Wow, it's been awhile. I was hoping to have internet access at North Kennedy Meadows, but that wasn't happening. I could've written up a summaries post up to there, then just published it when I got service yesterday (7/15), but I felt lazy. A physical, full-size keyboard is one of the luxuries I try to indulge in when I get into a town.
7/6: (ZERO) Today was an unintended zero day. I spent most of the morning doing what I usually do in town: go to the library to use the computer, do some shopping to mess around with my food stash a little (and to buy a couple "indulgence items" like soda), etc. Mammoth Lakes is great! In the summer they have free shuttles that run you all around to basically within a block or two of anywhere you need to go. Around noon I found out that there is a bus that goes from Mammoth Lakes to Tuolumne Meadows (exactly where I want to go!) for $9 one-way. One problem- it only runs in the morning (and I just missed the last one). So I figured I'll hitch hike out later. Just as I'm finishing up hanging around town (around 4pm) and decide I'll go back to the hostel, grab my stuff, then hitch out the skies darken and rain starts a-pourin'. So I stayed at the hostel another night...
7/7: (14.2 miles) This morning I woke up early and took the first bus out to Tuolumne Meadows (6 am bus). It was just me and one other PCT hiker the whole ~2hr ride! [As I mentioned in my last summary, I'm jumping ahead to Tuolumne because I went into Mammoth for fun- thereby royally stabbing my schedule in the gut- so originally the jump ahead was supposed to allow me to enjoy Mammoth and also get me back a little closer to my original schedule. But because of yesterday's unintended zero, I'm still the same behind schedule as I was before (but I still got to enjoy Mammoth)]. I had to wait at the post office because the tiny, little window that is the post office doesn't give out hiker boxes until 10 am. No, they open at 9 am, but they refuse to give out hiker boxes anytime except 10 to 4 (on the hour only). So I got a box from Amazon.com that I had ordered back in Independence (real sun gloves, some notebooks so I can write my thoughts on something other than the back of maps, and a large external battery pack- so I can charge my phone as often as I want, even on 6-day stretches). Punched out 14.2 miles from the Post Office (which I think is pretty good for an "afternoon-only" hike).
7/8: (16.4 miles) Yeah, a smaller day. But because of where I camped last night, if I wanted to add another 4 miles or so, I'd have to make some significant progress up the next pass (which is horrendous to do steep uphills late in the day). So I camped at the bottom of the valley and saved it for the next day). Nothing particularly exciting about today. Just lots of hiking (with the classic "up the hill, down the hill, up the hill, down the hill,......" of the Sierras).
7/9: (16.6 miles) Ok, different day, a different excuse. Today's excuse: IT RAINED ALL FREAKING DAY. If you haven't seen the "dramatization" (quotes because it wasn't really a dramatization- that's what it was like), then I'll link it right here. Now it didn't rain all day. But it was drizzling when I woke up and packed up my stuff, poured until about 11am (where I was thankful to get a brief intermission to eat lunch in the sun), then it started raining again about 2pm, and poured through the night (yes, I had to set up my tent in the pouring down rain. I'll let that post explain the rest of today. [I promise, I really did intend to do 20+ miles today but the rain destroyed my hopes and dreams]
7/10: (18.1 miles) A bigger day, but still not as much as I hoped. This morning it was still raining so I decided to stay in my tent for another 30 minutes (and I would pack up and leave no matter what). At 10 am (just about at the end of the 30 min) it stopped raining and I quickly packed up my stuff and took off. Pretty chill hiking today and not anything particularly special. It was overcast almost all day with a little bit of rain here and there. Today I stopped for two reasons combined. At the end of the day I had a big hill climb but was intending to push through and camp on top of the hill. The reason I stopped early was because a big storm cloud was rolling in and we all know how much I love hiking in the rain. So I hiked about 1/3 of the way up the hill and camped there.
7/11: (10.6 miles) Finished hiking over that hill (and as Beck might say- it was a bugger!). This morning was nice and sunny, but as soon as I got over that hill, I immediately regretted sending my thick gloves back home at Tuolumne Meadows. It was freezing wind for most of the morning and at high altitude (above 10,400 feet for the rest of the day). Finally, around noon I saw the highway down below and booked it down the hill into Sonora Pass. After about 45 minutes I hitched a ride with a couple other hikers into North Kennedy Meadows (not to be confused with Kennedy Meadows at the start of the Sierras). As I got there, I realized that there was no internet and little cell phone service (not what I was hoping for...). I did have access to roaming data, but my provider (while it is nice and cheap for unlimited everything: Republic Wireless) doesn't have unlimited roaming data (only 25 MB a month!). So needless to say, I didn't have internet access. I wanted to grab my box, then hitch a ride in the opposite direction (across the PCT and going the other way) to Bridgeport, but when I saw that N Kennedy Meadows had a bed, shower, and laundry for $35, I stayed. Instead I just texted my dad, mom, and others for the rest of the afternoon and evening- having them look up things for me (thank you!). I had dinner at the restaurant there which wasn't the most high quality but was very filling! Salmon (because the burgers looked like crap) which came with a baked potato, corn on the cob, soup, salad, a roll, and I also got ordered the bottomless root beer! Slept well tonight! [Also I was able to ditch my stupid extra required 2 lbs that is the bear canister. It's not required from here on out so good riddance!]
7/12: (14 miles) Woke up this morning and immediately went downstairs to check out the breakfast menu. $5.95 for pancakes? And then tax? I can do better than that. So my breakfast was a Clif Builder's Bar, a sleeve of mini powdered doughnuts, and a Hostess Apple Pie from the store for about $4.50 total. Boom. After finally organizing all my new food and supplies, I checked out at 11am (check out times are way too early). I decided to sit outside and munch on some lunch (a roast beef sandwich from the store's fridge) for an hour before I tried to find a ride. About halfway through my sandwich, a guy starts talking to me about the PCT and offers me a ride back up to Sonora Pass! So much better than a hitch! When I get back to the trailhead, there's a trail angel in his camper giving out hotdogs, beans, cookies, and sodas! Unfortunately, I just ate lunch....but I'm never out of room for soda and a cookie! Hiked up the big hill immediately out of the trailhead, then a big downhill on the other side.
7/13: (20.1 miles) Finally got some decent miles in again! I'm meeting family at Echo Lake that will take me home to Sacramento and I'll spend a zero day there (the main reason I wanted data earlier because I prefer email). Because I'm meeting them on the 16th, the only reason to do 20 miles today is to make the next two days easier. Today is a pretty easy day. One big hill (and it's not even really that steep). Not too much special about today....except that today marks two months in! See my post about that here.
7/14: (16.3 miles) Yeah, a nice easy day. Woke up and took my time getting going. It was also really nice to be able to just sit and read on my Kindle because I could and not because I felt I had to in order to keep my motivation up. I still hiked fast (trying to keep my pace high) but I took lots of breaks to read.
7/15: (15.4 miles) Did a little more than I needed to yesterday, so I was able to do even a little less today. My day started off with finishing off the uphill I started yesterday evening. Once I got to the top, there was a "hiker party" (about 6 other hikers that had gotten to the top of the hill and decided to take a rest/break). So I hung out for a bit, then left early. They hiked fast and caught up to me! We were just sitting down for lunch later at a lake (Frog Lake) and about 1.5 miles down the hill was a highway and information center. We figured we'd eat lunch at the lake, then check out the information center and see if they had a vending machine or something. We were about 10 minutes into lunch when another hiker (who was behind us) runs to the lake and says, "Guys, a volunteer on the trail just told me that down at the information center there's pineapple, fruit, cookies, and hotdogs!" Needless to say, we packed up our stuff as fast as we could and booked it down there. I hiked probably about 4 mph and passed all the day hikers "Excuse me! Pardon me! Coming through!". We got there and there was the best on-trail (as opposed to town) trail magic I have ever seen! (See picture below). I ate two hotdogs, a Twinkie, a bag of Doritos, a bag of Cracker Jacks, a banana, an apple, two sodas, and two freshly-made cookies (they were burnt but still delicious). So the big reading breaks of yesterday turned into me taking one big break (2+ hrs) of just sitting at the information center at Carson Pass eating free food! Also, about 1.75 miles later I got full 3G and service on my phone! So that's where I posted the "Two months" and "Hiking in the Rain" posts from. I took an hour break there and read all the emails I had missed and such.
7/16: (10.3 miles) Echo Lake! Family! Sacramento (really Penryn, but close enough)! I left at 8 am this morning (pretty early considering I usually leave around 9:15 or later). I hiked the easy stuff from Showers Lake where I camped, then right before the big downhill into Echo Lake I got full phone service again! (This delayed me for only about 20 minutes this time because last time I was able to read emails- the big thing- but the service kept going in and out. This time I had full enough service to check other things such as Snapchat). I hiked down the hill quickly (again, around 3.5 mph or more) and got to Highway 50 around noon. The Highway 50 crossing is dangerous! Crossing 3 lanes of traffic that's moving quite quickly is dangerous. I booked it as fast as I could and still felt like I barely made it between that gap of cars. The last uphill push then I was at Echo Lake. Got my box from the tiny Post Office window and found out there was another hiker going into Sacramento with friends (earlier than my family was going to give me a ride). So I got a ride with him all the way to my family for free! Now hanging out here at my family's house and using a physical keyboard to write these posts! Haven't seen this family in about 3 years and it's nice to see them again (but weird to approach their house from the South instead of the North from Oregon like usual).
7/17: (ZERO) An on-purpose zero day! Preparing my new boots (only 2nd pair!) and relaxing! Not sure what else I'll do, but I'm sure that I'll be able to satiate any longings or "to-do list" items that have been accumulating on trail.