When the Mosquitoes Keep Dunkin on Ya

JUNE 23: 12 miles Rainbow Falls to (nearly) Fish Creek

Incredible stargazing last night with the moon lit up like a spotlight. Kept the rain fly off the tent so I could take in the night sky and caught one of the clearest views of Cassiopeia I’d ever seen. On trail the next morning, Joe army signals to hold up, takes a knee and points in the distance.

First thought: awwww, Second thought: oh sh*t, where’s Mama Bear?

I drop down too (why, I’ll never know, my training kicked in?) and signal to Mike. Baby bear cub, digging termites out of logs and then staring right at us. Generally, this is not something I care to see in the wild because baby bears mean potentially dangerous mama bears nearby, but I’ll admit I was mesmerized.

We watched the little guy mosey across the trail and into the hills, mindful to keep our heads on a swivel to see if he had siblings or Mom around. When we started breathing again and kept hiking, we blew our safety whistles, kept a louder than normal conversation and clicked our trekking poles so we didn’t startle anybody.

If you stay bougie, you ain’t gotta GET bougie.

JUNE 24 – 11? miles Cascade Valley to Silver Pass/Pocket Meadow

There’s always a moment (or five) out here, where the trail just takes everything you got. When you’re doing a stream crossing over slippery rocks and the mosquitoes are dunking on you, you just saw bear scat on the rocks so you’re trying to be vigilant while hoofing uphill in the heat and you can begin to smell your own funk. If you can push through those moments, the rewards are immeasurable. But goddamn if we’re not having some type II fun right now.

JUNE 25 – 9ish miles Pocket Meadow to Vermilion Valley Resort 

And then you get to your resupply point where you grab a shower and a meal and you do your laundry and you begin to resemble a human being again. 

We’d heard that they stopped running the ferry service from the mouth of Lake Edison to VVR because the water was low, but it was astounding how low the water dropped. A place where we’d swum only 5 years ago is now mostly a big puddle. So we walked past the crispy trees burned by a fire that raged so hard last summer the place was evacuated. You try not to think too hard about getting stranded in a place like this, but climate change is not playing around.

What used to be the ferry launch at VVR


Over beers and the infinite buzz of being fed, showered, laundered, we chatted with Scooter and Wonder Woman, who are headed to Canada on the PCT. Scooter is from Dallas, had done her first 700 mile thru hike solo without having ANY prior backpacking experience and has since done the southern part of the PCT 3x. 2021 is her year to get the whole thing and I sure as hell hope she does. I’m just in awe of that whole endeavor, much less to do it as a woman solo. 

We’re still tracking the fire at Whitney Portal to see what the status is. When we left it was still closed, but we’re still about 9 days out and we’re hoping it might be contained by then. The gift of the trail is to be out of cell reception, but we also haven’t been able to get a message out to our partners since Reds Meadow. For the potential of wildfire, alternative plans are devised and discussed (get some miles in Kings Canyon, get out at Kearsarge and get more info, bail completely, go to Reno and make bad life choices…)

For now, we’re in a hiker vortex and there will be pancakes, bacon, and coffee in the morning. Confronting our mortality and destruction of the planet is better on a full stomach. So. That’s all I need at the moment.

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Comments 1

  • June Bencze : Jul 13th

    I’m Mike’s creator by the way…just wanted to say how much I’ve enjoyed reading about your adventures. So happy Mike gets to experience that with such great friends! -June


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