Prince and I have very different ways of navigating. He keeps all his maps on his phone and uses his apps to check location. I love paper maps. I love to look at the contour lines, and the overall picture of the route for the day. I also like to play the guessing game and try to figure out where we are. We have had heated discussions about whether the decimal point on actual mileage is important, for instance, .2 miles or just call it an even number. His apps give him he exact decimal point, my maps round up or down. At one point we both stopped to try and figure out how much further it was to our intended campsite, to which I said, “well, we’re almost somewhere”.
We are always almost somewhere, and we are always where we are. My motto for this entire hike has been “honor the space between no longer and not yet”, quoting Nancy Levin. I love this quote because the present moment really is all you have at any given time, yet the moments are so fleeting. Such are the moments on the PCT. Days fly by, over and over and over, time slips between my fingers like grains of sand in an hour glass. Even in the many many moments of complete silence I am never bored, never straining for thought, never wishing I was anywhere else but where I am. As I sit and write this it’s July 4th, 2016 and I’m in a coffee shop in South Lake Tahoe, right down the street from my house. I remember leaving my house back in February, we had 2 feet of fresh powdery snow, the mountains were covered in white fluffy cool whip, and the high temperatures for the days were hovering around 35 degrees. This is what Echo Lake looked like last time I was here:
My heart ached leaving my home, and I comforted myself by reminding myself what I was about to do, and thought “well, the next time I am here, I will have walked here from Mexico”, and yes, that thought actually gave me comfort. It also scared me, because I wondered if I would be able to make it all the way through the Sierra’s in the snow without having to skip ahead and come back. That was always really important to me, to have one continous line of trail that I followed step by step, mountian pass by mountain pass, heading North. My True North, my authentic self.
So, here I am, I made it to PCT mile 1090 at Echo Summit, and I walked here every step of the way from Mexico. I am proud, relieved, happy, and I am still not even half way through this hike! My Dad drove all the up here from Southern California, bringing me my next resupply, extra back up gear, and a whole lotta Dad love. He picked us up at the trailhead two days ago at Echo Summit. It was a joyous reunion with big love and hugs, since we have not seen each other since I was in Big Bear, when even was that? Dad, a special thank you for making the trip up here and being an integral part of my adventure! This is us at the coffee shop:
Another wonderful thing happened upon my arrival in Tahoe, my very dear friend Nancy from Santa Cruz drove all the way out here to join me for dinner! I was so touched by her efforts and commitment to our nearly 20 year friendship and support of my journey. It’s always such a joyous reunion when we meet up! Unfortunately we did not manage to take a photo together, but my heart is full of the memories. Thank you my friend, Mahalo and Aloha!!
I originally planned on arriving here one entire month ago. Yes, a month. Does that make me late? Do I have to hurry it up now? Yes and no. My time constraints in the Cascades and in Washington will have everything to do with fresh snow, otherwise the sky’s the limit, so to speak. My current goal is to make it to the Oregon/California border, about 600 miles doing about 20 to 25 miles a day, with as light of a pack as I can, as fast as I can, but of course enjoying every prescious moment too. I am here in Tahoe happily ridding myself of my Sierra and winter items such as my Bear Canister, Ice Axe, Crampons, and winter clothing. I have to say, Summer, and what comes with it, are so incredibly welcome. More ice cream and swimming here I come!
So, my last blog ended with our descent from Bishop Pass into the town of Bishop for a quick resupply. That was day #70 that we spent in Bishop. Today is day #102. Am I behind? “Honor the space between no longer and not yet”.
The recap of Bishop to Evolution Valley: Bishop was a whirlwind of errands, eating, showering, eating, shopping, and eating some more. We were able to get a ride back up to the Trailhead on the evening of our day off trail, and with us we brought a feast. We camped just up above some rocks near the parking lot, and had a dinner picnic fit for PCT Kings and Queens consisting of a large pizza, salad, wine and super fudgey chocolate cake. Needless to say, we went to bed so wonderfully satiated! We started back on trail early the next morning and trudged back up Bishop Pass in the melting snow. At one point I was so hot from the burning sun reflecting back up to me, that I reached down and scooped up snow, slathering it on my wrists and forehead and the back of my neck, letting it melt and drip down my face and my arms. It really helped. I was hot, dizzy, and my pack easily weighed 50 pounds, and was digging into my low back. Honestly I was not having that much fun in those moments. By the time we all made it back up to Dusy Basin, we decided to call it a day pretty early. It must have been about 3:00pm and we found the exact same campsite that we had slept on only two nights ago, yet 50% of the snow had melted! We set up camp and even by 5:00pm we were still getting baked my the sun. We found a giant rock and huddled under it’s shade, which surprisingly was cold, and Overload and I both crawled into our sleeping bags. I read a short story from my book by Paul Thereaux and after that Prince played us some lovely music to take a long nap to. I passed out! I was also soaking my eye with a hot compress, and the following day, this is what it looked like:
I know that’s a pretty gross picture, so here’s another one I think you will ike better:
Typical way Three’s Company takes breaks, any time of day.
The next day we hiked most of the way up to Muir Pass, camping just 2 miles before so we could hit it early in the morning when the snow was still consolidated. We reached Muir Pass at 8:20 in the morning. It was a beautiful climb, very quiet and peaceful, on the snow and meandering around flowing water and frozen lakes on the way up:
My third visit to Muir Pass, everytime has been unique. We spent about 45 minutes up there, along with several other hikers, and Prince played a few great songs for us all. We then trudged down the miles of snow fields after Muir Pass, post-holing all the way. It was hot and intenesly sunny. We were wet, hungry, tired, and also in awe of the expansiveness and beauty of the magical world we were entering into. My absolute favorite place along the whole John Muir trail is Evolution Valley. This valley rests at about 10,000 feet and consists of a few lakes, one of them being Sapphire Lake, and the other Evolution Lake, all surrounded by jagged pieces of granite at the 13,000 foot range, all named after famous scientists who contributed to the field of Evolutionary Biology, such as Mt. Darwin, Mt. Huxley and the like. I really wanted to camp there. Really really bad. It took a little convincing of the gang to stop and camp there, because it was only about 4:00pm by the time we reached the far end of the lake, but at this point, this had become our M.O. So, camp we did, and it was one of my favorite nights on trail. Prince asked me to help film a video of him playing a song called “Evolution” and with this comes the que at stage right, enter “Mr. Roper the Marmot”…..special guest appearance. I don’t seem to have a picture of him on my phone, but here is Prince playing from in his tent under the great walls of Evolution Valley: If you click this link, it should take you to the video on YouTube: https://youtu.be/vnQjyGI8ciA
And a few more from the surrounding area:
Up next: Vermillion Valley Resort, Mammoth and Yosemite, PCT days #74-90.