Tonight is my first night alone in the Sierras. I’m without my bear cannister too, I’ll come to that in a moment.
I was the first one to stir in the motel room. I got up and snuck out to get to Vons supermarket and do my resupply shopping. At the till a guy saw what I was eating and asked if I was a hiker. He turned out to be Sierra (a.k.a. Randy Gabler) PCT class of ‘77 and ‘84. We talked outside for a while and I got all sorts of advice from him especially not to be down hearted when the scenery doesn’t stay as good as the high Sierras. He’s quite the map fiend and had good ones to show places to hitch to, and not to, from the various road crossings ahead. He drove a bunch of us around, even bought Lucky Joe and I giant ice-creams (where I dropped Joe’s camera and was considerably more worried than when chasing off the bear*). When he left town he took my bear cannister, packed with enough food to get me from Tuolumne to at least Echo Lake, and he’ll stash it at the next ranger station for me. My pack is about 7kgs lighter because of that but it still feels heavy.
I walked down to Red’s Meadow from the Horseshoe Lake path through what was once lush green forest. The first part is now suffocated trees, killed by volcanic fumes leaking from some vent near by. The rest is a charred skeleton left by the Rainbow Fire a few years ago.
At the store I was met by the front of the herd. Almost 20 PCT hikers came and went during the hour I was there. I didn’t know any of them, or feel much connection to them. As I set off my mind was occupied with schedules and logistics. I was stuck between doing big miles and getting away from The Herd, or slowing down and enjoying it more. Lucky Joe has stayed an extra day to keep in contact with his family, but he’ll catch me soon. Blue Sky and Vortex are probably 50 miles ahead. With 25 mile days I’ll have time for some zeros before reaching Oregon. I needed an iPod to help me tune out of thinking, but I kept it stowed and plugged on.
The ridge to Agnew Meadows has been lovely. Once up here it is gently rolling, and there are great views across to the undulating JMT path I did 10 days ago above which rise the jagged Minarets still wearing a collar of snow. The sun was setting at one end of the canyon as the moon rose at the other. There is probably something to be said about the light leading me forward and night drawing in on my time in the Sierras, but I’ll leave that to the poets. Now I need to retreat into my bag and smell unlike bear food.
More photos of this day’s journey can be found at Reds Meadow to Tuolumne Meadows
* Not because Lucky Joe is scary, he’s great and totally forgave me, but I thought I had totally broken it, so I assumed I’d give him my camera as a replacement and have to go find another one or carry on camera-less, which would would be terrible given how beautiful this trail is.Distance today: 11.8 miles. Total distance: 917.4 miles