0 In California (USA)/ Pacific Crest Trail

PCT 2018 Days 72 – 83

Day 72

Miles: About 15

Health: All’s well

Currently reading: The Woman Who Rides Like a Man

We slept in and weren’t in a rush to leave this morning. We have two and a half days to get to Yosemite and only about 40 miles, so it shouldn’t be hard. I’m needing new shoes pretty soon and found out online that the shoes I have are found at a store down the street. I went ahead and bought a pair – this time they had blue! – how exciting! I went down a half size because, although my feet for sure have grown, I think I went a bit to big with the last pair. I mailed them to South Lake Tahoe, hopefully my shoes will last me until then. I also mailed my ice axe and microspikes home.

We got on the trolley to take us to the trailhead and we ran into Rainbow! We hadn’t seen her since Wrightwood!

Once on trail we totally missed a turn off somehow and would have walked probably until Virginia if I hadn’t looked at the map and discovered we were going in the totally wrong direction. We decided to just cut through the woods rather than go all the way back but that ended up being quite the undertaking. We felt with really really steep hills and scrambling over rocks and fell trees. There are so many fallen trees around here.

We finally made it back to the trail and headed on. I brought a lot of extra food for me to eat to see if it gives me more energy. I think I’m lacking calories and protein.

We planned to get to a campground at mile 914, which we did, but it wasn’t until after we set up camp we were told you had to pay $23 for a campsite. Yeah, no. As a PCT hiker I can plop my tent down just about anywhere for free, I ain’t about that life. So we packed up and went down the trail about .3 miles and set back up.

The mosquitoes. Are. The. Worst. Thing. Ever. Just below wind on my list of most hated things ever. I kid you not, we each must have had 200 mozzies each trying to feast on our life blood. I ate in my tent although that’s not really advised in bear country. Well, I have yet to see a bear but I see about 500 mosquitoes as a bigger problem at he moment. It’s 9:20pm, way past my bedtime. Goodnight.

Day 73

Miles: 13.4

Health: I’m covered in mosquito bites.

Currently reading: The Woman Who Rides Like a Man

I had super duper low energy today, I don’t know why. I just couldn’t rise to the occasion. Today we went back up in elevation to 10,000ft and yet it was really hot as well. I think I was just drained because of those two factors. We also went uphill for almost the entire day.

We took a rest at 1,000 Island Lakes which was beautiful. We also went over the most underwhelming pass ever, Island Pass.

We got just below Donohue Pass which is where you enter Yosemite National Park and decided to make camp. We were swarmed by hundreds of mosquitoes. Swarmed, I say! We set up our tents and jumped in and spent the rest of the evening smashing those little terrors to their rightful place in hell. Right now I’m looking up at probably 150 mozzies between my tent and rainfly. I even came up with a new game, Mozzie Masquer. The goal of the game is to smash as many mosquitoes between your tent and rainfly as you can. I now how so many big guts on my tent it’s turning black. Gross.

Day 74

Miles: 13

Health: I felt weirdly lightheaded once at camp

Currently reading: Lioness Rampant

We got up at 5:30 hoping to beat the mosquitoes, to no avail. There was 1.6 miles up between us and 12 miles of downhill and flat. I rushed up Donahue Pass hoping that the mosquitoes may not live above 11,000ft. Spoiler alert, they do! However I had a rare signal so I was able to text my mum and update Instagram. Priorities.

After crossing over the pass we entered Yosemite National Park. This was a big moment. Before the hike started whenever someone asked me what I was most excited about I almost always said being back in Yosemite. I’d only been there for one day before but it was one of my most treasured memories. Although we decided we can’t afford to stay in the park and do much of the touristy things this go around, it is still such a beautiful place to live and breath for the few days that we’re here. We’re just seeing the more remote areas of the park.

We had about 10 miles of “flat” trail which I thought would be so easy but it turned out to be more challenging, in no part due to the heat. I realize it’s summer but dang, it is significantly hotter up here at 10,000ft then it ever was in the desert.

It was Sunday today and since we entered Yosemite there were tons and tons of day and weekend hikers. I did feel pretty badass when I was asked on multiple occasions where I was coming from and I replied, “Mexico.” Upon hearing that I’d walked 940 miles the looks on people’s faces were priceless.

We camped at Tuolumne Meadows backpackers campground. We grabbed dinner at the grill and saw a few old friends like Bearman, Spirit Kicks, Gandalf, Snocket & Ritz.

We got some stuff for s’mores and feasted while the mosquitoes feasted as well. Tomorrow we’re getting a late start as we still need to resupply, but then we’re back to the wilds.

Day 75

Miles: 16

Health: Tired doesn’t even cover it.

Currently reading: Lioness Rampant

We slept in until about 7:15. The grill and store didn’t open until 8:00 so we were in no rush. We packed up, resupplied (which was surprisingly good and not to over priced), and ate some breakfast (which was insanely overpriced.)

We have 4.5 long days to get to Kennedy Meadows North, we need to go at least 16 miles a day which is challenging in this terrain. No, it’s not the High Sierras but it still involves a lot of elevation gains and losses, passes, and river crossings. It’s not until after South Lake Tahoe that we maybe begin to get a semblance of normalcy.

My shoes are on their way out for sure. I have Altras, which are great shoes but they tend to not last much beyond 500 miles. I have 530 miles on them, at least, and have to get all the way to South Lake Tahoe for my next pair. They seem very slippery now and that makes crossing rivers on logs really precarious. I had to just ford a creek this afternoon because I kept slipping on the log bridge. I also had a weird flashback to when I was a kid and my mum put me in gymnastics. I sucked at all sports for the most part but gymnastics was definitely my worst. I think I lasted two classes. My breaking point, though, was on the balance beam when the teacher wanted us to do jumps and rolls on it. Nope, not happening. I think those logs over the rivers take me back to that place.

Yosemite continues to be beautiful and it amazes me around every bend. This has to be the most breathtaking place on earth. We stopped and took a break next to the 50ft Tuolumne Falls today. It was glorious.

I won’t lie, though, I’m ready to be away for the crowds and back to the usual PCT solitude. There have been so many day and overnight hikers being in the National Park.

Day 76

Miles: 17

Health: I’m pretty ok

Currently reading: The Stranger in the Woods (great book!) & 1 Timothy

I set my alarm for 5am, when it went off I knew that wasn’t happening. We didn’t leave camp till around 6:30.

Today we had two passes to get over, neither would have much snow thankfully, but it meant we had a hard day ahead. We ran into Bearman and Spirit Kick and ended up hiking and camping with them.

First we had Benson Pass which was just an awful 2.5 miles uphill with thousands of mosquitoes waiting to suck us dry at the top. We stopped at a lake afterwards for a break but it was to cold to swim. I doubt I’ll swim in any of these alpine lakes. A ranger came by and asked to see our permits, that’s twice now in Yosemite, and she talked to us about bear safety.

Next we had Seavy Pass which was another 2 miles straight up. My pass anthem has become Let It Go from Frozen and it helps me get my butt up hills.

We made it to the top but stopped to camp just short of the pass. Today was hard but I think the rest of the way to Kennedy Meadows North won’t be quite as awful.

Day 77

Miles: 18 or very close to that.

Health: Mosquito bites and bruises litter my body

Currently reading: The Haunting of Hill House & 1 Timothy

Today we left camp around 7:30. We got a later start but it was fine. We thought today would be on the easier side, but oh no. I don’t know if I’ll ever use the word “easy” to describe a day on the PCT, certainly not while we’re in the Sierras.

The day started with two “little hills” as the others were calling them. I’m the only one that noticed that one was over a mile uphill and the other two miles. Not so little indeed. Truly, the second “hill” turned out to be one of the most difficult uphills I’ve experienced yet on the PCT. I was hating it. It was also hot again today and the mosquitoes are relentless.

We took a long break by Wilson Lake which was nice. It’s fun to have some new blood to hike with consistently. We get on great with Bearman and Spirit Kick, they keep the humor going even in the mozzie filled moments.

The mosquitoes are no joke. You can’t even use the bathroom without collecting seven new bumps on your behind. I’m sure Hell is a small, locked room filled with California mosquitoes that slowly suck you dry.

We camped just short of Dorothy Lakes Pass and the 1,000 miles marker! Tomorrow we’ll pass that achievement and also leave Yosemite.

Day 78

Miles: 18ish

Health: All is well

Currently reading: I didn’t do any reading today, actually. But I listened to A LOT of Disney music.

Today was a good day.

We awoke to our tents and most of their contents being soaked from severe condensation. Bad start, but otherwise a good morning. We hiked a few miles past Dorothy Lake to Dorothy Lake Pass which marked the official end to Yosemite National Park. I was sad to see it end but it means we’re that much closer to new things.

Next we made it to the 1,000 mile marker! Woohoo! It’s hard for me to even fathom that. It has seemed to far for so long, unreachable even. I got Bearman and Spirit Kick to dance for my vlog. That was a victory in itself.

We had one major uphill today of almost five miles. It was a trip but thankfully graded nicely and the views were killer. We made it to the cold and windy top of a plateau that thankfully didn’t include mosquitoes. However, we’re trading in those for cold. Tonight is gonna be cold. It was nice to eat dinner out of our tents and chat as we looked at the scenery. Tomorrow we head into Kennedy Meadows and hopefully take showers and eat lots and lots of food.

Day 79

Miles: 6.5 to Kennedy Meadows North

Health: Feelin’ good

Currently reading: The Haunting of Hill House

We got up and packed up quickly. Last night was cold. We found a spot where Mother Hen had service and we booked a place to stay in South Lake Tahoe. Unfortunately, we’re hitting a tourist city right on the Fourth of July so it is very, very expensive.

We had camped on a very desolate and cold plateau and getting down from it involved a lot of sketchy ice fields and lose rock. It was the hardest “easy” day ever.

Once we made it down we were greeted with some trail magic by Retro and Sheryl and their dog Lily. We haven’t had trail magic in forever! They have a converted van which they were offering tacos, soda, snacks, and rides down to Kennedy Meadows in.

Once at KM, we got lunch, payed for a bed, took showers, and did laundry. Spirit Kick had service so he set up a hotspot so poor little Sprint me could finally have some service.

KM is not super vegetarian friendly, so while everyone else enjoyed a large steak dinner, I was stuck with grilled cheese.

Most people get to send their bear can home from KM, but since we don’t have our Ursacks with us (we mailed them to far ahead) we have to hang on to them until South Lake Tahoe. Boo.

At night, as we were going to bed, Hardcore gave us all a little bit of acupressure. Apparently I’m in good shape and she didn’t find any knots. Others, however, had a more painful experience!

I also may or may not have gotten a new trail name which I may or may not prefer over “Oz.” Bearman, upon seeing my hair, dubbed me Khaleesi, which is the greatest trail name ever.

Day 80

Miles: 17.3

Health: I hurt my leg, read on for more.

Currently reading: The Haunting of Hill House & 1 Timothy

We slept in until 6:00ish and then went down to the restaurant to get breakfast. I got three of the biggest pancakes ever made and some hot chocolate.

We then packed up and left to try and hitch back to the trailhead. We waited for about 20 minutes and this nice guy named John stopped and offered us a ride. He already had one hiker and wasn’t sure he could fit four more and bags into his Jeep. Challenge accepted. We stuffed two bags into the back, Bearman and Kicks held packs on their laps and I sat on Mother Hen’s lap. We made it work. John has his own granola business, Hippy Sticks, which he sells in some local stores. He gave us all a free pack of granola and I’m excited to partake. If you’re ever near Sonora Pass, look for Hippy Sticks.

The terrain today wasn’t to bad, a lot of ups and downs but nothing to steep it to long.

On one of the creek/waterfall crossings I stepped on a loose rock and fell forward. My pack’s weight went forward and caused me to stumble even more. My broken trekking pole got caught on another rock and caused me to lose total balance and I fell towards another rock, trying to avoid going over the waterfall side. I turned my face so my sunglasses would get the brute of the fall and not my nose or cheek. I ended up face down in the water with a throbbing shin. Needless to say, my sunglasses are broken and my shin has a bad gash on it.

The rest of the day was a bit of a downer after that but we did run into a couple and their dog, Harley. So, if you don’t know this about me yet, I’m a huge animal lover. They truly make my entire day and keep me on trail some of the time. This dog was the best. A chocolate lab with the most beautiful brown eyes. I was the last of our group to arrive at this meeting because of my leg and when I was greeted by this friendly, four legged doggo, I couldn’t help but smile. The owner said I was the only hiker he didn’t bark at, which I found to be true as about 10 others walked by soon after and he barked at all of them. I think sometimes animals can just tell who is an undeniable kindred spirit to them.

We camped and not much else happened, honestly. I’m pooped, but I’m thankful for dogs and Taco Bell being 3.5 days away.

Day 81

Miles: 16ish

Health: Feelin’ good

Currently reading: Yes Please & 2 Timothy

We slept in a bit this morning, we weren’t in much of a rush. Today was a bit uneventful, honestly. We just hiked.

We had some ups and downs but nothing major. I went to fast on one stretch and ruined my energy for the rest of the day.

We had been told that there was probably going to be trail magic on Highway 5 so we booked it down there with our tummies empty and our hopes high. There was nothing. Apparently there had been trail angels the last two days but they had left today. Boo.

However, as we were sitting by the road nursing our wounded hopes, a car dropped off a hiker who had been with her family for the past few days and they gave us some chips and fruit. So we got a bit of trail magic anyway.

We camped really early because we were all just feeling pooped. Mother Hen and I sat and talked for a while about our childhoods and I found out she never got an American Girl doll growing up. Tragic! I shall shed tears for her and her empty childhood tonight against my Therm-a-Rest.

Day 82

Miles: 19

Health: I have some new blisters because my shoes are falling apart.

Currently reading: Yes Please & My First Summer in the Sierras & Radical

We left camp around 7am and prepared for a long day. Nineteen miles in the Sierras is still a challenge.

I think this section from Mammoth has been my favorite part so far. Yosemite was every bit as beautiful as I hoped it would be and now beyond the park we are met with rolling hills, dense forests, and snowy mountain tops which we can just appreciate and not have to climb.

At he end of the day we walked along a ridge and our eyes were met with the most beautiful views of mountains, lakes, and meadows. It’s like God created this view just for me.

We haven’t come across to many thruhikers today which is odd. It’s interesting how we all seem to come and go in bubbles.

I’ve realized that I’ve read about 30 books on trail at this point so Bearman and Spirit Kick asked for some suggestions. I’ve got Bearman addicted to Up & Vanished, a podcast about a cold case from Georgia. While Kicks is listening to The Stranger in the Woods, a book about a hermit who lived in Maine for 27 with no contact. Maybe I should start a Book Club?

We are camped at the Lost Lakes (how romantic is that name?) and tomorrow we have hopes of some trail magic. We’re only a day and a bit away from South Lake Tahoe and beds, showers, and Taco Bell!

Day 83

Miles: 15

Health: Alright alright alright.

Currently reading: Radical & 2 Timothy

Today was a great day! Well, it started out with a tough uphill and me getting lost at a junction, but after that it was great!

We had heard that there was some daily trail magic at the Carson Pass Information Center so we quickly walked the seven miles there. We were delighted to be given apple pie, a drink, and fresh strawberries. There was also a super friendly doggo named Ellie, which made me think of, and miss desperately, my niece of the same name.

While there we learned of more trail magic just down the road so we then walked the five minutes to see what we could see. We met Indy, a section hiker and trail angel, who offered us fruit, sandwiches, chips and more. We haven’t had trail magic in so long! It was so nice to relax and have something good to eat.

Once back on trail we stopped at Showers Lake and decided to take a swim. It has been way to cold to jump into any of the previous lakes and we all really wanted to say we’ve swam in an alpine lake. Well, it was still cold and I barely dunked myself unlike the others who swam around like little water nymphs. A cold and wet bra is one of the worst things imaginable. It was a sacrifice I had to make for the experience.

After drying off we headed back to find a place to camp. We ended up camping about six miles from the highway from which we will hitch tomorrow to get into South Lake Tahoe.

Day 84

Miles: 6 into South Lake Tahoe

Health: I guess I’ve been rather healthy on this trek…

Currently reading: Radical

We left camp and made it down the 6 miles to the road rather quickly. We almost got lost at a badly marked turnoff, but realized it in time.

At he road we were met by Coppertone, a trail angel known well throughout the trail but we had previously been just missing him. He offered us cookies, fruit, English muffins, and floats. It was glorious and always a joy to hear about trail angel’s lives. Soon there was an overflow of hikers and we decided to get down to Tahoe. Grateful Dad, another trail angel, showed up in his van and offered us a ride down to the town. We piled in and headed that way. We hit Tahoe on the Fourth of July which meant the city was overflowing with people.

We couldn’t check into our hotel yet so we went to Taco Bell and I loaded up on all my favorites. I also need the sauce on trail to flavor my food.

Once in our rooms we were met with all the fabulous amenities offered at a Motel 6: dust bunnies, bad WiFi, and no shampoo. We did laundry and took showers and resupplied at a bargain grocery.

Hen, Kicks, Bearman and I all went and got Indian take out food for dinner and took it back to the room. We talked books and played Space Team all while listening to a heavily intoxicated man yell about his distaste for movies and his pursuit of several “Señoritas” just outside the window.

We did not stay up for fireworks. We did not do anything but sleep and it was good.

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