7/21: A Mammoth Escape

Got back on the trail yesterday, which was great! Had been very antsy to leave Mammoth. Great town, great vibe, but I’m so focused on the trail that what might normally catch my attention doesn’t really at the moment.  I have my eyes focused on Canada. 

I resupplied with food while in Mammoth, but also came into some free food from a couple other hikers as well, and as a result I had almost enough to make it the complete 190 miles to Lake Tahoe. 

Not a good idea! 

Why, you ask? Well, unless you have a Sherpa along with you, then someone has to carry all that food…and in this case it was me. Yesterday we didn’t go too far before stopping for the night, but today I ended up hiking 16 or 17 miles. I made it about 10-11 miles before I dumped off about 6 pounds of food. My feet were in serious pain, and I was legitimately worried about them. What made my pack even heavier was just me trying to be frugal: instead of sending my ice axe, crampons, and extra poncho tarp home, I decided I would just walk this stretch with them, since I’m going to take a few days of rest at home when I get to Tahoe. Frugal, yes, makes the pack lighter, definitely no. 

So, long story short, today was a tough one. There will be the harder days, and I met one today. 

The scenery was beautiful though. Instead of taking the PCT out of Red’s Meadow, Leader & I decided to travel the John Muir Trail, which is more scenic. And, also mostly uphill. Grrrrr. Also buggier, wetter,  and harder. But, it was worth it. This section of the JMT winds & weaves it’s way through some beautiful lakes, including Garnett, Ruby, and the one I am camped above right now, Thousand Island. 

Leader is somewhere ahead of me, as he was able to hike faster. I’ll be waking up before he does tomorrow, so hopefully I’ll make up some ground on him then. We scale Donohue Pass in the morning, which is, incredibly, the last of the real passes we will face. It’s hard to believe I’m already up and over Forester, Muir, Mather, Selden, Silver, Kearsarge, and the others. A lot of work, sweat, anticipation, all behind me. Now about 10 days until I get home for a small break, then the last 1,600 miles. I’m looking forward to those, since I will be much, much lighter: no mandated 3 pound bear canister for food; no ice axe or crampons; fewer clothes; no poncho tarp; and the tarp I am using will be replaced. It’s in beautiful condition, but the company that sponsored me with the tarp (Yama Mountain Gear, formerly AlpinLite) has designed the same model tarp, but made out of cuben fiber, a much lighter material. I’ll be field testing the tarp, so that will be exciting. This will be the first cuben fiber product Yama has put out, so it’s an honor to be the first to put it through the ringer. 🙂

So, all in all, just 10 more days of being “heavy,” and then I’ll be really light. Can’t wait!

One sad note: Grizzly Adams, who I’ve been hiking with for a while now, had to get off the trail due to an ankle injury that just wouldn’t fully heal. It got hit by a rock, and had had it’s good days and (mostly) bad days since. By the time we arrived in Mammoth, and it continued to swell, he knew he had to stop. He will hopefully be back on the trail after resting & caring for it, and shooting a wedding on the east coast. Until then, I’ll just s’magine he’ll be reclining with his leisure jacket & a good tome, possibly something by Homer, or maybe War & Peace. 

Also, Bonzai (aka Bonnie) will also be heading home to the east coast as well. She had fractured bones in her foot, and was meeting out group along the way in the different towns when possible, but she has a job starting and needs to finally head home. Another sad thing, since her laugh and positive, fun outlook was a refreshing part if the trail, and will be sorely missed. So for you, Bonzai: “Why do you do that, Bonnie??”. 🙂

So for tonight, I’m all camped out, bear canister stashed in one spot with my little rock alarm on top of it, extra food in a Loksak stashed somewhere else, and my little trash bag stashed well away from camp. The bears in this area are not outwardly dangerous to humans, but they are also not scared of us either, which could make for an interesting encounter. Better to stash the food than meet Yogi & Boo Boo. 🙂

G’night. 🙂

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