Yeti’s Pacific Crest Trail PCT blog 2017
Days 59 to 69: From Mammoth to South Lake Tahoe
4 July – Zero in Mammoth plus a 1 mile hike to camp at McLeod Lake
I treated myself to a little sleep in before indulging in the hotel breakfast. I had a quick look at the 4th of July parade. It felt a bit overwhelming so I ate lunch, sorted out my resupplies and caught the trolley-bus back to Horseshoe Lake. We hiked about a mile to camp at McLeod Lake which would give us an early start in the morning. It was just me and the Cans as the others were staying an extra night in Mammoth. We were dropped off by Chris who’d finished up his hike to start Med School in the next couple of weeks.
5 July – Mile 903 to 923
Hiked over Mammoth Pass back onto the PCT. It felt so good to walk continuously without snow.
I went past Devils Postpile which is a formation of granite hexagonal columns similar to Giant’s Causeway in Ireland. Some beautiful scenery through to Thousand Island Lake where we made camp. We met another PCT hiker Kevin, who’d just caught a rainbow trout for lunch.
6 July – Mile 923 to 943
Up nice and early to get over Donohue pass which had a long snow approach but wasn’t too difficult.
Crossed a couple of rivers, before following along a nice flat valley for ages. Again, it was so good to hike along a snow-free trail.
I finished up at Tuolumne Meadows which suffered so badly over winter that, even in July, nothing had re-opened.
7 July – Mile 943 to 962
It was a day of rivers, starting with Tuolumne River. I’d been tracking its flow data over the past few weeks to get an idea of the state of other rivers and creeks in the area. The bridge had some damage but was ok to cross. It was much less treacherous than videos I’d seen from a couple of weeks ago. On the next tributary, a bridge to the Glen Aulin Camp had been washed away showing how powerful the raging rivers had been.
I crossed McCabe, Return and Spiller Creeks. Met up with everybody in the afternoon at Matterhorn Creek which had started to get difficult. I’d heard that the Cans had a scary fall at Spiller Creek, so I decided to wait for them while the others went ahead. They got in quite late but I was able to help guide them across as they teamed up and worked together really well on what was a very difficult crossing.
8 July – Mile 962 to 980
Glad to have Jackpot and Madison to walk with and to make sure we all crossed the upcoming rivers safely.
We crossed Benson Pass, which had a nice approach but then lots of snow on the descent. This was followed by a few creek crossings, which we managed quite well. We were joined by Wizard who, after being solo for a while, seemed to enjoy the company and added safety at the creeks.
Kerrick Creek looked dangerous so we hiked alongside it for about 3 miles trying to find a safer crossing. We found some footprints that we shouldn’t have followed! They kept us right on the water’s edge traversing deep snow. It was probably one of the riskier locations we’d been, requiring spikes and ice axe. After a while, we decided it was too risky and scrambled up very steeply to re-find the trail. It was a good decision as the trail ended up being safer and faster. We weighed up a few options for crossing Kerrick Creek but the best choice turned out to be just upstream of the normal crossing. We decided it wasn’t worth the risk of crossing that night given it was late and we were so tired.
9 July – Mile 980 to 995
I was awake half the night worrying about crossing Kerrick Creek. So I was pretty happy to see the water level had dropped almost a foot overnight. It ended up being relatively easy – we carefully traversed the worst section over a log, then navigated across a couple of short sections which were only knee deep. Good to have the 4 of us together! A French girl and Eagle also crossed just after us.
We made good mileage for a couple of hours until reaching a creek in Stubblefield Canyon which was way over head-deep at the usual PCT crossing. We hiked upstream, crossing as it diverged into several crossings. The last part ended up being chest-deep but the current was very slow moving.
We made our way to Wide Creek which, true to its name was wide and also really deep. We found a spot that appeared cross-able. It looked like we could traverse across a log over the deepest section, then jump to a waist-deep section. Jackpot went first, but the current was stronger than expected. He made it to the rock bank but it was too slippery to get out. He lost his footing and went for a swim downstream. It was a bit scary but his pack floated well and he was able to kick to the shore. I went next and made my way across the log. I aimed my jump slightly higher, hoping to hit the bank at a gap between slippery rocks. I had to walk upstream slightly which was tough. I made it to the side of the river, but the edge was too slippery and Jackpot’s pole broke when he tried to pull me in. Luckily I was in the spot where I’d aimed, and managed to drag myself between the two slippery rocks. Safe and sound! After that, we put a system in place with a rope and log to pull people ashore as they got to the deepest section next to the slippery rock. We helped a few others across that turned up while we were having lunch and drying out. In total, 8 of us made it across.
The path then turned to stop-start snow and water which really slowed us down. John and Wizard joined us for the afternoon and it was great getting to know a couple of new people.
10 July – Mile 995 to 1017
Pushed hard today to get up to a ridge to camp. We went off trail to avoid an icy traverse – headed straight to the top to walk along a ridge.
So beautiful, just what I’d expected the mountains and trail to be like.
I camped with the Cans just near a highway crossing to meet the Sonora Pass Resupply Van in the morning. John and Wizard headed into Kennedy Meadows North for the night.
11 July – Mile 1017 to 1034
I was hoping to hitch a ride into Kennedy Meadows North for breakfast and to catch up with Flame, as I’d just found out that Flame was in hospital with a foot infection. I waited a while, but no luck with a hitch on this stretch of road.
So I waited for Casey from the Sonora Pass Resupply Van who had our packages ready along with some coffee. We cooked up a quick breakfast on his grill, which turned out to be a great start to the day.
I also met some hikers who were with a young guy who’d been air-lifted off the mountain yesterday after falling 35 feet and breaking his leg. I got some advice about how to avoid that section!
After lunch, I ran into Colton and Nacho, then later Sam. Sadly Flame will be resting up for a few days.
12 July – Mile 1034 to 1060
I felt good today after an extra few minutes sleeping in. Still some snow patches around but getting much clearer. After lunch, I hit a road at about Mile 1050 to find a trail angel named Chipmunk offering eggs and chilli on bread with drinks and a brownie. Such a nice guy so I hung out for a while.
Finished off the day making up the extra miles, including one final tricky section of snow and ice on a very steep traverse. I found the others and we set up camp in what turned out to be the worst mozzie spot yet! Joined tonight by Bumble Bee who we’ve seen off and on last couple of days.
13 July – Mile 1060 to 1082
Decided to have a slightly easier day. I had some more trail magic today at the Carson Pass visitor info centre, where they offered fresh veggies, fruit, cheese and salami. So good! Finished off with a delicious brownie.
Had a swim in the lake – super cold but refreshing! Tomorrow, it’s only 8 miles to the highway to hitch into South Lake Tahoe.
14 July – Mile 1082 to 1091
Made it to South Lake Tahoe! Up early and reached the highway by 9am. I got a hitch pretty quickly then headed into town to get most of my resupply and other chores done. I sent out the bear canister with some extra gear I don’t need at the moment. Town was busy with casinos on the Nevada side. A celebrity golf tournament was on as well. I popped into a casino to have a look but it felt overwhelming, so I quickly headed back out for dinner at a local Mexican place away from the crowds.