With Nine Beers at the Snowy Mountains
Day 88: 11.5 miles. A forest near Middle Fork of the San Joaquin River to Horseshoe Lake/Mammuth Lakes
I hiked out around six as usual and had a breakfast watching the Devil’s postpile. I turned from the PCT towards Horseshoe Lake and met Frank & Kelly on the way coming from Mammuth. I was running out of food and ate only two tortilla breads and an oatmeal.
Down by the Horseshoe Lake I went to a car with two guys and asked them if I could get a ride to the town. Of course I could and the guys drove me directly to the brewery where I had tacos and a beer.
I called the hostel but it was fullbooked. So I had no place to stay in! I was checking the hotels but they were a bit pricey. I wrote in desperation to a Facebook group and shortly the trailangel Jay wrote to me that a hiker called Nine Beers was in town and could share a room. He didn’t know that she was the person I had been hiking with and lost, fortunately she had also happened to contact Jay with the same problem.
We met in a cafe and shared our experiences from the past days. Nine Beers had met a bear that didn’t give a shit on the night we got lost from each other. She had escaped to a hill and then camped hidden in a forest so I missed her tent. She had also struggled with this section and had skipped a short section in the end.
We booked a really nice hotel with two king-sized beds. The prices are always per room here so it is cheaper to share a room.
I washed my down bag as I was worried it was causing me the rash. I googled the problem and found out that hiker’s rash is actually a thing, also called at Disney rash as people going to Disneyland often get it! Well the past weeks have not been Disneyland but what do I know. This problem also mostly concerns women over 50 years, yay!
We went to a laundromat and my quilt looked really destroyed after I washed it in a bathtube. I threw it in a dryer and we went to have a beer. After an hour the quilt was still soaked so we went back to drink another one(s). Finally I just took the half wet quilt and we bought some microwave food and beers to have at the hotel. We were laying on the beds, drinking beers, eating in bed and watching some old episodes of Friends. That felt pretty amazing.
Day 89: Zero in Mammuth Lakes
We stuffed ourselves at the hotel breakfast and then did the usual resupply. I went to the laundromat to once again dry my quilt and heard interesting conversations at the Vons parkinglot between a guy playing guitar for money and people passing her. The Americans are way more talkative to strangers than Swedes, that is for sure.
We couldn’t get another nigt at the hotel at the same price so we hanged out by a cafe and hunted other offers. We got a room at the Cinnamon Bear Inn and even Hank said she could join us in the room.
I made some penne arrabbiata with a small electric stove and my gas stove and we drank wine. The room at the inn was awesome and there was a hot tube that I couldn’t enjoy because of my rashy legs. Hank came in with a bus from Yosemite, she had some hip injury and was limping so that she’d have to stay and go to the hospital the next day. We would continue hiking with Nine Beers.
Day 90: 18 miles. Horseshoe Lake to Fish Creek Tentsite
We got up half past seven after a wonderful night in large beds. We had a great breakfast and Hank decided to stay at the hotel.
Me and Nine beers got a shuttle to the Horseshoe Lake and I had to hike the same 3,5 miles to the trail for the second time. We passed some passes at over 10 000 feet and stopped for a dinner at Lake Virginia. Nine Beers thought she had lost her spoon and ate with a trowel.
The trail was really beautiful and the mountains around were massive. We met a couple of people hiking in the opposite direction. Finally we came down a long switchback to a campsite in the middle of a forest. Since we were having food for seven days it didn’t all fit in the bear canister and we had to risk it leaving a our pots and other stuff outside the canister.
Day 91: 19 miles. Fish Creek tentsite to Bear Creek
My newly fixed matress was getting half empty at night so the changing of the valve didn’t solve the deflation problem.
We got up at 05.30, even Nine Beers who doesn’t like early wake ups. We started climbing to Silver Pass four miles and 2000 feet in altitude. The pass was beautiful and on the top we met three section hikers.
We thought the worst climb of the day was done and chilled during the lunch by a ceek. We even washed ourselves. I found an extra spoon that was similar to the one Nine Beers thought she had lost.
The second climb of the day was worse than the first and it took forever. The last 10 miles to the planned campsite took longer than we expected. I was hiking the last mile in the dark and we ate dinner and drank hot chocolate sitting by the path away from the camp.
Day 92: 22 miles. Bear Creel to tentsite near Colby Meadow
We managed to start hiking again at 6 a.m. and had breakfast when the sun was up. We were climbing up to 11 000 feet at Selden Pass. The Marie Lake was one of the most beautiful I’ve seen. The climb was not too bad and then we started the long descent down. After lunch it was time for another climb.
We saw only one ultrarunner, no other people. I did see about four deer though. The clouds started looking dark and the weather report said it could be rainy on Sunday and Monday. That would probably mean snow in higher elevations, when we would be crossing Muir Pass, Mather Pass and Pinchot Pass. That did not sound fun. We washed our dirty legs in Evolution Falls and crossed Evolution Creek barefoot.
We walked as close to 10 000 feet as we could, 9800 feet and camped there. That was the highest altitude I had slept at so far. Nine Beers was again faster than me since she hates hiking in the dark at night. It drizzled a little when I was walking to the camp and traumatized by the previous rain experiences at the PCT I was worried we’d get soaked at night.
Day 93: 16 miles. Tentsite near Colby Meadow to tentsite near Bishop Pass Trail.
We had an intention to start hiking at 05.30 but my alarm didn’t wake me and I woke up 05.20. I did my record of packing up stuff and we were walking 05.45. In one hour the sun was going up and we stopped for a breakfast.
We were hiking the highest pass so far, Muir Pass at 12 000 feet or around 3600 meters. The hike there was so insanely beautiful we had to stop to take pictures all the time. We were out of breath and felt the previous days climb in our legs.
Finally we reached the famous Muir Shelter and stayed to eat lunch there. I was counting my food and realized I had barely enough and Nine Beers gave me a tuna package. It was quite windy and dark clouds started to gather round the mountain so we packed our stuff and headed down. On the way we were surprised to see an ultrarunner pass us on this very rocky and demanding trail. How did he get there and where was he going to?
We were checking the weather with our Garmins and my device said there could be heavy snow coming the next day. We were supposed to do the Mather Pass and Pinchot Pass that day. We were horrified and did not feel like taking a risk of doing them and the famously demanding Glen Pass in snow.
There was fortunately a possibility to hike 13 miles out to Bishop over Bishop pass before these passes. That would also require hiking over another 12 000 feet pass.
We decided to camp at a lower elevation by the Bishop Pass start. On the way we met Fish who had met almost nobody the past week. He was pushing 30 mile days and was going to hike from Mammuth to Kennedy Meadows South without resupplying. We gave him some of our food since we had decided to get off over Bishop Pass. We did not envy his hard effort to hike the whole trail.
We made a fire and ate a lot of the food we had been saving to survive the long stretch. We had even some hot chocolate with whiskey and almost burned our socks in the fire. It is too rarely you have time for a campfire on a thru-hike or nearly-a-thru-hike.
Day 94: 12 miles. Bishop Pass Trail to Bishop
We started hiking exceptionally when it was already almost light and walked the steep climb towards Bishop Pass. It was so sunny we felt that we were maybe cowards for bailing out of the trail just because of an uncertain snow warning. We were worried that we would not get a ride from the end of the trail and when we saw two hikers we speeded up so we would be able to catch their possible drive to Bishop.
Dark clouds started gathering around and I said it should rain or snow when we are over the pass so we would have a good reason to bail out. And as we had just crossed the 12 000 feet pass the hail started falling from the sky. We started speeding down from the mountain. The hail took a break just as we stopped to eat a quick lunch. Then it started again and turned into snow. The whole landscape turned into a winter wonderland in an hour. After a loooong descent we came to a parkinglot where a nice couple offered to give us a ride all the way to Hostel California.
Down in the town it was still like summer. We checked in for the amazing hostel that has a section for PCT hikers only and a whole lot of books for climbers and hikers. Then we went to Schat’s bakery which was overwhelming for someone coming directly from a forest.
We went to do the resupply and were exhausted. When we were heating our pizzas and preparing for a laundromat we heard the doorbell and it was the couple I had met in Yosemite. They had taken a shower in the hostel and had heard my voice. They offered us some rhum by the door. After that and a beer it was impossible to go to the laundromat so we just stayed and repacked our resupply before going to bed way too late.
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