TC to Tuolumne Meadows, 5 miles
|Miller Lake, one of my favorite lakes on trail.|
The next day I walked slightly ahead of Flash, absorbing and thinking about our trip. The scenery was beautiful in a way that made me never want to leave, and I was proud that we had done such a difficult hike, two hundred and fifteen miles in eleven days over some epic terrain. At the same time, I felt like perhaps the big section hikes might be coming to an end. Not the section hikes themselves, but just because we could hike 20 mile days, we did not have to. Or at least, not every day.
The most confusing part of the whole hike was figuring out TM, just like I remembered from our JMT hike. Arriving at the store in a cold rain, we realized we had missed the early bus to Mammoth Lakes, and there would't be another one for over six hours. Sitting in the rain did not sound like a good time. In a burst of inspiration, Flash retrieved some cardboard from the store and made a sign. We were going to hitchhike!
(Sorry Mom.) A guy ran up to us with a larger pre-made sign, Hikers to Mammoth. "Take this one!" he said. Apparently, hitching is common. I hadn't hitched since my 1988 trip to New Zealand, where everyone was doing it, so I stood nervously along the road. But as it turns out, people pick you up in a national park. We had two delightful rides, one from a lady about our age and the other from an Australian guy driving around the country. Thanks guys!
Dumped off at our hotel and into sudden civilization, I could barely absorb the fact that our hike was done. It had gone by so fast. All of the brutal climbs, the sweet lakes, the ridgewalking...all done. In fact, I was now done with the Sierra portion of the PCT. I had now hiked over a thousand miles of the PCT. A thousand miles!