Back at it!! This was definitely the sketchiest, most remote stretch of the trail so far. While I never found myself in life-threatening danger, I can absolutely see how other hikers would find themselves in those situations. Without further ado….. here are the last two weeks in the High Sierra!!!
Also, this is my 3280985th time trying to publish this blog. FINGERS CROSSED.
Days 47-49: Zeros and Nearos
Town days!!!! I’m just going to be really real- towns are kind of the worst. After being in the Wilderness for weeks, heading into a town is overwhelming and a little depressing. The noise + overhead lights, matched with pressure to do all things (blog, resupply, call friends/family, etc), definitely leaves me more tired than time on trail. Oh well.
Because of an unseasonal snow storm in the mountains, we decided to take two zeros AND a nearo in town. Woof. That’s a lot of time without hiking. But, we had a lot of things we need to do, so it ended up being a great call. After the blowing out of my last crampons, I needed to purchase some new ones… which led to a few hundred dollars of necessary gear (Crocs [ohhhh yeah], new crampons, pants, and new pair of socks).
We ate a lot of Mexican Food in town. I threw up (my stomach doesn’t do well with normal food now). We watched the Hunger Games marathon. I sent food to Future Andrew. We planned. And planned. And planned. This next section is dangerous and requires diligent planning. Not to sound dramatic, but our lives depend on it.
In the evening of Day 49 (our “Nearo” day), we hitched to the trailhead and began our little hike. GQ and I picked up The Chairman, a friend of ours who *almost* bailed on this section. After a little convincing and a reminder of how much he’s accomplished, he ended up joining us! Hooray!
GQ and I packed out a full pizza for dinner. Treat yo’selves.
Our “Nearo” was DEFINITELY a Nearo. We hiked just about a mile (no, seriously), before pitching camp for the night. With two passes, we know tomorrow will require an early wakeup.
Also…… we just ran into some folks that just came down from mountain and are bailing. All of their gear froze and they had to cut part of their tent from the ground.
Another update: just saw some friends return after doing Keararge Pass and Glen Pass (our scheduled passes for tomorrow). They turned around and have decided to bail on this section.
Are we in over our heads? TBD.
Day 50: Kearsarge Pass (PCT mi. 788.7) to Rae Lakes Boulder (mi. 792.9)
Today was the first day where I haven’t drooled over the sunrise. For some dumb reason, I let the conditions overrun my enjoyment. We were back to waking up at 3:30am, climbing with heavy packs, and fighting the frigid morning air the only way we know how- by hiking. Additionally, to get back to our spot on the PCT, we were Kearsarge Pass for the second time. Lame-o.
My mood changed as the morning got warmer and as I fed my stomach with Clif Bars. We met what we soon named “The Herd” – a group of ~15 hikers that met at the trailhead and all had similar plans, so they chose to hike together. While large groups aren’t my jam, they are awesome! I suspect we’ll be hiking around them for the next few days.
After Kearsarge was Glen Pass- a mountain pass with poor spelling and a rumored incredibly steep descent. Upon summiting, we learned the rumors were true! This pass is STEEP with an awesome overview of frozen alpine lakes!
On the top, GQ, Chairman and I ate lunch with the Herd and I took a short nap. Naps are still the best. I also overheard someone call me “The Sleeping Peanut” … so that’s pretty neat. Here’s to a nicknamed pseudonym 👍.
The descent down Glen Pass was not awesome. The postholes down were at an insane angle, taunting and teasing us to fall. After a short period and a little boulder scrambling, we made it to a safe place to make our first glissade.
On the final push down to the valley with Rae Lakes, we found ourselves in a bit of a sticky situation, with two not-so-great options to descend. After a little discussion, GQ and I chose to take the very steep glissade down, instead of a rock scramble down an unpromising icy granite cliff.
The glissade. was. awesome. The angle of the path, matched with its frequent use and afternoon slush, made for a fast trip down the mountain. I even caught a tiny bit of air 🤘.
Standing up, we yelled to Chairman to take the glissade (yes, because of safety… but primarily because of how fun it was). Chairman decided the glissade wasn’t for him, and headed back toward the cliff.
GQ left to observe the upcoming trail, and I waited for Chairman to make it to the bottom. Due to the angle and patch of trees, I lost sight of Chairman as he approached the ridge. Just as I turned around to watch GQ’s interaction with the AT Couple down the trail (one of them had lose their microspikes), I heard a yell splitting down the side of the slope.
You know that feeling when you suddenly realize everything is not okay? When the air around suddenly becomes incredibly thin?
My earliest memory of this happening was when my sister, Sarah, accidentally sent a 2×4 flying toward my forehead in the pitch dark. While I was probably around 6 at the time, I still remember the direct hit, feeling fine, and the rushing sensation of “I’m not fine” as the cool blood dripped down my face.
This sensation is similar to realizing you took a joke too far, and the searing anxiety of if/when you’ll bleed out after that damn paper cut.
Looking up, all of these feelings came at once as I watched my friend fall off his ledge, down 8 feet to a small boulder field, inhumanly bouncing through a pine tree, and coming to a slide down the snowy field below.
Somehow, before his final slide, I had traversed a snow field and was waiting for him at the bottom. We made eye contact and suddenly, like the crack of a smile after an argument, the atmosphere diffused from “not okay” to “we’ll be good.”
By the grace of God, Chairman survived his fall and without any known broken bones. He suffered some nasty cuts and a few bruised ribs, but walked away with only broken gear (backpack & titanium cup).
We collected Chairman’s broken gear, surveyed his wounds, and moseyed down a quarter mile to our new campsite- a boulder between Rae Lakes. This spot was just before a water crossing, and man is it nice!!!
By setting up camp pretty early, we watched several groups pass by (The Herd, Frenchies, AT Couple, and the Guys). We chatted about the steep descent and plans for tomorrow before cheering them on as they crossed the chilly water just feet from our campsite.
Night slowly approached. Our little crew made dinner (mashed potatoes, tuna, + rice… every night for me), finalized tomorrow’s plan, and tucked away for an early bedtime. In bed a wrote a bit AND finished the Little Prince! Gosh. Everyone needs to read this book. Maybe we can start a book club where we just reread this book? Okay. Great.
Today I’m grateful for provision. Doing two passes in one day is no joke, especially when there’s no dirt for miles on either side. Chairman’s accident was intense. Though he was pretty careful, it shook us all up, and he has ultimately decided to leave the PCT, with one of the reasons being the danger that awaits. However, I’m grateful for the reminder that what we’re doing shouldn’t be taken lightly. We need to predetermine each and every step out here, a practice I’d love to continue into traditional life! How cool would it be if we were intentional with all of our moves? In conversations, through service, and loving those different than us. Together, we’d move mountains.
Day 51: Rae Lakes Boulder (mi. 792.9) to Pinchot Pass Base (mi. 802.6)
It’s Amanda Glenn’s birthday!! This will belated, but happy birthday, sis. I can’t express how much you would have loved today’s hike. One day we’ll be out here together. 👊
On that note, today rocked. I woke up with frost on my sleeping bag, and frozen water bottles. The departure from Chairman was a tough one, as he turned South to head back over Glen, Kearsarge, and the road home.
And then there were two. GQ and I have been hiking together for the last 792 miles through different groups, and gave a quick chuckle at more-than-familiar circumstances. We quickly packed our frozen packs and just did the thing we’d be dreading- fording the lake at 4am. It wasn’t sooooooo bad, and once I regained feeling in my toes, we were golden. The sun did its thing, and I apologized to the sunrise for my morning bitterness yesterday.
Today just rocked. The only thing that was 👎 was getting logged out of my Spotify, which requires service to log into. Guess my tunes will have to wait another week. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
We crossed snow fields, bridges, jumped over creeks, and even walked about THREE miles in the dirt/on the actual trail. If you’re familiar with this season’s record snowfall, you know how big of a deal this is.
We’re currently camping at the base of Pinchot Pass, allegedly the toughest pass this season due to the snow. We’re crossing our fingers for an early rise, and taking our chances at covering TWO passes (Pinchot + Mather) in one day. But we’ll see. TBD.
Day 52: Pinchot Pass Base (mi. 802.6) to Mather Pass Approach (mi. 815.7)
You probably saw this coming, but we did not quite accomplish our two pass day. Lame.
This morning we were hiking by 3:30… wooooooof. Let’s just talk about this early wakeup thing. Despite weeks of sub4am alarms, I’m still not a fan of it. My body says “lol” and my brain says “whyyyyy?” I blame it on 23 years of being a night owl.
The approach this morning was a little tricky, and we leapfrogged with the Frenchies for a good bit. They’re super precise and take a bit longer, while Evan and I like to just feel it out and keep our pace up. In the end, team Feel It Out reached the summit first, around 6am. Noted to be the “most difficult pass yet,” we couldn’t disagree more. It was for suuuuure one of the easiest. Oh well.
In the day’s notes I put “sunrise is the brilliant snow.”
^ I’m 90% sure there’s a typo in there… but it sounds poetic so let’s roll with it.
The approach from Pinchot to Mather was long and suncupped. We were STUPID tired from the morning’s ascent, and decided to “take a break” when we reached the base of Mather. Looking up, we saw no signs of trail. This isn’t untypical for the trail to do this in the Sierra- disappear or simply show no trace for miles. However, we’ve always had a tiny bit of footprints on the passes. At the base, we squinted and scoped for any sign of footpath, but came up short.
It was then when I got smart.
1:00pm + daylight saving time meant it was high noon! The sun was directly overhead, casting zero shadows. If there were any footprints on the switchbacks, we wouldn’t be able to see them because there was no contrast. Boom. Science.
In the end, we decided to set up camp at just crush some more miles tomorrow. But thennnnn came the fun part. Though surrounded by snow, we had no running water. So, in the face of overwhelming odds, we were left with only one option: we had to science the shit out of it.
^ Bonus points if you know where that quote is from.
Anyway, the sciencing meant we had to melt snow. We filled ziplocs, bear cans, and black rainflies up with snow, and let the HOT HOT HOT sun give us some fancy H20. It only took a little bit of time. Hooray!
I was in a bad mood. On an exposed rock on the middle of a pass, with NO shade in sight, my energy was drained. I got sick. I was annoyed at the day’s mileage. My notes went from “sunrise is the brilliant snow” to colorful language I probably shouldn’t share.
I understand why people drop out. This stuff is hard.
Day 53: Mather Pass Approach (mi. 815.7) to Muir Pass Ascent (mi. 834.2)
Day 53: Mather Pass Approach (mi. 815.7) to Muir Pass Ascent (mi. 834.2)
You know that feeling after a good workout when endorphins are doing their thing and you no longer feel like passing out?
That’s me right now!
Today was fantastic. We summited Mather Pass just before 3:45am, with a half moon and the Big Dipper cheering us on the entire way. At the top, GQ and I discussed whether one crosses a pass or summits them. While the answer is probably cross, I’m sticking with summit. It gives a better visual.
Both the ascent and descent weren’t particularly simple. Few snow tracks and a steep, south facing headwall made way to a more technical climb. The guidebook says this pass is a bit fear-inducing and I’m not going to argue that.
I think I enjoyed today because of its simplicity. We woke at 2:30am and hiked until 3:30. The descent from Mather led us into a beautiful valley just above 8k feet, and we ACTUALLY had around 5 miles of nearly-uninterrupted dirt trail!! That’s a record here in the Sierra, so 🙌 to that.
You guys, it’s pretty scarce out here. In the desert I was regularly seeing up to 20 people a day. GQ and I are nearing 48 hours of only seeing each other. We can tell by the lack of snow tracks that we’re at least a day behind the nearest folks, and about 10-15 miles ahead of the next crew.
This scarcity is a cool feeling, and I feel it changing my heart and mindset. The Sierra Nevada is my home, previously tenanted by folks like John Muir, Ansel Adams and Henry David Thoreau. Today I got hyped over a few miles of dirt. I waved to a deer. The chirping of birds and roaring of rivers soundtracked the hike. I thanked the snow for giving me water to rehydrate my mashed potatoes. Also, my relationship with the sun has changed. I welcome it with a grateful smile, and amuse its evening show while it whispers “hey, I’ll be back… but for now, remember me as this.”
It’s a beautiful life, living outdoors. Sure, it’s very tough. Each day (including today), I wonder why I’m doing this dang hike. Staying in Austin would’ve been much easier, with just a few more places to sleep, eat, find water, and use the restroom. But then the sun’s like “hey, isn’t my light beautiful?” and the difficulty seems to be all worth it.
Day 53: Muir Pass Ascent (mi. 834.2) to Evolution Creek (mi. 850.9)
We had a deal. If we’re up and hiking between midnight and 4am, you stay frozen.
Wet Shoes at 3AM
Nahhh in all seriousness, today was incredible and it was VERY Sierra-y. Let’s start from the top.
As you’ve learned, GQ and I didn’t have our typical newly-frozen snow this morning. It was soft and a bit slushy from this weekend’s heat wave, making the 5 mile, 2k+ feet vertical to Muir Pass a bit difficult. In addition to this, we had 0 footsteps to follow. Cheers to trailblazing!!
Our Muir Mountaineering experience came to a peak just after 6:30AM, closing with an incredible 360° view with John Muir Hut at the center. The Hut was built by the Sierra Club + NFS in the 20’s as a tribute to John Muir and a storm shelter for those passing through. Super cool.
The descent down into Evolution Valley was our longest descent yet- but man, was it a treat. We had an exciting 9am river crossing across an icy stream, ran into a handful of deer, talked a LOT of Harry Potter, and watched the tributaries leading into the valley become more and more frequent & aggressive.
In anticipation of this afternoon’s river crossing across Evolution Creek, GQ and I repacked our packs and drybagged important belongings at lunch. Ooo, lunch! I don’t think I’ve ever shared what I eat for lunch every day.
Steps to making a beautiful, hiker lunch.
1. Take tortilla
2. Spread Peanut Butter (repackaged in ziplock baggie because #volume) on said tortilla
3. Cut dry salami into quarters and place on said tortilla
4. Choose your own adventure: Roll it up burrito style, fold it like a taco, OR use a secondary tortilla to craft a quesadilla.
5. Repeat 2-3 times.
**best paired with skittles, goldfish, dehydrated fruit and trail mix. count your tortillas carefully in use.
Evolution Creek baby!! We had heard stories of how this Creek is impassable, but carefully surveyed the topo map and checked the snow report, leading us to try it ourselves. On approach to the creek (read: river), we passed this sign. Oh boy.
But… we did it!!! GQ is trained in swift water rescue (casual) and gave me some last minute tips before the crossing. We also went over hand motions in case things were to go bad. But the river was kind to us. Despite being pretty quick and well over our heads, the water was pretty dang refreshing. Sure- it was terrifying. But in hindsight, it was just too awesome.
ALSO- SWIMMING 25m WITH A 50LB PACK ON IS HARD. WOA BUDDY.
Laughing and shaking and just the perfect shade of miserable, we trudged along the trail to claim the first dry stretch of land we saw. We called camp just down the path and dried out all of our belongings… besides things in the drybags (those stayed dry 🙌. A little din din and some more Harry Potter talk later, GQ and I congratulated each other on our big days and retreated off to each do some reading and writing before bed.
What a day. I’m pooped. So grateful for today. I’m a little nervous for the river crossings down the trail, but that’s another day’s worry. Tonight is for gratitude and praise to the King for safety and enjoyment.
Day 54: Evolution Creek (mi. 850.9) to Mono Hot Springs (approx. PCT mi. 876.1)
Twenty-five miles. Oh yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah.
With our belongings still a *tad* bit damp from yesterdays, this morning we packed up our stuff and got a move on to Mono Hot Springs! We hiked 30 miles off trail to avoid some “impassable” creeks. While we weren’t positive they’re 100% impassable, we’ve heard some horror stories and decided to take a less scenic (but safer…) alternate route.
Cue day trails and road walking. For 4ever.
All in all, the day wasn’t too bad!! Evan and I saw our first humans in 75.5 hours (over 3 days) on one of the side trails… that was weird. Also, I wore Crocs for a couple miles because the trail was so muddy and swampy.
Crocs are just so dang efficient.
We ended up arriving in Mono Hot Springs in the early evening, JUST in time to call our dads for Father’s Day!! This was a big goal for us, so hoorah for just enough cell service to call the pops. That’s the best.
After our phone conversations, we raided the small general store for snacks and went to stealth camp behind the MHS campgrounds. Anticipating a short day tomorrow, I’m stayin’ up LATE. Hellooooo 11pm bedtime, popcorn in bed, texting friends, and redownloading Spotify aka Taylor Swift.
Until tomorrow !!!
PS- Remember Rocket Power? Seriously the best show.
Day 55: Mono Hot Springs (approx. PCT mi. 876.1) to VVR (approx. PCT mi. 872.1)
I ate an entire pack off off-brand Oreos for breakfast, and I don’t regret it one bit.
An entire pack. Yolo.
Today we continued on our alternate route with a small road walk from Mono to VVR, a campground nestled into the Vermillion Valley. The roadwalk wasn’t anything too exciting, just 6 miles or so up and down the road.
VVR is magical. If you’re a future JMT or PCT hiker, make this stop a priority. The food is excellent (and pricey), the staff is incredible, and the lake might just be the most refreshing swim I’ve ever had. The cell/internet tower was crushed from the high snow year, so we didn’t have service… but I didn’t care too much. I picked up The Martian from their small library and read it on the lakeshore for hours. It was just killer.
Honestly, I kind of treated myself big time at VVR. In just a half day, I ordered a dessert with BOTH of my meals (is there any other way to enjoy pie than a la mode?) and downed two or three beers, one of which was free just for showing up.
Another big stretch starts tomorrow. VVR to Yosemite.
Let’s do it.
Day 56: VVR (approx. PCT mi. 872.1) to near Squaw Lake (mi. 887.11)
The detour is over! The detour is over! Rejoice, rejoice, rejoice.
This morning I reeeeally didn’t want to come out of my tent. Last night, the distant sound of the resort’s generator kept me up well past hiker midnight (9pm), which left me a little groggy for our 3:30am wake up call. It’s a little crazy how the wind, tumbling rivers, and other nature sounds just lull me to sleep, while the aggressive sounds from man-made objects just demand my attention.
In Austin, I lived downtown and constantly had the ruckus of a capitol city coming through my studio window. Oddly enough, it never bothered me. During SXSW and ACL, I’d often catch some songs from bands I loved as I dozed off to sleep. Just this past fall, both Radiohead and Mumford sang me to sleep and it. was. awesome. I guess this Wilderness is becoming my own little home (with a lot more square footage), and the sounds that come with it are my own rock (ha) and indie bands.
Anyway. That was a weird side thought. Today was a good day! Once I finally packed up camp, GQ and I hit the trail and slowly made our way back up to 11,000 feet from 7,800. It was a long trail, but so awesome. We even saw a bear!!!
Here is a picture from when I got too excited:
Here is a terrible picture when the bear had moseyed away:
After the bear spotting from yours truly (🙋🏼♂️), we kept ascending and reached the top of Goodale Pass just before 11am. It was a SLUSHY climb, with very little footsteps before us…. which meant post-holing for dayz.
I took an hour nap on top, ate my usual lunch (ohhhhh yeah), and listened to more Taylor Swift (she’s just SUCH a good songwriter. goodness gracious).
During the descent, we FINALLY returned to the PCT. While the navigation and terrain is no different, these side trails make me feel a little uneasy. I trust the PCT. The PCT is home… Goodale Pass Trail is not (🙌).
Around 1:30 or 2pm, we decided to call camp at the next dry patch near trail. Our shoes and socks were SOAKED, and drying them out is a bit of a priority. No one likes frozen shoe laces in the morning. If you do, we need to talk.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Arkansas lately. I moved from Little Rock just over 5 years ago, but the relationships and things learned there have continued into my every day. Not sure why I’m sharing this- but if you’re an Arkansan and reading this, thanks for help shaping who I am. Whether we did the whole WVCA/LRCA thing or just randomly became friends, thanks. Also, send me a text. I’d love to hear what’s up in your life.
Okay, these mosquitoes are getting me and I just made tea. The sun sets in an hour, which means it’s BEDTIME. Until tomorrow, friends. 👋
Day 57: Near Squaw Lake (mi. 887.11) to Crater Creek (mi. 902.9)
Today we crossed mile 900.
How is there still this much snow??????
Also, I fell HARD on flat ground today. That was lame.
I’m in a grumpy mood.
Day 58: Crater Creek (mi. 902.9) to Rosalie Lake (approx. PCT mi. 915)
hahahaha ohhhh boy. sorry for my bad mood yesterday… but today takes the cake on low morale. good gracious, this trail.
Today we woke up EAGER to crush some miles, do Island Pass, and set up well for Donahue Pass tomorrow. We also wanted to visit Sunrise Falls (a small off-trail detour), and have lunch at Agnew Trailhead, a spot where we could potentially snag some service.
To be fair, we started off strong. We woke up early, sloshed through the snow, and crossed creek after creek, only getting our feet a *little* wet.
And then we reached Minaret Creek + Falls… aka: Your Confidence Was Getting Too High Creek + Falls.
When we reached the creek, we knew it was too dangerous to cross at the PCT. The bridge was washed out and in pieces, so we decided to turn back around and hike up and around the falls, where we assumed the flat topography would slow down the creek. Again, lol. Above the falls, the creek was still roaring and deeeeep. Not wanting to tumble off a waterfall, GQ and I decided to hike upstream. It’s gottta slow down sometime, right?
Fast forward a few miles and a couple hours, we ended up trekking through snow, up and around its source- a lake. Above the lake, we still had to hike through waist-deep water, but it had a low current and no waterfall nearby. PTL for safety, but good gracious was that draining or w h a t.
We ended up finding our way back to the JMT and would take it back to the PCT, where it rejoined 13 miles down the trail. Due to the Your Confidence Was Getting Too High Creek + Falls Scenic Detour, we reevaluated the day’s goal of getting setup for Donahue Pass.
“Alright, let’s just get over Island Pass. That’s doable!”
Two hours later…
“Okay. When we rejoin the PCT, we’ll try to find camp.”
One hour later…
“Let’s camp here.”
We ended the day on the JMT, 5 miles from the PCT junction. We had an excellent view of Mammoth Ski Resort (it’s open. yep. we watched skiers do their thing)… and scored a bit of service. Once again, morale is low… but that’s just how it goes.
I think I might eat an extra Hershey’s Bar tonight.
Day 59: Rosalie Lake (approx. PCT mi. 915) to Tuolumne Meadows Campground (mi. 942.5)
Spoiler alert: today we finished yesterday’s miles AND today’s miles and we’re feeling GOOD. Happy day. For the most part.
While the slush + suncupping were super lame, we trudged through it all. The views were pretty prime and the ambition was at an all time high (I apparently didn’t learn from yesterday). We were DETERMINED to get do these two passes and descend from 11k to 7k feet to Tuolumne in Yosemite National Park.
Check and check. Evan and I ran into our friends Loss and Picky on Island Pass, and later ran into Morning Joe on Donahue. The descent from Donahue was sketchy and steep, and was probably the most frightening pass on the PCT so far.
But the frights were worth it- Donahue marked the border of Yosemite!! I was officially in my favorite National Park!! Woohoo!!
The day extended through a valley, slowly approaching Tuolumne and the Tuolumne River. I ran across MANY JMT hikers, wide-eyed and excited for the 200+ miles in front of them. Bless their hearts.
At the end of the day, we rolled into the flooded Tuolumne campground and set up camp among a dry stretch of trees. We ran into some other hikers, who warned us about the trail ahead.
A hiker passed away in the Tuolumne River the day before. Fifteen had turned around, and one had to be rescued by helicopter.
Cue all the anxiety, a familiar pit in my stomach, a lot of prayer, and another Hershey Bar before bed. Once again, the day’s highs turned into a frazzled, discouraged low.
Tomorrow I’ll hike 22 miles off trail into Yosemite Valley (yay!), resupply, and talk to the rangers about these final 75 miles of the High Sierra. I really don’t want to turn around, I can’t afford a helilift, and dying is not on my agenda. We’ll see what the rangers say.
Day 60: Tuolumne Meadows Campground (mi. 887.11) to Yosemite Valley
After receiving the latest information of the waters ahead, today called for sleeping in. Plus, I’m only hiking 22 miles downhill to Yosemite Valley, right? 7.8k to 4.4k feet means that there will be little snow and maybe a creek crossing or two. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
Yes. I started the day at ~7.8k feet, and was ending around 4.4k. However, in between I apparently needed to hike up the SNOWY Cathedral Pass and the poorly maintained Sunrise Mountain. My downhill day suddenly turned into another double high-elevation day.
Determined not to make this another low-morale day, I gave myself some pep-talks (“you’re going to Yosemite Valley!!! you don’t have a campsite, but that’s okay! we’ll figure it out!”) and turned on Taylor Swift for some mid-morning jams. This positive mindset carried me through Cathedral, across some deep, snowy meadows, and to Sunrise. From there, the storms came. Literally and mentally.
I ran into a JMT hiker couple, who recommended I hike around a small part of the trail due to “lots of snow.”
Dear Past Andrew,
You’ve hiked 230 miles of high snow. You can do snow. These people have hiked 3 miles of snow. They don’t know what snow is. Stay on trail. Don’t detour around, especially because you don’t have a GPS of this area.
PS- It’s about to start hailing. Good luck!
Yeah. That happened. I got lost for a few hours, hailed on for a bit, and had to really up my wilderness navigation skills. I skipped lunch, only breaking for a few minutes to get my bearings. This was the only time I’ve been big-time lost on trail. While I never felt in terrible danger, it just wasn’t a good feeling. I could make a life parallel here, but it’d be too easy. Stay on track. Don’t get lost. It’s dangerous and will make you sad. Sure, take fun side trails and detours… but don’t be dumb.
Once on trail, everything was AWESOME! Knowing I was pretty far behind schedule, I made lunch while hiking, forfeiting Siesta. I scored incredible views of both Half Dome and Clouds Rest from the Northeast (the backside), a view I hadn’t really seen IRL before. As I approached the Valley, the trail crossed Nevada Falls and became flooded with more and more day hikers. They gaped at my Ice Axe and Crampons, whispered about my speed (honestly- that felt cool), and probably -once out of ear shot- noted my terrible stench.
Day hikers smell really good. Thru-hikers do not.
The Valley was filled with Muggles. That’s what we call non-hiker folk. They’re clean. The sport Adidas, crop tops, expensive bandanas, and whatever else L.A. is telling them to wear. It’s a foreign place. Did I use to be one of these people? Goodness, I hope not.
I walked through a sea Valley-owned tents, occupied with muggles (non-hiker folk) and rolling suitcases. After weeks in the wilderness, I did not enjoy this vibe. It was eerie, feeling a whole lot less hiker and much more concentration. I think I could smell the smog from LA and SF seeping through their belongings. Gosh, there were people just everywhere. Several asked me where I hiked from, and would shake my hand after I repeated “Mexico” following their disbelief. Some muggles asked if they would need ice axe + crampons for their Half Dome hike too… the more reserved just stared at my pack. TBH, they were probably just jealous of my Crocs.
After a small walk to Half Dome Village, I met up with GQ and some newfound friends, TwoCap and gang. Loud, dirty, obnoxious, and probably a little tipsy, I knew I had found some hiker trash in a sea of Muggles (non-hiker folk).
We took the evening to ignore the deadly rivers ahead. We drank beer. We ate donuts, Pringles, and frosted animal crackers. We were way too loud (sorry again, Yosemite Security). The others talked about who-knows-what, while I gaped at the tourists bearing selfie sticks and child leashes. Humans are weird.
I turned in around 9pm, far before the others. TwoCap graciously offered his spot in Camp 4 to us, and so I tookthe shuttle over there to set up and snuggle up in bed! Camping in Camp 4 has been on my to-do list for a while. Made famous by the climber community, Camp 4 is the only first-come-first-serve camp in the Valley, and hosts all the dirtbags you can imagine. A little rowdy with an extreme reverence for this land, these are my people.
We’ll see what tomorrow holds. For now, I’m camping in Camp 4 in Yosemite Valley and life is allllll good.
Day 61: Yosemite Valley to the Bay Area
I’ll make this post short and sweet!! I bought a bus ticket to SF and will spend this week with friends and family!! While I’m definitely bumming to depart from my hiking buddy (GQ) and leave trail for a tiny bit,I’m confident this is a good opportunity to……..
1. snag some rest
2. celebrate my mom’s birthday WITH HER on her birthday (yay!)
3. plan an alternate trail route around the impassable tuolumne section
4. see Cars 3 (priorities, am I right?)
5. find some damn queso (two months is WAY too long)
This travel day was pretty bittersweet. I reallllllly don’t like spending time off trail, but sometimes rest is a good discipline to practice. I was pretty bad at this back in the traditional life too. I would run on all cylinders and become burnt out. This is an ineffective way to get work done, and a terrible practice in ministry. While I don’t find anything special about a particular day in the week, I think God was onto something about the whole Sabbath thing. But, like I said, it’s definitely a discipline.
OKAY. WAY TO GO IF YOU MADE IT THIS FAR.
Seriously, if you read all of this… you deserve a post card. Let me know.
Off to wine country! Peace!
ps- here is a picture of some leaves in yosemite valley. magic, i tell ya.