Here we are at day 70! We just finished our longest stint between resupply locations – from Independence (mile 790) to Mammoth Lakes (mile 907), aka over 120 miles including 8 “bonus” off-trail miles from Independence to the PCT on the Onion Valley trail. We survived the climb and descent of 7 passes – Kearsarge Pass, Glen Pass, Mather Pass, Muir Pass, Selden Pass, and Silver Pass. We hiked with Billy (recently dubbed Shepherd), Sneaky Elf, and Herro for the majority of the time. We slept in some beautiful spots – at Rae Lakes, in Muir shelter, at Palisade Lakes, and at Purple Lake. Jared changed his trail name from “Snake Charmer” to “Beaker”. Sneaky Elf’s birthday was July 11 and we ate an amazing Ben and Jerry’s ice cream cake at Mammoth Brewing Company to celebrate. When we got into town we gorged ourselves on burgers, fries, shakes, and veggies. This is our only resupply location where we bought food instead of shipping food – so we inevitably bought way to much and as a consequence have very heavy packs. The highlight of this past stretch was staying on top of Muir Pass in the Muir shelter and watching the sunrise. The most trying part was hiking in thunderstorms and rain for 2 days. We hike on for another 200 more miles before the end of our trip, and we’ve also decided to take a 2-day 22.5 mile detour into Yosemite Valley with a few spare days. So in 2-3 days we will be in Tuolumne, we will hike off the PCT (but on the John Muir Trail, or JMT) into Yosemite for 2 days, then bus back to Tuolumne before heading north to Sonora then South Lake Tahoe. Our next update should be from Tuolumne or Sonora.
Mammoth was a really nice stop. I replaced my marmot ravaged darn tough socks at the local outfitter, finally satisfied my craving for a really strong IPA, and ate some great ice cream birthday cake courtesy of sneaky elfs folks.
It’s also one of the biggest towns that we have stopped in yet. I keep thinking that once we get around a lot of people I won’t be able to handle the change, but I actually find that the opposite is true – I’m enjoying the social interactions with folks and it hasn’t felt as overwhelming as I expected. The hustle and bustle in town feels a little foreign, but I’m not feeling as intimidated by our return to seattle as I was before this stop.
The country we just passed through is absolutely the most beautiful so far on the trail – by a long shot – and some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. The high sierras are absolutely spectacular, and I found that the terrain up at 12000 feet or so is far and away my favorite.
Next stop is tuolomne meadows, and then Yosemite!