PCT Day 117, it’s July 20th, the Moon is Full and tonight I will sleep under her lovely gaze. After, of course, I hike many more miles up onto the Hat Creek Rim. This morning I woke to the coldest temps in a month, it was actually 30 degrees out, and I had to wear my hat and gloves again. It seems that there is a hiking law of the trail that goes something like this: “I think I am going to get rid of some extra weight and send my gloves and pants and a long sleeve shirt home, since it’s so warm now”, to which the Universe responds with a 30 degree night when it’s lately been in the upper 40’s. Lets revamp that prospect, I will NOT send my warmer things home. I will keep on carrying them. Now, what am I doing only several hours later? I am sitting in the shade, waiting for the 90 degree day to cool down enough to hike up to Hat Creek Rim.
I made it to the PCT mileage midpoint a couple days ago. The monument shows 1,325 miles in either direction. Take your pick, will you go on to Canada? Or will you go back to Mexico?
Prince and I have a joke now, that everytime we come up against a speed bump in the trail, we say in our very best Eyore voices “lets go back to Mexico….and just sit on the wall”. But one thing that I came to realize after making it to the half way point, has to do with the choice to continue. It’s the green button for “go”. It seems that every week I hear stories of hikers getting off trail, done hiking the PC before making it all the way as they had planned. It’s sad news, because it’s exactly what I don’t want to happen in my journey. I wonder why these people, who set off to hike this 2,650 mile path through the wilderness, suddenly change their minds and just stop. I guess it’s just not that easy. But life is not easy either and no matter what, every day of life, whether you are going to work, raising children, or hiking the trail, you must keep hitting the green continue button each day when the sun comes up and it’s time to face another day, don’t hit the snooze button, hit “continue”. So, every day now, I turn off my alarm on my watch and decide to continue walking to Canada.
Reflecting back on the past 115 days, there have been many highlights. Of course my favorite section of trail was the Sierra’s, which brings me to just about one month ago exactly, when Prince, Overload and I made a detour into the adventureland of Yosemite National Park. Neither one of them had ever been to Yosemite before, so we opted to try our luck and see if we could get some overnight permits that included a climb up Half Dome. We were very fortunate with the permit system and same day headed up the trail to camp out on top of Clouds Rest. Up there we met an amazing woman named Katie, who ended up cowboy camping in the rocks with us, sharing the wine we carried, engaging in great philosophical conversation, an amazing sunset overlooking Half Dome, the Full Moon rising and the ultimate freedom of sleeping nestled in the rocks under the big open sky.
The following morning was Father’s Day proper, along with the Full Moon and Summer Solstice, what a powerful few days all converging, not to mention that we were in Yosemite the same weekend that Obama was there! After sleeping way in, to about 7:30, we casually sat in the rocks enjoying the stellar views that you just can’t get enough of, I made a sign for my Dad for Father’s Day:
We sat there looking down at Half Dome and the entire Yosemite Valley, and said “well, we have a rock to climb”, and we headed down the steep, jagged trail. We were enjoying perfect weather and to our surprise not too many people on the trail up there. As we approached, the task looked daunting, but exciting. This would be my third ascent of the giant rock, and it was really fun to share the experience through the eyes of my friends doing it for the first time. It’s no small feat. This rock is huge and the cable section is crazy steep!
After spending a solid two hours up on top, we took the John Muir Trail down to Sunrise Creek to camp for the night where we heard the group next to us yelling and screaming to scare off a bear. We waited nervously in the dark as we ate dinner, thinking the bear would come into our camp next. It never did show up. Maybe because Prince immediately pulled out the Ukelele and started to make music. It worked!
In the morning we made our way down to the Mist Trail, where you climb down the rocky trail next to two amazing waterfalls: Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls. I had promised Prince and Overload that there would be rainbows and unicorns and butterflies and moonbeams, so I wanted to make sure to deliver on the promise. We did see rainbows, and LOTS of water, and even more people! It was literally worse than Disneyland!
We made our way down the trail as quickly as the crowds would allow and I recalled the last time I had hiked here, I had the entire place to myself. But that was in a completely different season, and I still enjoyed thw walk through wonderland, the crowds were entertaining.
To sum up our trip to Yosemite, we attempted to take the “hiker bus” from the valley back up to Tuolomne the next morning, unsuccessfully. Well, long story short, we got on the bus successfully. The bus departed. We were on our way. Then at the next stop, we were informed that 22 people with “tickets” needed to get on the bus, and since we did not have “tickets” we would have to get off the bus. Yes, we got kicked off. The next bus was tomorrow. We were, to say the least, upset, but decided to make the most of it and spent another day in Yosemite, oh darn! We made it back up to Tuolomne the next morning and go our resupply packages and got back on trail heading towar Glen Aulin, looking forward to the giant Glen Aulin Falls, and I was secretly wishing to see a bear. It was an epic weekend in the park, inside of an epic journey already, which keeps getting better and better. Especially when you hit the “continue” button.