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Jo - Pacific Crest Trail Journal - 2008

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Jo
State: California
Country: USA
Begins: Apr 1, 2008
Direction: Northbound

Daily Summary
Date: Mon, Jun 30th, 2008
Start: Guitar Lake
End: Tyndall Creek
Daily Distance: 20.8
Trip Distance: 2,306.2

Journal Stats
Entry Visits: 504
Journal Visits: 73,668
Guestbook Views: 3,717
Guestbook Entrys: 9

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Cody and Jo Atop Mt. Whitney

Guitar Lake to Tyndall Creek

My alarm was set for 4:45 a.m. I think I started hiking about 5:30ish. By 8:30 a.m. I was on the summit of Whitney. I saw no people going up until I was almost at the top. I had taken my altitude sickness pill with breakfast, which kept the worst symptoms at bay, but I still had to go slow and catch my breath. Finally I reached the top. A couple of groups of young men came and went and one of them took photos of Cody and me together. I found these strangers very friendly and happy to talk—this turned out to be a harbinger of my experience for the entire trip. I never felt threatened or anxious for my safety with any of the people I met. Everyone seemed to be enjoying the experience we shared. Sleeping alone the night before, I felt no fear, just total peace being in this space.

Briefly, that morning, I was alone on the mountain with Cody; the highest point in the continental US, my own private place. I signed the register for both of us and then turned to descend the mountain. On the way down, I encountered a crew of Forest Service people who made some friendly comments about Cody—I then gave them an earful about the Sequoia Kings Canyon rangers. They explained that they were not in the same jurisdiction and that they obviously don’t speak to each other! It made me feel better and I told them so. They were very nice and I thought about going back to the ranger station at Crab Tree Meadow and talking to Erica about how I think they could improve their service and treat people better (post info on their website, inform themselves re the regulations) but in the end I didn’t want to waste any more precious time on this so I picked up Cody’s pack and continued on my journey without further incident.

After passing Trail Crest on the way down from Whitney Summit, I caught up with the Saufley’s again—they were on their way up the mountain. They told me when they got to Guitar Lake the night before they were too tired to go on. They planned to stop tonight at Crabtree Meadow, while I planned to go on Tyndall Creek, which was where they planned to stop the following night. We talked for a while, said our goodbyes and wished each other well and then I continued on down the mountain. It was a bright beautiful morning. The smoke that came in at night seemed to dissipate in the day. The long-distance visibility was not what it might have been without the fires but it was clear locally.

Back at the tarn, I struggled against the wind to repack my pack. I ate a small lunch and drank some Gatorade. It seemed to take me a long time to get going but eventually we started back toward Crabtree Meadow.

In the environs of Crab Tree Meadows, the wildflowers were proliferous: there were shooting stars, pentstemon, daisies, pussy paws, purple flox, larkspur, lupine and on the mountain the fragrant Sky Pilot. The butterflies were just starting—Mourning Cloaks in the willows.

I was feeling tired and I wasn’t sure if I really could walk all the way to Tyndall Creek but in the end I did. Cody had lots of energy. The scenery was very pastoral and I spent a pleasant afternoon going up and down little mountains and eventually I came to the Big Flat Horn Sheep Plateau where I had to keep Mr. C. very close to me. The rangers had told me that the sheep were endangered and protected and they didn’t want any dogs chasing them. On this one, they were right and I appreciated the warning. Even though I didn’t see any sheep, all those wide open plains were way too tempting to a free spirit Like Mr. C., sheep or not, he would have been chasing something! I remembered this plateau with a pond in it as the place where Kerry, Dennis and I had taken off cross country and found some beautiful lakes to the East to stay at for several days many years ago. There, Dennis and Kerry had caught us several trout which we had eaten with relish. The memory of it made my mouth water!

In a while, the plateau started down toward the trees and it wasn’t long before I arrived at a very small stream with a bear box on the other side, from this I deduced that I had reached my resting place for the night, Tyndall Creek. On this my second night alone, I went about my routine (wash myself, wash clothes, set-up camp, feed dog, myself, do paws, sleep) and as the sun got lower in the sky I looked up to see a deer grazing near by—just a reminder that we were not alone!

We slept under the stars and when I woke up I could tell the passage of time by the movement of the stars across the sky. I was afraid it would be damp by the stream but it was quite dry. For some reason, Cody liked to sleep at my feet. When Kerry and I travel together he sleeps at our heads. This made it difficult for me to get him to put his back to mine to keep me warm in the coldest part of the night, but after a few tries he seemed to get the hang of it. You would think that a moonless night would be dark, but away from the city lights the sky is alive with light—the summer constellations: the Northern Cross; Lyra and the Eagle with their troika of bright stars: Deneb, Vega and Altair always there to orient you. And amidst the stars, the bright swath of the Milky Way arches across the sky. It’s funny at home, alone I will never sleep alone without a light on, but out here I was comfortable and unafraid. Perhaps I will take my new found confidence home with me!






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Journal Photo

Confessions Of A Serial Hiker

The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is a 2,650-mile national scenic trail that runs from Mexico to Canada through California, Oregon and Washington. The PCT traverses 24 national forests, 37 wilderness areas and 7 national parks. The PCT passes through 6 out of 7 of North Americas ecozones. Learn more: www.pcta.org

 

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