Day: Wednesday, July 13th 2016
Miles: 932.2 – 951.1
Remote Camp 932.2 – Remote Camp 951.1
I was a weird kid. I used to regularly and happily sleep in the evening time, with my back against the dishwasher whilst it was running. Even at my current age I can still remember what a big deal it was to pull a cushion into the kitchen and fall asleep to the gentle swoosh. I could still happily do it today, but that might lead to my fans judging me somewhat. What I will say is that I still have an amazing ability to sleep in extremely uncomfortable places if similar conditions are recreated – all I need is white noise. Cramped airline seats, noisy air conditioning units, greyhound buses. No sweat. Ten minutes and it’s lights out. Last night I enjoyed some extreme white noise, and what a noise it was. The noise in question was from the waterfall just down from my tent site. I’ve been lucky enough to be serenaded by a few waterfalls on this trip, but this one was perfection itself.
So perfect in fact that I slept in handsomely. S’rocket, Blue and Levi were all up by the time I dragged myself away from my quilt and it wasn’t until 8:30 that we all eventually left camp. The destination was Tuolumne Meadows. The trail dropped through a series of intricate staircases to the first set of incredible meadows prior to Tuolumne with the Tuolumne River lazily meandering through a green oasis of grasses and alpine flowers. It was very different to the meadows we previously encountered – a fresh and clear morning without any mosquitos and just the pleasant flat terrain to deal with once we entered the grassland.
We hiked together for a while, chatted for a while and eventually (as you usually do on a thru-hike even when hiking with friends) separated for photographs or water refills. I listened to some Sigur Ros and other relaxing music to complement the scenery and relaxing morning sunshine. It’s amazing how relaxing a wailing Icelandic girl can be when matched to beautiful scenery – especially unusual that I would choose that particular group since my tastes in relaxing soundtrack starts at “dishwasher” and wailing Atlantic islanders are a little different on the spectrum. As I walked further in a relaxed and contented wander, I glanced up to the cascades that dropped from the steeps of the valley in precipitous bounds of energy, joining the river as it gained volume with a magnificent blue water color, trout lazily swimming in the pools.
Around 3 miles from the midday destination of the post office and store at Tuolumne Meadows, I stopped by another small creek for water, only to be joined by two horse riders and their mounts heading south. Startled to see the first horses on trail since I started, almost immediately, 5 horse trains of one rider to 4/5 horses came through, adorned with leather resupply packs and Yosemite National Park motifs. It was quite an impressive (if dusty sight). I continued afterwards with some difficulty through the acrid dust clouds from the sandy trail, with some addition horse poop dosing maneuvers required to boot – a new day a new hazard on the PCT!
After the horse encounter, the trail crossed the river with some pleasant Rapids and pools that were very inviting. Aiming to push through however, I eventually arrived to Tuolumne Meadows Post Office and had some refreshments as well as getting my resupply box from Mark and Susannah in Portland, Maine. This was a restock for the 3.5 day haul to Sonora Pass. As always there’s a few embellishments needed so I added some wraps, peanut butter and additional candy. The scene of hikers rejigging their resupply and repacking was quite funny, as confused tourists gazed on in wonder.
After jamming almost everything into my bear canister, I had some ice cream and a beer before finally hitting the trail around 4:30 hoping for another 5-10 miles to round out a good days mileage as well as a resupply. The initial trail followed the meadows further past soda springs where bubbles emerge from the water spring like a soda stream. The river then widens and approaches a series of beautiful falls culminating at Glen Ailin where it cascades through a series of huge waterfalls before entering the approaches to Hetch Hetchy Valley, a controversial area in the annals of California preservation efforts, where a valley similar to Yosemite is currently underwater, thanks to a dam that was constructed for San Francisco’s water supply. The views to Glen Aulin were impressive and expansive. At this point I had separated from Levi and the S’rocket/Blue combo, so I was enjoying the views and getting those extra miles in as a solo expedition.
As the sun set, I walked another 4 miles to a sheltered spot overlooking a granite outcrop. The approaches to my eventual tenting area felt like walking in a land of giants, with enormous trees towering above in the twilight – and thick green grass lining the trail. This terrain seemed to swap between interminably dry and arid portions then followed by more verdant portions of trail. As I set up my perch, it’s nice position sadly not matched in the ground – I was pitching my tent on about 1inch thick of dust. Let’s hope it’s not a windy night!