Whitney complete. Our trail now joins the John Muir Trail for the next couple hundred miles through the High Sierras ( the JMT starts at Whitney and ends in Yosemite Valley.)
Most JMT hikers are hiking South. We are going against the tide, and man there are a lot of them.
I am overwhelmed by the amount of people in the woods (Backtrack counted 96 one day which included two dogs, two horses and six mules).
Yet the JMT hikers have one amazing quality I will be forever grateful for: they pack too much food.
We were optimistic leaving Onion Valley. Confident we could make it to Reds Meadow in seven days. We were used to the elevation now. Stronger trail legs…
Team No Hurries should have known better.
Our first day out is a long one. We go over Kearsarge (again) and Glen (12000′). Then we make a detour off the trail to visit a friend in the woods who gave us a ride back to Horseshoe Meadow last week.
She had given us directions to her base camp. It turns into a damn fool’s crusade. There is one more pass between us and her camp. It is a very small pass. It is one too many.
( The crusade ends the next morning. We found a flat spot in the dark for camp. Meet her as she is hiking out for her days off. Over those same three passes).
3 mile off trail crusade complete.
Pinchot, Mather, Muir come next. All 12,000′ passes. All stunning. The way through these glacial valleys is a long way up, and a long way down the other side. Beautiful and challenging.
Contingency plan. Running out of food. There’s a side trail to Muir Ranch. We take it.
A lot of JMT hikers resupply at the ranch. We are hoping that they’ve left food in the hiker box. We are not disappointed.
We are directed to a canopy with a row of neatly labled and sorted buckets. One for breakfast, one for snacks, one for homemade items. We are saved.
(Reading the log book, we can pick out the PCT entries from the JMT entries because they all start ‘we are so grateful for the hiker boxes’).
Loaded with a few more days of food, we stop at the nearby hotsprings (a hole in the middle of the meadow) before hitting the trail again. This is my first bath in 10 days.
Two more baby passes (anything under 11,000′ is a baby), a stop at Vermillion Valley Resort for more hikerbox food and restaurant food that gives us a coma, and a hail and lightning storm before we make it to Reds Meadow.
18 days between towns, 20 days between showers. When Backtrack and Blaze get to the road, I watch them start running towards where I’m sitting at the bus stop. The last bus of the day to take us off the mountain is there. All Backtrack wants is a real bed and a shower.
We make it.
We have been saved.
For a while we wondered if we would ever make it out of the mountains.
We told our mom it would be 12 days til our next phone call. At least she didn’t send out search and rescue for us.
Thank You JMT hikers, for all the extra food you pack and leave in hiker boxes for hungry PCT hikers to find. We made it thru all the high passes without eating Blaze because of you.