Day 78 – 6/28/15
South Lake Tahoe
Miles – 2.8
Total Miles – 1143.1 (PCT 1092.3) Snow White and Wall-ee came by us at first light, then Dundee left and we finished packing. Everyone wanted to get to town as fast as possible. We hit the trail soon after and quickly hiked down to the highway and then up the hill to Echo Lake Resort. We arrived just after they opened. Snow White, Wall-ee, and Dundee were nowhere around. They most have already gotten a ride to Tahoe. Even though it is Sunday, we checked to see if they would give us our box. The answer was no! We got something to drink and picked up a few cinnamon rolls and then tried to figure out how to get to S. Lake Tahoe. We found a list of trail angels who will give rides to hikers. We tried about 6 different people before someone answered and Penny agreed to come up and get us. Thirty minutes later we were headed down to Tahoe.
We were dropped off at one of the outfitter’s and meet up with our hiking friends. The outfitter store did not sell any wide shoes and recommended going to the Big 5 store around the corner. Luckily they had one pair of 4e, 7.5 shoes for Mama Raven. The sales person told us how the New Balances numbering system works and we now know how to order these shoes on-line. Hopefully the sizing problem we have had ordering on-line will not happen in the future.
We went to McDonald’s for lunch and then caught a bus for the other end of town. We got a room in the same Motel as Dundee, Hedgehog, Tree Man, and Squatchy. My sister Kim and her son Dusty came up from Reno. It has been a number of years since we have seen them and we all had a great time together sitting around, talking. My brother Danny could not make it. He will try to meet us at Sierra City, our next resupply point. We all ended up at Baja Fresh for dinner and we did not leave until almost 9. Kim had to work in the morning. Dusty will come up in the morning to drive us back to Echo Lake.
Day 77 – 6/27/15
Before Hwy 50
Miles – 23.3
Total Miles – 1140.3 (PCT 1089.5) It was a warm night last night and we had almost no mosquitoes this morning. We hiked out soon after sunrise. We want to get as close to Echo Lake as possible.
The hiking in this area is easy. There are many rolling hills and ridges. Most are covered with flowers. We had not expected so many flowers because of the low snow fall, but the land is covered with them. The air is filled with their intoxicating smell! Our trail climbed up the side of a mountain with a large lake down in the valley below. It definitely showed signs of a four year drought. We then turned and hiked around the side of Elephant Back mountain. We passed a number of lakes as we traversed the mountain. Finally, we cut up a ridge and dropped into the trees. Soon we could hear a road, Hwy 88 Carson Pass. There was a popular, small visitor center at Carson Pass. The volunteers who run it, supply water, and snacks for the PCT hikers who come through. We enjoyed some sodas, fresh fruit, chips, water and Twinkies! An hour, passed, maybe more, before we left. Finally we headed out, up a ridge that rounded off into a long open valley. There were blue irises growing everywhere. The valley ended in a wooded area and we hiked through trees for the rest of the day. When there are trees all about you it is hard to tell how far or fast you are going. When we stopped for a snack later in the afternoon, we were surprised to find that we had covered 20 miles. This was the first afternoon to have thundered heads build up. Little Crow was not happy about this and she kept asking if they would get any closer. Most of them were out over the desert. We heard some thunder way off in the distance to the east, but that is all that happened. Finally, we camped with Dundee only 3 miles from Echo Lake. We will get there early tomorrow morning. We are still not sure how we will get down to South Lake Tahoe but I know we will find a way!
Day 76 – 6/26/15
.7 after Blue Lake road
Miles – 22.2
Total Miles – 1117.0 (PCT 1066.2) We woke the kids at the normal time, but we also made a point of waking up Snow White, Wall Street, and Dundee. The hike down from Nobel Lake was a beautiful one. The volcanic cliffs had many flowering plant growing from them. There was small streams flowing everywhere and at the bottom, large pine trees were growing. We really liked this area. In fact the whole day we hiked next to craggy ridges, through wide open meadows and fields of flowers.
At mid day we stopped at a stream. Snow White, Wall Street, and Dundee were there too. We washed out socks and took a bandanna bath. We dunked our heads in the water, even Will who hates cold water did the same. However he did not willingly do it. He had to be coaxed in by chocolate chip cookies. No rinsing hair in water, no cookies! Mama Raven has been complaining that there is so much sweat in my shirt that it stinks. She made a point of rinsing it out and I had to wear a wet shirt away from the stream. All and all it was a good stop.
The hiking in the afternoon was easy. We went over nicely rounded hills, down into tree covered valleys, and along quite a few lakes. We stopped for dinner at Lilly Pad Lake, which did have lily pads. While I cooked dinner, Little Crow and Will had a skipping rock contest with Snow White, Wall-ee (aka Wallstreet), and Dundee. We wanted to put in a few more miles after dinner so we headed out and hiked straight into some of the worst mosquitoes we have seen this whole trip. They swarmed us until we were in our tents. I hope tomorrow morning will not be as bad.
Dundee pointed out that we have a problem with Echo Lake. We will all be getting there early Sunday morning. Their PO is only open from 11 – 2, Monday through Saturday. We are going to have to wait a whole day to get are resupply box. Thus taking the time to go to South Lake Tahoe is looking better and better. Plus, we can hopefully find new shoes for Mama Raven!
Day 75 – 6/25/15
Miles – 17.9
Total Miles – 1094.8 (PCT 1044.0)
We were a little a slow getting up this morning. For once, Little Crow woke up before Will. Then the kids had fun with Mama Raven, they ate quickly, got dressed, and then they got out of the tent before Mama Raven. They are known for being incredibly slow in the mornings and they wanted to surprise their mom. We wish they would do this every morning! We left camp and headed up to the top of a ridge and then worked our way northward. There was over 9000′ of elevation change today. That is quite a bit and most of it came in little rolling hills and ridges.
Around lunch time we hiked into a location where we could see the fire. Huge columns of smoke were climbing high into the sky. There was one point where the fire topped a ridge and within the black smoke you could see the flames shooting up. Mama Raven and Will saw a helicopter flying in and out of the fire dropping water or fire retardant. The columns of smoke were scaring Little Crow. I explained that the fire was miles to the northeast and that we were hiking away for it, but that did not help much, she only felt better when we had several ridges between us and the fire, and she could not see the smoke. We heard from some south bounders that Hwy 4, Ebbitts Pass was open today. That is a good news for us going through tomorrow. I just want to get to the other side of the fire and walk away from it. So does Little Crow!
Mama Raven’s feet are still giving her problems. She started the day out in Crocs, but after awhile the bottoms of her feet started to hurt. We then cut the sides of her shoes some more and she hiked in them for most of the day. There are such big gashes in her shoes now that all kinds of small pebbles get in that are annoying. At least now they are no longer squeezing the balls and toes of her feet like they were. We had dinner at Asa Lake just off of the trail. While Mama Raven was washing the pan, the old, rotten log she was on broke away and she tumbled into the water Her pants, gaiters, socks, and Crocs got soaked and covered in green sludge. She was not happy! We left Asa Lake and its mosquitoes, climbed a tall ridge, and dropped down the other side. We stopped at beautiful Noble Lake to talk to Snow White, Wall Street, and Dundee who were camped there. After standing talking for almost a half hour we decided to just set up camp with them. It was a little short on the miles but fun to sit around and talk to other hikers.
Will, Little Crow, Dundee, and Wall Street
Day 74 – 6/24/15
East Fork Carson River
Miles – 9.7
Total Miles – 1076.9 (PCT 1026.1)
We had a great spot for an early sunrise. As the sun hit the tent, we opened the flap and watched it come up. So many times we are camping in valleys we very rarely see the sun come up. When it got too hot to stay in the tent we packed up and hiked to Sonora Pass, it was only .5 miles away so we got there very quickly. There were a number of signs up says that Ebbetts Pass was closed. We found out later that it was the highway that was closed not the PCT. We found a picnic table and sat down to wait for the Woods to show up. We did not have to wait long, they drove up around 8:00. They brought all kinds of food, drinks, water, chairs, and resupply box. Papa Raven has eagerly been waiting for his new poles. His had been falling apart, one was broken in half and splinted back together with tent pegs, both straps had broken, the tips were gone on both poles, about 2 inches of the poles had worn away, the cord inside the poles has broken. All and all they were in bad shape. Thanks Melody for the poles. Will also got new poles thanks to Grandpa Bob and Melody.
Mama Raven, Little Crow, and I got new shoes. There were much needed because our old ones were not protecting the bottoms of our feet any longer. We took our time organizing our food while talking to Donna and Carl. The Woods brought fruit galore which included strawberries, blue berries, and grapes, apples and tangerines. They brought potatoes chips, sodas, Gatorade, brownies, chocolate cupcakes (for Little Crow’s birthday), and all the makings for hardy sandwiches. They brought enough not just for the four of us, but for any other hikers that stopped by. A number of hikers got to enjoy the feast.
Donna said that they had checked the state of the fire before they had left and that it was burning away from the PCT. As of this morning it was 3.5 miles east of the tail. I figure that we will hike toward Ebbetts Pass and try to get north of the fire as quickly as we can. We should get very near Ebbetts Pass tomorrow. Finally around 1:30 with full stomachs and extra sandwiches and brownies in our packs, we hit the tail.
Of course the first thing we had to do was to climb 1000′ around a mountain. We had not gone more than a mile when Mama Raven’s new shoes were hurting her so much we had to stop. The bottoms felt fine, it was a squeezing the balls of both of her feet. She realized that her new shoes would not work. We needed a different pair. I tried to call the Woods but we did not have a connection. So I did the best thing I could do and started to cut open her shoes. This helped a bit and we were able to hike to the top of the mountain. We have decided to hike to Echo Lake and try to get new shoes there by going down to Lake Tahoe. Mama Raven’s feet still were really hurting so she switched to her Crocs. This seemed to help quite a bit. Tomorrow I will cut her shoes up some more. At some point, with enough altering of the shoes, they should stop hurting her.
The Ravens want to give Donna and Carl Woods one, huge, heart felt thank you for all they did for us and other hikers at Sonora Pass. Mama Raven says the best treat they delivered to us was friendship. I agree!
Franklinstein and Fly Balls
Day 72 – 6/23/15
Above Sonora Pass
Miles – 18.2
Total Miles – 1067.2 (PCT 1016.4) Since we did not have the afternoon deadline at Sonora Pass anymore, we did not have to hurry to get out of the tents in the morning. Although, once we started getting ready we rushed to get on the trail because of the annoying mosquitoes! The valley we are in has had the worst mosquitoes of the whole trip. Ann was hitting 7 at a time. We packed quickly and put on Deet. The Deet did not lessen their numbers, it just kept them away from us. Deet is very toxic stuff. It melts plastic quickly and we have been bathing in it. All we care about is that mosquitoes hate it! The 100% Deet works the best. Most of the morning we hiked down a valley until we came to another side valley. This side valley went up to a large headwall. All the rock in this area has changed from granite to volcanic. The headwall we were about to climb was just loose volcanic rock with almost nothing growing on it. We started up the 2000′ climb and soon came to the trail junction for Emigrant Pass. The trail was a very old road cut over a 10,000′ mountain ridge. We are not sure how the road was built, but it was not a simple task given the conditions on the mountain side. At midday we took a long break at the top. There was a snow field and we had fun throwing snow balls at reach other. Will and Little Crow also played baseball with snowballs and hiking poles. There has been very little time for them to play. It was great to hear them laughing so much. From there, the trail traversed across the mountain side which took most of the rest of the day to cross. Mama Raven describes the landscape around here as “knock your socks off gorgeous!” I agree with her. When we reached the other side we could look down on Hwy 108 and Sonora Pass. The other thing we could see was a fire. When we talked to Donna Woods last night on the cell phone, she warned us about a fire near Ebbetts Pass. She said she had been paying attention to the PCT blog and the fire is three miles from the trail but the trail had not been closed yet. Ebbets Pass is about 32 miles away and we need to hike over it. We might be there the day after tomorrow.
We hiked down as fast as we could, which was really hard on the feet and found a camp. We are a bit in the open but we will get very early morning sun. It is only .5 miles to where we will meet the Woods in the morning. We are all excited!
Day 71 – 6/22/15
Below Dorothy Lake Pass
Miles – 21.7
Total Miles – 1049.0 (PCT 998.2) Once again we tried to get up early in an attempt to meet the Woods who are bringing our food to us on Sonora Pass. We have planned to meet them mid-afternoon tomorrow. Right now it will be very hard to make that. Instead we should get to Sonora Pass at about sundown. Thus, we need to make as many miles as we can today. Through out the day, we will try to get phone service to call the Wood’s to let them know that we will be late. Our attempt to get everyone moving early, once again, did not work. The hiking has been tough and we are all tired. We left at about 6:45 and at least we had an easy beginning, 3 miles of down. The trail then crossed Kerrick Creek and headed up our first climb of the day, 1000′ in a mile. We then made quick decent to another stream crossing. This one was one of the few where we needed to take off our shoes. This gave us a little rest while we waited for our feet to dry. The next climb was not as pleasant as the first. It was longer and higher, and to make matters worst it was all in the sun. After a few hours and a lot of water we crossed the top and headed down to Wilma Lake which is a medium sized Lake nestled in the mouth of two valleys. It was too beautiful to not stop at it, even though we did not have the time. Will tried fishing again with Little Crow’s help. Mama Raven slept on a warm rock and I studied the maps. After a lazy hour passed, it was time to get going again. The rest of the day was spent climbing up an easy valley. We went up 1,500′ in 10 miles. As fast as we could, we hiked on. There has been no luck making phone connection with the Woods which means we will have to hike into the night. The sun was getting very low in the sky when we reached Dorothy Lake, the edge of Yosemite National Park. The importance of this is we no longer have to carry heavy bear canisters! Our last hope for phone service for the day was at the top of Dorothy Pass so we by passed this beautiful lake and trudged on to the top with very little light. I tried both our phones with no luck! We started to hike down and accepting the fact that we have to hike on into the night. Something no one looked forward to because we our so tired. However, no one complained. As we were hiking down, I was messing with Mama Raven’s flip phone, it seems to have a better antenna than my smart phone. As I was playing with it, I noticed it was going in and out of service. I moved around a bit and I could make a call out, but it would ring twice and then disconnect. Mama Raven tried from a higher rock and found that it would work only if she was facing north only on a specific rock. Mama Raven called the Woods and pushed the meeting date out one day. This will give us time to get to Sonora Pass and not miss the Woods, also we do not have to hike long into the night. Once we got down off the rocky ledges, we found a place to camp next to a pretty little lake. I have not mentioned how horrible the mosquitoes in this area have been! They are horrible!!!!!!
Day 70 – 6/21/15
Before Rock Island Pass trail junction
Miles – 20.4
Total Miles – 1027.3 (PCT 976.5) We wanted to make up some time today because of our late start yesterday so we tried to get the kids up a little bit early. It did not work that well because they did what they do best, play and mess around. We left camp only 15 minutes earlier than normal.
Today’s hiking did not look that bad on the map, but it ended up being a difficult and exhausting day. We did over 10,000′ elevation change. We had thee major climbs 1000′,1600′, and 1500′. In between were all the downs. By the end of the day we were all moving very slowly and we just wanted to crawl into bed. Along our route we past a number of very beautiful lakes and cascading waterfalls. This is really pretty country up here. The only drawback has been the mosquitoes. We will push on tomorrow and hopefully get in some extra miles so we will not be late for our rendezvous with the Woods at Sonora Pass. It looks like our elevation change for tomorrow should be around 7000′.
Day 69 – 6/20/15
Summit Pass trail junction
Miles – 13.7
Total Miles – 1006.9 (PCT 956.1)
We needed to get up early in order to catch the first bus to Tuolumne Meadows. We pulled down camp as quiet as possible, since there are a number of other hikers sleeping around us. Next we walked over to Dagnen’s Deli for breakfast. It is the only place in the Valley that opens at 7:00. We took our breakfast down to the bus stop and waited for the bus. For such an early bus, it was crowded. On the ride to Tuolumne I (Mama Raven) decided that it was good that we took as many days off in Yosemite as we did. I originally thought we should take just two days, but I was out numbered and we instead took three days. We had a relaxing few days. I will not be able to forget the baby bear that was hanging out at the backpackers campground. He was motherless and had a broken back leg. He dragged himself around the ground and up the trees. The rangers said they are keeping an eye on him. He his eating on his own. If they capture him, they will have to put him down. What future does he have in a camp ground where he will have access to people food? I keep thinking there must be some wildlife organization that can help him. Nontheless, we arrived at Tuolumne at 10:00. Our next stop was the Post Office and store. In front of the store there were many hikers we have not seen in awhile so we ended up taking quite a bit of time talking! As we talked, we ate ice cream. We talked a long time with Giggles and Burgundy. We learned that a lot of hikers have gotten off the trail. The ones that we know and will miss the most are Sunnyside Up and Justa. Just as we were leaving we ran into Smokey who was hiking with his wife Karen. She joined him at Red Meadows and will be going home at Tuolumne.
It was noon before we headed off to the trail. Given the miles we need to cover to get to Sonora Pass on time (we are suppose to meet Donna and Carl Woods who are delivering us our next food resupply) we needed to get moving. The trail out of Tuolumne Meadows was very flat. We hiked 5 miles before we hit any change in altitude. We dropped down by Tuolumne Falls and came to Glen Aulin High Sierra camp. This is a very beautiful area. We want to come back another time to explore and play. Next the trail climbed up, however, it was not difficult. We bumped into a back country ranger who checked to see of we were legal by having bear canister. We did. Next we came into Cold Canyon with its huge meadow. Papa Raven crossed Return Creek and dunked his foot. He was really mad. He takes pride in himself for never having an accident crossing rivers. The rest of The Ravens often dunk their feet. I think it feels good by cooling the feet off. I didn’t have much sympathy for him. We pitched camp on the far side of Return Creek. Everyone needs their sleep, for tomorrow are some big ups!
Smokey and his wife Karen
Day 66, 67, and 68 – 6/17, 6/18, and 6/19
Miles – 6.9
Total Miles – 993.2 (PCT 942.5)
We heard that there might be a 8:30 bus to Yosemite, so we got up early (5:30) to see if we could catch it. It was only about 7 miles to the Tuolumne Lodge therefore we hiked as fast as we could. Lyell Canyon was beautiful! The six mile meadow had a thick covering of frost. When we got to the turn off to the lodge, we found that Sobo had left us a note, the bus comes at 10:15. Thus, we hiked over to the store to get something to eat. We barely had time to get a drink and some chips before the 10:15 bus arrived. We caught the bus for The Valley and by noon we were heading to backpackers campsites in Yosemite. Despite the desire of Little Crow and me to take as little time off as possible, The Ravens are going to take a couple of days off in Yosemite to recuperate a bit from the grueling Sierras. We will head back to Tuolumne on the 20th. It is good to have a little break every now and then, especially for Will and Little Crow! Since we live only seven hours away from Yosemite we come up here every Summer. Ever since our kids were born, we have been taking a photograph of Will and Little Crow ever since they were babies at the same bridge every year of their life in Yosemite. Therefore we will be doing that along with swimming in the river, eating and relaxing. The other thing we want to do is to take a two hour mule ride. Little Crow has wanted to do this since she was a toddler. We are finally going to do it!
Little Crow and Jethro
Will and Uno
Day 65 – 6/16/15
Near Evelyn Lake trail junction
Miles – 18.0
Total Miles – 986.3 (PCT 935.6)We got up early this morning so we could get as close as possible to Tuolumne Meadows for tomorrow. We knew that we could not make it all the way to Tuolumne and there is a “no camping” ban within 4 miles of Tuolumne, so the best we could do today was 19 miles. We stopped a little short of that because there was a good camp site and Sobo was there. We enjoy Sobo. She is from New Zealand and she got her name (which is the trail abbreviation for south bound) because she accidentally went three miles south in the wrong direction. Nonetheless, we left camp a little earlier than normal and headed out on a long, flat traverse. After a few miles we finally reached the sun and paused to warm up. Our trail curved around the head of a valley and went up to Thousand Island Lake. This is one of the prettiest lakes on the trail and it looks as if there really are 1,000’s of little islands on the big lake. After eating near the lake, we hiked up Island Pass. This is the easiest pass on the whole trail. It sits astride a very wide ridge with many trees and ponds. Walking across it it is difficult to tell were the pass is. Next the trial dropped down to Rush Creek. The last two times we hiked the JMT, we stopped at the same location on Rush Creek and this time was no different. Will fished a bit and we had something to eat and talked to Sobo. Our next task was to climb Donohue Pass. It required several hours and we hiked through a long hot rock field to get to the pass. We took a break at the top of the pass with Sobo. From this point, it is all down hill to Tuolumne, but the first 3 or 4 miles is a steep rocky decent that is not easy on the feet. By the time we reached Lyell Canyon at the bottom, Mama Raven’s and my feet really hurt. The hiking from here to Tuolumne is real easy. Lyell Canyon is a nearly flat valley with a meadow and a river running its whole length. We hiked until we were near the camping limit and stopped for the night. Tomorrow we will hike into Tuolumne and see if there is a bus running to Yosemite. If there is, we will be in The Valley by tomorrow night, if not we will hike down.
Day 64 6/15/15
On the side of a mountain
Miles – 11.0
Total Miles – 968.3 (PCT 917.6)
It was nice to wake up in a warm room this morning, but we had a lot to do before a bus came so we got the kids moving. First there was breakfast in the lobby. Then we went up to our room to make sure the packs were ready to go. Next we walked up the road to Schat’s Bakery. It is the same bakery as the one in Bishop and we really love their bread. We picked up a loaf of Cheese Bread to eat on the trail. Next we swung by Subway for sandwiches; a snack for later, on the trail. As we were walking back to our room to get our packs, I stopped by the bus so to see what time it would next be coming by; we had 12 minutes. Since the bus only came every 30 minute, we wanted the next one. We rushed back to the room, grabbed the packs, made sure we had everything and quickly walked back to the bus stop. We had 2 minutes to spear and the bus was on time. That bus dropped us off at the other end of town. After a short wait, we boarded the bus for Reds Meadow. We were back in Reds Meadow by 9:30 and hiking by 10:30.
For some reason the hiking was slow, the trail was hot but not hard. We just were sluggish after a town day. As the day drug on, we worked our way through the Cheese Bread and the sandwiches. Finally we stopped with two hours of light. We could have gone on but the camp spot was on top of a ridge with a great view of the Minarets. We are always passing up great camp sites in order to keep hiking, this time we stopped early and took one. We will not get into Tuolumne until the day after tomorrow and then we will just walk right out again, to head for Yosemite Valley.
Day 63 6/14/15
Miles – 8.7
Total Miles – 957.3 (PCT 906.6)
Since we are eager to getting into Reds Meadow, we got a quick start in the morning. Our campsite was on the west face of a mountain so we did not get sun for a very long time and it was a bit colder than normal. The one thing in our favor was that it was easy hiking. Soon after starting hiking we ran into Headquarters and Catwoman. He is from Germany and she is from Belgium. They skipped up to Tuolumne Meadows from Lone Pine to hike the Sierras southbound. They are doing this to avoid all the people. When they are done with the JMT, they will be jumping up to the Canadian boarder and hiking south, for the same reason. Mama Raven and I agree that there are too many people on the trail. It is the consequences of the “Wild” thing. We often long for the quiet days when we hiked the trail in 1996. Weeks, if not months would go by without bumping into another hiker. If you did see someone, it was only in the towns. After leaving Headquarters and Catwoman we quickly hiked to Reds Meadows.
As we hiked, we decided to go into Mammoth. We have had some equipment break and they have some very good outfitters there. There are thee buses we needed to take to get to the town of Mammoth. Two of which are free and the third was is a $22 round trip for all of us. We were able to find new shoes for Will, replacement tent pegs, and new socks. In the end we got a room for the night and we will head back up first thing in the morning.
Day 62 – 6/13/15
Somewhere before Deer Creek
Miles – 19.5
Total Miles – 948.6 (PCT 898.2)
It has been many days since we woke to a completely clear sky. All four of us were excited to hike a rain free day! Silver Pass has a long exposed section so we tried to get as much of it done before the sun hit it. It made the big climb easier. The rest of the ascent up to Silver Pass was a series of ledges, a meadow, and some lakes. We reached the top in good time. As we crested the top, we could see clouds starting to build to the south. The next section of trail was a long down to Fish Creek. On the way down, we took a nice break looking out over a small waterfall and a meadow. Once hiking again, it did not take long for us to get to the bottom where we turned and headed up to Tullly Hole. A pretty meadow, deep in a valley with high mountains surrounding it on three sides. As we climbed up out of Tully Hole to Lake Virginia, big fat rain drops started to fall. So much for our rain free day however, the rain did not last long. At the top of the up, Bearlee was playing his harmonica and Boomer was playing his guitar. We stayed to listen for a while. The concert ended and we moved on. Once we reached Lake Virginia, we hiked around to its far side. The lake is beautiful with the reflections of the snow capped mountains. It was awfully tempting to stay, but we moved on. From there, we crested a small rise and then went down to Purple Lake. This is where we stopped for dinner. Will and Little Crow tried to fish but did not get even a nibble. Finally after our spaghetti dinner, we headed around the mountain, crossed the outlet for Duck Lake and headed down the mountain. We camped in the only semi-flat area for several miles. Tomorrow we will head into Reds Meadow for a shower and laundry.
Bearlee and Boomer
Day 61 – 6/12/15
Mono Creek bridge
Miles – 17.5
Total Miles – 929.1 (PCT 878.7)Vermilion Valley Resort (VVR) our next food drop, is today’s destination. VVR was 12 miles away and we were trying to get there by lunch. When we got out of the tent we found that clouds covered most of the sky thus we packed for rain. We made good time down to Bear Ridge and then slowed down as we climbed it. We headed down the ridge and on to the resort. VVR has a boat that will pick up hikers but it stops at 11:30. We could not walk fast enough to get to the boat so we had to walk all the way to the resort. We got there at 1:30. The first order of business was food. All of us had basically the same thing: cheese burgers, fries, a drink, and we shared two slices of fruit pie. The bill came to a $100. The saying along the PCT is spend a million at Vermillion. VVR is a remote resort at the end of a very long, one lane, dirt road, they have to drive out several times a week to get their supplies. It is not cheep. To make matters worse, Lake Edison, the lake the resort is on, is almost dry, due to the drought. Their main business, which is fishing, has gone away. Hikers and hunters is all that keeps the resort afloat. Yesterday we past a hiker who stayed at VVR and spent $600 for a three day visit. There is no cell phone reception or WiFi. The resort has one computer, but it will cost $50 for one hour of use. This is why we are not staying long here. We can not afford it.
After lunch we got our food box. It took about an hour to dump trash, sort and repack the food, clean the pot, fill the water bottles, and get ready to hike out. Our desire was to make VVR an in and out food drop. We will be having showers and doing laundry at Reds Meadow or Mammoth. Their facilities will be cheaper and nicer when we get there the day after tomorrow. We were packed and ready to go, but we wanted to take a few minutes to talk with some of the hikers we have not seen in a few weeks. As we were talking, we began to hear thunder then the rain came. We quickly decided that talking was more enjoyable than hiking in the rain so we stayed until the rain past, two hours later. Finally we hiked out at 5:30. Most of the other hikers stayed for dinner and a nights stay. As usual for us, we hiked literally till it was dark and stopped at the Mono Creek bridge.
What freeway? It’s a dirt road!
Day 60 – 6/11/15
Just past Bear Creek crossing
Miles – 16.9
Total Miles – 911.6 (PCT 869.2)We woke to partly cloudy sky’s. This made us happy. We have a chance to dry out today! Both tents and all the sleeping bags were wet. We carefully packed to keep the dry things separate from the wet. Once packed, we started down Goddard Canyon. We quickly reached the bottom, had a bit to eat, and stated hiking towards the climb up to Selden Pass. Having been here many times before, we knew of a large rock ledge toward the bottom of the climb we could spread our gear out to dry. When we reached ledge we pulled out everything that was wet, which was just about everything, and laid it out. The warm sun dried everything quickly, but we took our time relaxing in the sun. Finally the trail called to us that it was time to get going and we packed up and stated up one of our least favorite climbs in the Sierras. The climb up to Singer Creek is exposed, hot, and long. We were in luck, as the ascent began, a large cloud moved over the sun making the exposed climb shaded. It was still a long climb. When we reached the creek we did not stop. Instead we continued on to Sally Keys Lakes. These two lakes are one of our favorites. It is nice to sit and look out across them. After eating and relaxing for a time we saw that some clouds were building up near the pass. We decided we should cross the pass before any rain came, so off we went. It was only two miles to the top of the pass, it did not take long to reach its summit. Selden Pass is a low pass. The “high sierras” end with Muir Pass. From here on, the Sierras will be at a lower elevation. From the top of the Seldon, we could see it raining off to the northeast, the direction we would be heading. We quickly hiked down to Marie Lake and as we reached the far end of the lake, it started to rain. As we hiked down to Bear Creek it rained on and off. Not to much, just enough to worry us. Bear Creek can be one of the worst river crossing on the whole PCT. You cross it at a lower elevation so it has a lot more water in it. The kids have crossed it twice before but both of those times the river was low and it could be easily crossed by walking on exposed rocks. Not this time. It was about knee high on me, so Little Crow’s shorts were going to get wet. Mama Raven went across first to scout out a course. Next, I came across with both Will and Little Crow. I kept a firm hand on Little Crow and an eye on Will. We all made it across without a problem. By the time we had dried our feet and got the packs on we only had an hour of sun light left. We have been pushing pretty hard for the last few days and we will be at VVR tomorrow, so we decided to stop early and have a little down time, eat dinner, and play some cards. Tomorrow we will get to VVR for our resupply box, eat at the restaurant, and hike out. Showers and laundry with wait until Reds Meadow.
Day 59 – 6/10/15
Miles – 19.7
Total Miles – 894.7 (PCT 852.3)It was a great morning. We woke to the sound of soft pitter-patter of rain on the tent. We laid in bed a bit longer than we should have, hoping it would go away, and it did. The rain stopped and we packed our very wet tents. With any luck we might be able to dry then later today.
As we hiked toward Muir Pass we watched the clouds closely. Over the morning they rose higher and every now and then a small patch of blue would show through. The sky and mountains around us were visually dramatic thus Mama Raven was busy with her camera today. It took a while, but we eventually reached the hut on top of Muir Pass. The structure is a round stone building built on the very top of the pass. We stayed inside, out of the cold wind, with 7 other hikers: Logan, Trail Bride, Hawaiian Girl, and Beer Garden. The other ones were JMT hikers.
The hike down the other side was not hard. We tried our best to not hike in the snow fields because they were very wet and slushy from the mornings rain. We made much better time hiking down and by the mid afternoon we reached Evolution Lake. That is when it started to rain. The rain came and went all afternoon and into the evening. It was not a hard rain but it just kept coming down. We tried our home-made rain skirts and they worked really well. In fact we kept wearing them when it was not raining because it kept our legs warm. Our rain skirts are trash compactor bags with the bottom cut out, they are then tied around our waist. Really high-tech. Oops, I was just corrected by Will, he says they are kilts not skirts As we hiked down Evolution Valley, we passed a number of hikers that had quit for the day because of the rain. They were set up with their tents and most had a camp fire going. We all looked longingly at them, but we kept hiking on in the rain.
As we were pushing on toward the end of the day, we came to the last big obstacle, a large river crossing where we had to take off our shoes. No one really wanted to cross but doing it today was better than doing it first thing tomorrow morning, so off came the shoes. The water was cold and moving a little fast. It came above Little Crow’s knees. We made it across without any difficulty’s, just a lot of grumbling. On the final descent to Goddard Canyon, Little Crow fell twice on the slippery slabs of rock. She was not happy. It was the first time she muttered she wanted to go home. The difficult, long day had taken a toll on her. We pitched the wet tents on the canyon floor. All of our gear was soggy from the days rain however we all eagerly settled into our sleeping bags while the trees up above dripped on us. We were tired Ravens.
Day 58 – 6/9/15
Big Pete Meadow
Miles – 21.3
Total Miles – 875.0 ( PCT 832.6)
We woke to clear skies but it did not last long. The first clouds that moved in were high up. They quickly thickened and covered the whole sky. Throughout the day, the sun would taunt us by coming out for a short time and then get covered up again by the dark threatening clouds. Towards evening, we started to see blue patches which gave us hope that it will clear up over night like it has done for the last three nights, but I do not think it will. It has been sprinkling as I write this.
In the Sierras, the valleys are deep with steep mountains on either side therefore the sun is slow to hit our morning campsites. This makes for a cold morning walk. About 30 minutes out from camp, Mama Raven had a little problem. She was crossing a river when the 12″ diameter log she was walking on rolled, thereby depositing her into the river. She was soaked from her waist down. Her first thought was her camera which she keeps in a zip lock bag in a pocket on her belt. Luckily it did not get wet and worked fine. Next she pulled out our sleeping bag which was at the very bottom of her backpack. She found that only a small part got wet. She repacked it in a larger plastic bag, so it would not get any wetter from the soaked backpack. Mama Raven’s shorts, shoes, and socks were soaked by the freezing cold water that only felt colder by the chilled morning air. The best solution was to get hiking fast! The first bit of trail in sun was over a mile away. Nonetheless, Mama Raven eventually dried out and warmed up as the morning sun got stronger.
We headed up into Upper Basin below Mather Pass, ate a snack, and went for the top. We reached the pass by mid morning. We took a few pictures and started down. Since we made it to the top of the pass so early in the morning the snow on the north side was hard. This made our decent faster and easier than if it was soft snow that we sink into every time we step on it (post holing). While we took a short break at the Lower Palisade Lake, Will tried to catch fish with no luck. We next headed down the Golden Staircase. This is a steep twisting set of switchbacks that quickly brings you down to the valley floor. We then hiked to the far end of the valley, just before our next up. Here we took a break and washed socks. With several hours of daylight left we headed up to our camp in Big Pete Meadow. Tomorrow we will climb 6 miles to the top of Muir Pass. The weather is not looking very good. The clouds are dark and ominous looking. We hope they clear up through the night like they have done for the past few nights.
Sando and Aunt Jemima
Day 57 – 6/8/15
South Fork of the Kings river
Miles – 17.1
Total Miles – 853.7 (PCT 811.3)
No one wanted to get up this morning. The sleeping bags were so warm and it was so cold outside! This was one of those rare times when Mama Raven slept longer than me. The morning hiking was easy but we just could not move a long very fast. The first 5 miles was all down hill. It ended at the Woods Creek bridge. This is a really beautiful bridge. For many years, the park service would build a normal flat wooden bridge over Woods Creek and inevitably the river would wash out the bridge. It is a dangerous river to cross without a bridge. Many years ago, Mama Raven and I had to cross it without the bridge and we were almost pulled under a fallen tree. The park service finally built a suspension bridge high above the river. The kids love crossing this bridge, it rocks and swings. In fact, this years spring cover of the PCT Communicator has Will walking across that bridge.
The next 4 miles is one of our least favorite parts of the Sierras. It is a very exposed section of trail thus it can be very hot and it seems to go on forever. At least the trail parallels a beautiful river to watch as we climbed up. It took a lot longer to climb up than it should have. Once up, we wrapped around a ridge and then climb up Pinchot Pass. This is not a hard pass, it is just long. There was some snow on the south side but not much. The same held true for the north side. The day was getting late by the time we reached the top of the pass so we did not stay long up there, we headed down as fast as we could. One of the nice things about crossing snow fields is that you do not have to follow the trail since it is under snow. We can pick and choose our pathway, which more often than not shorter than following the trail. We dropped quickly to Lake Marjorie where we stopped for dinner. While we cooked dinner, Will and Little Crow tried to fish again with the same result . . . no luck catching fish but a whole lot of fun trying. We did not have a lot of daylight left after dinner so we quickly hiked to the bottom on the valley to the South fork of the Kings river.
Gi Gi and PT Cruiser
Day 56 – 6/7/15
Lower Rae Lakes
Miles – 12.9
Total Miles – 836.6 (PCT 794.3)We woke early and peeked outside the motel window to check the sky. . . . no clouds anywhere. That was a good sign. We could hike with some confidence that we will not get rained on. We finished packing and went over to have breakfast which the motel provides. After eating bacon, eggs, and toast cooked by Dave; Mama Raven, Will, and Little Crow went to Subway to pick up sandwiches for the trail. While they were gone, I closed up the packs and loaded them in the car. There was a scale hanging from a tree so I decided to weigh each pack. The packs have all our gear plus 5.5 days of food and 1L water each. Little Crow’s weighed 17lbs, Will’s and Mama Raven’s weighed 26lbs, and mine weighed 31lbs. With Subway Sandwiches in hands, Dave’s wife took us back up to the trailhead. We got to the parking lot about 9:30. Before we headed up the trail, we had another birthday party for Little Crow with the German Chocolate cake, whip cream and Strider’s Tiara! We did not have time to eat them yesterday because of the birthday brownies Sarah sent Little Crow so we thought it would be fun to celebrate at the trailhead. We had candles, sang Happy birthday, and to our amazement, the four of us almost ate the whole cake. Finally it was time to hike. Clouds formed up as the morning went on but they did not look very threatening. We felt very strong climbing to the top of Kearsarge Pass despite the full stomachs of cake and whip cream. The only problem we had was all the people we stopped to talk with. It slowed us down a bit but it was good to see our hiking friends. A lot of hikers were resupplying in Independence or hitch hiking to Bishop. In the early afternoon we stopped and ate our Subway sandwiches. We then headed up Glen Pass. It is not a bad pass to climb from the south side. The difficult part is getting down Glen Pass’s steep, snow covered north side. Even though the clouds came and went through out the day there was enough sun to make the snow very soft. We postholed down the steep cliff side. For the most part all went well until Little Crow post holed up to her hip and she could not pull her leg out. As she tried to free herself, she started to panic. Mama Raven and I got there as soon as we could and tried to calm her as we pulled her out of her predicament. Her shoe and gator stayed at the bottom of the hole. I reached in and worked at pulling out her shoe. It was good and stuck. It took a minute or two to get it out. After that we tried to stay to the well packed paths. As we reached the bottom of the cliff we looked back up what we just came down with awe. We walked around Rae Lakes and camped at one of the lower lakes. While Mama Raven and I set camp, Will and Little Crow went down to the lake to fish. Will received his fishing kit in the Independence resupply box and he really wanted to try it. Even though they did not catch any they had lots of fun trying.
Snow White and Wall-ee (Wallstreet)