Sunday, September 13, 2015

Hiking the PCT, Northern Sierra, Days 11-11.5: The End of the Trail

Matterhorn Creek to Tuolumne Cascades, 15.5 miles
TC to Tuolumne Meadows, 5 miles

Miller Lake, one of my favorite lakes on trail.
We trundled along the creek to find a benign looking group of Sierra Clubbers packing up their camp. A good steep climb awaited us, but I noticed these were getting easier. Was my body finally getting used to them? At the top a delightful surprise: the serene Miller Lake, devoid of any people and warm enough for a swim off the sandy beach at 9 am. Two northbounders had warned us of another big climb ahead but we never found it, only a rollercoaster walk leading to a flat meadow. I didn't know how to do flat, I told Flash. With such a short day, we reached the Glen Aulin waterfall and backpacker camp area in no time. There's also a High Sierra camp here, with showers and meals and an overall glamping vibe. The clean guests eyed us with caution, as well they should, since it had been eleven days since our last shower.

Falls!
We had thought about staying in the backpacker campsite, but it didn't appeal. For our last night, we wanted more solitude and quiet. Above the falls we found the perfect spot, perched near a lovely cascade. Having so much time at camp was a luxury. We soaked our feet. I fiddled with my tent zipper, which decided to quit completely.




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!


11 comments:

  1. Hi Mary, I really admire you for your love and understanding of the Wilderness and Nature. It takes a good person to treat it with respect like you and flash have. I don't comment on all your entries but, I do read them and enjoy your photos very much. I have done a lot in my 68 years but, am well aware, I haven't done enough. So, kudos to you and keep us entertained with your travels.

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    1. John, I admire how you have lived your life, especially not stuck behind a desk! It's all relative! I'd love to have a remote cabin...

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  2. Such lovely memories, word and photo pictures....of the hard trails, the lovely lakes, the mountain vistas, the special camps. They will be with you always, and you gave them to us, too. Sorry to see it end, but good to have time to recover and think about "where next!"

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    1. I'm trying to entice Flash into another desert section.

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  3. I had to google "glamping", how did I not realize this was a thing?

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  4. Congrats on completing 1000 miles of the PCT! Wow! Enjoyed this latest recap very much.

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    1. I'm looking forward to the next 1000..maybe.

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  5. Congrats, and thanks for taking me with ;)

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    1. You are welcome, and come along next time!

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    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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