Wednesday, June 30, 2010

1,094 miles

The last three weeks have been challenging. Lots of snow, and lots of navigating. I have not been able to post much due to the lack of time in towns and lack of cell service, but here is a bit of a summary of the last 180 miles.

I left left Mammoth late in the afternoon with furniture and Ishmael and immediately made a wrong turn. Just a detour so we could get a few bonus miles. Back on track, we did about eight before dark.

The next day, we did 27 miles over snow, with mostly no trail, and ended a Tuolumne Meadows just before dark. The ten miles into Tuolumne were flat and snow free, and possibly my favorite section of trail yet. As I was blindly wandering the roads here, trying to find the trail, the most amazing trail angel, Tom, pulls up and asks if I need a ride. I got in, got handed a bag of chips, and we drove back to the trail to wait for the fellas. Tom offers to drive us to the little town of Lee Vining for some extra food and ice cream. We got down the hill and bought some supplies, and camped off the highway near town. In the morning Tom took us out for coffee, and we were back to the trail by 9. We had about ten more miles of beautiful snow-free Yosemite hiking, then back up into the slushy.

The days between then and now have been mostly a big blur. I don't much remember all the details, but Ishmael did have a birthday, and I brought libations and rice crispy treats. We passed 1000 miles, and we had to ford some of the coldest scariest rivers I have ever been in. Most of all, we have
been in endless amounts of snow, traveling 2 mph or less, and navigating most of the day with map and compass with no trail to be seen for most of the day.

The hope is that after Donner Pass in 50 more miles, our average elevation drops, and I'm dreaming of more trail than snow.

I have run out of time to really finish this post, but with more frequent power and hopefully cell service in the miles ahead I will be able to update frequently.

Be well!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Mammoth! Mile 908

Ishmael and I left independence late in the day with bellies as full as we could stuff them. We packed out Subway sandwiches and started back up 3000 feet to Kersarge pass. Rainbow Bright joined us for the night at a beautiful little lake halfway up to the pass. Here we sat by a glowing fire as the air became frigid, and made a plan for the 90 miles to Vermillion Valley Resort. We descided four and a half days would be difficult but it would put us there in the quickest order.

Each day had it's own challenges and intense beauty. This 90 miles was quite possibly the most difficult thing I have ever done and it was thru the most unbelievable landscape. I think this was due to my upset stomach and low calorie intake for the first three days of the section that I struggled. I was having trouble eating anything, especially chocolate chip Cliff Bars which were half of my diet. I will never pack so many of the nasty things again.

We traveled over many passes, most of them around 12,000 feet, all of them blanketed by snow. We averaged about 22 miles a day, for each 13+ hour day. With out Ishmael's encouragement, I would probably still be frozen and hungry somewhere in the mountains. On the fourth day we made it to the side trail for Vermillion Valley Resort on lake Edddison, where we headed in the morning for breakfast and a bit of relief from sliding across snow covered passes. We reached VVR before 8 in the morning, and found Furniture and a pot of coffee waiting for us in the restaurant. It was great to see him again, and hear of his impressive solo journey thru the mountains. We stayed for the day and ate and ate more. I ran an impressive food tab for a less than a 24 hour stay, but it's what my body badly needed.

We left with only 30 miles and 1 pass between us and Mammoth. We had a late start, a cold night, and lot more snow, but we easily made it to Reds Meadow, where the first road we have seen in weeks took us to the first real town since Mojave, over 300 miles earlier.

At the outfitter in Mammoth we met Jill, whose roomate thru-hiked in 2008, and had been thinking about hosting hikers. What great luck we have and what kind people we meet! We had been planning on sleeping in the dirt at the campground, but a warm night in a warm home really makes town much more relaxing.

180 miles to south lake tahoe! Then no more snow..... I hope.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Post from Mission Control in Eugene: Received another card full of pictures (along with a pair of worn out shoes and some other smelly stuff)  from Sam earlier this week. Link to new Photos and several videos.

He called this morning from Independence (trail mile 790.2, due East of Fresno).  He was in good spirits and anxious to get back onto the trail after a good nights sleep and refueling with a big meal or two.

Into the mountains.. Then out

This is a standard Sierras view. Pretty terrible.

I'm sitting Independence California, only half way to Vermillion Valley Resort. The last 90 miles have been so amazing, but I have run out of steam and my body has been feeling very weak. As we arrived at the last side trail for an exit from the mountains, Ishmael and I made the choice to hike 9 miles over Kersarge Pass and down to Independence California. As we started over the 11,600 foot pass, the snow began to fall. A warm night in a motel bed and a huge dinner were much needed to rejuvenate my tired body.

Since leaving Kennedy meadows we have crossed flooded streams, summited Mt. Whitney at over 14,400 feet, and passed the highest point on the PCT, Forester Pass, at over 13,000 feet. The nights have been cold, and the days have been tough, but the scenery has been unbelievable. We have another 90 miles to travel over snow before our next resupply, then we will be leaving the ultra high elevations for drier trail.

Me standing on the highest point in the continental US. The Smithsonian hut is in the background. What an amazing place.

Sunday, June 6, 2010


Turns out I got some wifi so here's a couple photos.

Ishmael and rainbow bright leaving Walker Pass for a 30 mile day

Mojave to Kenedy Meadows, and into the moutains

I made it to Kennedy Meadows yesterday by 1:30 for a 20 mile day. It was nice to get in early, take a shower and eat and not feel rushed . I worked on my administrative duties for  coming 12 days in the snow without resupply, and got all my gear rearranged.  I will be leaving here today, in the early afternoon, with an enormous load of food in my pack. I will be traveling with Ishmael, Furniture and Rainbow Bright, and we have to go 180 miles or so before we run ot of food.  I'm really excited to be leaving the hot, windy desert, but just a little nervous about keeping a good pace thru the snow.

Sorry this is just a quick one, and no pictures. Can't post from my phone from this lovely mountain town. I'm sending home my memory card today, so in a week there will be many new photos to look at.