The days leaving Tuolumne Meadows were wet and the miles were harder than I expected. It rained the afternoon we arrived, for 5 hours the following day, and for several hours in the following afternoons. The Sierras were giving us one last challenge before we could be let free to move into NorCal. Although the Sierras don’t really end until Sierra City in another 200 miles, in my mind they were coming to an end as we began to exit Yosemite Wilderness and leave the high peaks behind.
We enjoyed our last alpine lake for awhile at Dorothy Pass before going over the pass on our third day in the Yosemite Wilderness. As soon as we crossed over, the mountains on the other side immediately changed. The colors went from white granite to pink and red. The ground went from solid stone to soft pine and volcanic scree. It was an abrupt change, the mountains were showing us the continuation of our journey.
As we made our way to Sonora Pass I became excited to get rid of things I had been carrying in my bag for weeks, mostly my bear can. When we reached the pass we were greeted with an amazing lunch buffet (Thank you Retro!) and an easy hitch down to Kennedy Meadows North. To my dismay, the wifi didn’t work so no getting any planning or posting done but we did all the usual town errands, laundry, showers, snack resupply, and a good big dinner.
On July 4th we left our midway to Tahoe stop for three and a half day traversing several different wilderness areas. There was part of me that didn’t want to leave, I just wanted to enjoy some time off, maybe soak in the holiday, but I knew that was just a few days away in Tahoe. We hit trail with a beautiful day and even more beautiful terrain. It was a treat to get a break from the mosquito hoard of Yosemite and the miles felt like they rolled right by.
When I got cell signal towards the first big climb of the day, I started getting messages from trail friends showing what they were up to and asking where I was. I found out that most of the people I had spent time with in the desert and thought I’d be seeing in the High Sierras were almost a hundred miles behind me back in Mammoth Lakes for the 4th of July. It was a weird feeling thinking I might not see them on trail again with that big of a gap between us and only growing larger as we increased our miles heading towards Tahoe.
As we neared Tahoe the mountains became volcanic and the terrain “flattened” out. The big climbs became rolling hills. The granite mountains became canyons and sheer cliffs that had eroded into the jagged faces they were. We hit a highway every other day which was a treat for dumping trash and getting trail magic from day hikers.
On the final day climbing out of Carson Pass I saw Lake Tahoe off in the distance. A blue disk that almost looked like a grassy valley in the mountains through the haze of the day. The thing I had been looking forward to for a very long time was finally here. Getting to Tahoe marked a moment of celebration for me. It was something I had been looking forward to for a very, very long time. I hoped the next days would bring me some relaxation and some refocusing for the last month in California.
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.