Monday, July 26, 2010

South Lake Tahoe and onwards!

Since my last real posting from Lone Pine, our intrepid group has gained people, lost people, experienced the beauty of the John Muir Trail, crossed many passes (most with at least a little snow), seen the brilliance of Yosemite National Park, and we have now joined up with the Tahoe Rim Trail and taken a zero at a wonderful friend's house.

After Lone Pine, a hiker named Tatonka, later renamed to Lady LNT (the story is not quite SFW), joined us doing the same section as Sexy Vermin - Kennedy Meadows to Red's/Tuolumne Meadows area. There were also a lot of PCT hikers in the area, so we had plenty of great company throughout the Sierras. We continued north back from Lone Pine via Kearsarge Pass (where we came out) and thankfully Gangle's GI issues disappeared with some antibiotics and time. I can't even say enough about all the incredible parts of the JMT/PCT section that we hiked - all the incredible passes, the valleys, the lakes, the views. It really is the crown jewel of the US trail system - every day was a new adventure and we went over a snow-covered pass at 11,000+ feet every day, which usually slowed us to a mile an hour but was so beautiful and stark in its glory that you barely noticed. And gaining the top was always worth it, to look back at the long walk up and admire the valleys and lakes below you that you were headed into.

We did take a detour on the hike and hiked the JMT split which added a couple miles but was much more scenic, as well as taking the old PCT trail south of Red's Meadows so we could hit the Iva Bell Hot Springs and pass by Rainbow Falls, as well as enjoy the scenic Devil's Postpile. We were not going to stop into Mammoth but when we arrived at Red's Meadows, two hikers we had enjoyed the company of greatly, Hiker X and Grinder, were there taking a break after just having got back from Mammoth. When they saw us, they managed to convince us to go into Mammoth and take a night, which wasn't hard to do (town food and showers is the ultimate carrot). The other thing was that Sexy Vermin/Ken was leaving us at Red's Meadow so we were able to accompany him into town and wish him a fond farewell. It was a truly enjoyable experience having him out here for 2.5 weeks and he certainly loved it out here. Wish him the best in getting back to Cindy and the real world : )

From there we continued on to Tuolumne Meadows, our next resupply spot. This involved entering Yosemite National Park at Donahue Pass (where we got pelted with a hailstorm - set up a tarp and made quesadillas thanks to Hiker X, one of my favorite trail moments so far) and hiking in one of the premier national parks in the country. Needless to say, it was amazing. The bugs started to get bad there and we are in the midst of the bug season now though, which isn't fun but is part of the outdoors.

We've passed some incredible scenery post-Yosemite as well (i'll refrain from waxing poetic too much about that area as plenty has been written about it before) but the wildflowers have been surprisingly beautiful the last couple weeks and we've gone through beautiful areas like Carson Pass, Sonora Pass, Mokumne Wilderness, and we've seen a lot of day hikers out with all the road access every 30 miles or so. We've also turned up the mileage - Moosie and I did our first 30 a couple days ago to get into South Lake Tahoe.

Speaking of S. Lake Tahoe, when Steiner and myself did the Tahoe Rim Trail in 2008, we met an awesome lady by the name of Renee who helped us resupply. For the PCT, she volunteered to take us in for a couple nights and we got incredible showers, meals, laundry and great conversation (she's a passionate backpacker). Her and her husband Mark have been true trail angels and we've experienced some incredible hospitality. Last night we went to an AYCE sushi place (hand rolls were amazing - shout out to Sushi Pier in Stateline, NV) and then found out randomly that Elton John was playing at an outdoor ampitheatre behind one of the casinos. Some locals let us know about a great spot where you can listen to it for free, a parking lot behind the stage where all the people "in-the-know" tailgate and hang out. So we listened to Elton John sing for free. He still sounds great and one of his encore songs was "Your Song". Yes, I melted.

Anyways, trail is awesome. We are picking up the miles and plan to be in Sierra City on Saturday afternoon to meet some friends of Steiner's. As always the PCT provides and we've been blessed with great friends (old and new), great trail, great views, great walking and a great life. It's hard not to feel blessed out here. We continue for about 40 more miles on the Tahoe Rim Trail with a fantastic view of the lake then split off towards legendary Donner Pass. Pray that none of us get too hungry...

-Barrel Roll

PS New pictures up:

Updated pics start at:

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