Day 67: Zero in Mammoth Lakes #3

Thurs. 6/27/13
0 miles, currently at PCT mile 906.7
Red’s Meadow/Mammoth Lakes

image

Zero day... pool.

We weren’t planning on a zero day again, but we totally got sucked into the vortex. We procrastinated for most of the day, then finally showered and got our stuff all ready to go. Then Dishcloth walked past me and Tears with a smile and two already-opened bottles of beer. Well, we figured we better stay and finish them.

Then we went for a late lunch at Zpizza. Great food, by the way! Anyway, Tears and I were going to discuss our plan. We were completely undecided, so we put it to a vote on the Disco Pickle facebook page. Thanks to all that voted! The zero won pretty strongly. It’s been a very nice, relaxing afternoon, and we are both ready to hit the trail tomorrow and get some miles in. 

Mammoth Lakes has been great, and it’s been especially fun to have caught up with PRT and a few other hikers we haven’t seen in a while. Sharing a big condo isn’t only fun, it saves us all money. As I write this 14 of us are lazing around in the livingroom watching a movie on TV. The place is scattered with hikers,  backpacks, empty soda cans, munchies, and rooms have exploded with gear and food resupply. It’s a great environment to be in, for now. I’m ready for the wilderness, though!

image

This is how we zero!

Breakfast after sleeping in today was at The Breakfast Club. I had half an order of biscuits and gravy. One of their delicious biscuits filled me up and was the best I’ve ever had. YUM! That is an awesome place to eat!

image

Yum! I also ordered french toast, but I had to take it to go!

There’s a fire ban on the trail up to mile 930, now. No fires at all. We don’t have too much farther to go before we’re out of that ban, but I don’t think I’d have one anyway… it’s pretty dry and I’m paranoid. And I’m usually too tired anyway. It’s supposed to be in the upper 90’s for the next few days, so I imagine that doesn’t help that situation much. Hiking in that heat will be interesting, too. I’ll still take that over an all-day cold, bone-soaking rain!

We hope to head out early tomorrow, so I need to get to bed.


Tonight I love my new Injinji socks. I can’t wait to wear them!

image

A strange sight on our front porch.

image

Aloha and I working on a half gallon. We weren't very successful.

Day 66: Zero in Mammoth Lakes #2

Wed. 6/26/13
0 miles, currently at PCT mile 906.7
Red’s Meadow/Mammoth Lakes

image

Aloha doing his thing, picking up backpackers

Another very successful zero day. How do I know? I don’t have a lot to write about. We didn’t do much.

After packing up, checking out of our room and saying farewell to Brown Bag as he left to work his way back to the trail, we head to a coffee shop. Tears wanted to transfer some photos, and I did the same. After that we met up with the PRT crew again and made our way to the awesome condo we were all sharing. It had 4 bedrooms and lots of beds.

We played some Mario Party before heading out to see a movie. Mmmm, popcorn. We saw “Man of Steel.” It was pretty good.

Back at the condo we all lazed around – all 13 of us! It was really fun. We talked about all kinds of stuff… trails, plans, callusses, our feet swelling in towns, our feet itching in towns… lots about feet.

Mr. Green made spaghetti for everyone and it was awesome. I overate, happily. More Mario Party. Wine. Bad movies…

image

Mmmm... foooooood...

Aaah, now to decide when to hit the trail. I feel the pull of a town vortex.

Oh! Hoop Dreams said to Tears and I that we aren’t just PRT “members at large,” we’re “members at huge.” Yay! What a fun group of really awesome people. I love these guys!


Tonight I love all of the new friends I’ve made.

image

Mom's rhubarb cookies. Yum!

Day 65: Zero in Mammoth Lakes #1

Tue. 6/25/13
0 miles, currently at PCT mile 906.7
Red’s Meadow/Mammoth Lakes

image

The Cinnamon Bear B&B

The idea for our zero day today was to get as many hiker chores done as we could so tomorrow’s zero would mostly play and relaxation. We did okay.

Adam and I got up and scarfed down an omelet breakfast. Then we head to Motel 6 to pick up our good trail buddy, Fuller, to bring him to the Red’s Meadow shuttle so he could get back on the trail. We went back to get Tears and Brown Bag, then hit the laundromat. Laundry done. A chore done. Yay!

We went to a local gear shop where I got a new Platy bladder. Hopefully no more leaks! Two chores done.

Then Von’s grocery where we bought WAY too much food. Having a resupply car allows us to go a little overboard, so now we just need to find the room for it! Three chores… getting there!

image

Piled in the pickle jar with bags of food on our laps.

Then we ate wingies, pizza and had a beer at the Outlaw Saloon. Best pizza on the PCT so far! Best service, too! Eating a lot in towns is another important chore. That makes four.

Next… fixing wardrobe issues. Tears and I both opted to visit a local seamstress to take in our clothes. My skirt is at Ruth’s house. For $6 I should be good to go tomorrow. I’m pretty excited about this! She also taught us a cool stitch to fix backpacking rips and tears with floss. She even gave us an awesome curved needle to take with us! Thanks, Ruth! That makes five chores… gettin’ stuff done!

image

Getting pinned by Ruth.

We met up with PRT and some others at the Whiskey Creek brewpub. We had some drinks and watched them enjoy their fresh-off-the-trail dinners.

image

Hiker trash dinner. It's how we roll.

And the biggest chore… food organization and resupply. We exploded. Ziplocks flew around the room, food came out of their original boxes and bags. We are covered for the next seven trail days… and we have tons left over. Thanks to our friends and family that have mailed us goodies, too! We’ve got the best variety of snacks! Six big fat chores completed.

image

Room explosion. It was a serious mess!

A quick dip in the hot tub, this blog update, and now it’s time to play a little Mario Party with Aloha. We have a few small things to take care of again tomorrow, but mostly we’ll try to relax so we’re ready to get back on the trail Thursday morning.

Oh, pack mule, shmack mule… all we need is a snack mule. Haha!


Tonight I love reuniting with trail friends we haven’t seen in a while… Fuller, Phatmandu, Messenger, Maggie, Focus, PRT… among others. Hiker towns are fun and such a cool part of this whole adventure!

image

The pickle jar threw up gear and food!

image

My favorite part of zeroes. Aloha. ♡

Day 63: Skeeters!

Sun. 6/23/13
18.0 miles (Miles 864.7 – 882.7)
Heart Lake – Silver Pass Creek

image

The clouds that threatened us all day.

Selden Pass was pretty easy. It helps that we did most of the climbing yesterday, so we only had .8 miles to the pass summit. Up and over we went, then we worked our way down to beautiful Marie Lakes. We started getting swarmed by mosquitoes, so the headnets went on. We have the cheapest headnets you can buy – in combination with a brimmed hat, it’s the best defense against the buggers flying into your eyes, nose and mouth while hiking, as well as keeping them from biting. They came and went all day, depending on where we were and how the breeze blew.

image

Marie Lakes

image

A cheap headnet - quite the classy look!

After we descended a bit more, our trail leveled out for a while and wound through shady pine forest. What a break from the rocks, steep ups and steep downs! We cruised along enjoying a light and quick pace for a change.

image

Soft, level, meandering trails

A lot of our trailmates took one of the three side-trails to Vermillion Valley Resort (VVR) today, and we kept on going. For Aloha to meet us there with resupply would have been a 13-hour round trip, so we just packed an extra two day’s worth of food to avoid that long trip. VVR is famous for their delicious, gourmet-ish, but expensive food. Hearing others talk about their excitement for omelets and burgers made me even more excited to get to Mammoth in two days to get our fill of yummy food. Soon enough!

We had a couple of river fords again today. Another potentially dangerous ford at Bear Creek turned out to be easy, just a bit cold. We took our gaiters and socks off, removed our insoles and trekked across right through the water in our bare shoes. It was only about mid-shin deep. Later we had another tricky ford, and I opted to just step my left food right down in the creek – sock, gaiter and all. These shoes are awesome. I can walk in them wet like that and it doesn’t really bother my feet. It’s nice to put on dry socks a little later, and the shoes dry out pretty quick.

image

Tears crossing a river

We have a mystery animal sound we’re really curious about – I hope someone out there knows what critter this is. It makes a really low, bass-like sound. Kind of a “glug-glug-glug.” It’s usually in three short bursts, sometimes five, and rarely more than that at a time. It kind of sounds like when you blow across an empty pop bottle… but in short, deep bursts. We hear it a lot, so I figured it couldn’t be bears. We have grouse in Wisconsin that drum really low kind of like that, but it’s not nearly as loud as this. Some kind of bird? Deer? Anyone know? We are SO curious!

A few random, but minor issues I’ve met on this stretch:

The velcro that my gaiter attaches to fell off my left shoe the other day. I was bummed because those things really keep the little rocks out of my shoes! Well, today on one of our breaks, Tears handed me a little patch of velcro. She cut it out of her shorts pocket for me! How sweet! A little super glue, and I was back in business.

Another gear failure – my Aqua Mira (water treatment) part A leaked and is empty. Tears’ Aqua Mira did the same thing twice before, and we can’t quite figure out why it’s happening. Elevation and bottle pressure? Why don’t both of the bottles leak then? I don’t know… it’s another mystery. Tears still has some, so we’ve been sharing hers on this stretch. I may owe her some Triscuits tomorrow!

My Platypus water bladder is going to need replacing, too. It leaked inside my pack yesterday. It sounds and feels like it clicks shut when I reattach the hose to it, but a few times already, it has leaked and dripped out the bottom of my pack.

My skirt is officially too big on me now. I have to pull it up pretty far when I put my pack on, otherwise with the movement of my walking it slips down and almost falls off. I have to be careful though, because if I pull it up too far, the movement of my walking causes my backpack to “eat” the skirt, and I may end up unknowingly flashing my buns to someone behind me! I may have to do a little sewing… sigh….

I had an insatiable hunger today. I could’ve probably sat down and plowed through the rest of what I had left in my bear canister in one sitting. I resisted. It will make that first town meal that much better. Oh! Speaking of food – mashed potatoes wrapped in a tortilla with cheese and salami? Awesome! That was dinner tonight. Yum!

The problems we have out here are pretty awesome, aren’t they?

We’re camped about two miles from our last pass before town – Silver Pass. The climb to get up here this afternoon was pretty exhausting, but we’re glad to have most of it out of the way. One full day and one short day until I get to see Aloha! Yay!


Tonight I love the small thru-hiking problems we run into and have to troubleshoot. It’s so simple!

A few more shots from today:

image

A PCT sign right in the sap

image

Cascading waterfall

image

Succulent little cuties

Day 62: Sensory hangover

Sat. 6/22/13
17.1 miles (Miles 847.6 – 864.7)
Evolution Creek – Heart Lake

image

Great trails!

I was tired today and feeling kind of groggy, but it didn’t seem like I had a good reason. I slept well, ate well, and was well-hydrated. After about an hour of hiking I realized I was definitely worn out from yesterday, but not because of how many miles we hiked, and not because we had climbing… I was worn out from all the prettiness. It seems strange but it’s for real. I was overwhelmed all day yesterday with looking around and seeing so many vibrant colors and amazing scenery. I experienced sensory overload again, but it went on almost all day long. I was having a sensory hangover! And boy, oh boy… it’s the best kind of hangover ever – so very worth it!

I was thankfully able to function just fine, despite my newly discovered hangover, and so the miles flew by like normal. We hiked to the infamous Evolution Creek ford. Past year’s PCT hikers have had to wade across in water up to their chest, floating their backpacks on their sleeping pads or holding them above their heads. The deepest it got for us was about mid-thigh. The current was swift, but overall it was pretty easy – it was icy cold, though!

image

Evolution creek. Easy peasy.

For quite a few miles we followed San Joaquin River, crossing it three times on nice, sturdy bridges. Both Evolution Creek and San Joaquin Rivers had wide, cascading waterfalls, teal and crystal-clear water, and some really pretty calm spots. I’ve always really loved rivers, so I was a happy hiker this morning. At one of the falls, the mist even made a light rainbow!

image

Sturdy steel bridges are nice in some places.

image

Waterfall rainbow.

The trail brought us way down into a valley where the rivers quiet down, the meadows are all over, and the skeeters are abundant. Then it started to climb us right back up again, working us toward Selden Pass. The climb was mostly switchbacks through low manzanita scrub, so we were exposed to the hot afternoon sunshine. It sure would have been a bad time for us to both run out of water… and we did! About halfway up to the next water, at almost the same time, we ran out.

We hiked on, slow and steady until we hit a great stream. We filled up, chugged, and chatted with Acid Glasses, Stumbling Beav (the owner of a ginormous footprint we’ve been following – size 15!), Treekiller and Milkman. A group of four forest rangers also showed up and asked to see our hiking permits and bear canisters. Ali was super-nice. She signed our permits for us and I asked about the penalty for not having a permit – $120 fine and you have to leave the trail at the next possible exit, and you can’t return until you’ve obtained the proper permits. Yowzer… glad we’re all legal! That would be such a pain in the buns!

We hiked the same exact distance as yesterday, which was totally unplanned. Our 17.1 miles landed us at Heart Lake, a gorgeous little mountain lake a little under a mile from Selden Pass. When we got here it was still a little early, so we set up camp and went down by the lake to get water and do some laundry.

image

Camp at Heart Lake.

There was this perfect jumping rock that I just could not resist. Milkman and Treekiller showed up just as I was about to go in, so they stuck around and swatted mosquitoes as I cannonballed into the cold lake. It was cold, but not too bad! In fact, I went in a second time and was able to dive in! Worth the cold… so refreshing, and super-fun!

image

Cannonball!

Two funny random conversations from today that had us laughing pretty good (and making it  hard to breathe and hike):

Sand Shoes
Me: They should make shoes for walking in sand like snowshoes.
Tears: They do, they’re called camels!
Me: Oh yeah! But really… shoes just wide enough and spread out to walk on top of the sand.
Tears: You should invent those… and you can call them Camel Toes!

Dry Skin
We all have some pretty dry skin out here. I was trying to explain how my dry skin was all over my silkweight long johns this morning – all powdery like “dandruff of the leg hairs.” We talk about all kinds of crazy stuff out here. Usually it’s food, though.


Tonight I love Watkins mosquito repellant. It works better than straight-up deet. Thank goodness, because they are now out in force!

image

Our pinecone message for PRT

image

Sallie Keys. A series of little blue lakes.

Day 61: Happy naked hiking day!

Fri. 6/21/13
17.1 miles (Miles 830.5 – 847.6)
Kings River (middle fork) – Evolution Creek

image

Trying to get everything pretty into one photo frame

Today. It was my favorite day on the PCT so far. Strong words, I know, but it’s true. It was as hiker’s holiday, it was fun, challenging, indescribably beautiful, there were river fords, climbs, descents, snow fields, marmots, deer, tears of joy, and a full-on spiritual moment. So much happened!

I don’t know how to even break it down into a cohesive blog entry. I’m really struggling to find justified words to describe what I’m seeing. So I guess I’ll start with the simple and straight-forward stuff first.

At camp this morning, we had deer visit us – we counted five of them, including one six-pointer in velvet. We quickly discovered why they came in so close to us, too. Every spot where one of us had peed – that’s what they were after. Crazy salt-fiends! We also unfortunately awoke to find out that Mr. Green was sick. Throwing-up sick, too. I felt so bad for him I wanted to cry. He was still bundled in his hammock when we left. I sure hope he’s feeling better and we see him catch up to us soon!

So today is the summer soltice, but in thru-hiker terms, it’s also known as naked hiking day. I don’t have any idea who started it, but it’s been around for a while. I saw a few brave, full-on nude hikers, and one guy in his boxer-briefs. Most people that talked of participating were going to rig up bandanas that could quickly be dropped over privates in case they came upon someone that would be uncomfortable… but I don’t know if that would help anyway… I mean, if you’re naked, you’re just naked. I thought hard about whether or not to do it. I have insecurities about such activities, but then again, I’m in the woods among awesome, down-to-earth people that would certainly support such shenanigans. How brave did I get? Fifteen minutes-worth… and that’s all I could do. But I was proud of myself for letting go of those insecurities, even if only for a short while.

image

Happy naked hiking day!

Tears and I stopped for a swim on our way up to Muir Pass. It was a small, unnamed lake, and it was take-your-breath-away ice cold. We jumped in, swam as fast as we could to shore and got out to dry in the sun. We sat there for a while and watched three cycles of frog life along the shoreline. Giant tadpoles, pollywogs, and full-grown frogs swam around in front of us.

We had several river crossings, and one was even mighty enough to warrant unclipping my hipbelt and sternum strap (in case I were to fall in I can wiggle out of my pack easier), wade through in my shoes, take it slow and make sure I had my three points of contact the whole time. There were several other crossings that weren’t quite so dramatic – mostly just fun rock-hopping or log-balancing.

image

Rock hopping.

Our day hiking basically consisted of climbing our way to the Muir Pass summit, then working our way back down to the next valley to camp. The scenery we were in during that time, though… amazing perfection. There were a few times that I just stopped in my tracks and looked all around. I couldn’t even take a photo because it was all-encompassing. The beauty was everywhere. It was so pretty that I didn’t notice aches and pains, and I almost didn’t want to get to the summit – I wanted to keep going around each corner with something different and even more pretty. When I finally saw the Muir hut on the summit, I cried a little of happiness anyway. Muir pass. Wow. When we left there, we found it was the same down the other side – prettier and prettier as we went.

John Muir once said, “the mountains are calling and I must go.” I’m so glad the mountains called me, too. And I’m glad I went… because here I am!

image

It's so PRETTY!

I’ll just toss in a few more shots from today. It’s the best way I can show it for now. There’s just too much perfect detail to explain. We’d be here forever!

image

Small waterfall

image

One puffy little cloud.

image

The Muir Hut

My spiritual moment today, in a nutshell, had me feeling fluid with my surroundings – I could almost sense the care and love God put into the creation all around me, and I thought to myself, “I’m His creation, too.” That was the moment I felt like I was exactly where I wad supposed to be. Right here in these mountains, and in life.

Wow, what a day.

One random weird thing from today: we saw one lonesome seagull floating down below on a small mountain lake above 10,000 feet. I’m thinking he got lost, then realized what a magical place he ended up in, befriended some marmots and decided to stay. Smart little bugger, right?

image

Hi, seagull...


Tonight I love John Muir, an inspirational, true mountain man, who knew exactly what to write to describe these places. He was also a Christian who appreciated nature as God’s creation.

image

So freakin' unbelievably beautiful!

Day 60: PCT mountain passes

Thurs. 6/20/13
19.2 miles (Miles 811.3 – 830.5)
Kings River (south fork) – Kings River (middle fork)

image

Muir wilderness...

In the desert, our days were determined by where the water was. Here in the Sierras there is water everywhere, so that’s certainly not a concern. However, there are high mountain passes that take a little control of our daily mileages. This is especially true during normal to high snow years because it’s easiest to cross the snow early in the morning when it’s still a little crusty. If you hit it later in the day you end up postholing, which means you can sink in the snow up your hip with no warning – just because the sunshine has softened up throughout the day. We don’t have high snow (hardly any at all, in fact), but there’s been small patches that we’ve crossed, and it was easier to navigate when it was early.

image

Path through the snow

We like to hit the passes early, but our main reason for that is because we are fresh. We just had a good chunk of sleep and rest, and are filled up with breakfast with caffeinated delicious coffee. Bring on the climb, baby!

image

Break time on Mathet Pass

Mt. Whitney was the highest elevation we’ll hit, and it was the first really big climb we had… a warm-up of sorts? My goodness – I suppose that makes all the other passes seem not as intimidating?

Anyway, since Mt. Whitney (14,505 feet), these are the passes we’ve climbed:
▶ Forester pass – 13,200 feet – PCT mile 779.5
▶ Kearsarge pass, twice (2.8 miles off PCT) – 11,791 feet
▶ Glen pass – 11,946 feet – PCT mile 791.1
▶ Pinchot pass – 12,140 feet – PCT mile 807.1
▶ Mather pass – 12,096 feet – PCT mile 816.8

We have three more coming up, starting tomorrow morning:
▶ Muir pass – 11,973 feet – PCT mile 838.6
▶ Selden pass – 10,910 feet – PCT mile 865.6
▶ Silver pass – 10,748 feet – PCT mile 884.9

Climbing Mather pass today wasn’t too tough of a climb, but going down the other side was. There were so many giant rock steps, and they are really hard on the knees, ankles and feet. I rolled my ankles three times today stepping down off of those darned steps! Thankfully the ankles bounced right back into hiking rhythm without a problem… but it’s always scary when it happens!

image

I found mud! I love mud!

Those stone steps are tough, but the places they brought us to made it all worth the trouble. We saw unspeakably beautiful mountains off in the distance, waterfalls, lots of friendly deer, curious marmots, giant boulders, rivers, deciduous trees (our first in as looong time!), more conifers, lush forest trails, and flowers galore!

image

Sunshiney forest

We hiked a good Sierra day, too – 19 miles including a pass, river crossings, those stinkin’ stone steps, and a million places that tempt us to stop for a break because they’re so perfect… it’s a good life. :)

We did take a great lunch at Lower Palisade Lake. I feel like I’m being teased out here – all the pretty lakes and crystal-clear rivers, and it’s been too cold to swim! Well, Tears and I both gave in today. We jumped in on our lunch break. It wad freezing cold water, but it was refreshing!

image

Swimmin hole!

We are camped next to a rushing river to lull us to sleep tonight. Mr. Green, Shotput and Pepper Flake have joined us here, and they were really fun company. While we all sat around having our dinners, three deer kept creeping in close to check us out. I think they might try to eat my socks that are hung on a tree outside the tent…

I’m totally pooped, so time for sleepy!


Tonight I love campfires. I wish I had more energy at night… and some marshmallows.

image

Friendly deer

image

So many cute tiny flowers out here... these are one of both my and Tears' favorites.