A little over three months and 1440 miles into it I’ve quit thinking about time and miles traveled. I am currently at Burney Falls California, and excited about heading for the Oregon border. Starting today, I will go off trail for a week to celebrate Landon’s birthday, visit with Dawson, and spend a little time with Robin at the Targee music festival. Although walking 25 miles a day has become the norm and very comfortable, I felt that I was treating this like a race rather than just enjoying the journey. I want to shift my focus, not get caught up in the frenzy and appreciate the landscape and the people I meet on the trail. I love the folks I have been crossing paths with since virtually the beginning, the bubble, and will be sad to plug in a week behind everyone, but that just means I’ll have a whole new group of people I get to meet. Also I want to give a shout out to my friend Art from Breckenridge who just spent the last week hiking with me across the Hat Creek rim, reputedly to be one of the hardest sections of the trail but was actually quite enjoyable. Although I’m just a short ways past the halfway mark, I can feel the end is within my reach. It is odd but the thought of finishing this amazing journey comes with mixed emotions. I don’t feel at all anxious to have it over, but will be forever grateful for the experience.
Happy Father’s Day to all you dads out there and happy Summer solstice, the longest day of the year. The last section of trail from Toulome Meadows to Echo lake has been unquestionably one of the most beautiful sections of trail. Fields of wildflowers carpet the hillside and small streams and waterfalls are everywhere. The trail is lined with giant junipers and Red fur reaching into the clear blue sky. After a few days of rest and recuperation with my friends and Robin at Lake Tahoe I’m ready to head on to Northern California, looking north to the Oregon border. In about 200 miles I will of reached the halfway point, a
I finally made it to Yosemite! Really raining hard the last few days and getting some at night as well. I hiked over Donahue pass today, which I think is the last pass over 11,000 ft. The whole last section through the JMT was truly more beautiful than one can take in. Although it was really hard I will miss the intense beauty of the place. This next section, Yosemite to Tahoe is something I have wanted to do all of my life and my friend Tom Mulholand will join me for the next 150 miles. It will be great to have someone to hike with.
I’m taking a couple of much needed zero days after a rather challenging hike through the John Muir Trail. Upon leaving lone Pine, we had serious questions about the conditions in the high Sierra so I picked up a pair of crampons and hoped for the best. When I got to the west side of Whitney I decided to take the 14 mile diversion up a very snow-covered route to the top of Whitney. The remainder of the hike on the JMT was the prettiest, if not the most challenging section so far. Each day we faced a 12,000 or 13,000 foot snow covered pass to get over. This is the highest part of the entire PCT. I ended up using The crampons in the more exposed sections and was frequently post holeing through mid thigh snow. In the next few days I will be traveling through very familiar country, walking back into my beloved Yosemite, it feels like coming home.
I have left the mountains, right at the foot of Mount Whitney, to meet Robin and to assess the situation. Although this is one of the driest snow years on record for the Sierras, they have received more snow in the last month then they got all winter. When I arrived at Kennedy Meadows rumors abound about 8 foot snowdrifts on Forster pass and a PCT hiker death. Based on those rumors at least 30 people jumped out from Kennedy Meadows and took a bus up to Reno to rejoin the trail north of Yosemite. I chose to press on to lone Pine to check out the situation for myself. In fact there was a PCT hiker death, but it was due to exposure, not a fall as had been reported, and yes there is a huge amount of snow on the JMT. I think I will probably pick up a pair of crampons and some self arrest device and continue on through the Sierras. And I am so happy to be finally done with the desert section and hiking through familiar stands Jeffrey Pine and high mountains. On we go.
At Walker Pass after a difficult but beautiful desert section. I’m excited to be almost done with the desert, it’s only 50 short miles to Kennedy Meadows and the beginning of the Sierra. This last section was hot, dry and a lot of up and down on trails made virtually of sand. There was one section that was 43 miles with only one water source. When I arrived at the “spring” it was a little more than a puddle and as I was getting water to filter I noticed a dead rat that had drowned in the spring and someone pulled out. I was down to one litter with 34 miles to the next water so I got to drink dirty, dead rat water for the next two days. I am so looking forward to The Sierras where I won’t have to be carting more than 10 pounds of water every day.
This is a very special day for me, finishing my first full month on the trail. I’m also excited because I’m just 150 miles from Kennedy Meadows which is the beginning of the Sierras. The last several days has been spent walking through forests of wind machines in the flat Mojave Desert, sometimes punctuated with steep climbs over abrupt mountain ranges. The weather has been perfect for walking across this section of the desert. Normally this is the hottest and driest section for the Southern PCT but this year has been pleasantly cool and even raining hard at times. Yesterday was so windy that I was blown off the trail several times and last night most the people along the trail crowded into a small gulch to try to escape the wind, only to have their tents blown apart in the middle of the night.