Coming out of Vermillion Valley Resort, my mind was in a different place. My goal has changed from just trying to keep moving with the hike to trying to enjoy it for every moment oI have. I know there are hot, thirsty and hungry days ahead but I also know that the desert and the High Sierra are two things that all PCT hikers talk about having had a part in strengthening them.
We left VVR to head to Reds Meadow and a much needed day in town. The miles were relatively easy, the terrain was finally turning into that Northern California sand and pine and the mountains were getting progressively more steep with sheer faces as we worked our way towards Reds Meadow and Yosemite. Our stop in Reds Meadow and Mammoth Lakes was met with many good surprises. We found Leslie and Charlie, two trail angels from SoCal, hanging out for the weekend, met back up with many thru-hiking friends we hadn’t seen in weeks or even months and ran into Legend (again), an angel you can’t hike the PCT without meeting.
The day in Mammoth was filled with drinks, pizza, new gear (my stove broke and my shirt has been getting progressively more permanently smelly) and a nice moment to relax from the hike north. I’ve gone back and forth about the power of trail towns on this journey. At one point I had said I would want to be in the mountains as much as possible uninterrupted. At other points I’ve found a few places I loved so much they almost made me want to quit and stay forever. Going into town on the PCT is a mental and physical necessity I’ve decided. One needs a break from the monotony and the sometimes struggle of the trail to keep themselves moving onward.
After leaving Reds we slowed our pace and spent the next two days lounging by an alpine lake and then enjoying some of Will’s friends who had been hanging around and working in Yosemite National Park. Finally having the time to slow down and not worry about food, water, pace or anything else was rejuvenating for a few days. Taking an afternoon nap, floating in a lake and eating as much food as I could felt like a little vacation, almost like this was just a week long trip coming to an end.
Coming out of Tolumne Meadows heading north to Lake Tahoe, we’ll be picking up the pace ever so slightly. Once we reach Tahoe, the July heat will be kicking in, the summer will be upon us and it’ll be a race to get out of NorCal before any fires get in our path. The hope is to be entering Oregon by the first week of August, then we’ll be just a few weeks away from the end. Having walked 900+ miles, I feel as if the end should be so much closer but luckily there’s still much more to come.
The PCT stands for the Pacific Crest Trail, a 2,653 route extending from Mexico to Canada along the west coast of the United States. Every year several thousands attempt it and only a few hundred finish.