and set up camp. Still no mosquitos (hallelujah) so cowboy camping again, and made mac and cheese for dinner, one of the most satisfying trail meals. Early to bed right after dinner, I’m exhausted. Did less than twelve miles today but they were tough and it feels a bit like I’ve been hit by a truck.

Day 57: Kings River Site (811.3) to Palisade Creek Site (824.7)

June 5 // 13.4 miles // Mather pass

Surprising no one, I slept in after a heavy, heavy sleep. Honeybee and Eli were up and out of camp before I was awake but Pants, Calves and Bagels were still sleeping like snoring angels and I enjoyed an unrushed breakfast with hot coffee instead of the usual cookie on-the-go with an instant cold brew. The morning was still cold but warmer than what we’ve had lately.

IMG_2462.JPG

When everyone was awake and packed up, we went to scan the river for a safe place to cross. Bagels forded the first fork and then slipped over backwards on a submerged rock. Thankfully no damage, just a lost iPhone, but it gave everyone a good scare.

Even though the water was lower than last year, the current still looked strong and we ended up hiking about a mile upstream to find a shallower place to get across. Tried a few places before finally finding a decent spot where the water only came up to mid thigh and was slower moving. It was incredibly cold and it felt like my feet were on fire after I climbed out on the opposite bank. The international girls (Mango from Australia, First Row and Spice from Germany) caught up to us and we all got across safely.

IMG_2466.JPG
IMG_2467.JPG
IMG_2473.JPG

Rejoined the PCT and almost immediately hit the snow fields leading up to Mather pass. The trail was impossible to follow under all the snow and everyone split up. I just made my way in the general direction of the pass with no effort to try and find the actual trail. Lots of ski-walking through slushy snow which alternated with crossing large exposed chunks of smooth granite . 

FullSizeRender.jpg
IMG_2475.JPG

For the most part the snow was still quite hard but on the flat fields leading up to the climb I was postholing almost every step and it was slow going. Followed a set of footprints kicked into the snow straight up the wall of Mather pass and ignored the half exposed switchbacks completely. It was tiring but saved about half a mile and the footprints were solid enough that I never felt unsafe despite the steep snow face. After that there was a rock scramble to get back to the trail, the top is so steep it was almost snow free for the last quarter mile. Moved slow but felt great and had a good hiker high near the top.

 Finishing Mather Pass. The dude ahead had packed out kid sized snowshoes which was brilliant, he flew across the snow.

Finishing Mather Pass. The dude ahead had packed out kid sized snowshoes which was brilliant, he flew across the snow.

Finished the pass easily on the energy burst and waited at the top. I could see Calves and Bagels wandering around the snowy valley far below looping way off trail but they eventually found their way up the pass while I finished lunch. There were two French guys at the top with me that had climbed many of the surrounding mountains and knew them all by name. I have a hard enough time getting over passes, can’t imagine what a challenge it must be to summit the sharp, snowy peaks. At the same time, I can definitely see the appeal.

IMG_2480.JPG
IMG_2479.JPG

Waited for Calves and Bagels to finish the climb and then we started down together. The top of the pass was posthole city despite the steep grade, and we alternated between rock scrambles and digging our legs out after sinking to the waist. I had a better time of it then the guys, I seemed to be slightly lighter than the snow’s breaking point and was able to walk without sinking for most of the way down. They didn’t have as much luck.

IMG_2484.JPG
IMG_2487.JPG

Hit the trail below the snow line and followed it down, the snowmelt made everything wet and slippery and as always, socks were soaked through. It was hard to stay on track since there wasn’t really a dirt path, just rock markers along the granite, there was a lot of route finding going on instead of easy hiking. 

IMG_2496.JPG

Stopped at Palisade Lakes with Bagels and Calves and went for a “swim” if you can call it that-more of just a quick dunk, the water was icy cold.

IMG_2498.JPG
IMG_2502.JPG

Laid out on some rock nearby to warm up and dry off in the sun, woke up after dozing off to a brazen marmot less than two feet from my head. We noticed another one circling the packs (marmots have been known to chew through tents and hip belt pockets to get to snacks) so that was the end of break.

IMG_2530.JPG
IMG_2519.JPG
IMG_2531.JPG

Split from Bagels and Calves after our rest and followed along the river until the trail opened up into a beautiful view of the valley and forest below, one of my favourite spots so an optimal time for a snack break. 

IMG_2533.JPG
IMG_2539.JPG
IMG_2540.JPG

Then came the steep descent down a rock staircase, some 50+ switchbacks that are put together from stone slabs. Beautiful piece of trail maintenance and the afternoon was sunny and warm, one of my best days yet.

IMG_2541.JPG
IMG_2588.JPG
IMG_2545.JPG
IMG_2561.JPG

Due to snowmelt, there was so much water covering much the trail that it was essentially just a stream itself, so my socks stayed wet. When I hit the tree line there were a couple more creek crossings. My feet look like prunes. 

IMG_2563.JPG
 Water trail

Water trail

IMG_2575.JPG

The first bit of the woods was unfortunately burnt out with lots of downed trees, but after a little while we were back in a deciduous forest, it’s been a while since I’ve seen anything but pines.

IMG_2579.JPG
IMG_2576.JPG

Got to our planned campsite in a small clearing, Eli and Honeybee already had a fire going. There were a few ominous clouds behind the mountain so we set up our tents as a precaution, but nothing came of it. Had a dinner of rehydrated stuffing which was surprisingly delicious. I’m a little short on snacks this section so no customary after-dinner Snickers bar, I’ll be rationing until our next resupply at Vermilion Valley Resort.

IMG_2586.JPG

Day 58: Palisade Creek Site (824.7) to Campsite that isn’t even really a campsite but it’s the only spot not covered in snow (841.4)

June 6 // 16.7 miles // Muir pass.

Out of camp around 8 this morning and because there was a decent stretch of trail that was snow free and not too steeply downhill, crushed the first five miles of the day easily, mostly following the Kings river. The ten-mile uphill to Muir pass started off very gradual and I felt really good and moved fast. Leapfrogged a couple times with Calves and Bagels on short breaks but other than them I saw no one all morning. Beautiful terrain, but I feel like that’s pointless to even point out anymore, since this entire 300 mile section is the most gorgeous place I’ve ever been.

IMG_2590.JPG
IMG_2593.JPG

Starting to pass some southbound John Muir Trail hikers, but they’re not out in the same numbers as they were last year, it’s still quite early in the season. Stopped to chat with a group about the conditions on Muir Pass, they advised that I probably would want to tackle it tomorrow since there was so much snow and it was past noon. (Ideally you hit passes first thing in the morning before the sun has a chance to soften the snow, but we never really follow that rule and just hit them as they come. Last year there was just so much snowpack everywhere that there was no postholing, you just cruised right over it.) I thanked the hikers for their advice while secretly thinking they didn’t know what they were talking about. Turns it they did.

IMG_2598.JPG

Hit the first of the snow fields about three miles out from the top of the pass and it really wasn’t that bad going up. There was enough snow that it was hard packed and the footsteps from previous hikers were easy to follow with no postholing. Kind of tricky to keep track of the path so just climbed upwards, navigating around a few half frozen lakes and exposed rock patches.

IMG_2601.JPG
IMG_2707.JPG

Bagels and Calves caught up while I was having a late lunch near Helen lake and we continued on together. 

IMG_2666.JPG
IMG_2606.JPG

The last mile up was surprisingly brutal, the terrain was steep and 100% covered in snow. Following the kicked-in footsteps was like climbing a snow stairmaster and felt like it went on forever, but finally, Muir hut came into view and I dragged myself to the top. On the north side of the pass, more snowfields stretched as far as I could see.

IMG_2607.JPG

Spent some time hanging around inside the stone shelter, it was only 3pm and we had just under six miles to go to our planned campsite, all downhill. We were feeling pretty confident and laughing about the JMTers that were giving us a hard time about going up so late. (The hubris!)

IMG_2611.JPG

But then. Then came the postholing. Every single step for miles down the north face was a struggle as we sunk through the soft snow up to the thigh, sometimes even deeper. I figured that we’d maybe have to deal with it for like half an hour until the grade got steeper, but the postholing just never stopped. We started off laughing about it, but after it took us an hour to go about half a mile I started getting really frustrated. The worst was when I’d take a step, inevitably sink down to the waist and then be unable to pull my foot back out due to the shape of the hole I’d created since the snow was strong enough to hold its shape. I’d have to chip away around the trapped ankle with my trekking pole, ignoring the stinging cold of the snow against bare arms and legs, until I could pull my foot free, only to do it again the next step.

To their credit, Calves and Bagels were having an even rougher time then I was, but both managed to stay cheerful and crack jokes the entire time, even though I’m sure they were just as miserable as me. If I’d been alone I can guarantee I’d have been crying with frustration but we turned it into a very slow-going adventure.

IMG_2625.JPG

We tried climbing up much higher than the main path, since it seemed that the flatter the ground, the higher the chance of a posthole. Paralleled along the trail on the steep exposed rock faces rising up on the right, which helped slightly, but made for sketchier postholes when we did hit snow since we weren’t following any previous footprints and it wasn’t as hard packed.

IMG_2618.JPG

Checking the mileage was discouraging, by 5pm, two hours after we had left Muir hut, we had barely gone a mile. Decided to keep on until the sun set and get as far as we could. As the shadows from the mountains covered the snow, it made the top layer crusty and hard. This had its ups and downs: on the one hand, I was able to walk without punching through the snow every single step, but when I did posthole, the top icy layer shredded my ankles and shins as my leg went down. I didn’t feel much because of the numbing effect of the cold, but I did notice that blood was starting to stain the tops of my socks. Probably should’ve pulled out my wind pants (very thin and already ripped to shit, but it would’ve offered at least a little protection) but they were at the very bottom of my pack and I was being stubborn.

I had to keep repeating one of my favourite mantras: “no bad days on trail” but I’m not sure I believed it this afternoon. We crossed a thin layer of snow covering an icy stream and of course we all went through, so feet and toes were going numb. Finally we collectively decided to call it quits and made camp on a small exposed piece of granite, about three miles out from our planned campsite at Evolution Lake.

IMG_2626.JPG

It got cold as heck without the sun and we made quick dinner and ate in our sleeping bags. I lay out my wet clothes to try and dry but I have a feeling they’ll be just as wet tomorrow morning in this cold. I originally hadn’t planned to bring an extra pair of sleeping socks, but I’m happy to have them tonight to keep my feet warm and dry.

IMG_2627.JPG

The rock was definitely not ideal for sleeping on and I’m cowboy camped at a fairly steep downhill angle, my sleeping pad keeps slowly sliding off the groundsheet. On the bright side, the view across the pass is beautiful, I’ve never camped in such a snowy area before and the snow looks silver in the dusk. For all the struggles of this afternoon, it finally feels like I’m back in the scary, challenging Sierras of last years hike and today is definitely going to be a good story when we meet the others tomorrow.

FullSizeRender.jpg

Day 59: Muir Pass Campsite (841.4) to Senger Creek (861.6)

June 7 // 20.2 miles // Selden Pass

Tough sleep last night, it got cold as heck. I got up to pee at 2am wondering how receptive Bagels would be to a surprise snuggle attack, but I held off and couldn’t really get warm enough to fall back asleep. On the plus side the view of the stars and Milky Way over the snowy stretch of Muir pass was absolutely incredible.

When the sun started to come up it got significantly warmer and I managed to grab another hour of sleep. There was ice coating the quilt and clothes I had left lying around. More worryingly, our shoes were 100% frozen solid. Since I just slip them off without untying laces when we make camp, I couldn’t get my foot back inside. Had to boil a pot of water to pour over the tops until the laces were defrosted. On top of that, my base layer leggings were stuck to my skin down around my ankles where the majority of the snow cuts from yesterday were concentrated. Had to peel them off which caused a fresh round of blood. Ah the joys of hiking.

IMG_2658.JPG

While packing up, Pants caught up to Calves, Bagels and I after waking up at like 3am to get over the pass, which is what we should’ve done, and we headed down in a group. In the cold early morning the hard snow posed absolutely no issue and we made good time down to Evolution lake. Should’ve just spent the night at the top of the pass and saved ourselves the time and effort. My legs look like they’ve been cheese grated and sting quite badly with any movement. I want to go back in time and put on the wind pants, they wouldn’t have held up too well against the ice but would’ve been better than shredding every bit of skin from the knees down.

IMG_2639.JPG

Got to the inlet at Evolution lake, a long knee-deep crossing that was so cold my feet were aching for minutes after getting out. Arrived at the campsite we were supposed to have stopped at last night and Eli and Honeybee were still there having a late breakfast waiting for us.

IMG_2641.JPG
IMG_2643.JPG

It was an easy morning downhill past tons of reflective lakes but I was feeling a bit tired and cranky from lack of sleep last night. Didn’t see anyone for most of the morning, my mood improved closer to lunchtime and cruised down a long series of switchbacks that dropped steeply to the river. I thought I was behind everyone and getting frustrated that they hadn’t yet stopped for lunch, but then Bagels and Eli caught up from behind, and we took a break for food before tackling the first part of Selden pass.

IMG_2646.JPG
IMG_2651.JPG
IMG_2650.JPG

The uphill was steep switchbacks to match the ones that we came down on, only much more tiring going up. Felt pretty good and climbed steadily until Senger Creek. Decided to stop there for the night with Calves and Bagels. Eli and Honeybee pushed ahead to make the trip into VVR a little shorter tomorrow.

IMG_2654.JPG
IMG_2657.JPG
FullSizeRender.jpg

Day 60: Senger Creek (861.6) to VVR (878.7)

June 8 // 17.1 miles + 1.3 side trail // Selden pass.

Slept well last night after the lack of sleep on Muir pass. Finished the second half of the climb up to Selden after getting out of camp decently early for once.

FullSizeRender.jpg

Passed by Sallie Keys lake which was completely ice free and looked incredibly clear and inviting, took a lot of will power not to stop and go for a swim less than an hour into the hiking day.

IMG_2671.JPG
IMG_2674.JPG

Heart lake was frozen over so no swimming there either, disappointing, but continued up Selden and started hitting snow fields about a mile from the top. Thankfully it was still solid enough to walk on without issue. There was a group of hikers at the top I’d never met before and I was hoping to maybe have a coffee break there with them but they were shockingly unfriendly for hikers, stonewalling any attempt I made at conversation and one making a pointed comment about my full size bear. So sorry I don’t have a five pound base weight and legs covered in hiking tattoos or a full on homeless beard??

Some postholing on the downhill which hurt my cut legs. Even plants brushing against them today stung like crazy and crashing down through snow and ice again was brutal. Thankfully there wasn’t too much snow and postholing only happened a few painful times. I was determined to not be passed by the unfriendlies and pushed myself too fast, and then got annoyed with myself for even caring and for wasting nice scenery worrying about it.

IMG_2675.JPG

A few larger stream crossings today including Bear Creek, but nothing came above the waist. Unfortunately every time my legs got wet the skin would crack open again as it dried, I’m kicking myself for not wearing pants on Muir because the ten seconds it would’ve taken me to dig them out of my bag would’ve saved me days of irritation. Ugh.

IMG_2680.JPG

Down a thousand feet and back up, had crazy energy all afternoon and powered uphill faster than I ever expected myself able to. There was a junction that led seven miles on foot around a lake to Vermilion Valley Resort, a small fishing lodge where we were resupplying. Decided to stay on the PCT and take the mile and a half detour to a dock with a ferry that arrived twice a day to shuttle hikers across the lake to VVR. The schedule for the boat was 9am and 4:45pm and I made sure to arrive with plenty of time to spare since I was out of food and didn’t want to risk missing the shuttle. Pants caught up to me as I was leaving the junction and we decided to race, him on foot around the lake, me down the PCT and ferry across the lake.

Met Bagels and Calves at the ferry dock and we waited until well past 5 for the boat to arrive. After a few hours we called the resort to see what the heck was up and they informed us their boat was broken (noooooooo) and they weren’t sure if they’d be able to send it over before sundown. Seriously depressing especially since I was out of food, I’d barely eaten all day and hikers coming in the opposite direction had been raving to us about the steak dinner they’d had at VVR. There was an option to hike around the lake but it was another five miles and we were wiped. We decided to be optimistic and just wait at the dock, if needed we could camp on the shore and take the boat or hike in the next morning. Miraculously we heard the sound of a motor coming across the lake just before 7.  Can’t express how happy I was to see the tiny little outboard fishing boat puttering towards us, it could be a top 5 life moment.

IMG_2698.JPG
IMG_2692.JPG

Climbed in with our packs and the driver took us across the lake, giving an enthusiastic guided tour of the shoreline and dam on Edison Lake. We split the ride with a Canadian couple, Ben and Marissa.

At VVR, we were treated to a free hiker beer and told that we hadn’t yet missed the kitchen closing. Ate two slices of pie while waiting for my dinner, I’m not sure I’ve ever been so hungry in my life. Eli, Honeybee, PC and Pants (he beat us by hours, stupid broken boat…) were here so we caught up on the last day and a half and pitched our tents on the grass in front of the restaurant. Super neat place, I skipped it last year to go to the easier accessed Muir Trail Ranch, which isn’t yet open for the season.

 One of the most enjoyed meals on trail.

One of the most enjoyed meals on trail.

Planning to leave sometime tomorrow afternoon.

Day 61: VVR Zero

I really didn’t mean to get zeroed here but it was barbecue night and I love this place. The staff are friendly and I spent all day in the restaurant reading a well written book about a hiker that went missing in the minarets back in the early 1900s. I decided pretty early on in the day that I wanted to stay and managed to convince Bagels, Calves and PC to stay as well, on the condition we do the rest of the way to Mammoth in one go tomorrow. (This was with the help of a case of beer and the chef telling us it was tri-tip dinner night.) Dinner was so great, we shared a table with a couple JMT hikers and everyone split a few bottles of wine and we had a good time talking around the fire afterwards. (The JMT 2019 plan is becoming more and more solidified in my head.)

We never do, but I’d rather take more zeros in small resorts/towns than the larger cities on trail, it’s far less of a culture shock and I don’t spend all day with my face glued to my phone screen the way I do in big town hotels.

IMG_2701.JPG

Back to trail tomorrow morning and going to try and knock out all the miles to get to Mammoth in one day and catch up with Honeybee and Eli, who left this morning.

IMG_2705.JPG

Day 62: VVR to Mammoth via Duck Pass

June 10 // 26ish miles // Silver pass

The boat shuttle taking us back to trail was at 8 so we were up early this morning to pack up and have one last breakfast at the resort. Lots of hikers hate on VVR a little because of high prices and re-selling food that would normally go into a hiker box, but what the hell, it’s a small business literally in the middle of nowhere and they’re more than generous to PCT hikers. I’ve really enjoyed my stay here.

Beautiful clear morning and the lake was perfectly still, I had a touch of homesickness not being at the cabin back home. Did the mile and a half back to the PCT and then hit the steep uphill to Silver pass right away.

IMG_2725.JPG

In my opinion, Silver is the most beautiful pass and despite the steep grade I had a great morning. Crossed stream after stream after stream, including the super nifty waterfall that hit me in the face with spray as I passed by.

IMG_2728.JPG
IMG_2733.JPG

Hardly any snow compared to last year, it’s been the biggest difference in passes so far. The lack of snow meant I actually had to take the switchbacks up the pass instead of just walking straight up over the snow (the horror), but the view from the top was more than worth it. Had lunch with Calves, PC and Bagels and then we slid our way down the snowier north face. 

IMG_2734.JPG
IMG_2735.JPG
IMG_2741.JPG
IMG_2743.JPG
IMG_2744.JPG

So much water today, my feet never had even the slightest chance to dry out. We stopped for lunch alongside a creek at the bottom of the descent and I ate my blueberry granola while dreading the 800ft-in-one-mile climb that made me cry last year. Surprisingly I didn’t find it nearly as bad as I remembered. 

IMG_2745.JPG

The steepness of the hill face was such that I could see the others criss crossing the switchbacks above me. Made it to the top relatively painlessly. I’m in much better shape physically this year although not sure why, I did hardly anything all winter-could be muscle memory from last year or maybe the fact that I’m eating far healthier this year, with less reliance on sugary snacks for quick energy bursts. Either way I’m not complaining, last year every single uphill was cause for misery, this year I look forward to it.

IMG_2746.JPG

Passed by beautiful alpine lakes in the afternoon, I really wanted to stop and go for a swim but we still had a lot of miles to do to get to Mammoth before dark. Bagels’ family was visiting from LA so we had to make it to the road today. I was getting physically exhausted after all the up and down, the last climb had me wiped.

IMG_2749.JPG
IMG_2754.JPG
IMG_2756.JPG

Took the detour to Ducks pass around five, we’d been told it was still very snowy and not a good exit option, but at that point there was nothing that was going to stand between me and a shower/beer/shower beer.

IMG_2762.JPG
IMG_2763.JPG
IMG_2764.JPG
IMG_2767.JPG

Fortunately the pass was beautiful and not too difficult, a relatively short climb around Ducks lake. There was a little snow towards the top but nothing like what we had been warned about, and we made good time up and over.

IMG_2771.JPG
IMG_2769.JPG
IMG_2773.JPG
IMG_2783.JPG

On the way down, a little trickier to navigate through some snow patches on steep terrain, the couple times that I postholed brought a fresh round of stinging and a lot of swearing. Met up with Calves, PC, Bagels and Pants for the final easy two mile stretch down to a campground just outside Mammoth. Felt amazing to do such a big day with a ton of elevation change and know that a hot shower and real bed was just around the corner.

IMG_2786.JPG
IMG_2791.JPG
FullSizeRender.jpg

We had a guaranteed ride from the trailhead with Bagels’ parents. Not only did they pick us up, they also offered to let us stay at their crazy fancy Airbnb which I literally thought was a hotel when we arrived but IT WAS ALL FOR US, and had dinner hitting the table shortly after we got there. The shower was bigger than my entire bathroom at home and had two shower heads (cue hallelujah chorus). Texted Eli and Honeybee to join us and we all spent the night eating food and playing pool in the basement, it was nice to be able to catch up after a day and a half apart.

IMG_2792.JPG

A double zero in Mammoth to rest up before the second half of the Sierras, after six snowy passes this past section I’m ready for it. 

Day 63 64 & 65: Triple zero in Mammoth & Bishop (yikes)

Really got to cut down on the zero days, it’s getting out of control. After the first night with Bagels and family, the other half of our entire group of ten people that are loosely hiking together arrived in town and we all split an Airbnb. I’m fortunate enough to get to hike with multiple people that know their way around a kitchen, and got treated to amazing homemade dinners and breakfast.

IMG_2827.JPG
IMG_2823.JPG

On the second day, I found out that Jade and Q were on their way to Bishop to meet with Lukas, where they were doing a short section hike with him before meeting friends in the Alabama hills. The majority of last years trail fam was too close for me not to go and visit, so I took a bus from Mammoth back to Bishop and spent the afternoon and night there. It was so great to see them, unlike in Big Bear, where I felt lonely and sad to be hiking alone, this reunion I laughed until my stomach hurt. We hit the hot springs just outside of town and I caught the morning bus back to Mammoth feeling incredibly happy.

IMG_3427.JPG
IMG_3688.JPG
IMG_3687.JPG

Back in Mammoth, I had assumed we were hiking out that afternoon but the group had rented the Airbnb another night and I have no discipline so it’s another triple zero. I really do enjoy being in town, (my trail name is Townie) but too much of a good thing kind of ruins it and I get anxious and antsy to get back to trail.

IMG_3686.JPG