5/31 – Day 54 – Toward Yosemite

I got up not too early at the Motel 6 in Mammoth. Packed up my backpack, ate assorted leftover food and at 8:30 walked next door to the post office to send some extra stuff home. I changed backpacks so I sent the old one home. Although the website said it was open at 8:30 the post was not open until 9. I met Jeff sitting on the floor reading a book. He, Cecil, and French Toast had completed the 70 mile section over Muir Pass that I had skipped. He said there was a lot of snow but not too dangerous. As I thought it had snowed on them and there was snow much of the way, I am still glad I skipped that section. I will get back to it.

After mailing the box home I set out up the road to the Mammoth Transportation center where I would catch a free bus ride to the Mammoth Main lodge. On the way I asked directions from an older grizzled pro-hiker dude to make sure I was going the right way. He said it was just 600 yards to go. While waiting for the bus at the Mammoth Transportation center the older grizzled pro-hiker dude showed up, and we got on the same bus to the Main Lodge. We talked a bunch, he had hiked the trail several times, and we had a lot of questions for each other. At the main lodge I started hiking up the road, over the pass toward Red’s Meadows / Devils Post Pile where I would start hiking again on a section of the PCT called the High Trail. Although the older grizzled pro-hiker dude was not heading that way he joined me as I hiked on the road to the pass that then leads steeply down to Reds Meadow. After about a quarter mile a huge pickup pulling a big horse trailer pulled over for us. It was Bill an optometrist from Bishop, he must have been in his 70’s but very tough. His hobby was fixing, working on, rebuilding the PCT. Bill said he was heading south on the PCT with his mules to clear trees and rocks and was looking for help. The older grizzled pro-hiker dude was stoked to help him and asked Bill if he had enough food for him. He did, so we both climbed into his huge truck and headed over the pass.

We had interesting conversation. Two winters ago Mammoth had what they called the Devils Wind. Although beyond the ability to measure by the gauge, the wind on top of Mammoth was said to have hit 200 MPH. Thousands of trees blew over and the PCT trail became impassible. In the spring/summer of that year (2011 a huge snow year as well), Bill and hundreds of other volunteers from many organizations set out clearing the trail, cutting downed trees. It took most of the summer.

When we reached the first major switch back Bill drove down the dirt road and pointed out where I would get on the PCT. Both Bill and the older grizzled pro-hiker dude wished me well; I could tell they were concerned about me. I suppose my voice was a bit unsteady. As soon as I started hiking I felt bad in the head. The section of the trail was extremely beautiful with dramatic views of the snow covered Minarets.

I hiked 10 miles until I finally reached Thousand Island Lake at about 4:30 pm. There was a lot of snow and looking up towards the next pass, it looked totally snow covered. I felt squashed, I did not want to go on. My mental state had not recovered after four days of rest. I decided to turn around and head back to Mammoth. I could not deal with more snow. I felt mentally unstable. I hiked hard and fast with only one rest for some food and to take in the incredible views. I reached the paved road at 8:30 pm. I started to hike up to the pass over to Mammoth. A couple cars came down the road but after an hour hiking, no cars came my direction. I then heard a truck coming up, it almost passed me but I pleaded for it to stop and it did. It was a huge pickup full with 6 big guys. I got in the truck bed that was full of gear. We drove up the small road at a high rate of speed, stopping once so the occupants could get more beer out of the cooler that was in the back with me. I was thrown around a lot in the truck bed but I was so happy to get a ride, and the views were incredible, so I did not care. They took me straight to the Motel 6 where I promptly got a room. I cooked a couple dinners in my room and ate a lot.

Although I needed sleep I stayed up late attempting to find a way home. I discovered that a Yosemite Area Rapid Transit (YART) bus had its first run from Mammoth to Yosemite Valley tomorrow morning. I planned to take another YART bus from Yosemite Valley to Sonora later in the day on June 1st. I figured Mom and Dad could pick me up from Sonora as it only about a three hour drive for them. I got to sleep late, after 1 am.