Saturday, June 30, 2012

Day 73: Reds Meadow --> Mammoth, epic trail crew! :)

Saturday 6/30/12
Miles 893.5-907 (13.5 miles)
Elevation 8,119'

Dangit, I had this blog all typed up, and then for some reason it got deleted. Arg!! So here's the abridged version:

1)pics of Kyle on "lion king" rock. That was next to where we camped, it looked way more epic and lion king ish in real life than it does in the pic. Also, we felt *way* better this morning than yeaterday. Lol.

2) pics of trail crew: AMAZING people!! thank you *so much* to all the men/women who maintain the PCT, it is the most well maintained trail I've ever been on. Especially this JMT portion; it's like hiking in luxury. The section we're in right now had really bad blowdowns from the 130mph that wrecked the area last November. I have pics of the blowdown areas and also of parts where the trees have been cleared off the trail. Trail crews have done an amazing job clearing the trail and allowing hikers to get through without going through an obstacle course. :) one of the guys of the trail crew is Owl, Weather Carrot's friend whom I met when he was doing trail work several hundred miles ago in the desert.

3) reds meadows: when I finally got there, Kyle was already 3 beers and one ice cream drumstick deep. He hikes fast.

4) took the shuttle to mammoth, there are mtn bikes EVERYWHERE. Omg this is so epic I NEED to ride!! Rentals are so expensive though. Arg. :( we went to Whiskey Creek pub and had some hef beer by the local brewery, it was YUM. :)

6) I hit 900 miles around noon today WHOOOO!!! :D

7)We stealth camped in a patch of trees somewhere by the Village, like the awesome little hiker trash yahoos we are. Lol. We are surrounded by houses, bike trails, and multi-million dollar resorts. I looked at a map later on and discovered we were at the base of the bike park where all the trails go into town. Hence the reason there were so many trails around where we camped. Stoked my tent is earth-tone and not some loudass color like bright orange. Yay for ninja camping! Lol.

Day 72: tough day, pissy mood :(

Friday 6/29/12
Miles 882-893.5 (11.5 miles)
Elevation 10,300'

Sorry I didn't take many pics today. I was in a crappy mood for most of the day so snapping photos was not a priority. It's also why the mileage was so low today, we stopped early. I also discovered that in order for me to hike fast, I have to be cold *and* pissed off. Apparently one of those alone is not enough. I think that realization just fed my fire and made me more mad. Lol.

The two pics of Kyle on that rock was in the morning at the campsite. He wanted pics on the "lion king" rock. Lol. Rocks are so cool. Uuugh I wanna go rock climbing. Damn, when I get home and can go climb again it'll be like starting from the beginning. I've lost all my forearm strength and technique. Not that I had much to begin with. Lol. :(

So anyhow. There wasn't a particular reason why I was all pissy today. It was just one of those days where I felt completely blah and my pack hurt and felt like crap and the mosquitos were pissing me off, and I was just super tired all day. I passed by a couple of pretty lakes today. That helped me feet better. Water always does :) Kyle was having a bad day too. When I saw him in the afternoon I could tell even from a distance that he was in a pissy mood as well. Bleh. It's a good thing we don't hike together, we probably would have put each other in even worse moods. Lol! Kyle hikes way faster than I do so I only see him in the morning, night, and 2 or 3 times throughout the day when he stops for a break.

I found him again later in the afternoon around 5, next to a river that fed off a lake. It was really pretty. I was so tired at that point. I dunno why. So was he. So we just sat there for a while, drinking a 1/2 liter of wine and eating chocolate candy bars and wallowing in our self pity. Haha. Oddly enough, I felt a lot better. That wine was yummy. It was the Black Box cabernet. It's actually really good. We decided to just call it an early day, instead of going for the 15 mile day we originally wanted to do. Tomorrow will be almost all downhill so we can make up miles then.

We drank more wine once the tent was up (to keep the mosquitos at bay). I have a pic of that. I dunno why but this evening the mosquitos were all over me. More than normal. Damn bugs. I was fantasizing about leaving a pile of all the dead mosquitos I smashed, outside my tent, as a warning to all other mosquitos. Kyle says he likes to leave the mangled carcass of the mosquitos he squashes right on his skin. If only that would keep the bugs away...

I scored a free bottle of wine at the hot springs. It's from a local winery, and it's *really really good*. I took a pic of the label. Neither of us have a corkscrew, yet I'm proud to say I got the cork out with a pocketknife, and only a tiny amount of cork residue in the wine. Whoo hoo! Ninja engineering FTW!! :D

In the pic I have of me and Kyle, he's eating a tortilla with peanut butter in it. Kyle loves peanut butter on tortillas in the way that I love Mac n cheese. If I had to choose just one food to eat on trail, it would be Mac n cheese. I loooooove that stuff. But the Kirkland signature brand ones from Costco are kind of gnarly and gross. But it's ok, just drown it in milk powder and ketchup. :)

So that's what the evening entailed. Drinking wine, eating, and talking crap about the prissy JMT (John Muir trail) hikers. Lol. It's not that we have anything against JMT hikers, it's just that the prissy ones are so easy to poke fun at. :) Plus, for the PCTers, we talk enough crap about each other for the last 900 miles it's time for fresh meat. Lol. In all seriousness though, if you put a crowd of hikers in a room it is usually blatantly obvious the ones hiking the PCT and the ones on the JMT. And almost all the JMT hikers go southbound, so we pass by *so many* everyday. Anyhow, I dunno how to explain it, other than you start to see certain patterns and stereotypes amongst JMT hikers and it's just kind of funny. Lol. :) not only that but I think us PCTers start to go a little kookoo as we near 900 miles. Yeah. I'll just blame it on the insanity. :D

Day 71: Lake Edison/VVR ferry ride

Thursday 6/28/12
Miles 877-882 (6 miles including the trail from ferry landing, hey don't judge
Elevation 9,533'

Gosh this place is incredible. However, we got the tent packed, we're leaving damnit!! Lol :) The dude Michael that works at the store is so cool! He really hooked us up. I took a pic of him. Thanks dude!! You're awesome!

We luckily got a hitch to VVR, otherwise it was a really hot 8 mile roadwalk. Although later on I found out there was a trail that goes from mono hot springs to here. Doh! Ah well.

VVR (vermillion valley resort) is really cool! They are super hiker friendly and the store has better prices than Mono. But I'm still so glad I went to the hot springs. Random encounter: the lady that gave Kyle the dehydrated backpacker meal yesterday, we saw them at vvR! They hiked in as a day hike. That's so cool. They have us scones and cheese and crackers because they didn't want to carry stuff back. Thanks guys it was yummy!! :)

I ate a gummy gecko. It was so yummy. I took a pic of it. The food at VVR cafe is really good. Gosh I ate so much! Ugh. Lol. So much in fact that hiking out was quite hard. We took the ferry across Lake Edison. The locals told us it was a lot better than walking the 6 miles to get to the trail. We later talked to someone who walked the trail, they confirmed. Yay! It was an $11 ferry ride. Yikes. Expensive. O.o There were other hikers on the ferry too. I have a pic of Panama Red (left) and Pitstop (right). I also have a pic of Kyle eating tortillas with peanut butter, Mismatch is sitting behind him.

Coming out of VVR my pack weighed so much. It's because of the liter of wine and 2 lbs of peanut butter and tortillas I'm packing out. Lol. Dunno why I grabbed the latter out of the hiker box, it seemed like a great idea at the time. Ah well, this way I can take my time going into mammoth. :)

Anyhow, we only ended up hiking 5 miles today. Partly because we didn't get to the trail til around 4:30, and partly because both our stomachs were kind of gnarly from the random combination of stuff we've been consuming. Lol.

We're about 25 trail miles to Mammoth. That means we can do one crazy masochistic hiking day or 2-3 mellow days. I think I prefer the latter :)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Day 70: Mono Hot Springs

Wednesday 6/27/12
Miles 0
Elevation same as yesterday

So...we intended on leaving today but as you can see by the mileage above, we didn't get too far. Lol. Kyle was saying this place reminds him of the summer camp he never went to. I agree. :) This place is *amazing*!! We spent the morning hanging out with the locals (the people who work here), and the rest of the day talking to all the vacationers.

One gal named Monica was so cool!! She is an 8th grade special Ed teacher in Lancaster, and she also sword fights! It's funny because I was on the college fencing team at UCI (i fenced foil) and I'm obsessed with swords, and she fences with SCA (she fences epeè). She's so cool. She also had a suuuuuuper cute and fuzzy husky/malamute/wolf puppy mix. He is 6 months old and sooooo cute and fuzzy!!! I'm slightly obsessed with puppies. Lol

We hung out at the hot spring by our tent for about 4 hours. I have a pic of kyle in it. It is a real popular one because its the warmest of the springs (about 104-107*F), so everyone goes there. We were doing laundry and then drying it all, and in that time we probably talked to everyone who was vacationing here. Lol.

People were really stoked to hear about our trip, many had no idea what the PCT is. One really cool lady came back later and gave Kyle an extra freeze dried backpacker meal she had leftover from a hike she did. Thank you kind lady!

We met a large family who was here for a family reunion, they took a liking to us and invited us to dinner. It was AMAZINg!! They fed us spaghetti and garlic bread and beer and wine and soda, it was great! Thank you awesome family!! The meatballs were hands down the best I've ever had. YUM. The family was so cool. They were from all over California. There was about 18 of them, and it was the most cordial and civil family reunion I've ever seen. Lolol!! Everyone was so cool. They were all so stoked to hear about our trip and asked us a lot of questions. It was fun. We spent the whole evening with them. I felt like a superstar. Lol! Thank you awesome family for your beautiful hospitality!! <3

Ok tomorrow we're gonna leave. For reals. :P

Day 69: unexpected beauty, and Mono Hot Springs

Tuesday 6/26/12
Miles 866.5-874 (15 miles including the side trail to Mono Hot Springs
Elevation 6,565'

This morning was awesome! Faceplant and Gecko walked by our camp, followed by Hee Haw and Problem Bear. Those are the two guys in the pic, Problem Bear is the guy in front. I also got a pic of Hee Haw's guitar, it's the thing in the white bag strapped to the front of his pack. It's a carbon fibre guitar made by Emerald, and they sponsored him by sending him that guitar for free. Hee Haw is a professional musician, he's awesome. Double Sprainbow and Itchy also passed us, I took a pic of them too. It's awesome, Double Sprainbow is the only other Asian girl ive seen on trail. How is it that Asian people make up 1/3 of the world population, yet there's hardly any on trail. Lol.

After about 7.5 miles, we took a side trail to get to mono hot springs. It was absolutely amazing. We took the Bear Creek Trail which is a 5 mile side trail off the PCT. Not only did we avoid a really lame 1,000' ascent on the PCT, but Bear Creek Trail was by far the most gorgeous section of the trail I've been on thus far. And it isn't even a part of the pct!! I took 3 pics of the trail. The water was so clear we were counting the all fish we could see. The whole trail was so surreal, at times I felt like I was almost in a tropical location. The bugs weren't that bad either! Kyle and I were just absolutely losing our minds the whole time. It was *so* beautiful.

We ran into 2 locals (Balding Eagle and Roam) who were hiking. They confirmed the trail did go to mono hot springs. Yay! That's cool, because the trail wasn't labeled on our map so Kyle and I just took the trail assuming it would take us in the correct general direction. Lol. We later saw 2 other hikers who had a map of the area, and they also, confirmed we were going the right way. Balding Eagle said the Bear Creek Trail was his favorite in all the sierras. I can see why. There are so many epic camp spots along that trail too.

The trail dumped us out on a dirt road so we had quite a road walk. Balding Eagle and Roam drove by us and gave us a ride to the springs. Yay! Man I was sooooo tired. It's been a strenuous last couple of days. :)

Mono Hot Springs is really cool. It's a family owned, tiny destination resort in the middle of the sierras, and a lot of families vacation here. They have cabins for rent and a campsite. Kyle and I ended up just ninja camping on the other side of the river. I'm not sure if we were supposed to, but no one said we couldn't. Sometimes it's easier/more efficient to ask for forgiveness than permission :D. Its so cool, our tent is setup about 20' from a water tank that's spitting out natural hot water, and we're about 100' away from the nearest hot spring. Life is good <3

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Day 68: selden pass...are we there yet? Lol

Monday 6/25/12
Miles 846-866.5 (20.5 miles)
Elevation 10,587'

Yes we did another 20 mile day. Lol. We are nuts. Holy crap I am so tired. But it's ok. :)

Today we went up Selden Pass. It was an interesting day of hiking, elevation-wise. It started with about 10 miles of downhill, which was awesome. So we ended up around 8,500'. Then we had about 10 miles of uphill, which kinda sucked. Lol. Selden Pass felt like it took forever because just when you think you're at the top, it keeps going. They say that about Muir Pass, but I was already expecting it, so perhaps that's why it didn't seem so bad.

There was a 5 mile section of switchbacks today that went straight up a hill. Ugh that was tough. Lol. There was no water either. Then you got to the top of the switchback section and there was a stream yay! On a normal Pass, this is where the top of the pass would be. But noooo that is not the case. Lol. Then the trail started going slightly downhill. I thought, wtf?!? I was definitely grateful for the downhill because I was able to go a lot faster, but knowing I had to go *up* over a pass, and losing all this elevation was slightly bothersome. Lol.

Shortly after this, it was around 6pm and I just totally hit a wall. Oh my gosh I was soooo tired. And cold. Bleh. I did about 15 miles at this point. So I sat on a log and ate beef jerky, teddy grams, and one of my honey stinger waffles, and I felt better. I got my 2nd wind. :) I think I need to eat more. Everyday around 2:30 my stomach starts to hurt. I thought it was the aftermath of that horrible stomach ache I had a few days ago, but Kyle said he felt the same thing until he started eating more. Then he felt better. Anyhow, I found Kyle about 50 yards up the trail, he was sitting by a rock waiting for me (I hate inclines and I take forever going up. Lol. Kyle hauls ass uphill), he just ate a bunch. Apparently we were both just stuffing out faces with food and feeling sorry for ourselves at about the same time. Haha :D

A little bit up the trail, I found Hee Haw and Problem Bear by a lake!! These two are half of the "PCT men's support group". Lol! I really like those two guys, I'm so stoked I found them! We were all in bishop at the same time, I heard Hee Haw was getting X-rays on his foot. It turns out all is well, I was glad to see that. Hee Haw is a professional musician and has been carrying a carbon fiber guitar since the start. We stopped to talk with them for a while and I mention Gecko and Faceplant, and right at that moment, Faceplant walks by! Yay! I was stoked to be around all my favorite people :)

It started to get really cold so we walked on. And on and on. Where the heck was the top of the pass dangit!!? Arrrggg! Lol. By the way it was absolutely gorgeous. Lots of really pretty lakes and trees. But at this point I was really cold and pissed off so I was just hauling ass and I didn't stop to take pics, sorry :) wow I walk fast when I am cold and mad. lol.

At one point, looking at what i thought was the top of the Pass, I said to Kyle, "if this isn't selden pass I think I'm going to cry." lol. To which he responded, "um, that's not selden pass". Arrrrggg!! Lol. Well, at least I had warning, so I didn't cry. Haha. But we were pretty close to the top.

We finally went up and over selden pass AKA "the pass that took forever", and I was stoked. It was cold so we threw the tent up at the first flat area by a stream that we found. Yay!

Despite all my complaining, I am so incredibly grateful there is no snow!! Lol. Oh man this would suck so much if there was snow, because then we would also have to coordinate going over the passes at certain times of the day so the snow wouldnt be too hard/soft. That's such a pain in the ass. Lol.

Anyhow, it's COLD, so I'm going to Lu my gloves back on a be warm. :) tomorrow we get our resupply at Mono Hot Springs!! Yay!! :). Goodnight everyone! Aloha <3

Day 67: experience is the greatest teacher

Sunday 6/24/12
Miles 826-846 (20 miles)
Elevation 10,000'

Yes we actually did 20 miles. :). That's a pretty. Big day for the sierras. Not having any snow definitely helps. So was the fact that the entire 2nd half of the hike today was all downhill. Although the entire first half was all uphill. Lol. Muir Pass was pretty much a 10 mile ascent. Whew, that's pretty tiring. After we did around 17 miles I said to Kyle, "hey if we do 3 more miles it'll be a 20 mile day!". So we went for it. Unbeknownst to Kyle, I'm slightly masochistic. Lol. Sometimes I get a bug in me and I just wanna keep going til I literally pass out. In fact the day before I started hiking with Kyle I did a 36 mile day on no sleep. Lol. But Kyle is kinda masochistic too, he was regularly doing 25 mile days before he started hiking with me. So I guess it works out. Lol.

Anyhow, Muir Pass was quite amazing and interesting. It is, as you may have guessed, named after the legendary John Muir. There is a cool hut at the top of the pass built in his honor, and also as an emergency shelter for hikers caught in a snowstorm (that whole area is super exposed). I took pics of it. And there's a pic of Kyle eating his peanut butter tortillas inside Muir Hut.

The ascent today was quite gentle. Muir Pass is just under 12,000', so I think we had a 2,500' elevation gain over 10 miles. It was awesome. Today was also the day of dramatic waterfalls. I think I might have gotten some pics of that. Gosh it was pretty incredible. There was just waterfall after lake after waterfall the whole way up. Über awesome!!

You know, it's really amazing how much I learn doing this hike. Especially since I haven't ever done anything longer than a day hike until I started this trip. I read a PCT handbook and talked to a lot of precious thru-hikers to try and prepare so I wouldn't be totally screwed. And that definitely helped a lot. But honestly, the greatest teacher for me is experience. It's insane how much more I know now than I did when I first started. Its one thing to read a book or watch a video and gather knowledge, it's a completely different thing when you actually have to apply it to real life. Lol. You just have to go out there and screw up a few times. That'll teach you real quick. Lol.

Another thought that's been crossing my mind every night is, we've had absolutely amazing campsites almost every night for the last 3 weeks. People pay so much money to go on vacation, for a very short amount of time, oftentimes to a manufactured or manicured version of what I get to experience and see everyday. I'm from Hawaii, and so tourism is a huge thing out there that I experience on a daily basis. For the average cost of what I imagine a family vacation to Hawaii would cost, you could easily go on a thru-hike. And experience the earth in all it's raw glory. All you gotta do is walk a couple thousand miles. :)