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Posts Tagged ‘Trip’

I’m not dead, I swear!  Just haven’t had time to update, so here it comes!

Near Seiad Valley, three fires had sprouted.  Only one affected the PCT: the Fort Complex Fire (formerly the Goff Fire).  It burned on the steep 5,000 ft climb out of “town”, closing some fifteen miles of trail or so.  While we sorted food after waiting for the post office to open, super thick smoke settled down in the valley, irritating my eyes so much, I went and bought eye drops.

Bruce said the afternoon heat would bring the smoke back up high around 2pm or so and we’d have an easier time waiting until then to leave, so we stalled.  This fire still had a walkable detour option: walk down Seiad Creek Road (paved, for 3 or 4 miles) which turns into Forest Service rd 48N20 (maintained dirt road) until Cook and Green Pass where the PCT crosses it.  The detour was about 13 miles of shade, blackberries, and a creek running next to it.  It still climbed almost the same amount, however seemed easier than the trail would have been.

I decided to walk it, but most got a ride up that they yogi’ed from the store.  It wasn’t too bad and I got some great views of the smoke blocking out the sun.  At the pass, I camped with Sea Hag, Robo Knee, and Heisenberg.  Hop-a-long, Trooper, Inspector Gadget, Extra Credit, Cactus, Doe Eyes, and Scrub Rat found rides and passed me.  One guy driving up the road offered me a ride, but when I declined, he gave me a bottle of ice water.

Robo Knee and Sea Hag woke up at 5am and I got up too, scrambling around in the dark since I failed to locate my headlamp that I thought I had forgotten in Seiad Valley.  I caught up to Hop-a-long and Inspector Gadget at the first water source after passing Doe Eyes and Scrub Rat.  No one seemed to make it very far after the detour, probably because it shot up another 1400 feet immediately.

We cruised along the ridge, trying not to choke on the smoke wafting over the adjacent ridge.  The heat from it had kept me warm the previous night, but Hop-a-long said she could see the flames from on top of the climb when it got dark.

Eleven miles later, we hit the next water source which was a beautiful large flowing spring and I stopped for a quick lunch.  I had just missed Trooper, but caught Hop there again.  The trail just made lots of small bumps up and down in order to mostly stay on top of the ridge.

Then finally, the climb we’d all been waiting for came – the climb to Oregon.  Halfway up was the border, where I found Hop-a-long, Trooper, and Inspector Gadget.  The four of us celebrated at the border with wine, whiskey, and food.  We spent quite a long time there, ironically on the California side since it had the trail register and a log that sat somewhat in the shade.  I took various pictures attempting to get my amazing Teva sandals in the photos but ended up rolling over by accident because the border was on a slant.
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After our long break, we passed mile 1700 and headed on to Sheep Camp Spring which had a great pipe coming out full of water.  The “campsite” came complete with a resident deer which did not stop eating despite me setting up camp and getting water.  Soon, Gadget, Hop-a-long, and Trooper rolled in.
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Promptly, Trooper did a few more miles while we stayed there only to see Trip roll in right before we went to bed.  He had hitched up to Ashland to get a wisdom tooth removed that had suddenly caused him great amounts of unnecessary pain.
“Yeah, I went into the dentist and he said it was one of the easiest ones to pull out,” Trip said as he rolled a cigarette.
“Ya know,” Hop-a-long started, “you really shouldn’t be smoking after a wisdom tooth gets pulled, have you heard of dry sockets??”

“Eh, it’s fine.”
That night, I froze.  Luckily, I had a tent in Ashland, my next town stop.  I had no problem waking up at 5 am and leaving by 5:30, saving breakfast for an on-the-move slamming a bar.  The 23 miles into Ashland was actually pretty easy.  Annnnd, on the plus side, I could charge my iPod in town, so I jammed out to music the whole way.  12 miles out, I saw a trail runner heading toward me and I realized it was Ben who had given me, Creep and Twister a ride into Etna.  He asked when I would reach Callahan’s, and I said 2:30.  He said he would meet me there and give me a ride into town instead of hitching on the on ramp of the interstate.

The trail down to Callahan’s cruised right on down.  Callahan’s even made a side trail down to them where they had a carved wood sign advertizing one free beer.  I wanted beer super bad, so I followed the obnoxious green spray paint.  Scared by the horses which came out of no where, I found a way to get to the side of the trail while they passed, leaving fresh shit in the middle of the trail on the way.

Callahan’s had absolutely nothing going on, but I got a free Deschutes Porter anyway and bought Ben the trail runner a beer in order to see if Hop or Gadget would make it in for a ride.  They  didn’t, so I got a ride into the Post Office where I loaded all my food and tent into my pack and mailed back my tarp and other unnecessary items.

I waited until Hop-a-long, Gadget, and Trooper got there, and then we made moves toward the brewery in order to decide what to do.

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I got dropped off at the Etna Brewery with the trail runners Ben and Mark where Harry and Allie found me.  We had some food and beer, then Harry drove Allie, Inspector Gadget, and me up to Happy Camp, CA.  Yes, it is an actual town…not a children’s camp.  It was filled with an odd mix of old hippies, tweekers, and forest service types, the last of which had expanded greatly due to the fires.

We got showers, then drove to a spot to camp near-ish to where we had to be in the morning.  Harry had managed to swing us into a volunteer trip for the forest service in which we go rafting and then do a wee bit of work for them: in this case, we tarped over a chunk of an invasive species.  Not hard.

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I had an inflatable kayak to go down the river in which turned incredibly fast and self-drained.  We went down the Klamath River for the day, relaxing, picking up trash, floating, and enjoying the coolness of the river instead of the 100 degree plus heat of the valley.  We picked huge blackberries and attempted to stay out of the fire bucket that helicopters were dipping into the river next to us to get water to dump on the fire.  They were literally right there, no more than 100 feet from us making a three helicopter loop, dumping the water on the burning ridge above us, which happened to be the PCT.

They got us back to Etna where we got dropped off at the hiker hut.  The town of Etna had become something of a small vortex and hikers seemed to gather and stay.  It seemed to have everything within a short distance: a cheap place to stay, a grocery store, the post office, a bar, a brewery, and a thrift store.  When we got there, we found Hop-a-long, Trooper, Navi, Extra Credit, Cactus, Trip, Hollywood, Zepher, E.D., Scrub Rat, Doe Eyes, Spins, and Baboon.

Way later than planned, Hop-a-long, Trooper, and I got a ride up with Still Phil, one of the Indiana Boys who had gotten off trail to go back to school.  Doe Eyes and Scrub Rat got a ride at the same time in a 1977 RV with a couple who does a Scott Valley podcast of local news.

We all went up trail for varying distances just to not camp right next to the road.  Hop-a-long and I stopped first at a small campsite because both of us wanted to cook dinner with a wee bit of daylight left.  Chances of thunderstorms were high that night and the crazy cloud patterns clearly suggested an entertaining night.  A warning had flashed across my phone before we left town to watch carefully for lightening fires.  Great.  More fires.  The whole damn west coast is burning!

A woman came up right after dark with no lights and two horses who freaked me out for a moment.  I just heard the big animal noise coming toward us, turned my bright light on and she identified herself.  At least it wasn’t a bear, I thought.

That night wasn’t actually bad.  I saw one bolt of lightning quite far away and it rained for a maximum of 10 minutes, or just enough to wake me up to make sure the tarp would keep me dry and not blow away.

In the morning, we started at a decent time and passed Doe Eyes and Scrub Rat’s tent in an amazingly small spot about half an hour later. Of course, there were much better spots about a tenth of a mile later, but that’s how the trail works.

About seven miles of that section was this really annoying rocky stretch with sharp ups and downs, the rest was pretty cruise-able.  Right at the top of the last sharp bump, Hop-a-long and I took a break and up walked Trooper who we thought was ahead of us.  He had a very entertaining story.  It went along the lines of this:

“So, I camp up at the first water and right as I’m going to bed, I heard a large animal in the bushes.  I picked up a rock and threw it over there and a mother fuckin’ bear barreled downhill.  Sounded like a 300 pound boulder rolling downhill.  Then, I wake up to noises, I pick up a rock and shine my bright light and it’s three mother fuckin’ deer.  Not long after, the mother fuckin’ rain started, so I got up and set up my mother fuckin’ tent, got in, then it stopped!  Like someone just flipped a mother fuckin’ switch!  I fell back to sleep only to wake up to more mother fuckin’ noises.  I pick up a rock and the same mother fuckin’ bear is over there!”  Trooper recounted with full arm gestures.

“That’s an impressive amount of ‘fucks’ you got in that story,” I laughed.

“I was fuckin’ pissed!” Trooper said, not laughing.  “I got up at 7:30am, but ended up falling back to sleep until 11:40am and left at noon.”

We hiked awhile longer and ate dinner by a locked old forest service cabin.  While we ate, we saw kids out of no where and we asked where the road was because that many kids that young did not come in that far.  After asking several times, we discovered a road 4.5 miles away by an easy side trail.  Two forest service types came over to chat as well for a bit.

When we finished dinner, we set out to climb up and over another ridge to camp near Paradise Lake.  The trail became fairly overgrown for that stretch and I cursed Yogi’s guidebook which told me the overgrown trail would be over after section o.  The only other notable thing we saw were the goat people the forest service people told us about camped right on top of the ridge.  With the wind raging, they seemed to need a fairly large campfire, for what, I’m not sure.  Let’s think about this a minute.  Windy ridge.  No near water source.  Extra dry conditions. Large fire.  Not smart dude.

We found decent camping and passed out down by the lake outlet after I almost stepped on an extremely large toad.

The trail only had one more climb before it took a slow, long descent into Seiad Valley, filled with poison oak.  It’s hard to watch for it when your body wants to barrel downhill toward beer.  Before I gave into listening to music, I heard a large animal noise only to look over up the hill at the biggest black bear I’ve ever seen about 30 feet away from me.  It quickly ran away, up the hill, fast for what seemed like a 400 pound, musky smelling bear.  It stopped at the top of the hill and looked back at me for a moment before running over the other side.

I put on some music and cruised downhill trying to avoid the poison oak as best as I could.  At the bottom, we hit a dirt road on which we had to walk almost three miles down to the Klamath River, then a paved road around to the bridge and into Seiad Valley.  Hop-a-long and I had a brilliant beyond brilliant plan to cut off the paved section by swimming across the river while floating our packs on our sleeping pads.  Since I had floated down the river already, I knew there were calm spots and super shallow spots, but the terrain shot our plan down.  From the road, a 40 drop through poison oak and blackberry bushes separated us from the river.  We chose not getting poison oak, walked around and complained about the pavement.

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When we walked into “town” we discovered everything was right in one spot.  The post office, the store, and the cafe were in one building and the hiker friendly RV park run by Bruce, wearing a Dead shirt, was immediately next to it.  That was town.  We camped at the RV park for $10 and got some tasty beverages at the store before it closed at 9pm.

We decided to leave figuring out the fire detour for the morrow.

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The stretch from Chester to Drakesbad Guest Ranch went quickly and had some great jam music from Heehaw and Kristo.  We stayed near Drakesbad at the trailhead for a night as all the hikers clumped together in a new bubble from having to skip around the Chip’s Fire.  Drakesbad gave us free laundry and showers which was great and we got to swim in their hot spring pool…but only after a shower.  Dead Animal, Dancing Feet, Not-so-bad, Cowboy, Shep Dog, Heehaw, Kristo, and Swiss Army.

Dead Animal had gotten back on after a week off to rest his right knee which had started hurting him crazy bad right before Barker Pass.  He and I set out from Drakesbad right as Hop-a-long had caught up and headed north slowly since the heat was pretty bad.

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The heat actually sucked so much, we stopped after 3.5 miles and took a two hour nap.  We saw Michigan Wolverine, E.D., Even Star, and Dazzle there when we first laid down.  When I woke up, Magellan was eating lunch ten feet away.

We plugged on five miles to South Twin Lake and went for a swim which felt most refreshing.  Yay water filter!  The lake was also the last water for 12 miles.

Dead Animal and I put on headphones and managed to whip out another ten miles or so in just over three hours and camped for the night about five miles before Old Station.

When I woke up, however, I did not feel in tip-top shape.  I thought it was just because I hadn’t eaten as much as I should have the night before, so I ate breakfast and kept packing up.  Right before leaving that feeling you get when you know you’re going to throw up sometime soon hit me.

I managed to get a mile and a half to water where I laid down.  Not much longer and the sudden feeling of “I’m going to puke NOW” came and I made it about 10 feet before breakfast came right back up.  My first reaction was annoyance: I could have used that four hundred calories.

Since puking made me feel better, I ate a handful of Triscuits to replace the lost calories but that only upset my stomach five minutes later and I hurled everything up again. Dead Animal waited patiently while Splinter and Inspector Gadget passed and made sure I was semi-ok.

We moved another mile before I had to lay down in the shade, then puke, then I could go another mile or so, then lay down, then puke.  I’d hiked on food poisoning twice before in Spain and it sucked, but I knew I could do it if I had to.  Dead Animal did eventually take my pack for the last two miles when I was not holding down water and almost passing out.

Dancing Feet and Not-so-bad had called Firefly, a former trail angel to pick them up and Firefly offered to take us in as well.  Magellan came to get away from the heat.  When she came, I was laying on the cool pavement outside of the Old Station store drinking ice water from a cup with a straw so I didn’t have to sit up.  Funk gave me an anti-nausea pill that doctors apparently give to cancer patients to keep food and water down.  It worked miraculously.

Firefly got us all over to her house and showed us around.  I decided to take a nap in her garage since it was the coolest place around.  After some sleep and rest, two days later, we were back in action going up to Hat Creek Rim.

Dead Animal and I saw Safari, G, and Bouncer that evening as we began our night hike up there.  Right as it got dark, we saw sweeping views of the Reading Fire, started by lightning in Lassen National Park back where we traveled through before.  To the other side, we saw grand views of Mt. Shasta off in the distance.

That night we got 14 miles into the 30+ mile of exposed rim before we took a nap to get up early and try to get through the rest.  The cache 22 was not far off and we found it in the morning as a small oasis of water, shade, and an amazing trail register.

Regrettably, we had to leave the space of wonderfulness and go out into the evilness of the sun.  The entire day had very little shade but we did get a small treat of trail magic in the form of a cooler full of ice water.  I had actually just been dreaming of ice and anything iced.  We enjoyed a break with Bird, Freebird, and Scallywag.

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Dead Animal and I pushed that afternoon and made it to Hwy 299 into Burney and went in to escape the heat.  Talk about a small town.  It was super nice and the motel was clean and had cheap laundry.

The next morning, we got out and went to the trail fairly easily.  Hiking another 8 miles, we got up to Burney Falls State Park where I had my resupply sent.  Dead’s knee was still really bothering him those 8 miles and he made the tough decision to get off there instead.

The state park store where we loitered for quite some time had some rather disgruntled older and very rude employees, so we tried not to spend too much money there and blow up their toilets a few times for them.  A whole crew took over a section of picnic tables: Extra Credit, Cactus, Trip, Hollywood, Scallywag, Mr. C., Buffet, and Camilleon.

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The “rain” prevented us from taking many breaks, so we hurried to a Visitor’s center at Hwy 88, Carson’s Pass. When we got there, we saw Dubs, Wiz, Extra Credit, and Cactus hitching into South Lake Tahoe early.  We saw Scallywag sitting at the visitor center who we hadn’t seen in a while.

Yogi mentioned a cafe somewhere along the road that Gadget had hurried ahead of us to go eat at.  We weren’t planning on going until Dead Animal convinced us, mostly because he claimed to need soda, beer, and a burger to go on.  It only took five minutes or so to get a ride and then we found Gadget, Hollywood, Trip, and Drop Zone all there.

Inspector Gadget had already done some poking around on the phone and discovered that he could get us a free Holiday Inn room again that night, but not the next when we planned on getting in.  Somehow, we ended up hitching into South Lake Tahoe early as well.  We found Aggasi and Snow Turtle at the casino where we attempted to play some penny slots and celebrate Brittany’s birthday.

The casinos and their cheap drinks prevented us from leaving South Lake Tahoe promptly and we began attempting to hitch out on the outskirts of town after visiting the Lake of the Sky Outfitter who provided us with cardboard and markers to make a sign.  On one side, we wrote “PCT hikers to Carson Pass” and on the other we wrote “PCT hikers to Echo Lake.”

Knowing that getting back to Carson Pass may be pretty difficult, we started trying to get there, then just randomly kept flipping it back and forth seeing who would take us where.  Eventually, after a good wait, a red pick-up picked us up and brought us half way to echo lake.  He laughed since he had just picked up Navi there and taken her into town.  She had sprained her ankle super bad and stayed back at VVR for a week and managed to work most of her stay off down to an $88 bill…amazing.

Dead Animal and I waited there for not even five minutes and we got picked up by two guys who took us to where the PCT crossed route 50, or 14 trail miles ahead of Carson Pass.  Whoops, oh well.  The way I see it, is that I’m still a net of 17 miles ahead (17 extra for Whitney + 18 extra for Kearsarge minus 14 here, and minus 4 around that stupid frog detour back before mile 400).

We walked a mile and a half over a hill to Echo Lake which was swarming with day walkers and a bunch of hiker trash sitting at a picnic table drinking beer.  The suspects: G, Inspector Gadget, Hop-a-long, Pacemaker, Swanson, and Natty.  We sat for an hour or so, then escaped to go on trail.  We compared recent stories of people thinking we were homeless bums.

“I was just standing outside the liquor store watching packs and some lady just came up to me and asked, ‘so are you homeless?'” Dead Animal said.

“Someone asked me that while I was waiting for the traffic light to change and the “walk” pedestrian light.  Sure dude, I’m just a homeless bum with $1200 worth of gear on my back…I don’t know what went wrong!” Backtrack laughed.

Soon, we discovered the irony of a populated Desolation wilderness as we passed an absurd amount of day walkers in the first few miles out of Echo Lake.  Walking by all sorts of cabins, people went in and out and all over.

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At mile 1100, some one had made the usual rock sign, so Dead Animal GPS’ed it for exactitude and we got to work making a pretty one.  While we set up behind the sign in a flat spot, Inspector Gadget, Hop-a-long and Swanson came up and crashed too.

“I heard voices and singing and saw headlamps last night around midnight,” Hop-a-long said in the morning.  “G probably passed us super late again.”

Down the trail three miles or so, we found none other than G, whose first comment was, “I wouldn’t be awake right now if it weren’t for those damn load section hikers early in the morning.”

“Wanna split our last beer, so I don’t have to carry it up the pass,” I asked.

“Yeah! Want some whiskey?” G perked up.

“We can polish off the last of this wine too,” Dead Animal chimed in.

It proved a fantastic start to the morning as we then had to climb Dick’s Pass, which surprisingly was not that bad since the grade was overall awesome.  On the way up, Dead Animal took advantage of cell service and called his mom back.  We also met a crazy old guy with an old-school pack and a crazy beard.

I got a bit annoyed at the pass because we went to the lowest point on the ridge which clearly was the pass, also marked thus on the map, but then we had to climb 300 more damn feet up one side and go over.  A sign post claimed that was the pass.  Nope.

Lunch came at a lake outlet stream a few miles below with a great swim, music from G’s speakers, and sock rinsing.  From there, we generally went down with several bumps the rest of the day.

About three miles down from lunch, I hear and “ARRRRRRG!!!” I turned around to see Dead Animal holding his right knee and hobbling to a log.

“I don’t know what I did!  I guess I stepped down from something wrong, or did something when I fell on it the other day, or what, but something is catching on something else every time I try to put all my weight on it,” he said through a grimace.

Vitamin I was taken and I looked at it.  The muscle or tendon just down from the knee cap was a bit swollen where he said it was catching.  As I thought about what we could use to wrap it, Pacemaker came up and offered us the use of his ACE wrap, which worked decently with the combo of him borrowing my polls for several miles.

Eventually, we got to Lake Richard and camped near a group of 13-17 year olds with matching t shirts who decided it was a good idea to play frisbee right near our tents at 8:30-9 at night.  Hop-a-long kindly explained that thru-hiker midnight was around 9pm and the four or five thru-hiker tents were all trying to sleep.  They all managed to quite down around 9:15, much to our pleasant surprise.

That evening, we had looked across the lake at the sky and had a “hmmmmmm” moment.  Right before sleep, we all put up rain protection.

“All you thru-hikers are scaring us!” said a nearby section hiker who did not want to put the rain fly on his tent it seemed.

“Those clouds look like the start of something and we heard there may be weather moving in tomorrow.  In our experience, it rolls in the night before out here,” Hop-a-long said.

Sure enough, 2am, rain spurts.  Thunder crashed all night while lightning bolts cracked down on trees only 50ft away.  Flash, flash, flash all night.  I didn’t sleep well since I was worried a lightening bolt would start a fire nearby or a tree would fall.

Good thing I had trouble waking up that next morning and was not quick about breaking everything down though.  Right after my morning pee break, I spoke with Pacemaker and while we talked, a massive sheet of rain began rushing toward us across the lake and the thunder became the loudest it had been, lightning getting closer.  I could see the line where it was raining and where it wasn’t.  I ran back so fast and continued laying on my neo-air hoping the lightening wouldn’t hit the lake and bounce over to where everyone was camped.

Once the biggest front seemed to have come through, we packed up and left at a late 8:30…so much for a big day!  From there to Barker Pass, it rained every 30 minutes or so for about five minutes.  Most of the trail there was in trees, which was super convenient since we could just pause under a big one and not get really wet, then hike when it only drizzled.  Dead’s knee still hurt quite a bit, so we went slow, which somehow seemed to increase my hunger.  Hop-a-long was on her yogiing game and got all kinds of non-cookable food since her pocket rocket rungs had gotten striped and she had to call MSR.  That’s what happened to mine last year on the Colorado Trail and MSR was super helpful and replaced it for me.

At Barker Pass, some section hikers we had talked to waited with their car there when Inspector told them Dead needed a ride into town to rest his knee.  Hop-a-long and I posted up near the bathroom, ready to chill there while it thunderstormed.  Dead Animal went down with them to rest his knee and Inspector Gadget went down too, for no real reason other than he wanted town and town food.

Hop-a-long and I talked with Funnybone, who had thru-hiked the PCT in 2002 and 2006.  He was out for a short section.  He was really fun to talk to while we waited out a few thunderstorms there since in not too many miles the trail would jump up on a ridge and stay exposed for about 7 miles.

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In the morning, everyone slowly packed up to go back to the picnic tables where we ate breakfast, lounged, and sat.  Periodically, some people would get motivated and leave the picnic tables for the trail.  Eventually, after a good amount of french fries, I got motivated.

Dead Animal and I cut across a field to get back to the trail and we walked for a bit until we came back to the Tuolomne River which we had tried to swim in before at a higher elevation, but it was too cold.  There, the river got wider and warmer, so we jumped in since we couldn’t shower anywhere near the store.  The whole first few miles, we passed ridiculous amounts of day walkers, horse packers, and complaining kids.

After a good swim, we got to the Glen Aulin Camp, a horse camp type thing where a few people worked.  It had a super buggy backpacker camping area next to it, so we set up there and tried not to be completely eaten by mosquitos.  It was a bit early but there wasn’t any water for 8 miles and the terrain didn’t seem too amenable for flatness for a bit.

Bolt rolled in right before dark who we hadn’t seen for quite a bit and he said that he and House had gone down into the valley for a bit.  He was trying to go to South Lake Tahoe in 8 days which meant a lot of 20s.

The mosquitos were horrible right from the get-go and did not care about deet what-so-ever.  Plus, we had a long slow climb first thing in the morning heat.  Since we entered Yosemite, the trail turned shitty.  It was super rocky and in parts it seemed like they didn’t really try to build a trail, rather they just brought some horses through for a footpath when they couldn’t just make cairns on large rock slabs.  Other times, they built the trail up nice, lined with large rocks, but left piles of ankle-twister rocks in the middle.  Or, worse yet, these cobblestone-like steps which were usually covered with sand and were too small to actually put your feet all the way on, i.e. I’m-going-to-fall-on-my-ass-steps.

Most of this section was dominated by that and going in and out of canyons.  We would hike sharply up on rocky steps to almost a view, then descend sharply down the same shit into another canyon.  Sometimes, a large blow down would cut off the corner of a steep switch back so we had to cut the already steep switch back into a steeper one.

Once in another canyon, we followed it for a ways, then climbed up into another one pretty much.  After dropping into the first one there, we ran into Waffles, Gator, Snowflake, and Mancake by the water.  While we ate lunch, they headed up the next steep climb which turned out to be a bitch of a steep climb.  The climb redeemed itself by taking us past Miller Lake which proved some of the best swimming yet.  Waffles and the others had caught Ornie and were building an elaborate sand castle using six different pots for various building sizes, a mote, and the whole nine yards.

We continued steeply down, then back up toward Benson Pass.  The first third of the climb up was a little absurd in the steepness, but it evened out a little bit afterward following up Wilson Creek.  At the last creek crossing, we stopped to cook dinner and decided to stay there, taking the 17 mile day.  I would have loved to read, but couldn’t since the Kindle got in a fight with my bear canister and lost.

Hiking up the last 600 feet, we reached the pass to find G camped there blasting Jay-Z off of speakers and Bolt fifty feet up on some large rocks.

“What are you doing up there?” Hop-a-long yelled up.

“Sleepin’!” Bolt called down as he began traversing down.

G had left the Tuolomne store at 2pm, passed us at midnight, and camped in the pass for a nice 26 mile day.  Little crazy.

We went up and down, up and down, pretty much the whole next day.  For lunch, we had to set up mosquito netting and tents to not get bit near the side trail to Benson Lake.  Of course, we had another steep climb after that.  On the bumpy top, we stopped by a small lake and Brittany (a JMTer who continued on the PCT from Tuolomne to Tahoe) caught us.  Then the wave came: Dubs, Wiz, Trip, Cactus, Extra Credit, Drop Zone, and Hollywood (not the same one from the AT) all came up and joined us.

The way “down” Kerrick Canyon was so much of a bitch, we all camped at the bottom.  Trip made a campfire and Cactus attempted to make a large spam kabob.

Realizing we were a little low on food, we got up early to pull a long day in the direction of town.  We had already climbed 2,400 ft before 10am in two small climbs that had longer descents.  We passed Drop Zone and Brittany who had camped three miles ahead of us.

We had over ten miles of super slow ascent through meadow after meadow up to Dorothy Lake Pass which would take us out of Yosemite.  For the first time since leaving Tuolomne, we had a decently graded climb.

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A little under two miles after the pass, we crossed the 1,000 mile mark, so we stopped and celebrated.  The last of potato chips were devoured and we opted to go as far as possible.

We stumbled down the trail trying not to stop for dinner since we knew we wouldn’t go any further.  At 8:30pm, it was called at 23 miles as we all began stumbling over our own feet.

We followed a meadow to Kennedy Canyon, then hiked up the canyon to a very exposed section above 10,000 ft.  All four of us were beat after the day before.  We found Bolt again at the last creek crossing and the section was making him feel beat too.

The last big climb went super well.  At the top of the ridge, Dead Animal, Hop-a-long and I stopped for a snack.

“Those were the nicest graded switchbacks in hundreds of miles,” Dead Animal said.

“Yup,” was the resounding reply.

We went from one side of the ridge to the other several times staying high and exposed the whole time through some amazing volcanic rock that reminded me of Colorado.

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After two and a half days of shenanigans in Mammoth, we finally made it back up the free trolley to the free bus to the pay bus to Reds Meadow where we chilled with Snow Turtle and Aggassi.  Eventually, we left around 5pm and went about five miles up the trail.  It was buggy, but graded decently and the trail crews had cleared an amazing amount of downed trees.  There were also a ba-zillion side trails going every which way to and from shuttle stops.

We had a nice little campsite tucked into some trees, but so many mosquitos!  The bloodsuckers got me good a few times.

In the morning, we got to walking after a large coat of deet.  The trail climbed slowly pretty much all day unless it went up steeper.  Only a few times the trail went down that day.

For 14 beautiful miles we got our trail back; the PCT went high on a ridge and the JMT went down in the valley by a bunch of lakes.  It was pleasant not to have a herd of them hiking south, at us, for a change.

We had a scenic overlook lunch where someone had left a pair of boots unceremoniously.  Inspector Gadget had yogi’ed a fresh tomato from some Russian day walkers despite not liking tomatoes, so he gave it to Hop-a-long and me.

At 1000 Islands Lake, the JMT met back up and immediately we saw a swarm of JMTers, one of which was shooting medium format actual film who decided Dead Animal and I were good film subjects.

We had to climb over Island “Pass” which really was just a small ridge and wasn’t “passy” at all.  After a short descent we had to climb up Donohue Pass, which wasn’t too difficult, but being at miles 17-19 of a 20 mile day, I was tired and pissed at all the damn JMTers, most of whom didn’t know the person going uphill has the right-of-way.  I gave several of them dirty looks when I had to stop for them or I almost ran straight into them.

Dead Animal and I got to the top of Donohue pass around 6:30pm and had it all to ourselves.  We didn’t stay long, just did ESPN, ate a bar, and hiked down a mile to a lake with a large outlet stream.  Hop-a-long and Inspector ended up camping two miles before the pass.

We got up and hiked down to Tuolomne Meadows.  It was 3 miles down and 8 miles through a meadow.  The closer we got, the more people we saw. It was a wave of people hiking south.  I asked four hikers with large packs and water testing poles if they were signaling the mothership and they said “something like that I reckon!”

The Tuolomne Meadows store/post office/grill was all in the same temporary structure with some wonderful picnic tables outside in the shade.  As I walked up, I was surprised to see Neon, Onna Move, Trip, and even Drop Zone.  I grabbed some vegan chili from the grill and caught up with a bunch of them over some beer.  I slapped a Yosemite sticker on my bear canister that I packed for the last time. Natty, Swanson, and Magellan walked in and joined us.

We stayed there for quite some time, just hanging out on the picnic tables when Cactus, Extra Credit, Dubs, Wiz, Cheesecake (now maybe Mancake……..), Snowflake, Gator, Ornie, Ornie’s girlfriend who’s now hiking and Waffles jumped off the bus that came up from Yosemite Valley. When we realized what a crew we had, we went over to the campground with campfire food and took over a large chunk of the backpacker section. Leave it to the thru-hikers to be the other backpackers up past 8:30pm drinking and cooking on a campfire.

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We reached Kennedy Meadows right as the sun had begun to set, painting the sky in pink and orange.  We found all kinds of people who had gotten ahead of us: Navi, Natty, Bolt, Hollywood, Mellow Yellow, and Beef Nugget.  We had gone straight to “the internet cafe” AKA Tom’s Place which was a collection of vintage trailers, hammocks, an outdoor movie theater and packed with hiker trash.

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Trip had gotten lots of extra beer since he had made the general store hours for all of the people he knew were behind.  Natty handed us some beer as well after having quite a few drinks at happy hour.  Virgo also handed me a nice cold beer in exchange for his hat that I found 7 miles back on the trail.

We all hung out, ate dinner, then Hop-a-long and I watched the old western movie Tom had put on while Dead Animal and Gadget went with Natty to a bar a few miles down the road.  Hop and I chose to sleep on the platform under the movie screen when it was done which seemed more comfortable at the beginning of the night than in the morning.

The next day, we zero’ed to get everything done.  We had to hang out until the general store opened at 9am because we could only sleep in until about 6:30am.  We got food as soon as it opened, signed up for laundry, and waited for the showers to have enough water in the tanks.

After the alloted 5 minute outdoor shower, we set up on their large porch, opening bear canisters, dealing with food, and enjoying the loaner clothes Tom had provided.  Inspector Gadget was fully enjoying a mu-mu large floral dress with a zipper down the front.  At first he attempted the no underwear approach, but that didn’t work too well.

That night, the four of us shared a trailer which completely distracted us from an early morning start.  We meant to get up and leave before the store opened, but before we knew it, we found ourselves sitting there eating breakfast with everyone. Sparrow and Barracuda joined us in waiting forever for food.  When breakfast finished, it was already 10:30am.

Our next challenge was fitting the damn bear canister into our packs.  It upset the order of everything and added almost an extra 2 pounds.  The stupid thing made all of our packs look huge as we weighed them all on luggage scales hanging from a tree.

After that ordeal, we decided lunch was in order, so back to the general store we went where we chatted with Trip, Virgo, and the Canadians, one of which would leave before closing his tab.  Whoops.  Yogi’s guidebook even made a note to close your tab.

All of a sudden, Inspector Gadget came up with a plan.  He had convinced someone to give us a ride up to the Kennedy Meadows Campground, three trail miles ahead, and we would slackpack back to Tom’s place for Taco dinner.  In no time, we left with nothing but a map and a liter of water each, all in loner skirts for the hell of it.

The three miles was sandy and nothing remarkable happened besides finishing quickly and eating delicious tacos.  For us veggies Tom even made soy chorizo fake meat stuff which tasted delicious.

Finally, when we made it back to the trail, we decided to stealth camp in the campground.  It was a fee spot, so we just went into the trees and cowboy camped, figuring we’d be awake and gone by the time anyone checked.

The long climb began after that and the zero and nero had zapped some motivation from us.  We had to get over 10,400 feet about 20 miles in from the campground.  The first 2,000 feet up was fairly pleasant.

Eventually, we decided nap time was in order at a bridge after 12 miles.  Then, as we walked up, we see none other than Tom!  He had driven around and walked in 1.5 miles with Griffon Noir, Kushy, Crash, Dip, and one or two other hikers just bouncing between trail angels.  Tom had loaded them all up with beer, food, and margaritas which they had chilling in the stream when we arrived.  What great unexpected trail magic!

We ate and drank delicious margaritas, napped, and played in the stream for a few hours before escaping the vortex for a second time.  The going was slow and the last 2,000 feet up got steeper and steeper.  Between the higher altitude and our newly heavy packs (damn you bear can), we went super slow.

Buffet, Mr. C, June, Taka, and Flatlander made it to a nice spot with a trickling water source.  We took our chances that the last water before the top was running a little over a mile further and kept going.  Lucky for us, it was flowing better than their trickle and we had a pretty good campsite.  Dead Animal saw a small bear about halfway between their campsite and ours, running away.

In the morning, we finished climbing in the cold wind for a time.  I took some vitamin I for the headache that had grown as I climbed.  Since we have really only gone above 8,000 feet two or three times on the trail so far, my body was not used to it, combined with rapid weather changes and lugging that bear canister (the evil thing).

Once one goes up, one must go down, then of course, up some more.  We decided 10:30am was lunch time and cooked by the stream at the bottom, a mere 7 miles from where we camped.  That entire day, it seemed like we took a massive amount of breaks, and we weren’t the only ones.  Everyone felt sluggish.

We crossed Death Canyon Creek which was nasty stagnant water caked in mosquitos.  Good thing a spring was .2 off right near it!  The climb after that seemed to take forever in the heat which was uncomfortable, but not unbearable.  If we had not been at 9,000 feet at the beginning of the climb, we would have been posted up under a tree, sleeping in the shade.

Eventually, we reached the top, then down a wee bit to the water source.  We saw Dazzle’s pack by a tree, so we sat down to eat first and see what Dazzle said about the water .3 miles off.  When he didn’t come back for 40 minutes, Dead Animal and I went to investigate while Hop-a-long made quesadillas.

We found Dazzle coming back and he said it was stagnant pools at the top and to get flowing water, you had to go about .6 down.  We decided to look at the stagnant pools.  Due to tired laziness, we grabbed water there which came out surprisingly clear, but with floaties.  I somehow managed a pine needle in one bottle.  We definitely treated it since we saw some bird poop right above the deepest pool (which was about 4 inches deep) at mile 736.

Yogi’s guidebook had suddenly become infinitely more important now that AsABat’s water report for SoCal ended at Kennedy Meadows.  It was certainly a mind shift actually looking through it.

We stayed there that night because we could and we had plenty of food.  Buffet, Mr. C, Dazzle, Taka, June, and Flatlander all stayed as well.  The mosquitos were out, but not in super full force.

A mere 8 miles from a pass to town, we breezed through the first six since they primarily went downhill.  Yogi warned that the saddles were confusing and it was hard to tell which spring was in which saddle.  She was right, but other hikers had written “H2O” with an arrow in sticks and that helped a lot.  When we got to the Diaz Creek one, we found a note that said if you can make it, go 1.3 to a spring further on.  Hop-a-long, Dead Animal, and I did just that.  We hadn’t seen Inspector since he put his dress on at camp though.

We only had 400 ft of climbing to get to 10,500 where we got to drop 600 feet to Horseshoe Campground, when we ran into a guy with a dog heading south.  At once all of us knew it was Lee, Sparrow’s husband meeting up to hike with her and Barracuda.

Shortly there after, we plunged down the pass on a side trail to the road for town.

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