Jackrabbit Hikes: PCT Day 63-67
Day 63 – Zero in Mammoth Lakes
Missing home today. I’m excited for Yosemite National Park. First day of being really homesick.
Day 64 – Mammoth Pass (mi 903.3) -> Tentsite (mi 915.9)
After feeling homesick my last day in Mammoth Lakes, I was excited to hit the trail again. Sometimes I get lost in my own thoughts and physical activity helps lend mental clarity. When I’m home, I go for a long run. Out here, well, you know what I’m doing out here.
Me and Uncle Bob hopped on the trolley and headed back towards those snowy mountains. With the massive canvas coverings rolled down, I gazed out the trolley’s open sides across Mammoth. We were one of the last stops so we enjoyed the scenic route looking out at the shimmering lakes through moving pine columns.
All at once the moment hit me as it always does. Here I am – thousands of miles from home riding a trolley around a town I’ve never heard of. My whole life in a little blue backpack beside me, a smiling face sitting on the other side and the sun beaming onto my face.
Another day on trail. Another day in paradise.
As we rolled off the trolley, I thanked the driver over my shoulder and bounced onto the pavement. Finally time to walk.
We hit Devil’s Postpile just a few miles out of town. Hexagonal rock formations emerging from the ground, formed by an interaction between lava and glaciers millions of years ago. Plenty of people skip the side trail to this one because it’s just a pile of rocks. Jokes on them, I fuckin’ love piles of rocks.
Eventually, me and Bobby settled for another spectacular campsite with a sunset view. The horizon bled orange into the blue sky as we ate our dinner. I provided a giant naan and an avocado while Bobby brought a freeze dried meal. A dinner suitable for a king complimented by an even grander view.
Day 65 – Tentsite (mi 915.9) -> Tentsite (mi 933.0)
I didn’t realize it so much yesterday but my food bag is extra heavy. Last section I had to buy a pop tart and a belvita from Chef, so this section I made sure to pack out tons of food. A typical wide variety of snacks from almonds to brownie brittle. Hiker hunger does not discriminate, I’ll always take scraps and leftovers from others resupply.
After a good night’s rest me and Bobby got a late start and quickly finished the climb we camped halfway up. We ended up on a long ridge stretching in front of us with only grass and the occasional tree making up the way. You could see the trail running in front of you for a long while with small streams flowing down from the top of the ridge. The morning sun bathed the white peaks along the horizon while the grass danced in the wind. The ridge miles were flattish and water was abundant, a cozy start to the day.
We planned to stop for lunch at Thousand Island lake. I can’t say there was indeed a thousand islands but I can for sure say there was at least fifteen or twenty. The view was spectacular from the lake’s rocky shores. We put the usual suspects on some tortillas, filled up and basked in the sun. We got visited by a picket pin, a marmot and a tiny striped chipmunk while we laid there. Even the wildlife knew that was the place to be.
Eventually, we begrudgingly left the beautiful lake and continued north. Me and Uncle Bob slogged up the final miles of Donahue Pass as the sun cooked the snow. We summited the pass around 4:00 PM and had it to ourselves. The last full-size, traditional mountain pass. Maybe the last time I got some waist deep post-holing. Slightly bummed, slightly relieved.
Tuolumne Meadows tomorrow!
First campsite engulfed in bugs tonight. An omen for what’s to come most likely.
Day 66 – Tentsite (mi 933.0) -> Tentsite (mi 943.2)
I was heavy on the fence about the side trip into Yosemite Valley. The PCT takes you through King’s Canyon and Sequoia – what could Yosemite hold that I hadn’t already seen? Plus, the permit system’s specificity about entry and exit just added to the work that was planning the trip.
After some internal debate and heavy convincing from Uncle Bob, she added me to their party on their Yosemite permit.
Yosemite National Park permit: secured.
Me and Bobby rolled into Tuolumne early in the day after strolling across the flat meadow miles leading in. We were officially in the first National park. However, we quickly boogied outta there and stuck our thumb out for a ride into Lee Vining. Sure enough, the first car stopped.
After a quick, steep ride out of the park we arrived in Lee Vining. A tiny town that only consisted of 30 or so structures, one of which being a Mobil gas station with a restaurant attached. Not just any restaurant, the Woah Neli Deli. Fantastic name, and they served some great food. You could also get pitchers of beer there… at a flippin’ gas station.
We didn’t end up resupplying in Lee Vining but we did walk around the little town for a few hours. We eventually hitched back up and once again, the first car picked us up. Good luck today.
Tomorrow we head towards Yosemite Valley. It feels surreal to head into such an iconic place as a pit stop… on my feet.
Day 67 – Yosemite National Park – Cathedral Lake -> Tentsite
It’s hard to put into words how spending extended periods abroad can influence you. 50% of your daily interactions are first impressions out here. How do you act for a first impression? I’m usually overly friendly and sometimes their sarcasm goes right over my head because of how much I honor their word. I’m just trying to leave a good impression, it’s an honest mistake.
That’s FIFTY PERCENT of my interactions out here. Listening way too hard about someone’s hobby, laughing way too hard at their jokes and always leaving with a peace sign and a smile.
You start to become that person. I feel as if the more time I spend hiking, the more I unintentionally strive to be a better version of myself. The main reason I’m friendly on first impressions out here is because, duh, I want to make friends. Everyone’s your friend when you haven’t talked to or seen anyone in hours or days. That warmness I’ve been greeted with and that I lean to for my own introduction, that’s what makes this shit rock.
Fifty percent. It’s amazing.
Another major part that moves you in the right direction is the amount of receiving you do on a thru-hike. I’ve received an immeasurable amount of help. From a few boxes from family to roadside trail magic to high fives on those long days. Sometimes all it takes is knowing someone’s got your back and wants to see you succeed.
With all that help received, any sane person would feel some obligation to give back. Trail makes me keenly aware of karma and how my actions impact my being. Each time I make a wrong step, I think how that next pit toilet is going to have no toilet paper now or how that hitch is going to be harder. Conversely, each time I hand out an extra snack or something small, I think of my scales tipping in my favor.
The thing is though, you receive so much you could never repay your debts on trail. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t try. I know right now I have a long way to go as far as paying it back is concerned.
All I’m saying is I gave out a Clif bar this section and I got an easy hitch and my Clif bar circled back to me in town. Just saying!!
Thank you to everyone who’s gotten me to this point. You know who you are.
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