June 12 – Zero miles (Mammoth Lakes, CA)
June 13 – Mile 907 to 927 (20 miles)
June 14 – Miles 927 to 942 (15 miles)
Leaving Mammoth was tough…like pulling off a band-aid – you know it’s gonna hurt, but it has to be done. Lorax and I checked out from our hotel at precisely 12 noon, which was the deadline. We had planned to lounge around the room for the morning, but like usual, it was a scramble to get ourselves organized for trail life again. We had got groceries the night before, but we didn’t get back to the room until the ungodly hour or 9pm (that is PAST hiker-midnight!), so there was no way we were going to actually sort the food. So the next morning consisted of an amazing breakfast out at Base Camp Cafe, and hours of rationing and repackaging food – cereal with powdered milk, pasta with dry sauces and tuna, cheese sticks with crackers…you get the idea. Very boring, but essential that we get it right!
After checking out, we decided that we were not through with meandering around town and that the trail would have to wait a bit. We grabbed some coffee at Looney Bean and settled in for some reading and chatting. We finally yanked the band-aid at 4pm, when we caught the local free bus, and then shuttle to as close to the trail as we could. The shuttle dropped us off 15ish miles from Red’s Meadow, which is where we last left the PCT.
I was anxious about hitching. Not that it scares me (not in the slightest), but because I anticipated this one to take awhile. Lorax had asked for an empty pizza box at the pizza joint we had lunch at, so we could make a hitching sign out of cardboard. We stood at the side of the road, and he worked on his masterpiece…
My job was to watch for cars…and there were few. “CAR!” I screamed to Lorax, who hastily whipped up his unfinished sign and added his extended thumb to mine. The driver squinted at our sign, as it was half shaded and most likely boarder line illegible, and pulled over to the side.
“I’m going up the road a bit. Not as far as you want, but I’ll take you part way.”
“Oh thank you! That would be great!” We climbed into the back with a couch potato black Labrador, with smiles.
He dropped us off at his destination…and there was another truck right behind him! Get yer thumbs out! Grab the sign! Smile…look normal!
Before we could gather ourselves, we were offered the ride, right to our destination. That was WAY too easy! Lorax laughs at me because he says I have still to experience a true hitching day where it drags on for hours and hours. We get picked up so fast…but it’s probably because we’re a couple and people are more comfortable with two people.
We rode in the bed of the truck…true hiker trash style. All I could think about was how nauseous I felt (twists and turns in the road, and facing backwards) and OUCH, when did my butt get so boney?!
Upon arriving at Red’s, we were thrilled to see Lucky Strike! We have been hiking off and on with him for a while, and he’s awesome. He was thrilled to see us too, and offered to buy a campsite at the resort so we could just chill there in the evening. Being as we were still feeling lazy and didn’t feel like hiking to a free camp spot, we obliged. It was great to catch up with that guy.
June 13th (oooo…Friday the 13th I just realized!), we were both tired. Still! What’s wrong with us?! We have come to call it a “town hangover,” meaning too much food, sleep, rest, and computer time. Nope…no alcohol needed in a town hangover.
We were lethargic…but in a good mood. At 7 am we passed Lucky Strike, who was enjoying a cigarette and a soda – “Mountain Dew and a Marlboro…a true Virginian breakfast,” he exclaimed in his American accent.
Despite being tired, we thoroughly enjoyed the scenery, few bugs, and cool weather. We set up camp a couple miles shy of the next pass. Lorax passed me a cup full of childish goodies, including Sour Patch Kids, Gummie Bears, and Jelly Belly Jelly Beans – mmm…it’s fun being immature and completely disregarding my nutrition studies…at least for now.
The following day was a “book it to Yosemite Valley for pizza” kind of day. We woke to frost covered ground and semi-frozen water bottles. We groggily packed up camp and started hiking at 6am. We went over Donahue pass in no time, with thoughts of pizza and coffee on our minds.
As we neared Tuolomne Meadows, we were amazed by the amount of day hikers as well as JMT hikers. We have met several lovely JMT hikers, so no offence at all with the following. We could not believe how much stuff some of these hikers were carrying! It was comical…but mostly I felt bad for them. One particular group caught our attention. There were at least 8 guys who walked by with towering packs, with stuff literally falling out the tops and sides of their packs. Lorax leans over and asks,”What’s your favourite item?” Hmm…”I like the six foot fishing pole.” Lorax’s favourite was the 12 pack carton of eggs wedged in a water bottle pocket, followed by the XL roll of Bounty paper towels being carried by hand.
We made it to Tuolumne Meadows by 1pm, and were thrilled to see several hikers hanging out at picnic tables…being hiker trash-ish. Our plan was to take a shuttle to Yosemite Village, but we were appalled to hear that the shuttle cost $15 per person each way. So…I guess we hitch! Our specialty…
We caught a ride within 10 minutes from a couple who could drive us halfway. Our second hitch took even less time. Both rides were lovely, filled with great conversation.
Yosemite is nuts. This place has a special place in my heart, but I don’t recall feeling so claustrophobic last time. Maybe too much time in the wilderness…? I don’t know.
HAPPY FATHER’S DAY Kirk and Mahlon! Wish we could do a day hike together in Yosemite. Love you and miss you.