6/24: (~4 miles) Leaving Lone Pine. I was hoping to leave around 4pm for the trail, but it didn't happen until around 7pm. And, in the Sierras, all town access requires you to walk a side trail to the edge of the Sierras (where there is likely a campground and parking lot), then hitch the 20 or so miles off the Sierras and down into town. It's a pain in the butt. So this night I didn't get a lot of hiking done plus I had to pay $40 to a guy that does these trips up the hill (he'd do it for free but it's not exactly cheap on gas to drive all the way from the valley up into the Sierras). Hiked the ~4 miles uphill back to the PCT, then stopped and camped at the Lake.
6/25: (19.4 miles) Hiked past Mt. Whitney today. Didn't exactly see it (or at least wasn't sure which one it was), but oh well. Also, today the JMT (John Muir Trail- goes from Yosemite to Mt. Whitney and coincides with the PCT) joined the PCT today (or maybe the PCT joined the JMT?) so from now on I'll see a lot of southbound JMT hikers (most people hike southbound to Mt. Whitney). Not much else to say about today. Just a lot of hiking.
6/26: (~22.5 miles) Today was a big uphill! In fact, the biggest uphill on the whole PCT! Forester Pass is at 13,790 ft elevation and is the highest point on the PCT. (You know, I've been offered weed quite a few times already- declined every time- and this is still the highest I have ever been on the PCT). The pass itself wasn't too bad (the hike to the pass was the worst part) but the scenery on the other side was beautiful! Plenty of lush forest next to the river (which brings with it- many mosquitoes). I hiked down into the valley, then up to Kearsarge Pass. Kearsarge Pass is a 7.6 mile side trail that goes from the PCT to the Onion Valley campground (access to Independence). I hiked late to get over the pass and camped on the end of one of the switchbacks on the way down (still about 3.6 miles from the parking lot).
6/27: (0 PCT miles, but 3.6 miles) I hiked the rest of the Kearsarge Pass trail quickly this morning! As fast as I could! I passed a lot of weekenders on the way down and was fortunate to get a ride down the mountains in about 30 minutes. They dropped me off at the post office and fortunately there was someone working in the back (I'm willing to dub him a "trail angel") who was able to give me my box even though they aren't open on Saturdays. I chilled at the Subway (basically the only restaurant in town) and sat on the WiFi for a couple hours. Got a footlong and headed over to the hotel about noon. I stayed at the Couthouse Motel in their hiker bunkhouse for $25 (and no one else was in the bunkhouse so I had it all to myself!). Got a shower and lounged there for the rest of the day.
6/28: (13.3 miles) Hung out for a bit in the bunkhouse and hitched from the Post Office around noon. Fortunately there was a guy going up to check out the campground and gave me a ride up for free! And I only had to wait about 10 min! Left the campground about noon and hiked over two passes pretty quickly (Kearsarge and Glen). Got down to the Rae Lakes area and it was beautiful! For a while the PCT literally strolled right along the edge of the lake. I camped just past the ranger station (a nice little propane-powered cabin in the woods).
6/30: (20 miles) Today's pass is Mather Pass. Not really as bad. It's pretty smooth the whole way there and even the climb over the pass isn't that steep. Easily made it over before lunch time. Once I got over the next side though, it poured. It's been sprinkling the last couple days but for about an hour we got thunder, lightning- the works. Eventually I spotted a patch of small trees and ducked inside. They didn't work super well, but they worked well enough such that I could eat lunch. The rain really did put a damper on my day though (haha. puns.). Lots of downhill, slippery rocks (I fell for the 4th time on the trail), etc. I stopped quite a few times near the bottom of the valley before finally convincing myself to go the 4 more miles to make it 20 miles for the day.
7/1: (24.5 miles) New PR! Last night I was hoping to stay in the John Muir Shelter at the top of Muir Pass, but the motivation wasn't making it happen. So this morning I made it the 7 miles and had lunch in the shelter (and it served its purpose because there was another thunderstorm today). Talked to some southbound JMT hikers in the shelter who had just come from VVR (my next resupply) and they told me all about their services, the best way to get in, etc. The new plan cut a few miles off my original plan so I decided I was going to try and push more miles today and make it there by tomorrow night. So hiked quickly down the hill (~3 mph) as fast as was reasonable and made camp late. I set up my tent about 100' off trail and hiked back to the closest water source to get water for dinner and breakfast. It was so dark (I had my headlamp, but still) that I practically wandered around for 10 minutes trying to find the trail from my tent. But on the way back I was fortunate enough to find it quickly. Tonight my tent was racked by a thunder and lightning storm directly overhead (at about 11pm and most of the night) so I spend a lot of the night awake and made a couple trips outside to re-tension stakes and guylines. My tent is waterproof, but with lots of wind the rain can get blown under the rainfly and through the netting that makes up all the walls of my tent. So my stuff got a little damp and there was a puddle inside my tent (not damaging anything- but annoying).
7/2: (23.9 miles) Hiked over the "pass of the day" which was Selden pass today. Agonizing uphill with the occasional rain. Then busted it down the other side. Had the second real fording of a river today ("real" as in "no stepping stones or logs" and "take off your socks and shoes and go wading"). I made it to the Bear Creek trail and hit lots of hikerwash (wet plants that brush against you) from a storm that I just missed. I hiked the 7.6 miles down to the trailhead and made it in about 2 hours (about 3.8 mph!). My phone was dead but fortunately there was a nice Ukrainian family camping there for the next 4 days (through Independence day) that let me use their phone. VVR (Vermillion Valley Resort) usually send shuttles to the trailhead for $12/person but they had ended their shuttles for the day. So I helped the family move their camping stuff down to the lake for the next hour and a half (they had LOTS of stuff) and they gave me a ride down to the main road. it was about 9:30pm and I was going to hike the 3 miles down the main road when another car came by within 10 minutes or so. Super lucky! I stuck out my thumb and they gave me a ride all the way to VVR! Free camping here so I set up my tent last night.