Monday, June 30, 2014

Days 80 - 2nd zero day in South Lake Tahoe

The letters we got from a Helen's class.
Today I failed to replace my crappy smartphone battery.
I took the bus over to Tech Tahoe. I should have called earlier, but we left our room before they were supposed to open, so I figured I'll just get there and hope for the best. Big mistake. At first, I got off at the wrong station, and had to walk another mile. No biggy. Then, the store was closed. There was a number to reach them, on the door. I called and got to a voice mail. Then my battery died (I Told you it was crappy), and I waited there for another hour before giving up.
I went over to the Radio Shack, but they didn't know anything about replacing Nexus 4 batteries. I did buy a decent new pair of earphones, and a new charging cable for my phone. So that's good.
When I went back on the bus to the motel, I met Curry. She was heading to the same motel, so we got here together. I had some time to relax in the room, so I read all the nice letters I got from Helen's class. They are very touching. I will have them with me when I finish the trail, and send them a photo with the letters from wherever it will be (hopefully - Canada).
After Curry settled down and had a shower we went out for lunch, calling Idan and asking him if he is getting back soon. He was at the outfitter and post office since the morning, getting his packages from his parents, and the used puffy jacket he just bought from someone online.
Until Idan got back we had some fries at Big Daddy's Burgers, and drank a beer. Then we all went over to a Mexican place and had a very good burrito. At least the day was not all wasted.
I also finally got hold of Tech Tahoe on the phone, and the guy said they don't currently have a suitable battery for me, and that I should try calling Alpine Computers. I called them, and they didn't have a battery as well. Maybe I will be able to replace it in Ashland. Maybe not.
Back at the room we made two packages, and took the bus again to "the Y", to send them over with UPS from the Staples store. That took a while.
After getting back we just had our leftover pizza from last night, together with a nice coconut milk yogurt Curry bought, and my traditional Campbell Creamy Tomato Soup. We also had a lot of delicious cherries (thanks again - Curry!)
Idan bought over a can of Permethrin he found in the hiker box, so I'm going to spray out over my clothes now (not while wearing them). It's supposed to repel mosquitoes. I hope it works well.
We still have some packages to send tomorrow morning from the post office. So I guess we will leave town not too early. Next stop would be Truckee, in about 4 hiking days.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Days 79 - zero day in South Lake Tahoe

Barbra's home made cookies
Idan found a good deal for a different hotel room for tonight, using so we checked out of our room, and headed out to the nearby Lake of the Stars outfitters.
They have a very nice room for hikers, with snacks and coffee, and they give you sodas, and a lot of information about the town, and a list of local trail angels.
My birthday cake
We got all out packages there. I had a package from my wife's aunt, who lives in Florida, and was very glad to find a chocolate krantz cake and candles, for my upcoming birthday - thank you very much, Hanna!. I lit the candles, and other hikers sang "happy birthday" to me, before I blew them out. Everyone were very impressed by the cake, and each new hiker that came into the store got a piece.
We also got a care package from Barbra, who took us a ride just after Wrightwood. It had a lot of very good home made cookies. We also shared them with the hikers in the store, and got some with us to the room. Thanks, Barbra.
We met Big Boots over there, and he got a room at a different hotel with Aqua Man and Pound Cake. We talked about going to some buffet for lunch and/or dinner, but at the end we didn't meet up.
Idan and bought supplies for the next section, and for three packages we intend to send to Sierra City, Old Station and Seiad Valley. It was a logistical nightmare, to get everything organized.
I got takeaway lunch from an Indian restaurant across the street. Met Rocket Llama inside, which seemed very content by their lunch buffet, and generally by Tahoe. She took 5 zeroes in here, and will probably only leave tomorrow.
We also met Medicine Man, who stayed in town for 9 days now. I don't know why.
For dinner, we got domino's. I managed to fumble with their app, and got a pizza with no cheese. What an idiot... I will buy dike cheese tomorrow, and put it in the microwave...

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Day 78 - Campsite near Blue Lakes Road to South Lake Tahoe

The day was a bit longer than our usual day. But it was mostly easy short ups and downs.
We started by going over to Carson Pass, which was 10 miles away. After the last climb before reaching it, we meet a million day hikers coming up from them pass. Some of them were quite impressed that we came all the way from Mexico.
Down at visitor center we got some great trail magic. The volunteers who run the center maintain cookers with fresh food and loads of snacks for hikers. We had pasta salad, fruit salad, sodas and home made cookies. We stayed there for a while, to get all the food down before we head out, and meet other hikers we haven't seen before. We meet Ninja Tortoise, who is hiking his 3rd thru hike, and Brad, and some others I don't recall their names. Most if them are not getting into Tahoe today, but will just camp close by.
Enjoying our fruit salad
We headed out at about noon, and crossed the road to the 2nd parking area, where there was a finish line for a big bike race (200 miles and 5 mountain passes, or something like that). The race was almost over, so they offered us fresh fruit and treats they had for the racers. We were too full to try anything. But it all seemed very tempting.
The trail went on easily as before, with some minor climbs. We saw some weekend hikers, maybe some of them doing the longer Tahoe Rim Trail. There was a spot by Shower Lake which had a lot of tents. I guess it's a popular camping spot.
View from the trail
The last 4 miles had a very steep descent towards the highway, and then a long 1.5 mile right along the it, when all we wanted to do was to finally get to the road and hitch a ride. The PCT does that a lot.
Getting a ride from the road crossing was harder than we expected. We made a sign from Idan's foam mattress, but cars were zooming by too fast to stop. At the end a couple of musicians pulled over.
The driver was in a band with his farther and uncle, and they were playing in town tonight. His friend was playing with them occasionally, but today he just came along. He is also a snow boarder, and hiked the AT about the same time I did.
They stopped at a market and ate some pork chops while we waited, but eventually got us to "the Y" - a place in South Lake Tahoe where we wanted to find a place to sleep.
First, we had some Subway. Their vegetarian option is not bad, with plenty of fresh vegetables.
The motel we saw from the road had no vacancy, and the nearby campground was $50 for a tent site, because the 4th of July week has started. We then went to another motel, High County Lodge, and managed to get a room for $65. The owner also let us use the laundry, which was very comfortable. The room itself smelled of smoking and wasn't very clean. But it will do for the night.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Day 77 - Markleeville to campsite near Blue Lakes Road

My breakfast burrito
After a long night's sleep, we finally got up and started our day. Neon and I went to the hotel's cafe, and had great breakfast burritos. We also got our laundry back, and I encountered Sandie's cat, Fiddle, as she was stalking the grass. She was very friendly and felt so soft. Second cat on the trail. May there be many more.
Fiddle, what a cute cat
We took our time getting our gear packed, and waited a bit for Neon to get his, and we headed out to try to hitch back up to the trail.
Together with Sandie
We made a nice cardboard sign of "PCT hikers to Ebbetts Pass", hoping it'll help us get a quick ride. There was nothing quick about it, but after about an hour a couple did pull over for us. They were on their way to one of the lakes after the pass, to let their two puppies play there for a bit. The husband just got into hiking several years ago, but then hurt his back in an accident, and he can't backpack anymore. The wife was still going out on some solo backpack trips.
Another selfie on the trail
They finally dropped us at the trail head at 11:50, and we were off. We knew we are not going to pull a long day today, the 24 miles we had planned before. So we aimed at getting to Blue Lakes Road after 17 miles.
I was happy to find my missing water bottle just where I lost it - under a rock in the stream. I used a hiking pole to get it out. I have been using the same water bottle since the start. So it will last for a few more miles now.

Neon took off straight away, carrying his super small pack. After a while I passed a mother and daughter pair on the trail. The daughter saw my AT patch and we started talking about that. Apparently her father has hiked a Grand Slam, and her mother had only to finish the PCT for hers. I didn't know that at first, but a Grand Slam is hiking a Triple Crown (AT, PCT and CDT) AND the American Discovery Trail, which runs from California to Delaware. That's a lot of trails and miles.
The hike itself wasn't too hard. There were plenty of short ups, but nothing major. And it makes all the difference, even when the daily elevation gain is similar to harder days.

We finally reached the road just after 18:00, and searched a bit further on the trail, for a good camp spot. We found one eventually. After starting late today, we were planning on getting closer to Tahoe tomorrow, and entering it on the following day. But we might just make a big day into town tomorrow after all.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Day 76 - wacs1028 to Markleeville

What a surprising day. We got rained on during half of it.
It all started in the night. It's fun to wake up in the tent and hear rain drops on the tent walls. But in the morning we got up to some drizzle and fog.
Just a bit after we started hiking, the rain started for real. It wasn't any hard rain, but it didn't stop for several hours, and it got a bit cold as well. It was fairly miserable. I kept trying to tell Idan that this is how it will probably be in Washington, At least some of the time, But Idan really suffered, and even wanted to stop mid day to just sit out the rain in our tents. And that's in a day we were planning to hike 22 miles.
We met Blush and Tea Popping along the way, and Blush told us about some campground that is supposedly right next to the road we were trying to reach. I don't know where she got that information, because it's not really there... Maybe she got mixed up with another trail head.
Idan suddenly recalled a small comment in Yogi's book about hitching into a small town called Markleeville, from the same highway. That seemed like a better plan.
A bit of trail, after the rain
About mid day the rain stopped. Right after we had our lunch break and I finished all my snacks for the day at once. A bit later it also started to clear a bit, and we actually saw some sunshine from time to time.
In total we climbed a lot today, but it felt easier than before. Maybe it was the rain and the cold, that kept minds occupied on other things than the climbs. But after a long day, we finally reached or destination at highway 4 just before 17:00.
Nice trees on the trail
The highway seemed deserted, and I was afraid we won't get a hitch. I was trying to fill my water bottle, and managed to lose it in the stream, just as Idan got the first car to stop. We got the luckiest hitch ever,
A very nice couple took us down to town. They are from Massachusetts, and travelling by car along California. They dropped us right in Markleeville, and we started looking for a room for the night.
The first place was full, but the bartender at the nearby restaurant was very helpful in finding the next motel's owner. We also got help from other bar patrons, and everyone were very friendly and nice.
We also met Neon, who got here earlier today. He is from Colorado, and we briefly met him before at Tuolumne store. We sat with him after dinner, and invited him over to sleep in our room.We got a great room at the nearby "Toll Station", at a great price. Sandie, the owner, did our laundry, let us dry our tents in the back and gave us beers.
A really nice little motel along the trail
In the room, we managed to get the TV working, by setting the dish remote control to operate it. I suspect it didn't work well for a long time now. Right now there's "Django Unchained" on TV, and it's way too late for us hikers to still be awake.
Neon and Idan, in our room

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Day 75 - Bridgeport to wacs1028

We did the unbelievable, and left a trail town on the afternoon, despite being tempted to lay around in an over priced motel room for another day.
Our hotel room in Bridgeport
After a good night's sleep, I went to have breakfast with Zen Dawg and Curry. Curry was sleeping inside the main building, in an economy room, which only has a bad. She didn't get any cell service in town, had no phone in her room, and the hotel is closed and locked on Wednesdays until the afternoon. We were staying in the rooms outside the main building, so we had no way of calling her to come for breakfast. Luckily, she came outside on her own at 7:30.
We went to a local diner called Hays something, which Zen Dawg recommended from his experience yesterday. I had a very good vegetable omelet with hash browns. It was nice, being with only vegetarians and vegans. And liberals. The conversation was very interesting. During that time Idan shipped our loaner bear canisters back to Kennedy Meadows. It felt good to get rid of them.
Zen Dawg and Curry were talking about leaving town later, to do a short hiking day. They called Rock Ocean, who was already in town, waiting until the post office opens at 11:00 for some hikers, before making a shuttle run up to the trail.
Zen Dawg wanted a bit more time in town, and then we decided we were rested enough to head out ourselves. So we talked with Rock Ocean to get a later ride at around 14:00, and Curry left at the earlier ride.
Our hotel check out time was 11:00, but the maid agreed to come clean our room last, so we stayed there until the last minute before getting on our ride. That was very comfortable.
I bought some supplies and a had package for the next section, and got a veggie burger from The Barn (they make it themselves, it's not some frozen patty) to carry out for dinner tonight.
After a long long ride back up to Sonora Pass, we finally said or goodbyes to Rock Ocean, and headed out into the mountains at 16:00. A bit later than planned.
Rock Ocean, after giving a ride back up to Sonora Pass
At first, we had a long climb out of the pass. It was pretty windy all along, and even after going over the saddle, the strong gusts of wind persisted. But from there we had a long descent, and it got warm and calm. It still took us about 3.5 hours to cover the almost 10 miles we were aiming at. But most of the time it was an easy hike.
Beginning to climb out of Sonora Pass, on the shoulders of Sonora Peak
We saw a single tent just before the campsite. I don't know who's tent it was. Over here, we found Curry, and Blush, Tea Popping and Moon Fish and her boyfriend. After setting up camp and eating (the burger held very nice), Zen Dawg also arrived.
I an sure tomorrow everyone will get up and leave before I exit the tent. But we plan a long day, so we will probably see them again later.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Day 74 - Cascade Creek to Bridgeport

We spent last night 2 minutes away from the 1,000 miles marker
Sonora Pass caught us with our pants down.
At the beginning of the day we had the normal downhill walk of the last few days. We passed Smuggles, Heat Wave and Lighthouse after several miles (they didn't end up sleeping 0.2 miles from us).
We were getting close to a different mountain range. The Sierras were all granite, but this one was not as rocky, and more brown. The second we crossed a creek over to the new terrain, the mosquitoes stopped. That was awesome.
We had a short, mosquito-less, break, and were joined by Lighthouse. I was surprised to learn he was Scottish. He doesn't have (what I thought would be) a Scottish accent. He did most the trail last year, and is here to finish up some small sections. He has to get to Tahoe, and then just finish the last 60 miles of the trail. Very impressive.
After several more miles we reached the last water source before Sonora Pass. We had another quick meal, and then started our climb. I thought we will get up the ridge, and then get down to the pass. I was wrong.
After a long, switch-backed, climb up, the trail just kept on climbing. There were some downhills as well. But it kept surprising us with more small climbs again and again.
Then came the show patches. It felt almost like we were in some high Sierra pass again. I thought we were over this.
At some point, we suddenly ran into a very sweet dog. He had his dog pack on, and he seemed lost. At first he kept climbing up the side of the trail, and barking for me to follow him. I thought that maybe his owner was in some trouble somewhere, so I followed him. But there was no one around. We decided we would take him down to the road with us, and try to find his owners there. Some beef jerky Idan had convinced the dog to follow us down the trail. We also found some dog food in his pack, and fed him and gave him water.
Luckily, about 5 minutes later we ran into his owner, who was looking for him. The dog got behind, and the owner hadn't noticed he got lost. Well, that ended well.
The cute trail dog, back with his owner
From there it was really almost all downhill, finally. Just as we were starting our descent we met Rock Ocean, who shuttle hikers around the trail. He just came up for a short hike, and told us that if we'd still be stuck without a ride down at the road, when he gets down, he'd take us to Bridgeport. That was a relief.
That's Sonora Pass down there
After a few more snow patches, and another short but very annoying climb, we finally got to the road. And couldn't get a ride.
Failing to get a ride down from Sonora Pass. Lurking behind us is Rock Ocean's sweet van, waiting for his return
Not long afterwards, Rock Ocean came down, and thankfully got us down the long road to town. I thought he was heading in there himself, but apparently he was going back up to pick up someone else later. So we paid him for gas, and got his number to try and arrange a ride back up in two days.
Down in town we were just starting to check out hotel prices, when suddenly Glimmer hailed us from across the street. She got a got a room with Zen Dawg, and they were looking to split it with more hikers. We got in their room and took a shower. Later, Blush and Tea Popping came around, and after some shuffling of rooms they split a room with Glimmer, and we remained with Zen Dawg.
I really enjoyed chating with him. He did the AT several years ago, and generally travels around the world for several months a year. He also told us that Asheville is the place to live in, in the US. Sounds like an awesome town indeed.
Having a veggie burrito dinner at the Burger Barn

Monday, June 23, 2014

Day 73 - Rancheria Creek to Cascade Creek

Finally the night wasn't too cold. I slept well with only my base layer. It felt nice. Getting up in the morning was easier too, and the sun shone on us quite early.
A short walk from our camp we had our first Ford of the day. Surprisingly, we managed to get across with some rock hopping. A while later, we had to ford across the Stubblefield, that was a bit harder, and I got one foot wet.
I think that's Bailey Ridge
We were both in dread of fording the Falls Creek later in the afternoon. Yogi's book had one hiker telling of 9 feet deep cold water we'd might have to swim. At the end the water were no deeper than our ankles, and we just waded across barefoot. It was easy and quick.
Signal is crossing Falls Creek. We were worried we'd need to swim across...
In between we had many short and long climbs and short and long descents. The trail was hard and dull. and full of mosquitoes.
We caught up to Smuggles, Lighthouse and Heat Wave. They also plan to get into Bridgeport, but maybe just for a quick resupply and then head out on the same day. We also met Joey again, who heads straight to Tahoe.
Dorothy Lake
After climbing to Dorothy Lake Pass, we finally started our final descent. We were aiming for the bridge near the 1,000 miles mark. I caught up to Idan right near the mark, in a decent campsite. Smuggles and Heat Wave were just heading on. I think they finally camped at the bridge, 0.2 miles away.
Tomorrow we will get to Sonora Pass. We might camp there, or try to hitch to Kennedy Meadows (North - a different place than the one 300 miles back). On the next day we will get down to Bridgeport, for full resupply, and some rest.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Day 72 - McCabe Creek to Rancheria Creek

What a day!
We planned to do about 22 miles today, which isn't that much. But today it contained about 5,500 feet climb AND 5,500 feet descent. I am not sure, but I think this makes it the hardest day so far, as far as vertical gain and loss go.
Right at Benson Pass
During the first half of the day we mostly climbed towards Benson Pass. Even though it didn't have any snow, it was quite a climb. I knew I was in for as long day, so I was listening to my audio book during most of the climb, just to make the time pass a bit faster.
Just some contrails in the blue-blue sky
From the top, we still had another 2000 feet climb to look forward to. After getting down to near Benson Lake, the climb up to Seavey Pass began, for our amusement. We were not amused.
Volunteer Peak, from near Smedberg Lake
We kept on crawling slowly up, until we finished that one too. The annoying bit of going down from the pass was all the little spots of more climbing up while generally hiking down and along the canyon. Like twisting the dagger at our backs. But we made it.
He seems content
We are currently hiding inside or tents from the mosquitoes, after finishing dinner. I think Yair should be in LA by now. I hope he gets a good night's rest before his flight tomorrow.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Day 71 - Curry Village to McCabe Creek

Today we said our farewells from Yair. It was hard for me to think about him flying back home, with me having 2.5 more months. But I had a great time with him on the trail, and I hope he enjoyed it as well.
He gave us both a good photo of the three of us, and wrote something nice on the back of it. He also gave me a letter I'm not supposed to read until he takes off, so I didn't open it yet.
We got on the hiker bus down at Yosemite Valley, meeting Big Boots and Ido and Maya at the station. The ride took about 2.5 hours, with the driver talking all the time, and telling stories about Yosemite and it's history. Some of it was interesting, but it was a bit too much.
Tuolumne Meadows store, this bird was eyeing our food
When we finally got up to the Tuolumne store, there were even more hikers there than last time, three days ago. A trail Angel, I'm sorry I didn't catch her name, kept bringing beers, sodas, muffins, and at some point she brought over stuff for everyone to have a sandwich lunch, with cold cuts and vegetables and cheese.
I also remembered to get the package from TarpTent - Henry Shires sent me a pair of replacement zipper sliders. Thanks! I will replace them in Bridgeport.
We met Raven, who was planning to head out soon, after the burger, and also had fun chatting with Free Refills, who came to do the PCT from Berlin, after almost completing it in '07, and Soft Egg from Seattle, who's parents are now in Tel Aviv.
We also bumped into Dafna, who was just sitting around the table there and noticed we are from Israel. She came to Yosemite to climb rocks. I hope she keeps safe and has fun.
After waiting a bit for the lunch menu to kick in, we got burgers. Again. It wasn't anything special. Again. But it was s nice lunch. We finally headed out to actually hike at around 12:00.
Some pack horses on the trail
The trail was pretty easy, most of the day. We still saw plenty of day and weekend hikers around, but we also met some new PCT hikers.
Stopping at Glen Aulin we met Fraser, Joey and another hiker I don't recall his trail name. We set there for a while and had a snack.
A cascade on the Tuolumne River, just before Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp
Further on, the trail started climbing some. We kept leap frogging them, Raven, and then also another hiker. When I passed him, he saw the AT patch on my pack, and we started talking. His name is Dr. John, and he hiked the AT at '04.
At around 17:30 we finally got to McCabe Creek, where we planned to stop for the day. It was a long day, at just under 14 miles, but we did start hiking late. Tomorrow would be hard as well.
We found a good camp site here, and set up our tents. Before we started cooking dinner, Dr. John came along, and joined or campsite, so we invited him to eat with us.
It was very interesting to chat with him. He just finished a 5 month bicycle tour around the US, and then went and did half the AT again. When he finished the PCT he plans to get to  Katahdin, the AT northern terminus, and hike south until he finished both the PCT and the AT in the same year. Impressive.
He also has a PhD in geology, and he worked at some place between Norway and the northern pole. Amazing.
A bit later three other hikers came to stop at our campsite. We were very surprised to see that two of them, Mowgli and Drift Wood, started the PCT with us, and we haven't seem them since Warner Springs. That's about 800 miles back. The third one is called Doc.
All in all it was a long day, and it was strange hiking without Yair. I hope this next section won't be too hard on us, until we get to Tahoe. Here comes the big mileage days!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Day 70 - cs943o to Curry Village

Last night Idan decided he wouldn't climb up Half Dome. We tried convincing him to come along, but he was set in his mind that it wasn't worth it, especially after seeing the views from the summit of Cloud Rest.
In the morning Yair and I put most of our great inside my tent, and went out to climb up Half Dome. It was only about 2.5 miles with 1800 feet of climbing.
Just a nice little blue bird
We got up early enough. Didn't see many people around us, and only three hikers behind us.
Getting closer to Half Dome
The first bit (up to the last available campsite) is quite easy. We were expecting to see a ranger over there, just before the beginning of the rock stairs section. We still weren't sure if we even have a permit - we signed in for the lottery two days ago, but haven't received any reply of we'd won. Well - there was no ranger at that spot, so we hiked on.
Climbing up "The Stairs"
The stairs section is just steep rock stairs and switchbacks up to Half Dome. We finished it, and just sat and stared at the cables section. It definitely looks scary. Two cables shooting straight up on the sleek rock face.
Three people were just climbing the cables down, so we were waiting for them to get off before we start our own ascent.
The first two came off and told us it looks worse than it is, and the woman said she actually has a fear of heights and she made it. That was encouraging. The third guy actually stopped in the middle to make a phone call, or a video, or something. So we just went ahead and started climbing.
Right before climbing up that steep path up the top
The climb was tough for me. I wanted to end it as soon as I can, so I didn't stop much along the way. Until I bumped into the ranger, while she was climbing down...
She asked in a friendly voice if we have a permit. That's when I started telling her about getting into the lottery, and not knowing if we'd won or not. And that we are poor PCT hikers. She said that if we don't have a permit we can't get to the top (we were all hanging in the middle of the cable, remember?), and that she'd have to give us citations (which is a nice word for $275 fine each). Though we might be able to tag along with a permit of another group. I think she would have let us off the hook somehow, but when she checked her iPad for for permits she found out we did win the lottery, so we were in the clear.
When I got to the top, at around 9:00, after the cables, I was totally out of breath. I felt really bad, and was afraid I might be sick. After about 10 minutes I felt OK again, and started exploring the top.
The views from Half Dome are also very impressive. We could see down to Yosemite Valley and back to Clouds Rest.
Up on Half Dome, Clouds Rest at the background
More and more people came up, and we also met Ido and Maya again.
Maya, Ido, Yair and I on Half Dome
The climb down the cables was much much easier. We did it facing the rock and sliding/climbing back down. The trouble was with all the people climbing up. Every time I passed near someone, he held on to the right cable, and I held on to the left and keep on sliding down. And there were a lot of people. It was much harder for them.
Looking up towards Yair, while climbing down Half Dome
We I finally got off the cables my hands were a bit sore from holding tight all the way. But it was much easier than the way up, for sure.
And the view from the bottom - it's a traffic jam up the mountain
The stairs section was easier as well, and after that we just hiked down the "normal" trail back to the JMT together with Ido and Maya.
We had to hike back about half a mile back to my tent, to get our gear, eat lunch, and fill our water.
The walk down into the valley was easy. The weather was hot, and got hotter the lower we got. Halfmile's app insisted we had some unknown 900 feet climb before we end our day. We couldn't find it on the map anywhere, and in retrospect it was just some mistake in the app. There is no such climb on the JMT from the Half Fine side trail down to the valley. It's all down.
Along the way we passed Nevada Falls, which were very high and gushing. More and more day hikers were hiking around us, on short hikes up from the valley. From Vernan Falls bridge it was more like walking along a promenade of some tourist town.
Just  acute squirrel trying to get some free food
Right at the end of the JMT, where Yair officially finished his thru hike, I got approached by a couple as I was waiting for Yair to catch up. The woman asked me if I was hiking the JMT or PCT. I told her I'm doing the PCT, and my friend will just be finishing his JMT. We talked a bit, and she mentioned she hiked the PCT last year. She asked my for my trail name, and then I asked her for her. "Anish". Saying she "hiked the PCT" is an understatement. She smashed the PCT unsupported speed record, and set it at 60 days (or so). That is amazing! She plans on hiking the JMT next week "as fast as I can". I'm going to follow her fb page to see how fast she makes it (the current record is about 3 days and 10 hours).
Bumping into "Anish" right when we finished the JMT
We had a celebratory veggie sandwich, and got the shuttle over to Curry Village, where we met Idan. He was waiting there from about 10:00, and couldn't check in to our tent cabin because it was on the name of Yair. So he was just waiting for us in the lounge all that time.
After getting our cabin and getting a shower, Yair and I caught the shuttle to the Housekeeping Camp to do laundry. I got some supplies for the next section, and bought some more at the store back at Curry Village, along with some wine for dinner.
We went and got (yet another) pizza, which was surprisingly good, and raised a toast for Yair, and the end of his thru hike. I envy him for going home.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Day 69 - Cathedral Lake to cs943p

The day started with a short climb over Cathedral Pass. From there we had a nice hike down the valley towards Sunrise Campsite.
Cathedral Peak, from Cathedral Pass
I waited for Idan and Yair there, and was attacked by a ton of mosquitoes. It was the worst spot yet.
From there we got off the JMT to start climb up towards Clouds Rest. I put on my audio book and hiked all the way up to the summit.
The view from Clouds Rest was quite amazing. I could see all around, including a view down on Half Dome not too far away. The weather was great, with no winds, and I just rested there until Idan and Yair came along.
Posing on Clouds Rest, with Half Dome in the background
At one point a pretty big airplane flew along the valley, below us. It was a really cool thing to see.
When Idan and Yair arrived, they came with Ido and Maya, an Israeli couple they've met along the way. They are touring around the US, hiking around in different parks and areas. It was fun meeting some more Israelis.
And a close up on Half Dome. Seems scary.
The climb down from the summit of Clouds Rest started pretty steep, but later became quite nice and graded. It was not a long hike back to the JMT, but I ran or of water, so I was hiking fast towards the next water source. I was very happy to see a great little spring about half way there, and I filled up there and drank half a litter on the spot.
A great little spring on the way down from Clouds Rest. Right on time.
When I got back to the JMT I filled out more water and waited for Idan and Yair to catch up. It wasn't too late, so we could have walked up another 1.5 miles up towards Half Dome to save us some of the climb tomorrow, but at the end we camped down before the start of the climb.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Day 68 - Lyell Fork ford to Cathedral Lake

A somewhat different day for us on the PCT.
The night was chilly, and in the morning we had a bit of frost on our bear canisters. The tents and the rest of our great were not affected. We waited a bit for the sun to reach us, and then started our hike down towards Tuolumne campground.
Some deer in Lyell Canyon
The Lyell River
The hike was a bit steep at first, but soon enough we reached the valley floor and had a long walk on completely flat terrain. We met a lot of JMT and day hikers, the closer we got to the campground.
We finally reached the store at 12:30. Idan was already there, just finishing getting us into the permit lottery to climb Half Dome in two days. I hope we win.
The PCT does not go down into Yosemite valley, but the JMT, which Yair is hiking, does. Besides, we are so close, we might as well hike down and see the sights.
And this is the Tuolumne Meadows camp store
At the store we met a load of other PCT hikers. Big Boots was there. He just got his Half Dome permit for tomorrow, so he was heading down the valley today. We also met Globe Trotter (who did the Israel trail two years ago) and Salsa, Lucky Winner and Chris (who are hiking a big PCT section, and are not going down to Yosemite), and several others.
This bird kept trying to get to our food, while sitting near the store
We were supposed to get a resupply box we sent ourselves, at the store/P.O.. The guy manning the Post Office kept telling us to come around later, because he was busy "sorting", or something like that. After almost two hours of waiting, we finally got to ask for our box. It wasn't there - it got to the P.O. down in the valley. We were bummed, but we got our resupply from the store. So no worries.
While waiting there, we did eat some nice food from the snack bar. I got the standard veggie burger, and also a veggie chili. So we didn't waste all of our time waiting.
We finally headed out at about 16:30, to start hiking down to Yosemite. We made a stop at the visitor center to figure out if we'd have room in some lodge, when we get down there in two days. It doesn't seem so.
Our plan is to climb Clouds Rest tomorrow, and then camp just below Half Dome for the night, and do it on Friday. So today we just hiked out of Tuolumne about 4 more miles, and camped near Cathedral Lake.