Awoke at Walker Pass Campground.
Ridgewalked a lot today in fantastic wind. Lots of climbing.
Yogi and I had hiked so strongly yesterday, it was
pretty clear by lunch that we'd make it into Kennedy Meadows tonight.
It was a good feeling.
Hiked a while with Restless Wind and heard about his life, or former life,
The trail was through a burned area. The fire was very hot and killed
almost everything. One side result was some amazing fields of light purple
(lavender?) flowers. Here's a shot:
Met Brian and Allana on the trail. Both Yogi and I misunderstood
Brian when he was talking about a friend's Halloween costume. We heard
Taoist Cowboy Cheerleader instead of the Dallas...It puts ideas in one's
He works for Outward Bound and gave me the number for someone I can talk
to about GLBT programs. My investigation and research into new careers
Yogi, Brian, Allana, and I arrived at the KM store at 6PM, one hour after
it had closed and after the shuttle to Grumpy Bear's had left. Food was
on our minds. After only a short while, a pickup truck pulled up to the
cluster of mail boxes near the store. We were on them like mosquitoes
on a hiker. They had just arrived and the truck was full but the woman
said that if we could wait 10 minutes, she'd take us. We said yes.
I ate a salad, two pork chops, a pile of mashed potatoes, and some gravy
first. I was still hungry, so I ordered another dinner: salad, really
good fries, and and NY strip steak. I ate it all. It was the first time
I'd had pork chops or a steak in 10 years. Those were the only two things
on the menu, so that's what I ate, and I enjoyed every bite.
We caught the post-dinner, post-basketball game shuttle to the thru hiker
campground. Andrew with dog Dude was there, so was Goof, Stroller, Luke,
Brian and Allana, Cheddarhead, Sam I Am, Cindy and Ken, Han Solo, Grasshopper,
Restless Wind, and a few others, including a straight couple with two
Before too long, Cindy's mom arrived along with her husband and two friends,
in two giant RVs. The RVs were like space ships as they drove down the
short road to the area where we camped.
Kennedy Meadows Day
Cindy and Ken had two RVs come in with a VFW Bug
in tow. It was party central, and the Bug, along with a two-way radio
served as a shuttle between the places important to hikers: the campground,
the store, and Grumpy Bear's, and the restaurant, which are all at least
1.5 miles apart.
Yogi and I spent most of the day at the store sorting through boxes, food,
and gear. We did laundry and showered too. It was all good.
When we'd cashed out (mine was only $17 and change-not bad...), the store
had closed, and the shuttle Bug was ready to take us to the trail, I dared
weigh my pack. I'd picked up my bear canister in KM, plus enough food
for 10 day. That would get me to Vermilion Valley Resort on Lake Thomas
Edison. I'm not carrying an ice ax or crampons because there's supposed
to be less snow than last year. Other than adding a head net and an A-16
mosquito net sleeping thing, all my gear was the same. OK, so my pack
weight. I shocked even myself: 75 pounds. So much for going lightweight.
My food is heavy. A true hiker always blames his food.
We hiked from KM Road to one of the middle campgrounds, the one with the
two big RVs.
We hung around and had a great burrito dinner, then hiked to the trailhead
in the campground. There we camped. Neither of us wanted to get sucked
into the vortex that a lot of free food and alcohol can create for us
I slept well, and was happy to have a pit toilet nearby
when I awoke.
We set off with our heavy packs and climbed all day. This is where I started
my trip last year, so it was somewhat familiar. Up and up with frequent
breaks, we headed north.
A rattler startled when Yogi passed. I made a wide berth.
We never saw it, but it was my first, and hopefully last, rattlesnake
encounter this trip.
Despite my best efforts, I have a lot of mosquito bites.
They love me.
Yogi and I hiked past lots of places I recognized last year, and, surprisingly,
a lot of places I didn't recall at all.
Sadly, the shooting star flowers that were so amazing last year in Gomez
Meadow were not growing yet.
Two firsts today: Saw our first marmot, and got above 10,000' for the
first time. The marmot was a furry tube of golden fur.
Camped on a saddle with Yogi and Cheddarhead. I found an old horn near
my spot. Despise having a lesson on getting
lots of food into into a bear canister, I had way more food than could
fit into it, so I did a proper counterbalanced bear hang.
Yogi and I left Cheddarhead when we set out at 6:45
AM. Ran into Megan and friend not two minutes from where we camped. They
were headed out Trail Pass today.
The only wildlife report is two deer. They are so tame in National Parks
(We are in Sequoia.), where they don't allow hunting. Deer in other places
bolt for their lives.
Camped just short of Crabtree Meadows. We didn't want
to push it, and it's WAY less buggy here.
I'm understanding the landscape a little more, and seeing it better this
time. The Great Western Divide is gorgeous, but not much snow. I could
tell, mostly because of having been there last year, where Whitney is.
I could see it on the approach, and knew we were taking a long U around
What an amazing day. Yogi and I got in the few miles
to Crabtree Meadows before too long. There we ran into Stroller and Goof.
The four of us dumped gear and food and headed up Whitney.
I wasn't sure I wanted to go. I was thinking that a day laying around
Crabtree Meadow wouldn't be such a bad thing. Yogi reminded me of the
opportunity, and what great shape I was in. I knew I should go, and I
We ran into Sam I Am coming down at Guitar Lake.
I knew Stroller was into fishing, so I mentioned the fish in the inlet
streams. We agreed to check them out on our way down.
We plowed up the 8+ miles and 4000' to the top under perfect conditions.
The sun was shining, there was a light breeze, and the day was alive.
Up top, it wasn't too crowded. I decided that I wanted a picture of me
naked on top. I ripped off my clothes, ran to the eastern edge, and it
was done. The wind was freezing. Since I'm not putting the photo here,
I'll tell you that I'm facing away from the camera.
As a consolation prize, here's the marmot who was not shy either.
Goof, Yogi, Cupcake, Stroller on top
of Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the lower 48 states.
On our way down, Goof, Stroller and I glissaded down a snow
slope, while Yogi made a video. It was fun but didn't seem to save much
walking: By the time we had walked to the edge of the snow, Yogi was already
Going down goes a lot faster than going up, so before we knew it, we were
at Guitar Lake. Actually, Goof had gone ahead to get fish for dinner.
When we arrived, he was trying the spearfishing method with his broken
Leki pole, standing in the middle, near the lake and walking up stream.
Soon Stroller and I were in on the action.
Our team strategy paid off. Before too long I had swatted a fish onto
the bank. Yes: I caught a fish with my bare hands. It was big enough to
eat too. Soon Goof, having changed his methods, came up with two of his
own. They were gorgeous fish with red stripes on their bellies and dots
on their tails. I was sad to learn that the two females and one male were
ready for spawning. I'd have rather let them spawn than me have a tasty
extra bit to my dinner.
Met Lady Leaper and Scott on their way up as we came down.
I cooked my trout in olive oil and a shallot. It was really good.
I wish I could tell every detail about my day, but it's late and words
can't capture it all.
I will say that the day went from great to outstanding when I ate my after-dinner
snack before dinner. I broke the routine and reaped the rewards.
It started out as a normal day: Stroller, Goof, Yogi
and I awoke at Crabtree Meadows. Stroller headed out first, then Yogi
and I. Goof passed us during a morning break. Bighorn Plateau was gorgeous,
then we hit snow.
Bighorn Plateau: Beautiful as always.
Before the snow, we had three wet crossings: Wallace Creek,
W...Creek, and Tydnall. They were par for the course.
The snow was par for the course too. One field had a very shallow lake
under it, and I ended up punching through to about 4" of very cold
water. My feet warmed up quickly though as we approached Forester Pass.
This landmark on the trail is the highest point on the trail, 13,200'.
The snow continued to obscure the trail as we climbed. The day was clear
and the wind wasn't too bad. I was hiking in nylon pants, synthetic shirt,
sun hat, and wind jacket (Patagonia Velocity). I had gloves and fleece
hat ready for quick access.
The dreaded (by some) ice chute near the top of Forester was small and
manageable. One reason was that it was about 4PM. The snow had slowed
us to about a mile an hour. It felt a little exhausting, but nothing more
than a day of hiking in snow.
Once you are at the top,
all you can do is go down.
The north side of Forester had lots of snow. At the
top, we could see 20' of trail, then we were on our own. Others' footprints
and postholes followed a single path, so we took it. All ended at glissade
Yogi had never glissaded before because she was terrified of it. Because
it was so late, and because we needed to get down, she just did it. She
spent a long time going down, breaking for safety, and I waited above.
I started to get a bit cold, and got really cold when I tried to get a
running start, and fell into the snow. My hands were cold. My feet were
cold. As I glissaded down, my butt got cold. By the time we regrouped
on some rocks about half way down, I was hypothermic.
I was hyperventilating, shivering, and unable to think clearly. I could
barely move my hands, and my feet were numb stubs at the bottom of my
Yogi helped me out of it. First I put on a wool shirt, heavier gloves,
and my fleece hat. Yogi sat next to me (banging her tailbone) and rubbed
me to get warmer. I think that's when she realized that I just wasn't
cold. She helped me get out of my wet pants, shoes and socks, and into
my wool pants and socks. Yogi then pulled out her sleeping bag and wrapped
it around me. It felt so good to have the warmth and to have the wind
off me. The sun was still above the ridge, so that helped warm me too.
We decided to camp, and Yogi scouted. We moved a short distance to a spot
that was big enough for her single-person tent. I was shivering and teary.
She got the tent set up and I got in. I was so cold and sensitive to the
I kept on crying. I'm not sure why. I knew my body was feeling weird,
and I was having these strange contractions through my body. I checked
in with Yogi, and she was fine. She continued to set up camp, and then
cooked for me. I was bundled up and starting to warm up. To make things
a little more difficult, we were low on water. Although there's snow all
around us, it takes lots of fuel to melt it.
I drank some of my dinner water as it was warming. It felt great. Dinner
was even better. Although I had been eating my normal amount, as soon
as we started postholing and being wet, we needed more food. That's what
got me into trouble: I didn't have enough fuel to do what I was doing.
My body started shutting down.
While dinner was cooking, Yogi kept me talking. I knew I wasn't supposed
to go to sleep, but man I wanted to. I told her about my brother Patrick
and sister Samantha. She then got to hear the horrors my sister had to
endure growing up with two older brothers. I also told her about DD (Dancing
Dragon/Michael) because he had made my hat. She was trying to keep me
The talking and food helped me transition to a better state.
Soon Yogi was done with her dinner and in the tiny tent with me. It was
actually great. I was happy to be out of the wind, warm, and with someone
who was willing and able to help.
At one point when it was really bad, I looked at Yogi and said, "I'm
frightened." She reassured me that everything would be OK. Every
time she stepped away from the tent door, I'd start crying and sobbing.
But it all worked out.
I wrote yesterday's journal, and the first part of this one this morning.
It's a clear, calm morning and the sun is warming us as we sit on our
pads wrapped in our sleeping bags writing about what we just went through.
We are at 13,000', not even a quarter down Forester Pass, and there's
a giant frozen lake below us. We are waiting for the snow to soften so
we can continue our northward trek.
Last night was not as bad as it could have been. I was warm, and I think
Yogi was too. At times I had to take off my synthetic jacket and hat because
I was too warm. The rocks under my pad were little bother. It wasn't that
cold, although our shoes froze within half an hour of us taking them off
yesterday. I mean frozen solid. I couldn't move any part of the shoe.
Right now, they are propped up facing the sun.
Must go eat more and see how the snow is softening up. All this and it's
only 8AM . Here's an image that may capture the exposure of our tent:
||Hypothermia Camp: The top is
the top of Forester Pass.
The evening finds us at Rae Lakes. Our trip down the rest
of Forester Pass was fine.
I don't know how to convey this, but the best thing that
could have happened is for us to have camped where we did. If we had tried
to get below the snow yesterday evening, we probably would have gotten
into even more trouble. It was pretty complicated getting down, and in
several places there was snow over water. Hypothermia was a big enough
issue to stop us. Other things might not have stopped the northward trek
of a couple of thru-hikers.
Hypothermia is interesting. It comes and goes. We did the
right things, and I'm fine. In the morning, I felt 95%, and by lunch,
I was 100%. I can't comprehend what Yogi did for me, other that to know
I'd do the same for her, or any other hiker.
There is lots of snow everywhere, way more than last
year. Here's an image of the north side of Glen Pass. You can make out
the trail through the snow at the top.
Here's one near the top of Glen Pass looking south.
Again, look for the trail along the side.
Saw a grouse with 6 or 7 chicks at Vidette Meadows. I like
What a great day of backpacking.
We left Rae Lakes where it was cold and damp, and had breakfast down the
way, in the sunlight. The major goal of the day: Pinchot Pass. Last year,
the 3800' or so climb kicked my ass. This year, I took it back.
It's over 7 miles from the low point of Woods Creek to the pass. It took
us 7 hours to go 7 miles. Now, that may not seem like a conquest, but
time and miles are not everything.
The first half of the trail up to Pinchot Pass was just climbing. The
second half was climbing with no trail. We did a huge distance cross-country
because snow was obscuring the trail most of the time.
I led the way, and Yogi was great. We are a good hiking team. I knew I
could get us to the snow-free switchbacks that led to the final steep
snow-covered approach to the pass. I'd caught a glimpse of these clear
switchbacks earlier when the light was right, but could not see them in
the final hour as we approached them. The whole approach was now in the
shade and beginning to firm up on the way to freezing for the night. I
just hoped I'd seen correctly.
I knew the snow would be fine when we
crossed it, however, I was worried about what the other side would be
like when we got to the top. We were estimating that we'd get there around
6PM. What if we had to camp? What if the other side had more snow than
we'd been trudging through? I wasn't expressing these concerns, but Yogi
pointed out that it would be sunny on the other side. I felt comfortable
with her assessment, and stopped worrying.
As soon as we hit the pass, we walked back into the sunlight. The snow
was manageable and not yet starting to freeze.
Our feet were wet all day. When we cross
a creek and our feet get wet, we call it freedom. Once they are wet, we
are free to get them wet all day. Of course, we try to keep them dry,
or at least not freshly wet. Between the swollen streams and the wet snow,
they stay pretty wet. They get cold if I am not moving.
Toward the end of the day today, I was declaring, as we approached roaring
water we had to cross, "Let there be no more freedom. Let our freedom
be curtailed, just for this crossing." Our final ford, across a lake
outlet near the Taboose Pass junction, we shucked our shoes for the short
crossing. Interestingly, the damp ground was colder than the water in
Another reason to not get the shoes soaked late in the day is evident
the next morning: the more water in the shoe, the more solidly frozen
they are. I think I've already written about this. Rock-hard, frozen shoes
are no fun. No fun.
Saw Simon and Liz from England today. Only seeing Goof and Stroller's
I decided today that I want a life with
more gratitude and less resentment.
I am setting my own course and finding
others' footprints already there.
Mather Pass today. The approach had moderate amounts
of snow and cross-country, and the backside the same. The approach was
||Yogi climbing rock to avoid
steep snow. The trail? What trail? Simon and Liz are kick-stepping
While Yogi and I were cooking dinner, Lady Leaper and Scott
clicked by. Lady Leaper, first thing out of her mouth: "Are you guys
weekend hikers?" First, it was Tuesday, second, we met them on Whitney.
Who needs the kind of attitude that thru-hikers are better?
Camped with the Two Joes at the confluence of the Middle Fork of the Kings
River with ? River. We could smell their fire before we could see them.
They are having a good time hiking the Sierra slowly. They have huge packs
and each has a small guitar.
Tonight is the warmest in a long time, and we arrived in camp with dry
feet, which means no frozen shoes tomorrow. It's warm because we are sleeping
at something like 8000'. Tomorrow, we climb and climb and get to Muir
Pass, 11,955'. We anticipate it will be the most snow and the hardest
Sleeping tonight with dark trees rising on one side
and glacially-polished granite falling away on the other. Evolution Creek
roars in the distance and the tiniest of crescent moon floats in the early
night sky with its planet friends. This home for the night is just a fraction
of the beauty I've seen today.
First, I had a lousy morning. It was cold, I knew I had about 4,000' of
climbing to Muir Pass, and I didn't want to do it. Plus we had a 6:30
AM get outta camp time.
I knew I couldn't just quit my hike. I'd still have to walk to where ever
I was quitting, so I just hiked. It's a game I get into infrequently.
We also knew there was going to be a lot of snow. There was, on both the
south and the north side of the pass.
Met Happy Jo, Little Ewok, and Sundance on one of our breaks. They came
up on us fast. At that point the Two Joes were ahead of Yogi and I. The
seven of us hung out at Muir Hut on the pass. Then we tackled the wet
afternoon snow of the descent. I led the charge and did moderate amounts
||Cupcake, Joe A ("Jose"),
Joe B ("Hose B"), Yogi, Happy JO, Little Ewok, and Sundance
at Muir Hut on Muir Pass.
We all ended up having dinner together at the top of Evolution
Lake, or the one before it. I really enjoy their company. Simon and Liz
were just finishing as we arrived, same as yesterday.
We exchanged Lady Leaper stories and Han Solo tales. One of the Two Joes
told us that Grasshopper was off the trail because of snow blindness.
He got rid of his sunglasses after the desert. I hope he can get back
on the trail.
After dinner, hiking was great. I was happy to be hiking, Evolution Valley
in the setting sun was spectacular, and I was enjoying the company of
my walking companions.
||Part of Evolution
Looking forward to hash browns at VVR.
What an incredible day of hiking. 26.7 miles including
? Pass, which was relatively snow-free. The best part was the night hiking.
The team today was Little Ewok, Happy JO, Sundance, Yogi and I.
I led the night hiking. Setting off with my small 4-LED headlamp into
the night was exciting. Early on, tall dark trees created an opaque black
forest, water created dark shiny patches on the ground, like pools of
oil, and the stillness went on forever. I broke that stillness with my
stride, managed the water with my nimble feet, and slipped through the
darkness with my small body.
I had four headlamps, also feeble LEDs, bobbling behind me, chatting and
confirming I was on course. We crossed roaring, swollen, steep creeks
in dark canyons on skinny, slippery logs.
We had motivation: We wanted to get to Vermilion Valley Resort (VVR).
We were worried about the number of hikers we thought would be arriving
at VVR and trying to catch the morning boat. We wanted on the first boat.
VVR runs two shuttles a day across Lake Thomas Edison, one in the morning
and one in the afternoon. If there are a lot of hikers, they'll send another
boat, but that takes time. The lake, and shuttle, are off trail, and the
boat journey is part of a PCT adventure. Hikers can also choose to walk
the 5 or 6 miles around the lake, but for $6, most of us choose to arrive
by boat. It is off-trail, after all.
We were motivated to get to VVR early because of food. I was hungry for
real food with the original fat (not added in, like my backpacking food),
fresh foods, like vegetables, and juicy things, like plums, salsa, and
So we pushed on through the night, deciding to finally camp when, at 11
PM, we reached the junction to Bear Ridge Trail. We still have 6 miles
in the morning to make the 9:45 AM shuttle to VVR.
Today's day number 50 of my hike, and we are at the
871 mile mark on the trail. Yogi is a number master.
We awoke and got walking early, 6 PM, in order to be the first to the
shuttle to VVR. I'd recalled from last year that the boats could only
take 4-5 people, and we knew there would be the five of us and two other
parties, Lady Leaper & Scott Still Roaming, and Simon & Liz. On
our way to the ferry, we ran into Gottago who was camping near Katie (Raven),
Tom (Spunky Edison), and Helene, the people we'd seen glissading down
Our team was the first to arrive to the ferry loading place, so we knew
we'd get on the first one.
Last year there was a shortage of bunk space, so I wanted to make sure
we got bunks in the tent cabins. We worked out a strategy during our two
hour wait in the morning sun. Happy JO, Tom, Gottago, and I went for a
quick dip to clean up before hitting 'town'.
By the time the boat arrived, 13 hikers were waiting. Luckily, the boat
could hold us all. LE and Puget, Ed and Pete, along with other PCTers
and campers got off to resume their adventures. On the boat, hikers lined
the outside seats and a row of backpacks filled the centerline of the
We arrived to find Goof and Stroller at VVR, sick. I found out when I
went to find Stroller to return his water bottle which I'd found 8 days
earlier on the approach to Forester.
VVR is great, but a little expensive. Two AA batteries are $3.99. Do I
really need to listen to my minidisk between here and Tuolumne? Will I
do interviews between here and there? What is $4? I think I found a used
battery that will fit the bill.
Am I rambling on too much? I have the luxury of lots of journal time as
we sit around waiting for the Friday BBQ to get started.
Yogi and I got an Airstream as our free nights' accommodation. All hikers
get the first night and first drink free at VVR. Usually the first night
is a bunk in a tent cabin. Since we got to the registration early, we
were offered the Airstream. We can't sleep in the sheets (just on top),
and it has to be clean when we leave, but it's just great.
I just ordered pork ribs and chicken, cole slaw, zucchini and carrots,
garlic bread, and a big baked potato. Hopefully it will be enough. For
breakfast I had 2 eggs, home fries, 2 pork chops, and a side of sliced
tomatoes. For lunch a few hours later, I had a mediocre grilled chicken
salad with wedge-cut fries.
||Little Ewok, Sundance, Happy
Jo, Yogi, and Cupcake leaving VVR.
What a great day. Decided yesterday to take the 4PM
boat out of VVR, so we had the whole day to sleep in, sort our food, eat
an extra town meal and visit with other hikers. I am totally in love with
Flutterby and Fancy Nancy. I'd seen their names in register entries, but
this was our first meeting where I could appreciate them. They knew me
by my hat, but we didn't establish where that had happened. It was probably
the kickoff. FB and FN have a very different style of hiking, and I probably
won't see them again.
Even though we hiked only 6 miles today, we had lots
of trail experiences. We, today, are the same as who I came into VVR with
plus one: Little Ewok & Sundance, Happy JO, Yogi, and Gottago. We
had several intense fords, including the wettest dry ford I'd ever done.
It was at the base of a waterfall.
||Yogi crossing below a waterfall
on the trail with moral suppport from Sundance.
We are camped under two miles from the top of Silver Pass.
We zoom toward Red's Meadow tomorrow. If we make it tomorrow or not, we'll
have breakfast there Monday morning no matter what. Hot spring-fed free
hot showers await us. I'm looking forward to endless amounts of hot water.
We had a rare fire in camp. We are low enough and in an open area of granite.
We cooked in camp and are not taking proper bear precautions. Will our
In Red's Meadows campground where we had to pay to
stay. Plus, I had a very mediocre $20 dinner from the lunch menu here.
(Note to future hikers: If you know you'll be at Red's Meadow for dinner,
call from VVR to make a reservation, or else you have to eat off the lunch
menu.) Did have a good hot shower from the hot springs. The showers make
up for a lot.
We camped last night just short of Silver Pass, so we put in the miles
today, 24.4 or so. Not much snow, finally.
||Marie Lakes are just over Silver
Happy Jo, Little Ewok, Sundance and I stayed late and
had breakfast at Red's Meadows. It was expensive and mediocre, and the
service was poor. I think they really hate hikers. Yogi and Gottago went
Started the letter game with movies. In the end, it always
comes down to a pairing of Sundance and I. We start with the letter A
and take turns naming movie titles that begin with that letter. Words
like, a and the don't count. There is no time limit. It's
a game designed to help the miles fly by. It was my first time playing
||Shadow Lake was just one of
our views today. The JMT goes into the Shadow Lake basin.
We regrouped at points during the day. At some point, we
had a short break together where we set a dinner destination. We broke
apart after that.
When I got to the dinner spot, only Gottago was still on the trail. As
soon as I dropped my pack, I got urgent poop signals. I scanned the area,
trying to find a place that was away from rivers, lakes, trails, and potential
campsites. It was slim pickings, but it looked good across a snow field.
I grabbed my kit and set off like a chipmunk.
It's not every day that I poop in my pants. Today was one
of those days. I couldn't make it across the snow field in time. I won't
share the details, but it wasn't pretty.
I took it in stride. I cleaned myself up, and as I went
back to camp, I announced, "If you don't want to see me naked from
the waist down, don't look at me." Everyone looked. I put on my wool
I went back and cleaned my pants. That took me a while and put me behind
everyone, but Gottago still hadn't shown up. I realized then that I wasn't
feeling too good.
Sundance started to get worried about Gottago and went out
with a whistle to look for her. He said that he'd give us three long whistles
if he needed help. I continued to make my dinner, which was taking forever.
Sundance wasn't gone long when we heard 3 whistle blasts, and Gottago
cry for help.
Yogi took off. Happy JO packed up his pack with warm stuff and Little
Ewok and Sundance's first aid/drug kit. I was going to go too, but we
didn't want to leave any part of the party alone, so I stayed. While I
worked on dinner (I was starving), I put on warmer clothes in case we
had an emergency. The only dry pants I had left were my yellow Propore
rain pants. We were to follow up in 45 minutes if they were not back.
I was worried because Gottago was tired today.
Soon, they all came into camp, all well. Gottago had lost the trail and
had been traveling using map and compass bearing. She blew her whistle
when she hear Sundance calling for her, then called out help. Sundance
didn't think that we'd all go into panic mode.
We had a jovial dinner, laughing about my misfortune and Gottago's little
adventure. I proposed that I soiled myself the moment Gottago stepped
off the trail. That lead to the idea that I have psychic bowels.
As we were leaving camp, I pulled off my heavy insulating
layer and left my yellow wind jacket on. As we were hiking towards bed,
I had a revelation I shared with the group as I reflected on my outerwear:
"Today, I am a lemon cupcake." Gottago was laughing so much
she fell down.
Camped along Rush Creek in a tiny spot. By the time we had gotten there,
I'd invented a new character: Nova and her psychic bowels. Her motto is:
The answer is blowing in the wind.
The crew, Yogi, Gottago, Sundance, Little Ewok, Happy
JO and I, left our camp by the Marie Lakes Trail junction at the normal
time, about 6AM. We got Donahue Pass out of the way, and played the letter
game with movies, resuming with Sundance and I finishing M, to make Lyell
Canyon go faster.
||An easy, but scenic, crossing
after Donahue Pass.
The group split up as the day went on. Gottago got antsy
at our non-lunch break, and headed out. Happy JO was already ahead, preferring
to go really fast through Lyell Canyon. We passed Pete and Ed.
As we got closer to Tuolumne Meadows, Yogi and I, and Little Ewok and
Sundance paired up. We waited for them at a junction. They headed toward
the campground, we toward the Lodge. They are off to get married on Glacier
Point on Saturday. I hope I see them again.
We arrived in Tuolumne Meadows around 2:30. We showered, made dinner reservations,
and Gottago got a tent cabin.
We then headed to the PO and store. The box Yogi and I sent from Kennedy
Meadows is not here. Everything else is: my bounce box, my laptop box,
and my resupply box, plus a Thermarest repair kit I ordered from REI.
Richard and Tsvee left a note too. Unofficial mail is fun.
The usually lousy cafe here had great vegetarian chili.
Yogi decided that she did want to split the room with Gottago,
which meant that I could afford to do it too. When Mark/Bushwacker became
the fourth, it sealed the deal. We are in beds tonight with unlimited
access to showers. There's a warm fire in the stove.
I'd called Ginger from VVR & Red's Meadows to made sure we could hook
up. She left a note that said I could use her place while she was gone.
I set up Cupcakewalk.com World Headquarters in short order. It takes a
lot of time to do my site. I really want it to be great, but figure that
it's better to have something, rather than nothing. I'll continue to work
on it when I finish the trip.
Tuolumne Meadows Day
It's time for reflection. There are many things I think about over the
course of days that don't make it into the normal journal flow. I'm here
at Ginger's, working on the site, and now's the time for some of it.
I've seen crows on every leg of my trip. Before this trip, I'd always
had no respect for crows. I'd seen them as cawing annoyances and slightly
evil. I have been incredibly impressed watching crows fly on this trip.
The other day, I saw one doing a tight spiral while dropping in a fairly
strong breeze. The shape and constant adjustment was amazing. And the
crow made it look easy. Perhaps other birds do this too, but because of
their cockiness and size, I'm getting to see the crows do it at close
range. They are masters of the skies.
When I say there's lots of snow, I mean there's lots of snow for doing
the type of trip I'm doing. I'm hiking with lightweight gear, in trail
running shoes, with no snow/ice gear, like an ice ax or crampons. The
snow levels get much higher in the Sierra. I'd do it then with different
I've been OK with the gear I have. I have never wanted an ice ax. The
snow is not solid, even in the mornings. Crampons have been wholly unnecessary.
Large topic, I know. My thoughts today are that if we all got a little
closer to what's important, food, water and shelter, the world would be
a better place. My life is so simple on the trail. I need to have enough
water and food, and make sure that my body is protected. I face, and overcome,
dangerous situations every day. They are not wildly dangerous, like driving
80 mph or going to a sale at the North Face Outlet. They are human-scale
dangers that I can comprehend and asses pretty fully. Because I can take
most of it in, I can make comfortable decisions.
It shouldn't be too long before another journal update on
Glad I decided to stay. Ginger knew just what I wanted
and took me to it: A real California meal. We went to the Whoa Nellie
Cafe in the Mobil station at intersection of Highways 120 and 395. I walked
in and ran into Fancy Nancy and Flutterby who were out from Red's Meadow
with a friend.
I had seared Ahi on a generous bed of greens with fruit and spaghetti
squash condiments. I added a side of fries. It was great! Fresh, yummy
food, simply prepared. Who could ask for more?
Ginger's a friend I met through my father and Yosemite
Association. She's a ranger in Tuolumne in the summer, and Yosemite Valley
in the winter.
The east side had thunder storms both up and back. I'll probably get rain
Did lots of work on the laptop. It really takes a whole day. I hope it's
worth it. I'd like a zero-mile day where I didn't do anything.
I am definitely starting another phase of my trip. I'll either be alone,
or be hiking with a new set of people. Let the fun begin.
Woke up outside of Ginger's cabin around 5AM. It was
great to have a leisurely morning. I did little tasks, and necessary tasks
as they came to me, not in a mad rush to get packed up and hiking. Ginger
had an 8AM obligation and she requested the cabin before then to prepare
for her day. That help me set my agenda.
Ginger's been with me in two ways on my trip. Years ago, she stated, "You
can always tell the thru-hikers. They will eat anywhere." I remembered
this as something I didn't quite understand when she said it. Then one
day on my trip, I got a full understanding as I sat down in a parking
lot to eat. I laughed.
Ginger, like a lot of my friends, prefers to spend lots of detailed quality
time with nature and in an area, something that doesn't really happen
on a thru-hike. We get quantity, not quality, to grossly sum it up. I
actually feel I get a lot of quality, it's just different from what Ginger
gets sitting for the 15th time on a rock in a meadow in the morning and
comparing it to the times she's spent on the same rock in the evening.
So, I've been aware of the quality Ginger has to her interactions with
nature and trying to bring them to my hike. I don't hesitate to linger
over some flowers, or to slow down so that I don't startle some deer and
can watch them longer.
||Cupcake and Ginger outside
I estimate that I departed Tuolumne Meadows at 10:15AM
today. Strawberry Girl & Blackhawk, DLow, Mags, and Restless Wind
had all just gotten in. It was good to see them. To my surprise, Happy
JO walked up. He and I hiked today over 20 miles, despite the late start.
We may not stick together this short leg because he made a commitment
to meet some people at 5:30PM on Saturday at Highway 108. That means,
with our 20 today, that we are looking at a 26 and a 30. I could probably
do it, but do I want to? It would put me closer to Yogi and Gottago, who
headed out of TM at 1PM yesterday. I think Iron Chief (formerly Matt G.)
and Bushwacker are with them.
||Iron Chef (arriving
I'm getting to see new territory. I have not been
in this part of Yosemite. The drop off and views to the north after Miller
Lake were quite lovely.
I heard that Blackhawk had written that the PCT should be called the PCR,
for the Pacific Crest River. Many times a day there's water flowing down
the trail. Today was no exception.
There is almost no snow here north of TM. Benson Pass
early tomorrow will tell us more, but it's pretty low.
Happy solstice. The last 24 hours have been about wood:
moving wood, breaking wood, snapping wood, rolling wood.
Camped by Wilber Lake with Pur Boy and Iron Chef. Happy
JO has moved on. I did enough miles today, thank you very much.
Had a deep, wet ford first thing in the morning. I
gave myself total freedom because I didn't want to mess up my feet on
the rocks or take the time to take off my shoes, cross, dry my feet and
put my shoes back on. Another reason is that I think one of my metatarsals
is out from a barefoot crossing yesterday.
I was in deep canyons and open meadow for the first 3/4s of the day. It
was mosquito hell. There was no stopping for miles and miles. I would
pause to see if I could get a snack, but I'd get attacked. Mosquitoes
love me. The can find me and tell their friends faster than snot.
On one of my crossings, I saw a dead tree bending down across
the water. The far end was narrow and not touching the ground. It looked
as if it would touch the ground if I put my weight on it. It was also
thin enough that it looked like it might break with all my weight.
I decided to give it a try. The stream wasn't too wide, maybe 5'. I tested
my weight with one foot and it all seemed good. I was too high to use
my poles in the water and the tree was too narrow to use them on it.
I pulled my other foot onto the bent wood. The far edge of the dead tree
still hung above the ground. The worse thing that could happen is that
I'd get wet if this didn't pan out. I inched my way across. The wood began
to bend, making my path downward-sloping. With each step, the tree moved
closer to the ground, and my path got narrower and narrower.
Finally the tree touched the ground on the opposite shore. I made my final
moves and jumped to dry land.
Today was a morning of following the blue trail, trail full
of water reflecting the clear blue sky.
Much later in the day, still in mosquito hell, I ran into
Gottago with Billy Goat. I'd been hiking with Pur Boy, Iron Chef having
bolted, never to be seen. I saw Bob, Don & Leslie. They joined Gottago,
Billy Goat, Pur Boy and I. We decided to cook there, at the last reliable
water, then start up toward Sonora Pass.
At that point we were just past the 1000 mile mark
on the trip. It's incredible to think about: walking 1000 miles and still
having 1658 to go. Here's a self portrait near the
We pushed it a bit and are camped at a spectacular
spot. In the far distance to the south are the northern granite mountains
of Yosemite. There's an almost-full moon gracing the clear sky.
||See the four dots on the snow?
Those are hikers (Gottago, Bob, Don and Leslie) on their way to Sonora
Our site is a former jeep road. We are all sleeping
out, lined up along a fairly level section just off the PCT. We are sleeping
on volcanic rock of all sizes smaller than a fist.
The transition from the granite landscape to the volcanic
was amazingly quick. The rivers are different, but the flora and fauna
are the same.
Awoke a couple of times last night. The cold was coming
through my Thermarest. The sun on the mountains was just as great in the
morning. We knew what we were in store for in the day's hiking. The goal
was Sonora Pass, and the Book of Lies warned if there has been
a lot of snow that the 1200' descent to Sonora Pass and Highway 108 could
be 'even deadly.' Ice and snow were the problem. So we held back our mileage
yesterday and got a late start this morning so that we could hit the descent
as late as possible.
There was very little snow or ice. Over the high Sierra passes, we'd seen
a lot worse and treacherous. I was very angry at the Book of Lies
this morning. Of course, if we hadn't heeded the BoL's warnings,
we wouldn't have had our spectacular sleeping spot. Things work out.
On the way down to Sonora Pass, I did some glissading. It
was fun, but didn't seem to save any time.
I got a ride to Kennedy Meadows (the north one) from
the Corralitos 4H club. Corralitos is a rural community near Santa Cruz.
Member of my extended family live in Corralitos. Small world.
Kennedy Meadows (North) is actually nice. It's the first 'vacation spot'
that I've been to on this trip that I might consider vacationing in. I
got my box, did laundry (first since VVR), and had an OK lunch.
Gottago, Bob, and Leslie showed up in Mountain Momma's camper. Mountain
Momma is Billy Goat's wife. They gave me a ride back to Sonora Pass. Back
at the pass, before too long, Happy JO showed up. He'd made his big miles
and got the town connection he was looking for. He was happy and looked
I helped Pur Boy make an alcohol stove from Tecate beer cans. I hope it
works for him.
We all set out, minus Pur Boy and Billy Goat.
Happy JO and I pushed on the furthest, and I'm glad we did. Did lots of
cross-country after passing through surreal volcanic formations.
Happy JO and I did 14 miles by noon. Iron Chef passed
me at some point. HJ and I are camped a mile past Ebbitts Pass. I think
that's a 27-mile day. He's got a plan that I think I can tag along with,
meaning he and I may be hiking together for a stretch. I like HJ and hiking
with him. He's engaged to Jen who's in France right now. I may get to
meet her in Washington State. We'll see. She'll be on the trail, but I
may be south of them.
It was an emotional day for me. I was missing my friends Tom and David,
and other friends and members of my extended community. I wanted to go
to Dance Church, be greeted by Connell the Barbarian, and feel the bodies
warm from dancing.
Nice hiking in the morning. Lots of contouring with mature trees and granite.
Peak 9500 was interesting. It's volcanic material in a granite landscape.
I took three small falls today, two on slippery mud, one on snow. My afternoon
was frustrating. I didn't have any energy, little things went wrong, and,
yes, the mosquitos bit me freely.
While at home, before the trip, I made a great batch of polenta. I threw
some in the dehydrator and packed it up for the trip. I attempted to eat
it tonight for dinner. Yuck! Dehydrated fresh ingredients don't work.
HJ and I had dinner at Ebbitts Pass, right next to the road. We were hoping
for someone to stop, curious about the PCT hikers. Our hope included that
they would have (and give us) Chinese food or avocados. No one stopped
for the two dudes with beards and bleached hair on the side of the road
in the middle of nowhere. I wonder why?
As I walked down the trail today, I knew that Yogi had been this way.
I keep hoping I'll catch up, but it won't happen. In a short time, she'll
leave the trail for a wedding in KC, and then return.
Got a note on the trail from Yogi. Trail mail is good.
She was telling me her plans in hopes that I could help her get from Reno
to the trailhead. We'll see how it goes.
Camped at Carson Pass so that the headlights of the west/southbound traffic
shines where we are sleeping. Got in around 7 to find a note from Happy
JO that he got a ride to Lady Leaper's condo. And he would see me at Echo
Lake. Oh well.
Iron Chef showed up and he's camped here too.
Did some hairy snow crossings alone to get here.
It's good that there's a phone here, but it doesn't work that well.
Got rain drops from developing clouds, during the most exposed part of
the day, passed a mountain named the Nipple.
A sample of the landscape today.
Hiked from Carson Pass to Highway 50, Echo Summit,
today. Leapfrogged with Iron Chef, then caught up to Josh (now J-Bird)
and Tom. Katie's done this section so she's taking two weeks off.
The distances on the trail signs today seemed way off. The trail was generally
good, and at times the scenery was really gorgeous. Mosquitoes were abundant.
Here's the frustrating part about hiking through mosquito areas: When
I start going up hill, I slow down. When I slow down, the mosquitoes have
a higher bite ratio. When they bite me, I try to swat them, which usually
involves slowing down. When I slow down, they bite more.
So I try to pound up hill, but then I get sweaty and uncomfortable. Then
I want to take a break. It's a no-win situation. I finally resorted to
deet. Iron Chef put up his tent for lunch and a nap as a solution.
Echo Lake Resort and Echo Chalet are the same place. I'd been having anxiety
that I had boxes in two locations. They were generally friendly.
I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what to do. My could not reach
my sister. I was hoping to get together with them, but I was two days
ahead of my projections. Happy JO and I had talked about getting a room
in South Lake Tahoe, but he was listed on a chalkboard as having rented
a boat with Megan. It was confusing because they were supposed to be behind
I decided to call Jill and Ethan, and Ethan offered to come and get me.
Just after I hung up, Happy JO and Megan showed up. On foot. They were
on the board because they had a message.
I got a ride to Highway 50 where Ethan was to pick me up, but I did not
end up where I thought I'd be. We eventually hooked up and headed off
for Carson City, about an hour's drive.
We went straight to Ethan's parent's house for a dinner party that also
included Ethan's sister and her husband, and Jill's parents. I had not
showered since Tuolumne Meadows and my clothes were pretty dirty. I met
everyone and hopped in the shower while Ethan went home and got me some
of his clean clothes, a toothbrush and toothpaste.
Dinner was lovely. I was the entertainment, and not the imposition I thought
I'd be when Ethan suggested it. I ate wheat and dairy. Jill's dad, John,
and Maria, my connection to Jill and Ethan, it seems have butted heads
in the past. I got to hear some good stories about Maria in the days before
I met her.
Jill and Ethan's little ones are great. Elizabeth is 6 and Ann is 18 months.
I taught Ann the word 'dirt' after dinner. We ate outside in the warm
I'm considering staying here until Sunday, when we
could pick up Yogi and get a ride back to Echo Summit.
Ethan and I went to a barber in Carson City. It was an old-fashioned barber.
Luckily, I didn't get any stinky cologne. Then Ethan set me up with a
bike and backpack for a town excursion. I went to grab a lunch a Java
Joe's and see a chiropractor. I stopped at a health food store in between.
What a great decision to take time off the trail, and
how lucky I am that Jill and Ethan have been willing to put me up. Cupcakewalk.com
World Headquarters has been my focus, but I've also been trying to help
out around the place. Had a nice time pushing the girls on the swing yesterday
evening while the other adults worked on projects. My sous cheffing was
I feel a little weird because my goal of being off the trail is to have
my feet up and not do anything. It's not possible, but I still feel like
Went to see Minority Report as a way to not do anything. I love
having the freedom that the bike brings me.
My plans have come together well. Yogi's going to catch a shuttle to South
Lake Tahoe where I'll be with my sister, her family, and my Dad.
Jill, her mom, Ann, Elizabeth and I headed to Nevada
Beach on Lake Tahoe. I spent the morning getting the site updated and
finishing up all the stuff I'd thought get done because I had all this
Nevada Beach was lovely. I never thought much of Lake Tahoe, but now I
actually have something to like. Samantha, Brian, Bailey and Jack arrived
strolling down the beach. Soon it was a bunch of kids and adults having
fun and getting too much sun.
I transferred my stuff to Samantha's car and the five of us headed to
South Lake Tahoe.
We ate a late lunch at Planet Hollywood, then headed back to the hotel
for a swim. Samantha was great: She bought trunks for me so I could join
the kids in the pool. It was the first time I got to play with them in
water. I hope to do it more.
Then we headed back to the room and my Dad showed up, as planned. Samantha,
my Dad and I headed out for dinner. Brian stayed with the kids, opting
for room service.
Dinner with the three of us was really enjoyable. We got caught up and
shared stories. I ended up having only a dinner salad because the kitchen
was inflexible: Everything on the menu, except the steaks, had dairy in
it, and they wouldn't change it.
We headed back to the hotel where I continued the dance with my laptop
while I watched Peacemaker on the TV and Bailey slept beside me.
It was a great day.
I stayed in the hotel while everyone else went out.
Got lots done. By the time we checked out, it was time to go to the Hard
Rock for our 2PM rendezvous with Yogi. She'd confirmed on Samantha's cell
We made it to our destination, Echo Lake where we hung out
a while. Then my sister and her family took off, and Yogi and I started
I got to sleep pretty quickly, only to be awakened by Yogi
calling Cupcake! in a fairly concerned tone. I assumed we
had a bear problem, but a quick glance to the food and cock of the ear
came up empty. I replied as all this happened, "What?" I hear
some mutering. I asked, "Are you asleep?" Still no answer, but
then, "I hate sleeping in the trees."
Yogi was talking in her sleep. I checked the time and it was only 10PM.
I HATE SLEEPING IN TREES? I had to laugh. It's what we do all the
That's all for June. Here's July.