Day 52 – Sunday 6/12
Well, I did stayed one more night in Bishop 🙂 and I guess I spent most of my day in that cozy cafe, Looney Bean. It had everything I needed: great coffee, chill music and comfortable sofas.
The first two nights I spent at a hostel which was pretty cool but last night I stayed with friends at a motel. I got up early as usual, packed my backpack and went for a last time for a coffee where I had a great talk with Kristen (http://steeleoutside.com), again.
As I made my way to the street to hold out my selfmade sign, a hiker ran to me and asked if I need a ride. She and a friend skipped to hike the northern part of California and are driving now back south to head into the sierras. I needed a second hitch up to the trail head and another hiker who rented a car with a friend stopped shortly. To get back to the pct, I had to hike again over kearse pass. 8 miles with 3000ft elevation gain. I took my time and as I reached the top I saw dark clouds and it started to snow.
Shortly after I could hear the thunder and I made my way as fast as possible down to lower elevation. I thought about setting up my tent because of the storm but after a while the thunder was gone and it stopped snowing. My day plan first was to the base of the next pass on the pct, but I decided to go over it as I realized it’s only 5 miles. As I reached the top of Glen Pass (named 1905 after Glen H. Crow, a Forest Service Ranger), clouds were coming in and for a second I could only see a couple feet ahead. Luckily, it cleared off and I could finally see my goal for tonight: Rea Lake. All clouds were gone and the rest of the sun cleared everything. It was so beautiful. I had dinner on a rock at the lake and went after it half a mile further to a campsite and fall asleep in seconds.
It has been already an amazing view yesterday evening but in the morning it was even more spectacular.
Since it was a really long first day back on the trail I decided to sleep in. The following days we have to climb over several passes, which means after a long climb, a long decent follows.
During the day I felt quite tired from the day before and my legs felt heavy. Even after a 2h nap I felt powerless and I finished the day already after 12miles, short of the next pass. I had a lot of time before I go to sleep and finished my next book (Walking by Henry David Thoreau).
“My spirit infallibly rise in proportion to the outward dreariness. Give me the ocean, the dessert or the wilderness!”
Day 54 – Tuesday 6/14
I had struggled again to hike up the next pass and since I had a good sleep it might be that I consumed not enough calories. So there is only one way to fix this 😀
I reached Slowly but finally Pinchot Pass (named after Gifford Pinchot, appointed by Theodore Roosevelt as the first director of the U.S. Forest Service in 1905) which was luckily one of the easier one. It followed a short decent and after a couple hours I had to accent again to the next Pass, Mather Pass (named after Steven Mather, a retired industrialist millionaire who was appointed as first director of the National Park Service in 1917).
To get to the Pass, I had to walk over a huge wide snow field and to my enjoyment, my legs were feeling better. It is also one of the most fear-inducing climbs because of its steep head wall. The trail was covered with snow again and I decided to follow some footprints straight up the wall, with of course my ice axe in my hand. It was an amazing feeling climbing up and as I reached the Pass I was BELOHNT by one of my favorite views so far.
Climbing down was a big fun as well. There were again many possibilities to slide down the slope and that’s my favorite way to get down a mountain 🙂
The trail goes along a huge tarn and I stopped so many times to enjoy the view. As I reached the bottom of the lake I thought about to camp here but it was just 4pm. I decided to stay and do more mileage tomorrow since I have to reach my next resupply stop in 3 days or I will run out of food.
Day 55 – Tuesday 6/15
So far it was the most scenic and star glazing spot I camped but it had also his down side. I woke up 3am in the morning getting cold and having and layer of ice on my sleeping bag which came from the moist and cold air. I should have slept in my tent but then I would not have seen the stars and the mountains at moonlight.
There are only two ways to get or stay warm: get in your tent and sleeping bag or hike. So it left me only one option and I hit the trail around 3:30am. I am called Earlybird but this was the earliest I’ve started hiking. My headlamp lead me the way and while walking down the switchbacks I could hear the water crushing down. I stopped and took a quick breakfast with warm tea and saw how it got finally brighter.
As I got to the Forrest in the valley the sun was up but the air still fresh and cold. That’s my favorite time of hiking. It kinda fells going in to a church where the air is also colder and fresher then outside and there is no noise which distracts you.
Since I hiked short days before I knew I had long ahead of me to not run out of food. After walking through a couple meadows I started to climb up again to get over John Muir Pass at 12,000ft (obviously named after John Muir, the godfather of American hiking culture).
Half way I stopped to eat a meal and dry my sleeping bag which was still wet. As I reached the snow line I met Jan and Jules who I know from the town before. We had to hike over big snow fields and reached a lower pass. Behind it was a huge snow valley with a frozen lake. Later I heard that last year there was no snow at all the same time.
We had to climb 200 more ft and finally reached the actual pass where stands a shelter.
After a quick snack I decided to hike on to not get to cold. We still had to cross the whole valley and before we reached lower elevation we hiked almost 6miles (10km) in snow.
Before I was going to bed I decided to stay a bit longer awake to sit with my fellow hikers around my first fire in the sierras. I have been mostly camping by myself so it was nice to have some people to talk with around me.
Day 56 – Thursday 6/16
It’s day five in the high sierras and I can feel I am getting more tired but there is no time and space to complain. It’s the Pacific Crest Trail and not pussy cat trail 😉
I started as one of the first hiker since I wanted to take a break at the John Muir ranch which is close to the trail and I want to get over on of the last passes.
I arrived around noon at the ranch, which is mostly a resupply stop for John Muir trail hiker (the John Muir Trail (JMT) starts in Yosemite valley and end on top of Mt. Whitney and is mostly on the same trail as the PCT)
I was hopping to stock up a bit my supplies with the hiker box and I got not disappointed. Chris, a JMT hiker gave me also his left overs and some recommendations for South Lake Tahoe where I will spent some days off in about 2 weeks.
As it was mostly downhill, I had to hike up again and reached the pass late afternoon It was one of the lower one but has still a lot of snow.
I followed the Pacific Crest Trail for about 6 miles and left it towards my next resupply stop, Vermillion Valley Resort (VVR). I was still very hungry as I got there and had of course a burger for lunch. VVR is located at Lake Edission and has a couple Campgrounds where families are coming to go fishing and spent some time in the Sierras.
The afternoon I spent hanging around with the other hikers and prepare my supplies for the next couple days. We sat at night around the campfire where other people joined us as well. Two Cowboys told us for example how they are riding on the trails in the summer when the snow is gone. Their main job is to be guides for people who pay to cross the sierras on mules. I’m really impressed about them because they must have so much trust in the animals since the trail is sometimes really narrow and has a couple short turns on the top of a pass.
Day 58&59 – Saturday/Sunday 6/18&19
I decided to take at least one zero hat VVR since I really liked it and it’s different then taking zeros in a town. I can walk to the lake for a short swim, walk trough the woods and help the people out for some meals. One day I washed dishes and the other one I helped Raven with stocking up the wood piles for the fires. He hiked the pct with his girlfriend last year and got deheria and stayed at VVR to recover. After he felt better they decided to stay the whole season and came back again this year.
I also met Bryan, who supports his wife who is hiking the PCT. He build what he called a “PCT support droid”, his truck with a roof tent and he has everything inside the truck to cook, wash etc. His wife arrived after I left but she must be really happy to have such a hue support.
Since I left the last town as one of the first of my group I got to see most of them again as they walked into VVR and one night there were about 40hikers. One time it got a bit to busy for me and I spent a hour at the lake before I returned and spent the rest of the night with my friends at the fire.
Day 60 – Monday 6/20
VVR is so far the first place I had a hard time to leave. The crew and the people around makes it such a great place.
I took another way to get back to the PCT which led me over a pass which is not on trail. After having always a trail in the snow to kinda show the way, I had to find my own one this time. It was a big effort since there were also big boulders over which I climbed and later found myself of the actual way. After hard 4,5h I got back to the PCT. Soon, I catches up the Nimbles who stayed also a bit longer at VVR and we hiked until we were 10 miles short of Red Meadows.
Red Meadows Resort is a big ranch and it’s possible to take a bus to get to Mammoth Lakes which is a popular resupply stop. Since I have sent my food to VVR for the next 80miles to Yosemite, I don’t really need to go there but after 9 Days without reception I wanted to update my blog and let everyone know I survived the most challenging section of the Pacific Crest Trail 🙂
So actually today I had another pot of Ben&Jerrys, a good coffee, probably get a burger somewhere and get back on trail in the evening.