All eight of us slept in a tiny tent cabin in Yosemite Valley, fully embracing our hiker trash way of life. We took our time getting ready, grabbing one last town breakfast before attempting to hitch back up to Tuolumne Meadows.
We split up to increase our chances of being picked up.
But it was of no use. No one was successful at getting a car to stop and slowly we all reassembled at the Yosemite Visitor Center.
We ate more food, drank some beer, and lounged around for a couple hours waiting for the 5:00pm YART bus to take us back up. To kill some time, Cosmo, Rooster, Woodchuck, and I enjoyed an entering Yosemite NP free movie and learned more about the park.
We rushed to catch the bus, but we were far from the only ones with this plan. When we got there we found a full ride and an angry driver. We were able to sweet talk our way into a ride but had to endure an overheated uncomfortable seat in walkway.
After an hour and a half we arrived to Tuolumne and hiked out a couple miles. Tonight we are a group of 10 with the addition of Link (formally Lucky) and Quoi. We ate family dinner under the stars and slept close to one another in our tents.
Our hike started out by passing the beautiful Tuolumne Falls.
Shortly after the falls, Happy Baby and I arrived at an intersection where we found Link, who was going to spend the day waiting for 5 Star. We asked him which way we were supposed to go and he confidently pointed up towards the Tenaya Lake Junction. I gave Link a hug and told him I hoped to see him soon. Happy Baby and I hiked a mile and a half until we got to a mellow water crossing and out of nowhere Cosmo appeared, sweaty and packless.
"You guys are going the wrong way" Cosmo said breathlessly. "Huh?" I replied confused. "You guys need to check your maps, you are a mile and a half off the PCT and headed back toward Tenaya Lake. I ran up here to find you, thank goodness I did." Cosmo was worried, and rightfully so. After the story of Strawberry we've all been trying to stick a littler closer together.
Happy Baby and I looked at each other and we looked at the map. "Damnit!" I yelled. "We are going to do three bonus miles today?!" Cosmo nodded with sweat dripping off his face. We thanked him for caring enough to chase after us and continued back to the intersection with our tails between our legs. "Link is gonna get it!" Was the mantra I kept repeating.
Midday we were halfway up a climb when we stopped to chat with another hiker, Pneumonia. He was turning around because of stomach issues and wanted to lighten his load by sharing his food with us. We gladly snagged dinners, bars, and tortillas and feasted before continuing on.
Near the top a ranger stopped us to check for permits. She was nice, and we chatted a bit, but it was annoying to empty my pack and fish out my paperwork. After 900+ miles this is the first time my permit has been checked.
Later in the day we started to cross paths with "flip floppers", hikers who skipped up north to bypass the Sierra and are going south now but will flip back up when they are done. We chatted briefly with Rosie and Drum Solo and then continued on our way.
We hiked late to try and catch the rest of our crew but made it a mile shy of Ya Ya and Utah Aaron. We ate dinner in the dark and fell asleep to the sounds of rushing river water.
This morning we slept in a little and hit the trail around 8am. I had high hopes for the day. I wanted to get the same kind of mileage we got yesterday, but today was slow going. The terrain and views were spectacular, with vibrant meadows colored in green grasses and yellow and purple wild flowers. There were mountain lakes with granite rock islands and clear water.
We stared our day with a two-mile climb up and over Benson Pass. Along that climb I encountered another park ranger who stopped me to check my permit. Begrudgingly I dug it out of my bag and after brief chit chat I was back to the climb.
The miles went by slow today, really slow. It was around 4pm by the time we finally hit 10 miles and I knew my 20 mile goal wouldn't be reachable. Despite the lack of distance we enjoyed our day. Cosmo, Soulshine and Link jumped in lakes and went swimming, I dipped my feet and dunked my head. There were water crossings, but all of them were mellow and easy. On one such crossing I confidently skipped from rock to rock (trying to keep my feet dry) when all of the sudden I slipped and bounced up and back down with my tailbone landing right on a rock! I sat there in the damp pebbles for a few seconds clenching my mouth and trying to take deep breaths. Cosmo came running over to help me up and we sat in the grass for a few minutes until the pain lessened. A bruised tailbone lasts a long time! It wasn't too long before I started to just walk it off, and shortly after gave in to ibuprofen. Hopefully this one heals quick, having a bruised bum is no fun.
After climbing down the second pass we decided to end the day before sunset. We only covered 14 miles, but we were exhausted. Link made a fire and we all ate dinner around it.
After coffee and a triple oatmeal breakfast, we were on the trail by 7am. Today was filled with ups and downs that offered scenic views, and non intimidating water crossings that kept our feet wet all day.
On our morning climb we were startled by the sounds of a helicopter flying low over our heads. It looked like another search and rescue mission. We hoped for the best, and once again were reminded to be cautious.
By mid day it started to heat up and when I found Cosmo in the water at Wilmer Lake, I decided to jump in too.
The evening hike was mellow, cruising terrain. But the mosquitos....the mosquitos were abundant and relentless! Anytime I stopped for a second there was a swarm around me like a helmet of annoying blood suckers.
We planned to hike over 20 but made it to 19. We caught a beautiful sunset over Dorothy Lake and camped along the water.
After crossing Dorothy Lake Pass we hit a huge milestone. 1000 miles!
It feels surreal to reach this mileage, an unfathomable distance to walk, even for the walker. This last section has been one of the most beautiful with smooth granite slopes, snowy peaks, and flourishing meadows. This section also has me feeling much stronger than I was in the desert, and I hope to continue on the up and up.
Soulshine, Link, Happy Baby, Cosmo and I sang show tunes and other silly songs to get ourselves over Sonora Pass. Our biggest challenge was an intimidatingly long glissade which we all conquered with teamwork.
By the time we reached the trailhead we put our packs down and stuck our thumbs out. Happy Baby went in the first car, Soulshine and Link were next, and eventually we all made it to Bridgeport where Woodchuck, Rooster, Ya Ya, and Utah Aaron were waiting.
It was a quick stop to Bridgeport, we did laundry, showered, got our resupply and began our journey back to trail.
To make it to Canada on time we have to pick up the pace. Now that we are through the toughest part of trail our goal is to increase our daily mileage and make it to the Cascades before the snow returns in October.