Friday, July 1, 2016

June 23 to June 30 - Mammoth Lakes, CA to South Lake Tahoe, CA

Day 40  - June 23rd - End at mile 921.5. I checked out of my motel at noon and took a series of 3 efficient buses back to the trail. Then hiked an easy 15 miles out of Red's Meadow this afternoon. Now I'm camping with a bunch of mosquitos near a little pond. My new shoes are really differently shaped than my old ones and I kept bumping them on things and sliding around more. They are pretty roomy and while that is a design feature I'm wondering if I got a half size too large. I may try tightening the laces tomorrow. Maybe it's just a learning curve. They do seem okay. Going to do about 21 tomorrow and then stay at the campground at Toulome Meadows. Apparently there are food aggressive bears in the next 35 miles so staying there is advised rather than camping in random spots along trail. The plus side of the short day is I'll be rewarded with a store at the same place to drink soda and maybe even some vegan treats. I bought a little too much food to start this section and it doesn't all fit in my bear can so tonight I'm trying to eat it all. But I'm so stuffed from town where I had an XL vegan pizza, 2 pints of vegan ice cream, 1 tub or vegan cream cheese plus 6 bagels, 1 package of vegan sausage and tofurky slices, 2 amazing coffees from Black Velvet Espresso and much much more. After Toulomne, I'm going try to start doing 25+ mile days again.

Day 41 - June 24 - end at mile 942.5. Another fairly easy day. About 21 miles into Toulomne Meadows. Apparently there are a lot of bears in this area so it's recommend to stay at the Yosemite National Park campground there. Anyways climbed Island Pass which was a pass with an lake with many islands before it, then Donehue Pass which I was expecting to be harder based on what I heard from Sobo hikers but it was fine. Kind of hard to follow the trail after the pass because of snow but with my GPS and some boulder hopping I figured it out. Then it was a long gentle downhill thru a meadowy canyon to Toulomne Meadows. Got to the store at 4pm. Lots of backpackers here again. Places like this serve as the social spaces on this trail. No vegan ice cream but they did have vegan jerky, guacamole, garlic hummus, chips, and carton wine of which I consumed much. Hung out with a pct hiker named Snackman due to his stoveless, snack based diet. After much of the wine we went to the backpacker campground to join the many others. There were some bike tourists there too. Ending up talking with a dad and his two daughters a bunch, they made me hot tea. Was a fun night.

Day 42 - June 25 - end at mile 958.5. Left the campground around 7:45. The first mile or so passed a bunch of info signs on the nature of Yosemite so I stopped to read them all. Also some historical buildings here. Then as I got going I came up on two people riding horses on the trail, the first time I've seen this. One guy have 4 and the woman I saw next had 5 horses. A bunch of up and down today and even though it was largely pine forest I had my umbrella out all day. Sick of the sun today. Want clouds. Swam in a nice alpine lake in the early afternoon with a couple hikers, it even had a sandy beach. Did a sloppy pass in the evening and coming down was even sloppier. I wanted to go a few more miles but there's a nice lake here, I'm kinda tired, wet feet, and my phone ran out of charge. Good day though.

Day 43 - June 26 - end at mile 995.4. Today was probably the hardest section of trail yet the first 20 miles was unrelenting steep up and down and a lot of sun exposure and river fords. I got off trail a few times early in the morning because of the patchy snow on this steep switchbacky descent and had to use my GPS to figure out how to get back on track. Eventually the trail did get smoother but then turned into a swampy mosquito bonanza so I couldn't stop moving otherwise 50 would be on my within 30 seconds. Found a nice mosquito-lite area to camp by a stream in the late evening. Tomorrow I have about 21 miles to get to a road where I can hitch to a ranch resort named Kennedy Meadows North. I need to go there to buy or hiker box an extra dayish of food. Likely will spend the night and shower/laundry too. Then I'll have 3ish days till South Lake Tahoe which is the end of the Sierras.

Day 44 - June 27 - end at mile 1016.9. The day started off easy as I pushed the pace to get to KM north. I exited Yosemite and went into the Emigrant Wilderness. Here the scenery changed quickly to almost a desert-like high mountain look. I climbed above treeline and there was nothing but rocks and the occasional shrub, and snow. Beautiful but hard walking up here with the snow and wind and loose gravel. Reminded me of the big ridges in the Whites. Caught up to and bunch of hikers and we traversed the final decent to Sonora Pass together. Just as I was talking with this hiker named Butterfly about the need or lack thereof for snow gear we came to and huge snow slide. I was glad to have my ice axe to get across and to the slide. Saw one guy fall down the slope, he slid on the snow and was okay but it could have been bad. Then I got to the slide which was just that... went down on my butt and it was fun. Took videos of others sliding down. Glad to be here with others. At the pass, I got a soda from a guy doing trail magic then hitched a ride down to KM north for the night. Some other hikers welcomed me into their rented cabin. It's awesome and has a kitchen.. I'm going to cook pasta tonight!

Day 45 -June 28th - end at mile 1039.2. This morning I had breakfast at KM north with the hikers I stayed with last night: Spreadsheet, Butterfly, Turbo, Paisley, and MP3, as well as a trail angel named Jeff who had been driving people to and from Sonora Pass. After breakfast, we all packed up and I got a ride back to trail with Jeff with two other hikers I don't know since the others weren't ready yet. I mailed home my bear can and most of my warm clothes at KM north and will send home my snow gear and a trekking pole at South Lake Tahoe. It's nice to have a small pack size again. Today's hike was 22.3 miles which wasn't isn't bad for a late start. It's too bad I likely won't see the folks I met last night again, they are planning to go slower, but so it goes for me out here. Mix of snowy, wet, and dry trail today. I'm looking foward to the end of the snow which should around South Lake Tahoe which is fifty miles /  two days north. The trail is very faint and not blazed or kairned and when snow covers a section of it it's often very hard to figure out where it pops out. I'm glad I have GPS so I haven't lost too much time rambling around looking for the trail. I saw a male and female Williamson's Sapsucker today feeding their young in a nest hole in a dead tree. The babies were peeping constantly whether the parents were there or not! They were hungry for ants! This evening the sky got cloudy and dark and I wondered if I'd get hit with and storm. I think it may have rained over yonder but it passed over me. Still at about 2 hours of experienced precipitation out here and less than a full day of overcast/mostly cloudy. The constant clear skies with sunshine is kinda like Groundhog Day. While the landscapes here are nice, the daily weather is boring.

Day 46 - June 29 - end at mile 1067.1. Today was a good day. 28 miles. First 9 went quick.. only got lost in snow once. Trail angel named Chipmunk at rt 4, Ebbitts Pass made me chili, coffee, and gave me a banana. Good lunch. Lunch number 2 was a few miles ahead where I swam and "washed" with a group of hikers in a pond. Then a lot of easy terrain fast hiking. Good views. In a weird semi desert pine forest right now. Two of the paracord since straps on my pack have been fraying. At my campsite tonight I look down and there is some abandoned paracord on the ground. The trail provides. I fixed my pack, seems okay will test tomorrow. It's 23 miles to South Lake Tahoe which I need to hitch into. I think I'll staged myself tomorrow night for a morning hitch the next day. I don't wanna stay in town so I can save money so that way I can do all my chores, eat at AYCE, and then hitched back to trail in evening. One last note: thank heavens for long sleeves and bug nets... so many mosquitos and flies here.

Day 47 - June 30 - end at mile 1089.7. Easy day today. Hiked until ten-thirtyish when I got to Carson Pass. There is a visitors info center here and the volunteers had soda and snacks for thru hikers. Never nice and I spent a few hours here. Met some hikers named Snow, Lonestar, and something I don't remember and hiked much of the afternoon with them. Swam a bit. Saw a Red Breasted Sapsucker. Camping with those three a mile and a half from the highway to South Lake Tahoe where we will hitch into tomorrow.

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