Day 49 | mile 879.4 - 906.7
Up at 5. Sleeping bag was wet with condensation. 3 dinosaur egg oatmeal packets this morning with half a bagel. I was so hungry yesterday right after breakfast. And it’s the last day before Mammoth, so I just finished my oatmeal supply.
Oh! My stove doesn’t start on the first or second try anymore. It’s a little scary so I need to remember to buy a lighter as backup.
Hiking by 6. The 2 tents camping with me hadn’t even stirred. I really wanted to make it to Mammoth before USPS closed (28 miles + trolley ride to town) but Alex messaged me saying it closes at 4. I didn’t really stand a chance but you know I like a challenge. I went for it anyway.
Flew up to Silver Pass. Navigated icy snow on the way down. Had to use maps on the phone a fair bit to find the trail.
My battery pack unexpectedly died last night while charging the InReach. So I started the day with InReach at 58% and my phone at 44%. I was a little bit on edge all day about my phone. I like the check the maps a lot, but I had to make little deals with myself all day. “Once you get to the top, you can check.” Obviously, this flies out the window when I can’t see the trail. So my phone quickly went down into the 20s.
I couldn’t use my phone for podcasts, so I was occupying my brain by trying to compose a stupid poem for remembering all the passes. I didn’t get very far.
highest is Forester Pass
bring your micro spikes and axe
next is Glen, but not before
you descend down to the valley floor
Pinchot has a funny name
but the views up there aren’t lame
everyone’s afraid of Mather
don’t be worried, it’s no bother
follow switchbacks to the top
just don’t rush so you don’t bop
Got bored before I finished with Muir, Selden, Silver Passes. Yea, I’m a poetry genius. It’s nice to have something for your brain to do while you’re hiking, otherwise it loops the lyrics to Kill You by Eminem. Or worse: You’re Such A by Hailee Steinfeld.
Down the pass. Up endless crazy exposed switchbacks. Pass a whole bunch of people. Backs of my knees burn like crazy. Alex thinks it’s ice burn from postholing.
guys, real question. did i take enough pictures of lakes with mountains in the background for this stretch?
I had run out of all my bars by now. I was saving 5 skogsbär for when I was really desperate. I got up the hill from Purple Lake and really started dragging. I was just kind of coasting down and really out of it.
When I decided I couldn’t make it to USPS before 4, I took a break. Had ramen. Then made the first awful decision of the day to put some instant mashed potatoes into the leftover broth. It was way too salty. Thankfully I was by a creek and drank a whole liter.
Given that I wasn’t making it by 4 anyway, I made the second awful decision of the day. I’d hike down to Red’s Meadow, then find this trail (that’s not on my maps) to go to Mammoth. The road that goes to Red’s Meadow Resort is closed until tomorrow at 5.
I ran down 3.5 miles to Red’s. These know-nothing JMT hikers didn’t know anything about this trail. In fact, they were sure there wasn’t a trail to Mammoth. This is when I started panicking. I had that same feeling that I had at the end of Tahoe Rim Trail. Just utter panic.
I tried to calm myself down and look around for the trail. There weren’t any signs. Just acres of abandoned looking shacks. Finally saw a comment on Guthooks that says there is a shovel and an orange cone at the “trailhead”. Found the cone, not the shovel. It seemed to be heading in the general direction of Mammoth and I saw no other alternatives. So, I took it.
It wasn't as much of a trail as a lumberjack's path or something. I had lost a bunch of elevation going to Red's Meadow. And now I was gaining it all back and then some. It was like 3.5 miles of sandy uphill, then finally 0.5 mile down to Horseshoe Lake parking lot. The amount of joy and relief I felt upon seeing cars and humans is indescribable.
Alison (the lady I met at Lone Pine) and I had planned on having dinner when I got in to Mammoth. So, I was messaging her telling her I'd be in later than planned. She was really sweet and offered to pick me up and bring me some food from Von's. Once I was in the parking lot, I was collecting all my trash out of the backpack and looking very hiker trash. This woman was surprising her husband who is on the PCT. But he is near Pinchot Pass... so she's really early. She asked if I was a PCT hiker and offered some pizza. Obviously, I said an enthusiastic YES. Alison pulled up a few moments later while I had handfuls of pizza and pizza hanging out of my mouth. Pure bliss.
Even though I barely know Alison, I almost burst into tears at the sight of a familiar person. (It was a stressful day!) She drove me to Motel 6 and waited while I made sure they had vacancy. We made plans to meet up tomorrow and I went to my room. I was about to jump into the shower when I discovered Motel 6 does not stock shampoo and conditioner. Cool.
The front desk guy pointed me to the vending machine. $2.50 for shampoo. No conditioner. There is no way my hair was going to untangle without conditioner. I walked across the street in the dark to a liquor store, the backs of my knees cracking and burning with every step. They had shampoo and conditioner for $2 each. I also picked up an ice cream cone.
For a good half hour I couldn't do anything but lay in my warm dirty water soup a.k.a. bath. A nasty gray dirt rim formed on the tub. The backs of my knees were so soothed by the water, I didn't want to move. Finally willed myself to drain the bath and get clean. Everything's a blur after that. I was kind of half awake while I did laundry and talked to my parents.
Asleep by 11. Don't know what time exactly, but Forrest knocked very loudly in the middle of the night. I basically sleep-walked to open the door and went back to the sleep without saying a word.