WOW! Once again CLEAN! We no longer look and smell like ‘hiker trash’ as the hiking community seem apt to call itself.. and for the first time in weeks.. we’ve had enough food to feed an army! Oh to feel full and satiated! Once again a luxury we seem never to afford on the trail.. as it is physically impossible to carry that quantity of food.. another hiking community term is ‘hiker hunger’.. and it is with us all consistently whilst on the trail!
Today I splashed out on a new pair of North Face hiking pants as the ones I had no longer fit.. but are rather always falling down! No wonder as I’ve apparently gone from a 36 inch waist.. to a 32!! Anyway.. now at least I’ll have a pair of pants that fit.. rather than hoiking them up around my waist all the time.. and securing them with my ‘pack belt’!!
The rest of the day was spent relaxing in our room at the Sierra Lodge (I’m sharing with Rock Doc) and indulging in the foods we have all dreamed of on trail! Pizza.. pasta.. burgers.. fries.. ice cream and milk shakes!
In the evening we were very kindly invited around to Rocky and Peaks’ place for a BBQ dinner! I had met both Rocky and Peaks (Raquel and Brian) during the desert section of the PCT.. as well as in the Sierra.. two super people who are ‘hiking’ to their wedding near June Lake on the 17th June!! Thank you both for your kindness.. we loved the evening and of course wish you both a lifetime of happiness..
PCT DAY 66.. June 10th Zero day in Mammoth!
Another ‘off’ day.. relaxing and resupplying for the next 10 day leg from Mammoth to Bridgeport! We’ll actually carry 12 days of food each.. the extra day just in case we get caught up in a snow storm or blizzard.. and have to wait it out in our tents?!
Late in the day we received news from Peaks (Brian) that the weather was due to close in tomorrow with thunder and snow (white out conditions!) high winds and below zero temperatures.. around Mammoth and the Sierra! We hastily convened a meeting amongst the 5 of us (Motzart is due to join us from now on) and sensibly decided to delay one more day in Mammoth! We will be staying with Rocky and Peaks (Raquel and Brian) at Peaks’ parents place for the night on their VERY kind invitation!
PCT DAY 67.. June 11th Extra zero day in Mammoth due weather!
Spent the first half of the day bundled up in the Sierra Lodge watching the snow come down.. the wind pick up.. and the mountains surrounding Mammoth fast disappear into the lowering cloud! We are all extremely thankful not to have been out on the trail in this?! It is one thing to be caught in the Sierra in a freezing blizzard where the only thing to do would be to hunker down and wait out the storm.. but altogether another.. to knowingly leave the safety and security of a town like Mammoth and head out into the wilderness in such conditions!
The afternoon was spent in the congenial company of Rocky and Peaks.. their parents Julie and Ralph and a a good friend Sara.. all recounting stories of the PCT.. and other hikes.. whilst enjoying a delicious wine and salmon dinner.. and strangely watching the snow settle in the ‘summer vacation’ month of June??!
A HUGE ‘THANKS’ to you all for your kind hospitality and generosity.. and for ‘saving’ us from the raging storm outside!
PCT DAY 68.. June 12th Mile 920 9700 feet 8 miles!
Woke up to a snow covered Mammoth and though the worst of it seems to be over.. it is freezing cold and the wind is still up!!
After an enormous amount of food.. plenty of relaxation.. and the infinite kindness of Ralph and Julie.. Rocky and Peaks.. we are now back on the trail.. not exactly humming along.. but once again slowly covering the miles!
Peaks.. along with his dear parents Ralph and Julie.. drove us all up to the Mammoth Ski Resort at 8 this morning in 2 4X4’s and dropped us at the ski resort chalet! After goodbyes.. we donned our SUPER heavy packs (another 12 days of food!!) and started walking the closed road.. initially ploughed.. but shortly thereafter unploughed a mere hundred yards later!
Walked to the trail head at the end of the road and from there commenced the 14 mile climb up towards Donoghue Pass! Made it another 5 miles and set up camp with just under 10 miles to cover to the top of the Pass tomorrow! Today was cold.. and hard.. with our heavy packs and the slippery new snow that had fallen last night! The skiers were out on the slopes.. but those soon disappeared behind us as we climbed once again into the vast wilderness!
Today was tough.. well.. every day is tough in this heavy snow year.. but today was FUN! We had a good laugh as we crossed two passes.. Island Pass (which really didn’t amount to much at all..) and the Donoghue Pass.. our last pass over 11000 feet!
Once again we saw no tracks of anyone else on the trail.. (the only tracks are those of deer.. coyote.. bear and marmot) so as before we are guessing everyone has been scared off by the snow.. and has skipped ahead.. north of the Sierra! In fact I believe we might well be the first to cross the whole Sierra.. as a group.. uninterrupted thusfar?!
Woke at 4.. and got onto the trail by 5 to once again make the most of the frozen snow and ice! The temperature this morning was -10C and the ice remained on my rolled up tent through to mid day when I spread it out at the top of Donoghue Pass to dry! My boots and socks were also frozen from yesterday’s creek crossings.. but then they always seem to be wet and frozen these days!!
We made camp by a running stream about 2 miles on the other side of Donoghue at 3pm as the snow is starting to get slushy and negotiating the always present ‘sun cups’ is proving both difficult and dangerous! Everyone is now asleep in their tents so I have taken the opportunity of writing this early.. as I lie.. wrapped up warm in my sleeping bag.. eating 2 ‘Nature Valley’ oat bars.. and a bar of ‘Nestle’ chocolate! Dinner will be shortly!!
PCT DAY 70.. June 14th Mile 945.7 8400 feet 13.7 miles!
Today’s the 14th June.. my brother John’s Birthday!! Though I can’t contact you.. or be there in person.. I’m thinking of you.. and wishing you another SUPER Happy Birthday from here in Yosemite! Catch up soon!
Poor old Motzart.. while I was camped with him a few months ago out in the desert.. his tent was blown down in the middle of the night in a wind storm! Now.. here we are camped at the end of the day by the beautifully set Tuolumne Creek (which is enormous!) and he and the others.. went and set their tents up with prime ‘water frontage’.. only to realize the water is actually rising ever so slowly due to the hot weather this afternoon.. and the continued thaw!! Now I think he’s having nightmares about floating away in the night?!! If it’s not wind.. or bears.. it’s rising waters!
Today we followed Lyell Canyon down out of the snow (or at least most of it?!) and entered the picturesque (though waterlogged) meadows of Yosemite Valley! We covered almost 14 miles.. crossing numerous creeks and rivers along the way! Tomorrow however we have another BIG one.. the Tuolumne River itself! Will see how we progress??
PCT DAY 71.. June 15th Mile 956 8400 feet 10.3 miles
What a day! Actually what a night AND a day?! It all started last night at around mid night..
Grizz woke up to find their tent ‘almost’ afloat!! The waters from the river had in fact (as we had been joking about the previous evening!) slowly risen over a foot in the previous 6 hours.. (due to the thaw upriver) and was now seeping into their tent!! Shocked.. Grizz and Lovely Heart quickly woke Rock Doc who was in the tent only meters away.. and they trudged through the freezing water.. several inches deep.. dragging their tents and belongings to a point several feet higher.. up in the trees!
Everything soaked.. the only thing they could do was get back in their drenched sleeping bags for warmth.. and try fitfully to sleep till morning! Yours truly.. (me) slept through the whole commotion.. high and dry on my elevated piece of real estate with Motzart in the tent next to mine filling the lot.. (he had in fact dragged his tent.. all and sundry.. up next to mine at 8 the previous evening.. so missed the flood!)
As I peered from my tent this morning.. all I could see where their tents had been.. was endless water.. slowly ebbing and flowing.. only feet from my own tent on the ‘new’ peninsula attached to the higher ground and trees where the others had taken refuge! I think I was as shocked as the others had been the night before!!
During breakfast.. after the stories and luckily many laughs.. they packed away their soaked belongings (they would dry in the sun during lunch) and we hit the trail for perhaps one of the most visually stunning and spectacular hikes on the PCT thusfar.. here in the Yosemite Valley wilderness!!
We crossed the roaring Tuolumne Creek earrly in the morning.. stripped down to our underwear and emerged the other side of this freezing torrent elated and awed at power and beauty of nature in its element! The Tuolumne Falls further downriver were ‘thunderous’ and I really don’t think I have ever seen anything to match the ferocious power.. or volume of water racing through the void above.. and come smashing down on the rocks below!! It is utterly beyond words!
We saw bridges shattered and thrown like matchsticks.. the torrent tormenting and tearing at enormous pines.. now deep in the maelstrom of seething green waters.. the mists rising high into the air refracting the light of the early morning sun! Again.. I am without words to fully express this natural creation of nature!
Absolutely everything in Yosemite is enormous.. the rocks are enormous.. the snow fields and forests never ending.. the rivers and creeks torrential and unfathomable! As well.. the colors in this pristine world are at their most vivid! Today we witnessed nature at its very best!
In the afternoon we came to McCabe Creek.. another roaring tide of water seeking some placid meadow many miles downstream.. After searching for a place to cross we decided on the PCT crossing point! Grizz and I pushed on each other.. me upstream and him down.. wedging our feet into unseen boulders beneath the surface as we struggled against the rushing waters.. slowly edging our way across.. feeling for the hidden deep spots we both knew existed! As a team.. we made it safely across.. avoiding the smallest slip which would have taken us into the falls only meters away!
Unfortunately after our crossing.. and that of Lovely Heart and another hiker Eric.. the waters had risen another foot and were too much for Motzart and Rock Doc.. who had to set up tents on the opposite bank! We were split as a team.. by the white water of McCabe!! We’ll see how much it has subsided in the morning and if sufficient.. Grizz and I will again cross to bring them over!
Today we saw.. not the Yosemite of tourists.. but a land few will ever see.. an ‘Eden’ in this untamed wilderness!!
PCT DAY 72.. June 16th Mile 962 8300 feet 6 miles!
This morning Grizz and I recrossed McCabe Creek at 7am to bring Motzart and Rock Doc over.. all creeks are slightly lower in the early morning due to the freeze during the night! Thereafter we crossed Return Creek.. Spiller Creek and Matterhorn Creek.. all big rivers and all requiring undressing.. a slow and careful ford.. and then drying and thawing out as we progressed! A very slow process.. hence the low mileage today!!
The eternal snowbanks in amongst the trees also add to the slower pace.. as it is a continual climb/descend exercise which is both exhausting and extremely frustrating! By lunch nerves were raw.. and we sat eating in silence! This improved during the afternoon once lunch was over and we crossed the last creek at 4pm to set up camp by Matterhorn Creek!
PCT DAY 73.. June 17th Mile 973 7400 feet 11 miles
Today we were up a 5.. and on our way by 6! The early morning climb was hard and steep from Mattahorn Creek.. all the way up through Wilson Canyon! We crossed Wilson Creek (which was huge!) 3 times.. luckily all 3 had snow bridges.. so the crossings were easy.. however.. that same snow added to the harshness of our initial climb!
Though not particularly fast flowing.. Piute would have to be the widest we’ve crossed so far.. the extra snow and now the melt.. causing it to overflow its banks! Looking through the trees.. the rivers width seemed to go on forever.. and having crossed numerous tributaries from one island to the next.. we realized there were still more! Finally reaching the other side.. we decided to camp for the night and dry out our tents.. clothes and shoes before the last of the sun disappeared below the imposing mountains surrounding us!
Congratulations on your wedding today Rocky and Peaks! We would love to have made it.. but.. well.. we’re still stuck up here in the mountains! Thinking of you both though.. and wishing you both all the VERY BEST!
PCT DAY 74.. June 18th Mile 979.8 8000 feet 6.8 miles!!
One of the lowest days in mileage.. as well as sentiment!! After having crossed Seavey Pass.. and numerous rivers.. we have been halted in our tracks by the likes of one ‘Kerrick Creek’!! We arrived here around mid day after an extremely tough day and Kerrick was high and fast!! Though we’ve scouted up and down river for a possible crossing.. there is nothing that is not far too dangerous to even try?!
As we descended through the canyon this morning crossing Seavey Pass.. we were forced to use both ice axe and crampons up extremely steep and slippery bluffs.. Now it looks like tomorrow we are going to have to reverse ourselves through that hell.. as we retreat up the canyon looking for a possible crossing?? As a summer trail.. the PCT would surely be stunning through this canyon by the river.. but in this heavy snow year.. it’s hell!
I hope we have better luck tomorrow.. and better spirits.. though we will have to re climb and repeat over 3 miles (today.. that took us almost 4 hours!) My boots and socks are soaked.. even as I zip up to sleep.. which means tomorrow at 4 when we get up.. they’ll STILL be soaked.. but freezing to boot!! (Haha!!) Not the best start to another day.. but hey.. we are in one of the most beautifully spectacular parks in the world.. Yosemite.. and that should perk the spirits!!
PCT DAY 75.. June 19th Mile 985.4 8300 feet (5.6+3.0=8.6)
YAHOO! We crossed Kerrick Creek.. kind of by building a bridge! We all got up this morning at 4am.. and started back up the canyon with head lamps.. after about a mile and a half we discovered a huge log over half the raging creek leading to a long island in the center.. we crossed this to find a snow bridge covering the other half.. though probably not able to bear our weight?! We set to.. finding logs about 10 to 20 feet long and threw these over the snow bridge to spread the weight!! It worked.. as we toppled the last.. and largest log into place.. (at the same time a huge piece of the snow bridge on which I was standing collapsed into the torrential waters and nearly took me with it however Motzart quickly grabbed my legs and prevented the icy fall!!) However once the log was in place.. it gave us a solid platform to cross the remainder of the creek! Again.. YAHOO!!
Once over we had to negotiate a path back on the opposite bank to where we’d camped? During this I think we would have passed ‘Advanced Mountaineering’ as we scaled enormous boulders the size of houses.. with equally enormous crevasses.. and negotiated snow holes that would drop 10 to 15 feet into who knows where??! These holes may or may not be seen from the surface and can be covered by the tiniest film of ice dropping into the chasm.. it can be a little like playing Russian Roulette!!
We then climbed Stubblefield Canyon and descended the other side to cross one of our most challenging creeks so far.. Grizz and I had to swim over from one snow bank to the next.. before helping haul the other 3 out who had ingeniously taken to clinging to a log and had launched themselves into the freezing waters!! Luckily the creek was slow flowing.. but very deep and probably about 60 feet or 20 meters across! Swimming with an enormously heavy pack.. can be somewhat of a challenge?!!
During my swim.. the pack on my back.. and especially my boots on the top.. weighed me down so much that after only moments in the frigid waters I felt myself being pulled under.. I kicked upwards as my feet struggled to find solid ground below.. but the waters were too deep! As I gasped for air I looked downriver and saw the tops of some submerged pine trees luckily only meters away and with the last of my strength and the help of the flowing river.. I reached out and grabbed them to prevent me from being carried down and out again into the torrent.. Thanks to those trees.. I was able to pull myself up and out of the river.. shaken and shivering from the cold ordeal.. but thankfully able to hike another day! (Next time I’ll grab a log?!)
Semi dry from lunch in the sun on the opposite bank.. we continued over another mountain.. and down the steep snow covered slopes on the opposite side! Again.. luckily for us.. we found ‘one’ snow bridge in tact over Tilden Creek in Tilden Canyon.. and finally exhausted.. decided to camp on the other side!
What a day.. and though we didn’t cover so many miles in the PCT.. adding in the tough miles up Kerrick and down the other side.. we covered approximately 8.6 miles all up today! It was exciting to say the least!!
PCT DAY 76.. June 20th Mile 990.3 8300 feet (4.9+5.0=9.9)
WOW.. another very disappointing day as we were unable to get across Wide Creek this morning (yes.. that’s the name!) and had some information that we could continue on the same side up to Dorothy Lake.. and then just skirt the lake itself?!
So.. we continued 2.5 miles up the creek which changes name to Falls Creek.. only to find another enormous creek in waterfalls.. called Tilden Creek.. blocking our way! After trying numerous ways of getting across.. we deemed it far to dangerous and had to return the 2.5 miles back to Wide Creek (which is also extremely deep.. but has relatively less current?!) This time we all grabbed logs from the river bank and threw ourselves into the freezing waters once again.. kicking for dear life itself.. we managed to beat the current.. and arrived safely on the opposite snow bank in two lots.. Grizz and his wife Lovely Heart holding one log.. and then Rock Doc.. Motzart and myself gripping the another!!
I can only hope that this is the very LAST time we will ever have to do that?? (We have already done it 3 times.. on 3 separate rivers! Today on Wide Creek.. yesterday on some unknown creek.. and a few weeks ago on Evolution Creek!!)
The freezing waters basically knock the air out of you when you first launch into the water.. and then the only thing.. and I mean the ‘only’ thing on your mind is getting to the other side.. albeit downstream in the current!! (Hopefully with our packs?!)
After drying out and warming up a little in the sun we headed up the canyon towards Dorothy Lake.. the source of Falls Creek and Wide Creek.. but the day was done and we were all exhausted so only managed a few miles.. and then set up camp to dry the remains of our wet packs.. boots and socks!
Tomorrow on passing Dorothy Lake we will officially be out of Yosemite Park! We had hoped this would be today.. not because of the stunning scenery which has been mind blowing.. but because of all the canyons combined with this years huge snowfall and now the equally huge thaw.. making small creeks and streams.. dangerously large overflowing rivers!
Up early so off to sleep.. it’s now just past 6pm! Another exciting day.. though we could do with a little less excitement in the coming days?? I do believe that today will be the last time we have to swim a river to cross it?!!! Goodnight!!
(Added note; Climbing snow hills in a forest.. which we have almost constantly been doing now for the past several weeks is one of the most exhausting things I think I have ever done in my life?!!
It is very much like.. if I can use the analogy.. walking 10 miles to work every day.. from your house in suburbia.. except instead of taking the roads or footpaths.. you walk in a straight line.. climbing up and down every car.. house and obstacle in your way.. and do all of that.. on ice!! That is the difficulty we face mentally and physically.. every single day!!)
PCT DAY 77.. June 21st Mile 1005.9 9000 feet 15.6 miles!
A difficult haul up to Dorothy Lake and Pass as it was constantly over snow hills in amongst the trees! We started today at 3am and finished the day just after 3pm!! DEFINITELY a long one.. and I was physically exhausted by the time we reached Kennedy Canyon Creek where we set up wet tents once again on the snow! Fell into bed and slept almost instantaneously!
The day was a mix of ups and downs.. both literally and figuratively.. very frustrating and I know the team want to get to Bridgeport tomorrow.. as do I.. but today we seemed to push unnecessarily and it became stressful!
The highlight was definitely passing the 1000 mile mark around mid day.. only 1600 miles to go?! Come on Canada!!
PCT DAY 78.. June 22nd Mile 1016.9 11 miles (staying at the town of Bridgeport)
Today we all feel elated at the thought of once again reaching the comforts of civilization.. a comfortable bed.. a shower.. and the FOOD!
We got up at 4 and set off with determination.. up towards 10800 feet.. along the crest of the mountains.. now significantly different from those in Yosemite.. and down the other side to Sonora Pass where we hitched a ride.. through the very kind generosity of Steve and Joyce (they were initially headed for a scenic lookout only a few miles down the Pass.. but ended up taking us all 37 miles (almost 60 kilometers) through to here in Bridgeport!!) Thank you both so very much!
Tonight.. having had our bacon double cheese burgers.. fries.. cokes and shakes.. we are able to sleep.. clean and confident that tomorrow will be another day of comforts.. relaxation and resupply!!
PCT DAY 79.. June 23rd Zero day in the little town of Bridgeport!
Eat.. Drink.. and be Merry!
Today we relax.. and stock up on what we will need in the days ahead! Our next exit will be South Lake Tahoe in about 8 days!
This morning devoured 2 delicious ham and cheese croissants.. a caramel donut and a fresh cream filled pastry.. all hot off the press at the local bakery.. and topped off with a vanilla latte!!! PARADISE!