We are very lucky hikers. We haven’t had much bad weather, we haven’t had any major gear problems, and we haven’t had any major injuries. But we are lucky for other reasons as well; we have amazing friends along the trail who are willing to drive hours to see us, or open their wonderful homes to our smelly selves. Not all hikers can say that. It gives us something to look forward to, and we have been looking forward to Mammoth Lakes for two months.
We were planning to take two “Zero Days” while staying with our good friend Peter in Mammoth. We ended up taking four… After our hiker chores were complete, we did some extreme relaxing, including floating down the Owens River, sitting in natural hot springs, and eating lots of amazing food. It was wonderful.
Peter would later join us on trail, with his fly rod in hand, to hike the section from Mammoth to Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite. The day we hiked out, it was cloudy and cold, but by that evening it had cleared up. It was a beautiful section. Pete fished in alpine lakes and streams all along the trail. Unfortunately for him, however, Pete joined us just in time to experience the birth of swarms of mosquitoes, which annoyed and bit us at every turn. We had been hearing horror stories about the mosquitoes in this section. As one hiker put it, “it’s a whole different kind of torture.” So we bundled up in our rain shells and head nets, doused ourselves in bug repellent, and built small campfires (our first campfires of the trip) to keep the damn things away. Going to the “bathroom” was especially interesting…
When we arrived at Tuolumne Meadows, we were met by Patricia, Pete’s girlfriend, who greeted us with homemade lemon bars and beer! Though sad to finally part ways, we bid farewell to them there and hiked on toward Sonora Pass. With a cloud of mosquitoes following us, we plodded on to the 1,000 mile mark! It feels truly surreal to think we have backpacked 1,000 miles to the middle of California (the longest state ever). We quickly resupplied at a small resort called Kennedy Meadows 10 miles east of Sonora Pass (not the same one as down south) and hiked on.
From Sonora Pass onward, the terrain got much easier. We were VERY excited to get to Lake Tahoe where our good friend D. Jay lives and where several close friends from the Bay Area – Brent, Shy, Chris, Ben, and Natalie – were planning to join us for the weekend, along with an encore appearance from Pete. Motivated by the prospect of a comfortable bed and a house full of friends, we cruised through this last section. We did a 28-mile day followed by a 31-mile day – our biggest day yet. We ended up arriving in South Lake Tahoe a day earlier than expected, on the Fourth of July (which was major culture shock). So we hitched up to Tahoe City where D. Jay lives and ended up spending the Fourth on his porch, barbecuing and drinking beer. On Friday, everyone arrives from the Bay Area and Mammoth, and we’ll celebrate 1,000 miles among friends.
View from camp at Garnet Lake on our first night out of Mammoth with Peter
Another view of the lake
Crossing Garnet Lake
At the Garnet Lake outlet, there were TONS of fish
Pete caught all of them
Trying his hand in another spot
We did (relatively) low miles and took lots of breaks. It was glorious.
Happy hikers at Thousand Island Lake
Hiking up Donahue Pass with Pete
Snow melt on top of the pass
Crystal clear water flowing down from Donahue Pass
Hiking down from Donahue Pass
Mosquito nets deployed
More fishing breaks on our final day into Tuolumne
On our first morning out of Tuolumne, we only made it a few miles before stumbling upon this perfect break spot
It’s been crazy hot this past week, so we’ve been jumping in lots of lakes and creeks
We stumbled upon this waterfall in Yosemite without warning
Hiking toward Sonora Pass, the trail sprawling along the ridge in front of us
The morning after Sonora Pass… not a bad view
The wildflowers between Sonora Pass and Tahoe were amazing. All colors, and shapes.
These ones are made for hummingbirds!