Postholer.Com Login   Journals   Maps   Data Books   Planner   Snow   GearBuilder

Mr Mountaingoat - Pacific Crest Trail Journal - 2010

Entry 46 of 64
First  :: Previous  :: Next  :: Last

View/Sign my Guestbook

Mr Mountaingoat
City: Brisbane
Country: Australia
Begins: Apr 25, 2010
Direction: Northbound

Daily Summary
Date: Fri, Jul 2nd, 2010
Trip Distance: 233.8

Journal Stats
Entry Visits: 617
Journal Visits: 45,559
Guestbook Views: 4,949
Guestbook Entrys: 116

Gear list

Pacific Crest Trail Map

Busting Free, Sierra Style

Day 69
Total mileage: 944.8

Tuolumne Campground. I wrote the following yesterday, in a dark motel
room, but ran out of time as I had to run across to the Motel 6 and my
ride to the Trail with Thomas:

Surely the worst is behind me now. I farewell Mammoth Lakes with a
carload of hiker mates in a little more than an hour, leaving the
snowboarders and mountain bikers and skateboarders behind (doesn't
anyone WALK anymore?) to wind our way back up into the hills to the
trailhead at Red's Meadow. Thomas, the ubiquitous former thru who's
doing trail support this year, is driving us up. I first met him in
the cantina way south at Warner Springs, back in those halcyon desert
days with their dry ground and snowless pathway. Ahhh, the desert! You
could walk all day and not lose the Trail even once...

People keep telling me how majestic and beautiful the Sierra is, but I
doubt I'm the only one who'll be glad to see the last of her. It's a
shame, no doubt, and I'm sure in a normal snow year it's a far more
pleasant experience, but since Forester Pass I have been quite
literally out of my depth, and if I'm honest, most of the past
fortnight has been pretty grim going. The days are long and hard. Each
one presents a new 11,000+ pass to approach, find, climb and descend.
The greater part of this process is performed in deep snow, with lots
of stepping between rims of an infinite lattice of sun-cups when the
snow is hard, and the tiresome chore of endless postholing, trudging
through a sun-cup soup in the dreary white mush of afternoon. Then
there's the Trail itself, which is usually buried beneath all that
mush. I have been lucky to find myself hiking with some good people
who know snow and have a talent for route-finding. There's no way I
could've made it through by myself.

Meanwhile, of course, all that snow is melting at a prodigous rate,
and all that water has to go somewhere. The whole Sierra seems
sometimes to be alive with water, sweeping furiously through bulging
arteries of white-capped white noise down the mountainsides, desperate
to bust free of the high country. I don't even carry water anymore, I
just crouch to cup it straight into my hands to drink, it would be no
exaggeration to say we wade through dozens of streams a day. Our feet
are always wet. But it's those waist-deep crossings that are the real

Tuolumne Campground

A day has passed and I'm a day closer to being free of the nerve-
wracking stuff. Or am I? There are a couple of stream/creek/river
(choose your poison) crossings coming up that are rumoured to be
hairier than Chuck Norris's back. But today finds me in good spirits.
I'm in Tuolumne, another milestone, I've had beer and a hamburger and
ice-cream, and I'm camped with a great bunch of thrus: Half-Ounce (the
one who got evacuated with H.A.P.E. but is back on the Trail), The
Kernel (formerly Ten Spot - he was renamed after helping evacuate Half-
Ounce and then losing his pack to the raging Kern River; he's had a
complete gear make-over and tonight set up his brand-new ultralight
cuben fibre tent for the first time), Tahoma, Shin, Turbo, Neon and
Fuzzy Monkey.

Tonight I'm cowboy-camping to aid an early start for my side-trip down
to Yosemite Valley; I'm typing this from my very cosy bag. Turbo,
Shin, Tahoma and I are doing 20-odd off-PCT miles to follow the John
Muir Trail to its northern terminus. After that we'll have done the
entire 211 miles of the JMT. When the PCT was constructed it
incorporated the JMT (finished in the late-30s) for the Sierra
section. Its southern terminus is the summit of Mt Whitney. For most
of those 211 miles they are the same trail, but they split in a couple
of places. I decided long ago that I would do the JMT parts and
complete this historic pathway. Yesterday I got my first taste (after
Whitney) of off-PCT JMT.

Thomas dropped Team Zero and I at Reds Meadow and we were hiking at
around 7:30am. An hour in and I had to farewell my companions where
the two trails split for several miles. We agreed that whoever got to
the Thousand Isle Lake junction, where they rejoined, first, would
leave a note. It was obviously going to be them, as the JMT path was
far more...irregular. So people said. And for once, people were right.

Almost immediately I was back in snow. Buck up, Mountaingoat, this is
your chance to prove to yourself that you can handle a few miles of
the white stuff by yourself. Live up to your name. Stop being
Mountainpussy. All that Jeremiah Johnson stuff. I proved something
alright, missing a turn and hiking up the wrong trail for a quarter-
hour - well the IDEA of a trail, since it was under several feet of
snow. Mountainpussy backtracked and rejoined the real Trail; a long
forest ascent ensued before I reached the first of the many reasons
this section is said to be far more scenic than the corresponding PCT
section: a lake. One of a dozen or so the path presented as I laboured
onward. Laboured? Yes. It was snow city. I spent a lot of time
searching for footprints or snatches of Trail. But I did OK and the
lakes became increasingly beautiful and dramatic, hemmed in by snow-
shrouded peaks. The Tom Harrison maps were great, and once I'd
identified WHICH lake I was passing, I was able to steer my way
through and around them quite well.

I met a long-haired hippy-drifter-type who'd lost his umbrella in a
raging creek; I gave him sunscreen and he rewarded me with a head
massage with a weird wire contraption he was carrying. It was actually
very soothing in a weird sort of way. I braved a couple of glissade
and generally acquitted myself well. But when I got to the Thousand
Isle junction I was disappointed for two reasons: one, there were only
about three isles; and two, the note from Team Zero reported their
passage at around 2:30. I got there at 4:30. All that snow and trail-
bashing had taken some time, and I was exhausted.

I forced myself on after a rest and next had to negotiate Island Pass
at 10,200 feet. What can I say? Snow, tracks, solitude. Then the
tracks stopped and I got myself lost. I descended much too far into
the woods, became increasingly alarmed, then depressed, then
angry...and not for the first time lately told myself that if I ever
got found I was quitting the Trail and going home. But I backtracked,
climbed higher, and lucked upon some tracks. Soon I was on Good Honest
Trail and feeling like I'd won the lottery.

After much descending and stream-crossing I arrived around dusk at the
camp of Hurricane, a New Zealander famous for getting lost, whom I'd
met in Mammoth. He'd lost the Trail again so had camped right there; I
had a look, gave up and camped next to him. This morning, after a cold
night, we found the path and climbed up and over Donahue Pass, one of
the easiest yet despite the vast blanket of snow preceding it. Maybe
I'm finally getting good at this? Nah, the snow was firm and the
tracks of earlier hikers clear. I almost enjoyed myself.

Hurricane didn't even stop on the top; I sat down with the marmots to
enjoy a snack and the view, when along came Turbo, with Tahoma and
Shin not far behind. They'd done the JMT section too. I spent the next
few hours racing down the pass with Turbo, and after rejoining the
sweet, snowless path hugging the river through the lush green meadows
of Tuolomne, we arrived at last at this popular park with my usual
wretched timing: July 4 weekend. We learned that permits are needed to
do the JMT to Yosemite if camping - end result: we have to day-hike it
tomorrow and get the bus back up here at 5:00pm. And I wanted a
relaxing day in Yosemite...

I really want to summarise my time in the High Sierra, and hope to do
so soon. Right now it's Hiker Midnight and the bears, no doubt, are
circling, sensing the presence of a ton of bagels and Snickers bars
safely enclosed in bear boxes. An early start tomorrow so Turbo (who,
believe me, more than lives up to his name) and I can do our 20-mile
speed trial. My Sierra summary will have to wait for now.

And that's all the Goat wrote

Entry 46 of 64
First  :: Previous  :: Next  :: Last

Journal Photo

From The Digital Fountains To The Analogue Mountains

~ And that's all the Goat wrote


  Printed Maps :: Google Maps :: Journals :: Trail Planners :: Data Books :: Gear Lists :: Snow :: Elevation Profiles  

Postholer.Com © 2005-2019 - Sitemap - W3C