16.6 miles (Miles 906.7 – 923.3)
Red’s Meadow/Mammoth Lakes – above 1,000 Island Lake
Sorry for the delay in posting these! It’s been an amazing stretch of hiking, and I’ve been faithfully writing each day, but I haven’t had a strong enough data signal to post them all with photos. So here’s a whole series coming in a clump. Hope you enjoy!
Getting back on the trail after three full days off feels good mentally, but we certainly felt the effects physically. I think our bodies thought we were done or something. Once we hit the trail we both felt tired, sluggish, and our packs felt heavier than they should. We just kept moving and enjoying the scenery, which is a great distraction from just about anything.
We first made our way to the Devil’s Postpile National Monument. It’s basically natural columns formed from a volcanic eruption 100,000 years ago, after the lava cooled and cracked. At the top of the columns, glaciers slid across leaving a smooth, tiled-looking surface. It reminded me of a turtle shell. Pretty cool stuff!
We ran into a past PCT thru-hiker while hiking through Devil’s Postpile. He introduced himself as Burnin’ Daylight. I’d heard of him before – turns out he’s one of the hikers that is in Yogi’s Guides! That’s where I knew his name! We chatted with him a bit before we head to the trail leading us back to the PCT.
We followed the middle fork of the San Joaquin River for a while, and we took a nice lunch break there. Once we were done with lunch and started hiking again it got hot out! My thermometer read 94º at one point! Of course we ended up climbing most of the afternoon, too. We trudged on, still feeling tired, still enjoying the amazing scenery, swatting skeeters, and sweating our buns off. That’s a good day of hikin’!
With the heat the way it was, I wasn’t too surprised to see giant cumulus plumes billowing up over the mountain ridges behind us and to the east. The clouds behind us turned black and were even producing some thunder. I kept praying for it to blow over. It never did hit us. It was dropping rain somewhere, but we hiked on in sunshine and heat. Whew!
We were trying for 16 miles today so that we could get to Tuolumne Meadows tomorrow. By the way, that is pronounced “Two-all-uh-me.” That’s one that took me forever to figure out and remember! Anyway, we have about 20 miles to hike tomorrow with one pass to climb just over 11,000 feet and apparently it’s pretty easy to get lost. We’ll see. Hopefully that’s just when there’s lots of snow.
We hiked along a meadowy ridge for quite a few miles today, and we crossed over several streams and there were flowers all over. The Indian Paintbrushes were all different colors – pale orange, bright orange, yellow, hot pink, and pale pink. With so many other varieties of flowers to go with those we had a rainbow of them to enjoy as we sluggishly hiked on. We finally rounded a corner and up over a giant boulder hill and saw 1,000 Island Lake. Beautiful! We got water, hiked out of the no-camping zone and found a nice little flat spot above the lake with a great view. We ate mexican rice for dinner, had a peppermint patty and watched the plumes of clouds across the valley light up in gold, then pink, and when the purples started the skeets started biting so we took cover in the tent.
I just read in Yogi’s guide that there are usually bear problems here, too… sigh… this is something I’m better off not knowing. Here’s to sleeping tight!
I had an interesting variety of songs stuck in my head today – “The View” by Modest Mouse, “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” by The Beatles, and that country song about ocean-front property in Arizona. Weird mix, hey?
OH! Whenever I see a lady bug, I think of my Grandma. Hi, Grandma Laatsch, I love you! :-)
Tonight I love neopolitan ice cream. I didn’t have any, but for some reason I couldn’t stop thinking about it!