Saturday, August 30, 2014

14 PCT - Tuolumne Meadows to Yosemite

Hiking into Tuolumne Meadows was gorgeous. I hiked 20 miles to get there on my birthday. I met some new thru hikers along the way and even helped an old woman cross a river. Everyday out here feels like your birthday so I felt no need to tell anyone... I enjoyed that. I did pull the birthday card at camp when we needed some dry firewood. It worked and we had a nice fire.

I could smell bacon right off the trail and followed my nose to this place. It is the restaurant at Tuolumne Meadows. A recent storm had flooded the area and wiped out all cell, land line and payphone service. It was probably part of the storm that had got me the night before. It also deleted all of the reservations. It was hectic in here and as much as I wanted hot food, I had no desire to dine here. Luckily we were advised to get our food to go, and found a great picnic bench outside. At dusk they lit a giant bonfire and we were at a prime seating location.

From Tuolumne meadows we headed North into Yosemite. This was the only time that I carried a bear canister and it was heavy (2.7lbs). Yosemite is strict and I was asked to prove I had one. I'm glad I carried it. I heard stories of hikers receiving large fines and being escorted out of the park.

I normally don't take pictures of deer, but I like when they have antlers

I think this one is peeing or something.. Very concentrated

Above is 'Merica and The Saint. They are fast and fun hikers! We were planning on hiking 20-25 miles per day, but only did 9 the first day. We did camp on top of a mountain though!!

This is Glenn Aulin. This Yurt camp is 6 miles from Tuolumne meadows. This was just the start of the amazing beauty to come.

13 PCT - South Fork towards Tuolumne Meadows

My friend, Dimples, was showing signs of altitude sickness and we brought her down as low as we could go. This was just under 10,000ft and the best we could do. In big snow years, this is one of the hardest rivers to cross in the Sierra. However, in our year, it was very easy. We spent a full zero here trying to get Dimples acclimated then planned to hike out South over Taboose Pass. The only problem was that the trail was unmaintained and we only had a partial map. Unfortunately, the other option was to continue north for 30 more miles and climb 2 more passes. We decided to risk Taboose Pass. It was amazing to zero in the wilderness. We read from John Muir's book of journals aloud at night and explored the river during the day. We also built glorious fires. It was what I thought the PCT was going to be like. So far I had been waking up early, hiking, making camp and going to bed.

Since we were staying a while, I spent some time on good dinners. This was lemon and dill alfredo with salmon, green beans, carrots, chia seeds and avocado oil... YUM!

Dimples taking a nap, while Rogue is fishing in the background

You can see our camp up to the right. 

Being an Arizona boy, I LOVE my WATER!!!

Snake Eyes and Rogue taking a nap

Dimples giving me thank you kisses

It was buggy, but filtering had to be done. The Sawyer squeeze is inexpensive ($20) and only weighs 2oz but takes forever. I now just use Aquamira drops and am so much happier!

In order Snake Charmer, Dimples, Rogue and Snake Eyes

Taboose Pass was beautiful and only went up to about 11,000ft. 

The trail ascending the Pass was nice. It was the steep descent that made it difficult. We dropped 6,000 vertical feet in 4 hours... Which is exactly what should be done for someone experiencing altitude sickness

Trying to get down to that high desert!!

Looking back from where we had come

Not many people travel Taboose Pass so we were a little worried about finding a ride back to the Bishop Hostel once again. Luckily we met a man doing a day hike that wanted to help. The trail provides, I always say, and wonderful people still exist in this world!

Reds Meadow

After all my attempts to get back on trail, I was finally ready. I got a room in Mammoth at the Motel 6 and got organized

Storms had been hitting hard so I stayed at the Mammoth Hostel the second night. It was a mix of JMT (John Muir Trail) hikers and some injured northbound PCTers. It was fun to share tips and stories with a new crew. The hostel was located in an old A-frame house.

This is not my foot. It belongs to a man named Patches. He developed an internal blister near South Fork (where we took Dimples out of the Sierra). He pressed on and did not go out Taboose pass. It's one of the gnarliest foot wounds that I have seen. 

Getting back on trail knowing the storms could strike at any moment!

3 distinct storm systems kept collecting together. I had a new tarp and had set it up once so I was a little nervous. Plus I was alone. It rained on and off and I thought that I was beating the storm. Around 2:30pm it looked like the trail was going up again. I didn't want to be exposed, but I didn't want to be in a flood zone either. I found a good enough site and made camp

It was cold.. I was happy to have my down pants

It rained so much and the ground could soak up no more water.  I had to dig a trench around me to divert the rain. It worked great and kept me busy so I didn't have to think too much about the impending doom

The rain lasted for 4 hours straight.. Thundering and lightning straight overhead, but then it stopped and the sun came out! I have yet to sleep through a gnarly storm with this tarp. I'm guessing that is coming in Washington.

Today was my birthday and I wanted to spend it at Tuolumne Meadows. It was 20 miles away, but beautiful!!

I love the fluffy storm clouds. They make for great pictures as long as the weather doesn't turn

This is 1,000 Island lakes

Stream crossings were fun here