Hi All! So we’ve been back in Cape Town for awhile now and clearly we didn’t finish our blog, as we got further up the trail we found we couldn’t get online as much, and it fell to the wayside. So here’s us trying to remember all the amazing experiences we had and living through the memory of it all. Click here to recap on where we left off.
We woke up the next morning in Tuolomne as cars started streaming in. It was the first day that the campground was open, so we hurriedly packed up and went to the Tuolomne Meadows PO, store and cafe down the road. Not really a cafe, and pretty average food, but we all enjoyed the coffee and ate heartily using the employee discount that Niko’s friend got through working at a nearby Lodge. After picking up our resupply and buying a few odds and ends from the shop, we went over to the lodge to take a much wanted/needed shower to freshen up before heading off into the wild once again. After many tough days in the high Sierras, we were excited at the prospect of being done with that and moving north towards Northern California. Niko told us that the end of the Sierras is considered to be Sonora Pass, only a few days away. As much as we love the Sierras, it can be very grueling in many ways.
Niko and Liane dropped us off at the trail head at midday and we set off on a very well walked path towards the Glen Aulin Campground. This is a campground seen as ‘glamping‘ in the eyes of a PCT hiker, and is only a handful of miles hike from Tuolomne. Some tourists see this as such a long hike in to the wild and camp there for a night, it made us chuckle. On the way there, we passed two stock parties, each with about five horses bring in supplies to the campground. As soon as you pass the trail head to Glen Aulin, the path immediately narrows to half the width, back to PCT size. The trail was beautiful though! We crossed the Tuolomne river, walked by many stunning waterfalls and interesting rock formations. I now understand the love for Yosemite, pity we couldn’t explore the valley.
With full bellies and our packs restocked in VVR, we made our way back to the trail. We were advised by the owner of VVR to go a shorter route and do Goodale pass instead of Silver pass to get back on the PCT. We decided to follow his advice and headed out on a trail less used. We walked to a lovely meadow and I spotted something brown moving towards the end of the meadow, and I quickly realised that it was a bear! We watched as the bear walked around the meadow, foraging and occasionally looking up at us not seeming to mind us. We kept our distance though, took some photos and continued on. We realised what a treat it was to not be on the PCT, it was so quiet! We didn’t see anyone else that day and enjoyed the solitude as we camped with a view of a meadow and some mountains.
The next morning we headed out to Goodale pass, supposedly easier than silver pass, but not really because the path was difficult to find at times, especially with snow. There were no footprints to follow so we relied on our maps to get us to the top, and enjoyed a good glissade near the bottom. Steve actually bent both his hiking poles slightly in the process.
It took us longer than expected to get back on the PCT, but now our next goal would be Mammoth. We were excited for the food that was supposed to be really good in Mammoth, our hiking friends Wrong Tent and Five Star had been talking about it for a long time.
The next morning we hiked quickly into Reds Meadow, hoping to meet our friend Niko. Unfortunately when we got there we found out that the road to Reds was closed due to Road maintenance and the shuttle into Mammoth would only be working the following day. Also, we got hold of Niko and they weren’t able to meet us there as they had work but said they would try see us in Tuolomne. We could have just resupplied there and continued hiking but we needed to get to Mammoth to get to the post office for our bounce box that we had sent ourselves. We had a great pancake breakfast and we did our laundry while we thought about how we would get down to Mammoth. Lucky for us, a maintenance man came to fix one of the washing machines and he offered us a ride to Mammoth once he was done, which was great! We had no plans for staying the night, so we were hoping to try get hold of a trail angel or maybe camp somewhere but the problem was Mammoth was filled with tourists and everywhere was fully booked. We turned our attention to our blog and headed to the library to try do at least one post, it always seems to take forever, we need to find a more efficient way of doing it! After a few hours at the library, we went shopping for our food to Tuolomne. We decided we would go have dinner and then figure out where we could possibly stay the night somewhere. Steve’s parents sponsored us a steak, so we found the restaurant they suggested and got a table. We felt very out of place as it was quite fancy and we were in our dirty hiker clothes, but we enjoyed a great gourmet meal. We hadn’t had steak in a really long time, so it was a real treat. After we ate, we walked towards the campground, and realised that was full too. We began to worry,and walked around trying to find other hikers we could possibly camp with. Luckily we walked past hiker friends ClawHammer and B-Line, who were camping there and on their way for supper. They agreed to let us split the cost for their campsite and we quickly set up our tent.
After repacking our food, we needed to go back to the post office and send our bounce box on. It was a Saturday, and most post offices are only closed on Sundays but when we got there, the post office was closed. Now we were stuck with a bounce box with no way of sending it on. Luckily some kind man told us of a courier shop which would be open, so we rushed across town to get there. By the time we were done and ready to go, it was already almost lunch time, we bought some pizza and headed back to the trail. Because we had to get to Tuolomne as quick as we could, we skipped 8 miles of PCT and got back on trail at the closest possible trailhead. Island pass was ahead of us, Steve had hoped to get up and over that but we managed to get just 2 miles shy of the pass so we could do it the next morning. We were so exhausted from running around town.
The next morning we walked past 1000 lakes, and didn’t really realise we had done island pass until we looked at our map. It felt like a small hill compared to the passes in the Sierras. Donahue pass was next, and we tried to get there as quick as we could as it was heating up pretty quickly and there was still a significant amount of snow around. The acsent to Donahue was quick and easy, but the downhill was a bit more challenging with the melting snow and steep trail. What was quite funny for me was we were passing JMT hikers going South, and for them this was their first pass of their hike, so they were so nervous and found it a lot harder than we did. We met up with our friend Amoeba, and walked down the steep downhill together. The next part of the hike was an annoyingly long flat 7 miles into Tuolomne. When your legs are used to ups and downs, they aren’t used to walking on flat ground, so it was actually more difficult hiking the flat than you think and it seemed to take forever to get there. Maybe we were just anxious to get there. The beautiful green meadows made up for it though and soon enough we arrived at the campground in Tuolomne,only to find out that it was ‘closed’ and would only open the next day. We managed to get hold of Niko who just arrived in Tuolomne and we decided to camp together in the closed campground. I got to meet Niko’s girlfriend, Leanne and their 2 friends and we had a lovely evening with the full moon out. At one point some man came up to us and told us we weren’t allowed to camp there and if a ranger came to us in the night, he could kick us out. We camped there anyway, and had a peaceful nights sleep. No rangers bothered us, thank goodness.
We have loved the change of scenery from the Sierras, and are looking forward to walking through Yosemite National Park, it seems like it’s going to be beautiful!
Hi All! We’re still on trail, and so finding it almost impossible to find time to update our blog. Sorry ’bout that! Here’s the next section in the Sierra’s and we’ll hopefully catch up to where we are soon! Thanks for all your support and messages thus far. It has been a great adventure and we’re re still on track to finish!
We were in the desert in a heat wave with view of snowy mountains. It was so hot in Lone Pine, and we weren’t used to such heat so we spent a day and a half finding shade, eating ice creams and finding a stream to put our feet in. Despite the heat, it was a good break and we even managed to convince Niko to hike back over Kearsarge with us as he had a day off the next day. As we drove up to the trailhead, Niko’s car was overheating, we stopped in some shade to let the car cool down before carrying on up the steep hill. We parked and gathered our things together and set off up the hill. It felt a lot quicker going up and over the pass this time round, I think because last time we did it we had done Forester Pass that day so we did it at the end of a 20 mile day. We were also surprised how much snow had already melted in just 2 days! It looked like a different place. When at the top, we were greeted with a beautiful view of the cloud formations. Niko explained that they are called the Sierra wave, and are a rare cloud formation that occurs only in the Sierras. As it got later in the evening, the clouds went bright pink and red, which was a stunning sight. We made camp 2 miles before Glen Pass and shared a meal with Niko. We talked over all the passes we were about to do, and I realised how tough the next section would be. Tough but worth it for the stunning scenery.
After 2 nights in Kennedy Meadows, we really wanted to get going. We got a ride to the a local restaurant, Grumpy Bear’s, where we could get our bear can and have some breakfast. We had an amazing feast of huge pancakes, eggs, bacon and hash browns, packed our bear can (finally) and got a lift back to the general store. We managed to take a few photos with our friends before leaving, said our goodbyes and headed out with a guy called Dairy Queen. He wanted hiking buddies for the Sierras. And so a new part of our journey began.
It was a great 2 days spent in Kernville, but we were starting to get itchy feet! Allie dropped us off late in the afternoon and we quickly did 2 miles up the hill. I wanted to do more but it was starting to get late and we didn’t feel like pushing too hard. We also met Steve, soon to be named ‘OG’ or ‘Original Gangster’, at our camp for the night, we’d get to know him a bit over the next week or so.
The next 2 days were gonna be tough before we got to Kennedy Meadows, a heat wave was beginning to set in and we had a few 2000 foot climbs to get over. That first full day after Walker Pass we did a good 20 miles. We spent the day winding up and over ridges, most of it being exposed it wasn’t that enjoyable. On one of the ridges we passed a sign depicting 1/4 of the way! Woohoo! Oh wait, we’ve only done a quarter? 🙁 At least that’s how I (Steve) felt at the time. Keep Reading