Mile 1006.8 to 1027.3 (20.5 miles, 33 km)
I camped up high last night in a small grove of trees providing just enough protection from the wind. Small patches of snow surrounded my camp and still cling on the upper slopes and steep gullies of the nearby hills. I had 10 miles to cover to get out to Sonora Pass and try to get a hitch into Kennedy Meadows Resort.
I got going with a cold cup of coffee. You see I don’t like setting up my stove in the morning just for coffee and I most certainly do not do hot oatmeal. I can’t stand oatmeal these days. But I did find that Starbucks make small packets of coffee and I found that just adding them to bottle of cold water tastes just fine. Like an iced coffee.
The trail lead up a series of scree slopes first thing. High up on the mountains, just scree, no vegetation and patches of snow to content with.
Traversing a ridge line I came across an older lady, Bev, maybe 65 years, cowboy camping in the middle of nowhere. Sitting upright in her sleeping bag with all her clothes on enjoying the sunrise and eating breakfast. ‘Gee it must have been cold up here last night’ I greeted her with. ‘It wasn’t too bad’ she said, ‘just the wind to cause a pain in the butt on occasions.’
It was great to see. Seeing all these young kids walking the trail is great, what better lesson in resilience is there, but for older folk to be out here camping rough, that is awesome! She said she was trying to push miles last night but made it to the ridge and decided to cowboy camp. I instantly liked her and we got talking.
‘What inspires you to to be out her cowboy camping?’ I quizzed. ‘I’ve just always wanted to walk the trail and there is no time like the present. And it’s an example for my grandkids. I want to show them that if I can do it, they can do anything.’ Awesome!
Moving on I came across the widest, longest run out and steep snow slopes come across so far. Focus on footing in front was the key as I don’t have microspikes or an iceaxe anymore and the occasionally look down slope to remind myself of the consequences of a misplaced step. All was well. No photos sorry, but other snow drifts were present all around.
Continuing on I spied the pass from quite a ways back. The trail and terrain were quite easy. From the top you could see straight down to the highway.
On first arriving at the highway I chanced upon two other hikers trying to hitch into the Kennedy Meadows Resort. It can be a hard hitch and these guys said they had been at it for 4 hours without a ride. I didn’t want to jump the hitch que and said I’d stand off to the side. They had a better ideas. They told me that in the car park a 100m away there was trail magic on offer. It’s a Saturday and I thought there might have been a chance of some trail magic on offer at Sonora Pass. I wasn’t wrong.
Arriving at the car park there were two lots of people providing trail magic. Oh my goodness, what a banquet on offer, all out of the kindness of their hearts. Fresh fruit salad, sodas, burgers, hotdogs, home made cookies, home made Mac and Cheese. A bunch of other hikers were there.
I tucked in. First course: fruit salad. It was divine. Second course: a burger with the lot and a side of home made Mac and cheese. I asked if they might have coffee and the lady excitedly whipped me up an iced coffee, my second for the day. They then loaded me up with bananas, chocolate coated sultanas and cookies. Wow! I was blown away. Almost enough to resupply from but not quite enough and I needed to get a ride to the resort.
Heading back to the Hwy I scored a lift with the third car coming past. No four hour wait for me and I did see that the other guys must have caught a ride in.
The store at the resort was perfect and enabled a full resupply with all the usual stuff. A little overpriced but you expect that in these small places. You can also stay here, $35 for a bed in a dorm, a shower and laundry. The also have a restaurant. I thought about staying but it was way over crowded with car campers. Too many people for my liking so I decided I’d head back on trail. I just needed a lift.
Well talk about the trail providing. I had just finished loading up my food and enjoying a cold can of Coke when a guy walks out into the store porch and asks me if I’m a PCT hiker. He is a trail angel in the area for the weekend and is shuttling hikers back to the trail head, 11 miles away. I jumped at the chance, grabbed the other two guys from the four hour hitch and we were out of there.
Returning to the car park, trail Magic was still on offer and what is a hungry hiker to do? Go back for 3rds of course. I devoured a hotdog and more fruit, filled my water bottles and hit the trail with a very full stomach.
And I got 20 miles in today. With the hitch and resupply I was thinking I might only get a couple more in after returning to the trail.
What an awesome day.
I find myself camped alone again in a perfect little camp on the edge of a cliff. Amazing views as the sun went down.