PCT Section K Granite Chief Wilderness Tinker Knob Anderson Peak Rainbow


No. 13- Echo Lake to Sierra City, 2014

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Herrington\'s Sierra Pines: 39.562929, -120.642680
Echo Lake: 38.833796, -120.041573
Sierra City: 39.576519, -120.612566
Peter Grubb Hut: 39.367885, -120.367525
Benson Hut: 39.260938, -120.296369



June 23rd- 7 miles, camping at Susie Lake

People might think that town stops mean rest and relaxation for hikers.  In reality, there are usually so many chores to be done that napping, etc. doesn’t happen as much as you might expect.  I was really hoping to get a nap in before hitting the trail this afternoon,  but there were just too many things to do.  I had to make phone calls and send emails, check my bank account and bills, organize my gear, fix my tent, duct tape my pack, shower, eat breakfast, mail home my bear canister, and eat lunch.   Whew… even now,  it seems like a lot.  I still didn’t manage to contact my cell carrier to figure out my data plan.  It’ll be postponed again.

PCT Section K South Lake Tahoe Bert's Cafe

Bert’s Cafe, So. Lake Tahoe

I really enjoyed my stay at the Apex Inn.  My super clean room had a mini fridge, a microwave and a coffeemaker, all of which I took full advantage of.  I especially loved that it was within walking distance to all of the facilities and shops I needed.  They Indian family that runs it were so hospitable and sweet.  The hotel owner even shuttled me back to the trail today.

PCT Section K South Lake Tahoe Apex Inn

The very affordable & pleasant Apex Inn, So. Lake Tahoe

After checking out, I hung out at the Lake of the Sky Outfitters hiker lounge waiting for my ride to finish up his work.  While there, I worked on replacing guy lines on my tent and taped up the fraying fabric on my backpack.  I bought an awesome stuff sack that can double as a day pack and am using that to store my food in from now on.  Lunch was a Subway sandwich.  Mmm… Veggie Delight.

PCT Section K El Dorado National Forest Desolation Wilderness Echo Lake

Echo Lake

I rode with the owner of the Apex Inn and his two children back up to Highway 50 and the two miles to Echo Lake.  He even waited to be sure I got my Echo Lake resupply package okay before he left.

I lolly gagged at the picnic table sorting my resupply food.  Apparently, I never got around to putting in any dinners for this box.  I looked closely at the list I made of the box contents and could see my note to myself:  “Add 5 dinners.”  I had to buy a bunch of top ramen from the Echo Lake Store.  Bleh!  Another solo lady hiker, trailname “Freedom,” was sorting her box, too.  She and I took.the speedboat ferry across the lake to shave off a couple miles and just for fun.

PCT Section K El Dorado National Forest Desolation Wilderness Echo Lake Ferry

Echo Lake Ferry with Freedom

Since I bought two new poles in Tahoe, I now have to get used to hiking with them.  They’re much more secure feeling, but it’s kind of like walking with four feet instead of two.  I feel a bit like a baby giraffe trying to get the swing of it.

PCT Section K South Lake Tahoe Lake of the Sky Outfitters trekking pole

Old trekking pole, new trekking pole


PCT Section El Dorador National Forest Desolation Wilderness 1100 miles

1,100 mile-marker on the PCT

PCT Section El Dorador National Forest Desolation Wilderness wildflowers

PCT Section El Dorador National Forest Desolation Wilderness Lake Aloha

Lake Aloha

I hiked only seven miles today and am camping next to a beautiful little lake, but it’s swarming with mosquitoes.   They’re thick in the air and they’re EVERYWHERE!  Every time I left and reentered my tent, I spent five minutes smashing all the buggies that snuck in.  Little do they know that entering this tent is their DEATH SENTENCE.  I’m like a cat, enjoying the chase and kill of its prey!  Bwahhhahahaha!


PCT Section El Dorador National Forest Desolation Wilderness marmot

PCT Section El Dorador National Forest Desolation Wilderness Susan Lake

Camping near Susie Lake



June 24th- 21 miles, camping below Barker Pass

PCT Section El Dorador National Forest Desolation Wilderness trail food breakfastIt’s funny how you can look at a mountain and get an idea of its shape, dimensions, colors and textures; and all of those things together give you a sense of character for that mountain.   You think you KNOW it even because you’ve observed and admired it for so many footsteps or minutes.  Then you continue to hike and you get a different perspective on the mountain.   Suddenly, it’s not the same mountain you thought you knew, it’s shape is completely different than what you thought and the texture or colors change.  These mountains have so much character to me, and, like a good story, the characters are always developing.


PCT Section El Dorador National Forest Desolation WildernessSo, I guess I had a rough start to the day.  I just didn’t feel good in my body, mind, or spirit.  I struggled with the uphill climb and struggled with getting my pack comfortable on my sore hip.  My feet were sliding around in my shoes as I went over rocky trail because I’m trying new insoles.  I’m not sure if it’s my diet, all the exertion over the last month, maybe it’s dealing with the overall discomfort of my body, or maybe I’m just PMSing.  I don’t know, but it’s wearing me down.  I didn’t bother trying to keep up with T-Fox and Lorax as they past me this morning; I knew I just wasn’t up to it.


PCT Section El Dorador National Forest Desolation Wilderness Dicks Pass

Dicks Pass

PCT Section El Dorador National Forest Desolation Wilderness Dicks Pass trail food lunch


I felt so much better after a second breakfast of salmon wraps, Fritos, and tea.  Sounds like exactly the kind of picnic my dad would have, except maybe there’d be a Boddington’s, too!  I am my father’s daughter!  I hiked well for several more hours and was starting to feel like myself again.


PCT Section El Dorador National Forest Desolation Wilderness Dicks Pass

PCT Section El Dorador National Forest Desolation Wilderness wildflowers

Around 2:00, the ache in my feet came back.  Again, I spent the afternoon hobbling mile after mile toward camp.  I dreaded taking breaks because it was so much more painful to get up again than it was to just keep moving.  How can I make it another 1,030 miles like this?

Freedom, the solo hiker I met at Echo Lake, caught up with me this evening and we’re camping together tonight.   She’s a a recent college graduate from Portland and is moving to Germany to manage a family farm when she finishes her hike.  Which, I think, is the coolest thing ever.

PCT Section El Dorador National Forest Desolation Wilderness wildflowers moth

PCT Section El Dorador National Forest Desolation Wilderness

Camping with Freedom



June 25- 20.5 miles

I learned a very important lesson today: caffeine is essential for good hiking in the morning.  I flew up Barker Pass and felt great the whole way.  Along the way, I talked to a number of day and section hikers.  This area is really popular and accessible for that kind of hiking.

My first view of Lake Tahoe this morning caught me by surprise.  It was so beautiful and maps just can’t do it justice.  It’s the most majestic lake I’ve ever seen.

The trail weaved in and out of view of the lake.  I stopped around noon along a ridge because I had reception and could check my email.  While waiting for a video to upload to Vimeo (which never did) I had a tuna wrap for lunch and dried fruit.  I’m getting better at eating more of my food, but it’s still hard.  When you’re full, you’re FULL- you’re body doesn’t want any more.  It makes me sick to my stomach when I force myself to eat any more.  Ahh, hiker problems.

PCT Section K Granite Chief Wilderness Lake Tahoe

Grand vistas of Lake Tahoe

PCT Section K Granite Chief Wilderness Lake Tahoe

This afternoon I ran into a big group of PCTA trail workers cleaning up the trail. They were a great group of people.  They’re collecting videos of hikers saying, “I am the PCTA.”  Maybe I’ll be in one of their fundraiser promos!  Stay tuned to their website for my moment of fame!

PCT Section K Granite Chief Wilderness Lake Tahoe trail maintenance crew

PCTA trail crews

The wind has been strong all day.  I’m starting to think it has a vendetta against me.  As it blew into the afternoon, a light thunderstorm came with it.  I had to stop and change into my long johns and rain gear.  Oh, I LOVE my rain gear!  I was so comfortable and dry all through the showers.


PCT Section K Granite Chief Wilderness Lake Tahoe

PCT Section K Granite Chief Wilderness




PCT Section K Granite Chief Wilderness Tinker Knob Anderson Peak

View towards Tinker Knob & Anderson Peak


PCT Section K Granite Chief Wilderness Tinker Knob Anderson Peak Rainbow


According to Yogi’s PCT guidebook, there is a Sierra Club hut in the area.  I thought it would be great to spend the night there, high and dry.  I wouldn’t have to unpack my tent or worry about having to dry it out the following day because of rain.  I reached the campsite that marks 20 miles for the day, but it was only 6:15.  I sat on the ground staring at the maps; if I kept going up the ridge, I’d have to climb four and a half miles with threatening rain clouds looming over my head.  I decided it would be better to chance the night in my tent down at the bottom of the climb rather than hike until 9 pm in the wind and rain.  Plus, what if the hut was locked?  Or if I couldn’t find it because it’s not on the trail?  So, here I am, 20.5 miles for the day.  I felt like I could’ve done more, but at least it gives my feet a rest.

PCT Section K Granite Chief WildernessAfter a dinner of Knorr’s Pasta Sides, which I’d bought at Echo Lake, three other PCT hikers showed up:  Potluck, High-Robics, and Wall-E.  They’re setting up camp up the hill in a more exposed area.  I hope it’s not too cold there!  I think I got the sweet spot protected by the trees.

PCT Section K Granite Chief Wilderness hiker trash potluck

High-robics & Potluck

The sky is now a beautiful, dynamic tangle of clouds blowing by.  I’ve crawled back into my tent because it’s too cold for socializing.  Since I had so much time this evening, I did more stretching and foam rolling than I think I’ve done any other night on the trail.  I hope I wake up early tomorrow- no more sleeping in!


PCT Section K Granite Chief Wilderness


June 26th-17 miles, staying at the Peter Grub Sierra Club Hut

The wind gusted and it rained lightly on and off throughout the night, and it continued into the morning.  A Canadian hiker named Early Bee hiked up the ridge with me during the morning storm. He was great to talk to and kept a good pace for me to keep up with him.  He lived and worked for about a decade in Saudi Arabia, and since I’ve visited the Middle East, we had some stories to compare.

As we hiked, we came across Crusher and his friend, Section Hiker Katie. I hadn’t seen Crusher since Kennedy Meadows and was so surprised to learn he’d actually been hiking close to me the entire time. He has a wonderful blog that you can read:  WesleyTrimble.  Three ladies training for an ultra run approached us in their little shorts an t-shirts shivering and wet. They asked us if the weather improved further down where we’d just hiked up from. It definitely didn’t and we recommended they turn around based on how cold they looked. The wind was blowing pretty hard all along the ridge and the rain was coming down harder. Even us hikers, in our long johns and rain gear, we’re getting too cold. We all decided to head for a Sierra Club hut we’d read about in the guidebook.

PCT Section K Granite Chief Wilderness

Hiking with Early B.

Early B. and I reached the area where the hut was said to be and wandered around the hillside looking for it. Just as we were going to head on up the trail, the fog cleared for a moment and I could see the hut on the opposite side of the trail. The guidebook, which is usually dead on, had given the wrong location for the hut. I was delighted to find the runners already stoking a fire inside.

PCT Section K Granite Chief Wilderness Sierra Club Benson Hut

Sierra Club Benson Hut



PCT Section K Granite Chief Wilderness Sierra Club Benson Hut

Joggers, Early B. Katie & Crusher

The seven of us hung out for nearly two hours, drying out and warming up, eating chocolate and drinking tea. The storm cleared up and we were able to head out again toward Donner Pass.


PCT Section K Granite Chief Wilderness Donahue PassEven though I hadn’t done many miles, I felt so wiped out by the time I reached Highway 40 at Donner Pass. I crashed hard on some chair cushions I found near the trailhead parking lot. I pulled out all my gear and spread it out in the sunshine to dry while I ate lunch.

PCT Section K Granite Chief Wilderness Donahue Pass

Approaching Donahue Pass


PCT Section K Granite Chief Wilderness Donahue Pass Highway 40

Donahue Pass, Hwy 40


PCT Section K Granite Chief Wilderness Donahue Pass Highway 40Crusher convinced me to stay at the next Sierra Club hut on the trail, the Peter Grub Hut. It meant I only put in 17 miles for the day, but the hut and the company had a strong pull. Turns out Steve the nurse from Michigan was there, too. It made for a fun little party! Steve finally got a trail name that’s sticking: “Knock Out.” I pride myself in giving it to him back in Tuolumne Meadows after he accidentally punched himself in the face and got a bloody nose. He had been trying to tighten cords on his pack, I think.

PCT Section K Granite Chief Wilderness Sierra Club Peter Grub Hut

Sierra Club Peter Grub Hut with Gas Pedal & Crusher


PCT Section K Granite Chief Wilderness Sierra Club Peter Grub Hut

Peter Grub Hut with Knock Out & Crusher


The hut had three rooms: a kitchen/dining room and a game room room (full of board and card games) on the first floor and an empty attic accessible by a ladder. We all slept on the floor of the attic, sleepover style.

PCT Section K Granite Chief Wilderness Sierra Club Peter Grub Hut

(L->R) Knock Out, Crusher & Katie



June 27th- 23.5 miles

PCT Section L Tahoe National Forest Sleeping in the attic of the hut was awesome except that it didn’t have any working windows to air out the hiker stench. For most of the day, I leapfrogged with T – Fox and Lorax. Update:  I posted their blog incorrectly back in the Lone Pine to Reds Meadows Journal. Here it is corrected:  DanTaraPCT.

I don’t think I’ve had so many ups and downs on the trail in a single day before. None of them were very bad, but it felt a bit like a roller coaster. It was a great day for loading up on caffeine and hiking to some hip hop!

PCT Section L Tahoe National Forest

Lorax & T-Fox

PCT Section L Tahoe National Forest Bear Sign

There have been so many wildflowers all through the Sierras. Some are shaped like trumpets, others look like little fireworks or feather dusters. They come in all colors of the rainbow and when growing in patches together, they look just like bouquets from the flower shop. Sometimes, as I walk through the patches of colors, I feel like Dorothy in some alternate Oz universe where the enchanted poppies have been replaced by enchantING orchids, lupine, and mariposa lilies.

PCT Section L Tahoe National Forest


PCT Section L Tahoe National ForestI’m cowboy camping under the stars. I’ve missed it: the cool air on my face, the sparkling sky above, and the anticipation of a shoot star at any moment. Tomorrow I’ll be in Sierra City and Art’s driving up to meet me. Yay!

PCT Section L Tahoe National Forest

Camping with Lorax & T-Fox


PCT Section L Tahoe National Forest

The view from my bed



June 28th- 11 miles, staying at Herrington’s in Sierra City

PCT Section L Tahoe National ForestThe laws of the universe must have been turned upside down because I was packed at out of camp by 6 am while T-Fox and Lorax were still eating breakfast. The thought of hot coffee drove me all morning up one last hill, down a very long mountain, and straight into Sierra City

PCT Section L Tahoe National Forest Sierra City Red Moose Inn

The Red Moose Inn with Crusher, Half & Half, and Liverpool, Sierra City


PCT Section L Tahoe National Forest Sierra City Gut Buster Burger Crusher hiker

Crusher enjoying a famous Gut Buster Burger

I walked directly into the Red Moose Inn for a late breakfast and was greeted by Crusher, Half & Half (a police officer from Germany), and Liverpool. I thought Liverpool would’ve been several days ahead of me! Numerous hikers showed up throughout the day, most of whom hung out on the Country Store porch eating sandwiches and ice cream. Knock out and I enjoyed some baseball watching and a drumstick dinner from the local saloon before I headed down to Herrington’s Resort for the night. I made sure to stop by the store one last time and grab more juice, ice cream, and pudding. I must’ve been quite a sight carrying my pack, resupply box, trekking poles and groceries a half mile along Highway 49.

PCT Section L Tahoe National Forest Sierra City Herringtons Resort

A visit from my honey <3

Art met me a few hours later and he’ll hang out with me while I take a zero tomorrow. We plan on eating lots of chip and dip from the store and I’ve got my fingers crossed for a foot massage!



Installment No. 14- Sierra City to Belden Town

Echo Lake Chalet

Crusher’s Blog

Sierra Club Hut Information

Herrington’s Sierra Pines Resort


PCT Section J Toiyabe National Forest Sonora Pass


No. 12- Sonora Pass to Highway 50, 2014

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Sonora Pass, Hwy 108: 38.327691, -119.636839
Echo Summit, Hwy 50: 38.812963, -120.030183
Apex Inn: 38.908128, -120.001110



June 18th- 6 miles, camping near Carson River

Art and I had a wonderfully relaxing day at Northern Kennedy Meadows, eating and napping. I could’ve napped for a whole week, I was so tired. Since the resort didn’t have working Wi Fi, Art and I drove 30 miles east of the PCT to the little town of Bridgeport on Highway 395. We went to breakfast at the Hays Street Cafe, which was delicious!

Hayes Street Cafe, Bridgeport

Hayes Street Cafe, Bridgeport


Next,  we went to a coffee shop that had Wi Fi so I could upload my Vimeo videos and my journals for the last section.

PCT Section J Toiyabe National Forest Sonora Pass Hwy 108

Drop-off from Art & Pepper at Hwy 108

We didn’t get back to the trailhead until 3:30, and I was so tempted to just turn around and stay another night with Art and Pepper in town. It was so hard to say goodbye. We tried to make it quick, but of course we couldn’t.

After making this video on the trail, Art drove the car around the road to catch me one more time where the trail crossed it. That was all I needed to start getting teary eyed.  It’s always so quiet after someone you love drops you off at the trail and you head out into the wilderness. It’s just the void of them not being near you is so apparent.

PCT Section J Toiyabe National Forest Sonora Pass


PCT Section J Toiyabe National Forest Sonora Pass

Climbing north out of Sonora Pass


PCT Section J Toiyabe National Forest Sonora Pass

The hike was beautiful all afternoon. I had planned on doing eight miles, but after sloshing through more snow then  I expected, I felt like calling it a night early.

PCT Section J Toiyabe National Forest Carson Iceberg Wilderness wildflowers

PCT Section J Toiyabe National Forest Carson Iceberg Wilderness boot

I found Cheryl Strayed’s boot!

I made a little fire while I tried to organize my food. I’m carrying so much, it’s impossible to fit it all in my bear canister.

PCT Section J Toiyabe National Forest Carson Iceberg Wilderness East Carson River camping

Camping near the East Carson River

While back at the resort, I got a look at myself in the mirror at was shocked to see how much weight I’d already lost.  I looked like a starvation victim with bones showing in my chest and back, and my arms and hips thinner than I think they’ve ever been in my life.  I didn’t think I’d loose this much so quickly and it has me a little concerned.  Art and I went through the resort market picking out foods high in protein, fat, and carbs to add to my diet.  I’ve been forcing myself to snack today, even when I’m not hungry, on seeds and dried fruit.  Tonight I had a salami and cheese tortilla wrap as an appetizer before my home-assembled ramen dinner.  I have cookies sitting next to me as I write this, and I really should eat them, but I just can’t get motivated.  I’m having tea instead.


June 19th- 24 miles, camping on ridge before Highway 4

PCT Section J Toiyabe National Forest Carson Iceberg WildernessI think Toiyabe might be my new favorite national forest. I never got tired of the red rock mountains or the barren mountain tops or the contrasting colors from green trees and grass to bright little flowers. The mountains here have a southwest look to them. I wish I knew more about geology because I’m sure these rocks have some great story to them.

PCT Section J Toiyabe National Forest Carson Iceberg Wilderness

The trail climbed up and down through forest and meadow. The trees remind me of a Salvador Dali painting because they grow in a bent shape to align with the hillside.

PCT Section J Toiyabe National Forest Carson Iceberg Wilderness bending trees

Dali trees

All day today my body ached, especially my feet and hips. I’ve noticed that as I loose more weight, my backpack becomes more and more uncomfortable. I’ve had to get creative and use my fleece hat and neck gaiter, my gloves, and my wool socks as padding under the straps.I took a longer than usual lunch break rolling out my feet and eating as much as I could stand.

PCT Section J Toiyabe National Forest Carson Iceberg Wilderness


While looking over my maps and my guidebook last night, I realized that I either have to put in some big miles to reach my next resupply stop before they close for the weekend or take an extra zero day. In order to make it to the post office in Echo Lake by 2 pm on Saturday, I would have to do 26 miles today, 26 miles tomorrow and 18 miles on Saturday, starting at 5am. Since I didn’t make it 26 miles today, I’m debating whether I should just accept another zero day, but possibly take it in South Lake Tahoe instead. At least there I could have amenities and a solid rest in a bed. There’s no guarantee that Echo Lake even has beds available because they’re a summer camp facility for kids.  If they DO have beds, though, it’d be way cheaper and logistically easier! Argh, choices.

PCT Section J Toiyabe National Forest Carson Iceberg Wilderness wildflowersI groaned pretty much the entire last five miles today. I’m just aching so much.  Looking ahead at how many more miles I have until Cascade Locks, I started to get really intimidated. What if my body aches the entire way?  What if I loose interest and would just rather be comfortable at home for the rest of the summer? I’d feel like a quitter, even though I know it’s just a hike. I always have the choice to just do what I want, including go home, and having that option so accessible makes sticking to a tough goal even harder.

PCT Section J Toiyabe National Forest Carson Iceberg Wilderness


June 20th- 25 miles, camping above Lost Lakes

PCT Section J Toiyabe National Mokelumne WildernessThis forest continues to enchant me with its colors, forests, open spaces, and dramatic mountains. I slept in again and didn’t start hiking until 8:30. I need to figure out a new hiking plan, I think. Before I began this big hike, I assumed it would be just like when I section hiked. On those shorter hikes, I would wake up early without an alarm and hike at a comfortable speed all day. Now, I’ve got a schedule to stick to if I’m going to reach my goal of Cascade Locks by mid – August. I know I sleep better in the morning, so hiking later and sleeping in makes sense, but I don’t really like hiking until sunset.

PCT Section J Toiyabe National Mokelumne Wilderness


PCT Section J Toiyabe National Mokelumne Wilderness wildflowerThe birds all through central California are the most vocal I’ve heard anywhere, and they all have such different bird calls. Some sound like little alarm clocks, others sound like they’re gargling, and I often hear a particular kind of bird asking for a “CHEESEburger.” One kind of bird seems to be having a conversation with itself: “Will you eat this beetle? Yes, I’ll eat that beetle!” I’ve tried so hard to figure out which sounds go with which birds I’ve seen.

PCT Section J Toiyabe National Mokelumne WildernessAs I looked at the map, I had to wonder about a hill I was approaching named “The Nipple.” Rarely are any of these hills named and for one to be named after a body part seemed especially funny; and then I saw it:

PCT Section J Toiyabe National Mokelumne Wilderness The Nipple

The Nipple 😀

The wind is gusting rather fiercely on and off this evening. I’ve battened down the hatches by placing rocks on top of my tent stakes. I hope they stick!

PCT Section J Toiyabe National Mokelumne Wilderness Lost Lakes

Beautiful views near Lost Lakes


PCT Section J Toiyabe National Mokelumne Wilderness trail food dinner quinoa

Quinoa noodle soup for dinner & camping near Blue Lakes Road


June 21st- 19.5 miles, staying at the Apex Motel in So. Lake Tahoe

After thinking about all the things I could do in South Lake Tahoe, I convinced myself to take my zero there instead of in Echo Lake. I need to buy some gear, like new trekking poles, fuel, repair goo, water treatment, etc. Also, this will be the last major town until Ashland, Oregon.

PCT Section J Toiyabe National Mokelumne Wilderness wildflowers grasshopper

PCT Section J El Dorado National Forest Carson Pass wildflowers I met two new PCT hikers from Israel at Carson Pass this morning, Roy and Sarah. Roy busted out his ukulele and played for us a bit. It made me regret not bringing my own uke on this trip.

PCT Section J El Dorado National Forest Carson Pass hiker trash

Ray & Sarah from Israel

Even though I’ve been excited all day to come into town, I just couldn’t move as fast as I wanted. My feet are so bruised on the bottoms and I’ve had to take way more breaks than usual. I stopped every time I came across a rock or log that looked like a decent seat.

PCT Section J El Dorado National Forest Carson Pass hiker trash

PCT Section J El Dorado National Forest Carson PassAfter Carson Pass, I descended into a huge meadow with the Truckee River winding through it. The mosquitoes were awful, so I almost didn’t take the side trip to see the old Meiss cabin. It was built by Louis Meiss in 1878 after he immigrated from Germany. A historical society has renovated his cabin and put up an informational plaque.

PCT Section J El Dorado National Forest Meiss Cabin

Meiss Cabin

It was slow going all afternoon. I fell in a huge mud puddle while trying to cross a stream. (I didn’t take a picture because all I wanted was to keep moving.) I lost the trail twice and had to look for trail markers nailed to trees. And I had to pick my way through a very steep, two-mile long rocky trail downhill to Highway 50.

PCT Section J El Dorado National Forest

PCT Section J El Dorado National Forest dragonflyLucky for me, I had no trouble getting a lift into town! First, Chaz picked me up and dropped me off at a hot dog stand on the outskirts of town. The dog-seller was so excited about the trail that he upgraded my purchase to a meal and gave me a drink and chips for free! Then, a former PCT hiker named Dave gave me a lift to the town center. Dave drove me around, showing me where all the different shops were and helped me find the most affordable hotel. THANK YOU, CHAZ & DAVE!!

PCT Section J South Lake Tahoe

Dave (top) & Chaz (bottom)


June 22nd, Zero Day in Tahoe

Oh, to lounge all morning in a soft, warm hotel bed after cold, windy nights in a tent. Heavenly! I made coffee and chowed down on Honey Nut Cherrios with half and half. Having bought Epsom salts and disposable aluminum pans, I treated myself to a foot soak.

PCT Section J South Lake Tahoe dirty hiker legs

PCT Section J South Lake Tahoe epsom salt foot soak hiker feet

An epsom salt foot soak

After a good deal of pampering, coffee, and watching Contact on SyFy, I finally roused to do chores and errands. On my way to the laundromat, I ran into Lorax and T-Fox. They were loaded down with groceries from the discount store. They’d bought pints of ice cream for 50 cents and other cheap goodies.

PCT Section J South Lake Tahoe hiker trash

T-Fox & Lorax in So. Lake Tahoe

The Lake of the Sky Outfitters offers PCT hikers not only gear, but they hand you a cold drink and take your picture right when you enter their door. They also have a hiker lounge with Wi Fi and snacks and will watch your pack while you run errands around town.

PCT Section J South Lake Tahoe Lake of the Sky OutfittersEverything was within walking distance of my motel, there is even an Italian restaurant next door, which I’d been eyeballing since my arrival yesterday. Tonight, I gave in and it was delicious.

PCT Section J South Lake Tahoe Italian food



Installment No. 13- South Lake Tahoe to Sierra City

Hays Street Cafe

Lake of the Sky Outfitters

Apex Inn


PCT Section I Toiyabe National Forest near Leavitt Peak

No. 11- Reds Meadows to Sonora Pass, 2014

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Tuolomne Meadows Store: 37.871559, -119.374149
Reds Meadows Resort: 37.613013, -119.074731
Devils Postpile Monument: 37.625021, -119.085031
Sonora Pass, Hwy 108: 38.327691, -119.636839
Hays Street Cafe: 38.255918, -119.224428
Northern Kennedy Meadows Resort: 38.311365, -119.745998


Believe it or not, I was really good about writing my blog on my phone every night this week. When I got to Northern Kennedy Meadows, however, and tried to upload the page using their Wi Fi, everything disappeared. This is what I can remember:


June 11- 11 miles, camping above Shadow Lake on the JMT

PCT Section H Ansel Adams Wilderness sierra wildflowers mushroomsBeing clean is such a great feeling, unfortunately, my little baby toenail fell off while I was scrubbing in the shower last night. I couldn’t believe it! It’s not like my shoes are too tight or I’m hiking unreasonably long miles. WHY?!? I remembered another girl hiker complaining about her toenails falling off and her solution was to just paint all the toe stubs so they looked like they had nails. Hm… it’s an idea!

PCT Section H devils postpile san joaquin river

Devils Postpile & the nearby San Joaquin River

I hung around Reds Meadows all morning updating the blog, checking emails, and making phone calls. Even though my bag had been packed and ready to go since 7am, it wasn’t until 2:45 that I actually headed out on the trail. I decided to take the Devils Postpile and JMT detours instead of the official PCT. When we hiked the JMT in 2011, there had been too many blown down trees along a particular stretch and we’d taken a detour along the PCT instead. Now I’m hiking that stretch of the JMT I missed in 2011, just to see something new. I’m glad I did; it’s been so scenic with all the lakes. This stretch of the JMT has more mosquitos and elevation changes, but has more lakes and is considered to be more scenic. It did not disappoint! Indeed, the mosquitos were awful and the ups and downs were very up and very down, but the lakes were beautiful.

PCT Section H Ansel Adams Wilderness

PCT Section H Ansel Adams Wilderness Shadow Lake

Shadow Lake on the John Muir Trail


PCT Section H Ansel Adams Wilderness Shadow Lake

Camping north of Shadow Lake


June 12- 25 miles, camping at Tuolomne Meadows Campground

Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park has a small store, post office, and grill. I was determined to make it to the grill today and put in 25 miles to make it happen. Unfortunately, the grill doesn’t stay open until 7:00pm until later in the summer, and they closed at 5:00. I missed the burgers! I hobbled into the Backpacker/Walk-in Campground and began pulling everything out of my pack and spreading it out across a picnic table. I spied another PCT backpacker, Steve, that I’ve met several times on the trail and even shared a cabin with in Reds Meadows. He was sharing a table with two other PCT hikers, Liverpool, from Scotland, and Wilhelm, from Amsterdam. They shared their beer, veggies and dip, and cheese with me- it was regular party!

PCT Section H Yosemite Tuolumne Campground

Tuolumne Campground with Steve, Liverpool, and Willem

The 25 mile hike today has really beaten up my feet. It’s not that it was so many miles, but more because so much of the trail in this area is rocky. Dirt has a soft give when your feet hit it and you don’t have to pick your way around uneven rocks. I ♡ dirt.


PCT Section H Ansel Adams Wilderness pack animal llama wildflowers donahue Pass

PCT Section H Ansel Adams Wilderness

Donahue Pass had very little snow in comparison to the other high passes. It looked so different from the the last time I passed through, with its colorful July wildflowers. I saw no other PCT hikers the entire day, which was pretty nice. I think I must be between hiker packs right now. So many hikers got off at Mammoth for resupplies and rest.

Lyell Canyon

Lyell Canyon

I was really dragging by the time I reached Lyell Canyon and it’s nine mile long meadow. It was beautiful, but also numbing in a way because my feet were so tired. I pepped up, though, when I saw a golden yellow fuzz ball bounce through the creek, across the meadow and pass before me on the trail. I could swear it was Pooh Bear himself, he was so yellow and cute!


June 13- 15 miles, camping near mile 958

PCT Section I Yosemite Wilderness Tuolumne Meadows

Tuolumne Meadows with Liverpool, Steve, & Mulberry

All the hikers were up early and waiting in line at the grill to order the 1060-calorie buckwheat pancakes. I enjoyed mine with Mulberry, an older hiker from LA that I’d leapfrogged with several times through Section H. Most hikers were also waiting for the post office to open so they could collect their resupply boxes.  The post master was thirty minutes late and then gave all the hikers a bad time for spreading our stuff out on the picnic tables. He told us those tables were for the grill (even though we’d just purchased food from the grill) and that we needed to move all our stuff to the picnic tables on the other side of the parking lot. We grumbled and moved; he even helped move some of the gear, but he got extra touchy when I told him he should just put up a sign about where to spread out gear. “We had 50 signs-up last year and no one read them, so we took them all down. Get over it already!” Eeeesh… He became a running joke for the next three days among the hikers.

I hiked most of the day with Liverpool, Steve, and Mulberry along the Tuolumne River and deeper into the changing land of Seciton I. I was amazed at how different the rocks and shapes of the mountains were in such a short distance.


PCT Section I Yosemite Wilderness sierra wild mushroom

PCT Section I Yosemite Wilderness sierra Tuolumne Falls Glen Aulin Camp

Tuolumne Falls, near Glen Aulin Camp

PCT Section I Yosemite Wilderness sierra lizard

My feet were still so bruised from the 25 miles over the rocky trail I hiked yesterday, I didn’t hike as far as I’d planned. I stopped at a lovely campsite next to a creek after only 15 miles. It was nice setting up with plenty of sunshine still in the sky and I mucked about in the creek washing my legs and feet.


Just as I was about to dig into my beef stroganoff dinner, Wilhelm, whom we were all sure had been in front of us, came hurrying around the trail. Turns out he had accidentally taken a wrong trail for 2.5 miles and then had to backtrack to the PCT. He was in pretty good spirits considering. He built a small fire to cook his food because he didn’t have a stove, and we talked into the evening about everything from not getting enough food on the trail to politics in Europe and existential books. It ended up being a freezing cold night and we were both cursing out loud every time we woke up from the cold!


June 14- 20 miles, camping near mile 978

PCT Section I Yosemite Wilderness frostI woke up this morning to find my sneakers, socks, and gaiters frozen solid. There was no way I was even going to try putting them on, so I hiked for half the day in my Tevas and night socks. Every time I had a stream crossing, rather than slosh right through, I had to stop, take off my socks, cross, and then put my socks back on.


PCT Section I Yosemite Wilderness stone trailsThe trial took us up and down thousands of feet over and over today. It was also exceptionally rocky… my favorite.  Every time we went through a canyon, mosquitos would swarm, so there was no stopping! Despite the bugs and difficult trail, the new colors and shapes of the rocks and mountains excited my imagination. The dome-like mountains, rock pathways, and perfectly square canyon walls made me think of a crumbling, lost city overtaken by nature. I could easily see palaces and temples in the mountains, balconies and sidewalks, manicured gardens and ponds, even canals and streets. It was great entertainment and took my mind off my feet.

After talking with Liverpool, I’m pretty sure the animal that startled me was a bear. Deer just silently bounce away and don’t actually hide in the bushes. You’ll always see them dashing away, not crouching behind bushes. Bear encounter number two, YAY!

Liverpool built a fire for us that night and we chatted about life back home. He’s such good company. I think we’re both disappointed by not putting more miles in today, even if the trail was hard!


June 15- 22 miles, camping near the 1000 Mile Mark

With the trail having a much gentler grade and soft pack of dirt today, I was able to put in a good amount of miles. I pushed all the way to the 1000 Mile Mark (on Halfmile’s PCT map), just because it feels good to reach some kind of landmark. There’s an excellent campground here, with a fire pit and log benches. I sat around, after setting up my tent, hoping someone else might show up. I was determined to have some kind of celebration tonight because not only was it an important milestone, but because the fire pit is giant!  Since no one came for over an hour, I decided to make a fire just for myself. It was my first fire ever, and I was very proud of myself! After staring a the fire for about twenty minutes, I heard a “Halloooo!” from across the stream. Two minutes later, Liverpool came staggering in, his blisters aching, I’m sure. He said he’d been determined to reach the 1000 Mile Mark as well, and I think he was as equally excited as I was to have a celebration fire.

PCT Section I Toiyabe National Forest Hoover Wilderness 1000 miles

1000 miles!

The hike earlier today took me up and over a small pass and then though a very long and gradual uphill climb. Wilma Lake was enchanting and I passed Liverpool taping his blisters and enjoying the mosquito free air. He said that every time he had to cross water, he had to re-tape his blisters. For the rest of that day, every time I forded a stream, I thought of him!

PCT Section I Toiyabe National Forest Yosemite Wilderness stone trails wildflowers


PCT Section I Toiyabe National Forest Yosemite Wilderness Dorothy Lake hiker reflection

Antique license plate trail markers

After practically running through mosquito infested miles of meadows, the trail brought me to Dorothy Lake and it’s pass. There was a wooden sign at the pass marking the boundary between Yosemite Wilderness and the Hoover Wilderness in Toiyabi National Forest.  It couldn’t have been better place. Looking behind, I could see the snow-covered, grey rocky mountains of Yosemite and in front, were ruddy brown and barren volcanic mountains. It felt like the perfect place to say, “Goodbye” to Yosemite.

PCT Section I Toiyabe National Forest Yosemite Wilderness Dorothy Lake

Dorothy Lake

PCT Section I Toiyabe National Forest Yosemite Wilderness Dorothy Lake hiker reflection


PCT Section I Toiyabe National Forest Hoover Wilderness

Leaving Yosemite Wilderness, entering Hoover Wilderness



June 16- 19.5 miles, staying at Northern Kennedy Meadows

Today was the best day ever. I woke up in a good mood and stayed there all day long. Maybe it was the change in scenery, maybe it was more nice, soft dirt trail rather than rocks, maybe it was the awesome wind that tried to blow me off the mountain, or maybe it was because I was getting into civilization this evening. Even after sleeping in a bit, I was still packed up and heading out before Liverpool.

PCT Section I Toiyabe National Forest

All I had to do today was hike up and over a mountain pass, then hitch into Norther Kennedy Meadows. Even though I’ve loved the quintessential Sierra scenery, I’ve been itching to see something new.  The ruddy brown mountains I’d seen in the distance yesterday became my wilderness overnight. As the land became drier and browner, the trail began winding higher and higher into the mountains north of Kennedy Canyon. Immediately, I could feel the force of the wind along these mountains; it rivaled the wind of Section F near Tehachapi.  I was glad the trail was nearly as wide as a dirt road because I was knocked to my feet twice by the wind! A couple of times, as the wind kicked up fiercely, I would just drop myself to the ground to prevent from being knocked over. I felt like Lieutenant Dan atop the fishing boat in Forest Gump, screaming at the storm to “Bring your worst!  I can take it!” All the way over the mountain ridge, with the wind screaming and the dark clouds catching on the top of the mountain, I had the time of my life.  I think I may actually prefer the “bad” weather on top of these high mountain passes, as long as I have my warm gear! The view from this temperamental mountain ridge was absolutely spectacular. I could see the snowy High Sierras far to the south and the barren, brown mountains to the west. Liverpool took a shortcut on the side of the mountain, avoiding the switchbacks that I’d taken, and caught up with me about half way across the ridge.


PCT Section I Toiyabe National Forest Hoover Wilderness Leavitt Peak

PCT Section I Toiyabe National Forest near Leavitt Peak

View from near Leavitt Peak

PCT Section I Toiyabe National Forest Leavitt Peak

Liverpool near Leavitt Peak

Every time we thought we were done with the snow, there’d be another snow field just around the corner.  Even though we were crossing the pass in the afternoon, the cold wind kept the snow pretty cold and firm.  Since Liverpool’s always got a great sense of humor, we had a good laugh all the way down to Highway 108. Almost the moment we landed on the road, a sedan swilled around the corner and I threw out my thumb.


PCT Section I Toiyabe National Forest Sonora Pass Hwy 108 wildflowers

Approaching Sonora Pass & Hwy 108

The two girls in the car had been rock climbing in Bishop and were on their way back to San Francisco; they’d also never picked up a hitchhiker before! They drove me ten miles down the highway to the Kennedy Meadows Resort driveway asking questions all the way about my hike. Thank you Jack & Xen!  (or is it Zen?)

PCT Section I Toiyabe National Forest Sonora Pass Northern Kennedy Meadows Resort

Northern Kennedy Meadows Resort

Checking into Kennedy Meadows, I decided to get a tiny cabin for myself, since all the lodge rooms were full of Horse Camp kids. As I waited in the general store to pick up my resupply package, I heard the cashier telling someone on the phone, “Well, it says she doesn’t arrive until the 18th. Can you identify her full name?” I could see her pointing at my name on her resupply box list. “That’s me!” I whispered.  “Are you talking to my mother?” (because calling my resupply locations sounds just like something my mother would do.)  She just smiled and handed the phone over.  It was Art trying to arrange a surprise visit on the trail and he had been gauging my arrival time at the resort by watching my GPS dot on SPOT. He drove all night and arrived at 5am with our dog Pepper. It was the best surprise!

PCT Section I Toiyabe National Forest Sonora Pass Northern Kennedy Meadows Resort

My loves!




Installment No. 12- Northern Kennedy Meadows to South Lake Tahoe

Red’s Meadows Resort & Pack Station

Devils Postpile National Monument

National Park Service- Tuolumne Meadows

Kennedy Meadows Resort & Pack Station


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PCT Section H Kings Canyon National Park Muir Pass Lake Wanda
No. 10- Onion Valley to Reds Meadows, 2014

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Onion Valley Trailhead: 36.771323, -118.340097
Reds Meadows: 37.613013, -119.074731
Vermillion Valley Resort: 37.252645, -119.174188



June 3rd- 9 miles, camping below Glen Pass

I’m camping with twelve other hikers tonight (a German couple called Princess and Mr. Sandals, Moxi, Glitter, Fence, Acron and Estero, and Lingo and Sugar Pine). It’s kind of overwhelming. There was so much discussion about how to fit everyone on the few campsites here. They’re all really nice and seem to have been hiking together since the early days. I’ve squeezed into a cozy spot between trees, but there isn’t enough space for my tent, so I am cow boy camping. I hope I’ll be warm enough with my REI bag and extra long johns. I’m wearing three pairs of socks and a neck gaiter, plus I’ve got my hot water bottle under my feet.

PCT Section H Kings Canyon National Park Glen Pass

Cowboy camping below Glen Pass

Earlier today, I was still in town working on my blog and getting organized. At the hostel, I met the missing hiker from a few days ago, Paul Turner. We talked for about an hour because he was such an interesting man! He was out hiking because he’s doing a documentary on John Muir and is trying to follow his footsteps. Unfortunately, he had a really bad map and got lost. He ran out of food and water; it’s amazing he made it to safety!

Paul Turner, 78, missing hiker

Paul Turner, 78

While working at the cafe in Lone Pine, the creepy hiker that I had met before Horseshoe Meadow, the one that talked too much, came up to me. I hadn’t wanted to mention I had thought he was creepy because I didn’t want to be rude to him on my blog. However, I don’t care now. This man, an older hiker named Periwinkle, is a disabled veteran. He came up and sat down next to me as if he had a secret. He said to me, “You’re a dirty girl, howd you like to make some cash for a private massage?” I was horrified and enraged. In fact, the F-bomb went off like an explosive all over the walls of the cafe. Everyone turned and stared to see what was happening. The cafe owner’s wife asked what was going on and I told her what he said. She immediately told him to leave and not come back.

I was so shook up I had to go wash my face in the restroom. He did leave and I refocused on my work, but I couldn’t get over what just happened. I’ve never had anyone speak to me like that before in my life. It made me so glad I took self defense.

I made sure to tell people about his behavior so that other hikers could be aware of him. I even put a message in to the PCTA so they can also be aware of any kind of harassment on the trail. Talking with other trail folk, I learned that this year there seems to be more problems of harassment than in the past. It’s so heartbreaking to see a trail like this and the type of journey it should be spoiled by a few rotten eggs.

I quickly got a ride from a new friend in Lone Pine to the trailhead at Onion Valley. I was so excited to see Lorax and T-Fox just coming off the trail! We chatted for a while because I just didn’t feel like jumping on the trail yet. Their blog is called DanTerraPCT. I also met a hiker named Homework who’s got a blog, too: SoleToSoil

PCT Section H Kings Canyon National Park Onion Valley Campground

Onion Valley with T-Fox and Lorax

The hike out of Onion Valley was beautiful. It seemed so much easier than the last time I had come down it. I made sure to leave a note in the snow for my favorite bear family at the top of the pass.

PCT Section H Kings Canyon National Park Trekkin' 3D

A message to my favorite bear family, Trekkin’ 3D

PCT Section H Kings Canyon National Park Kersarge Pass

View from Kersarge Pass


June 4th- 14.5 miles, camping below Pinchot Pass

All day today I was completely captivated by my surroundings. The icy blue lakes and snow covered mountains, roaring rivers and babbling brooks, rich forests and views that only seemed to get better and better we’re all around me.

I awoke pleasantly surprised to not be freezing! I guess my REI bag and extra long johns are working! Cowboy camping is great when the conditions are right- it’s spectacularly beautiful and so easy.

PCT Section H Kings Canyon National Park Glen Pass

Approaching Glen Pass

Glen Pass was only a mile away, but I was slow to reach it. At first I ran into French Toast and Alpine Start, who were just sticking their heads out of their tent. After catching up with them, I was mesmerized by the beautiful snow and frozen lakes along the ascent to Glen Pass.

PCT Section H Kings Canyon National Park Glen Pass frozen dirt


The view from the top was incredible. It seemed to reach miles and miles in all directions. The descent was by far the most challenging I’ve ever done. The amount of snow on the north slope and steepness of the mountain make Glen Pass one of the most dangerous. Luckily, I had the microspikes loaned to me from my new friend at the hostel in Lone Pine.

PCT Section H Kings Canyon National Park Glen Pass Joker Cracker Keeper

Joker and Cracker Keeper, Glen Pass


PCT Section H Kings Canyon National Park Glen Pass

Glen Pass


PCT Section H Kings Canyon National Park Glen Pass

Glen Pass

The switchbacks were completely buried in snow and we had to follow cuts made by previous, braver hikers Slipping on this slope could mean death, broken bones, or just a really fun glissade, but that’s not a chance most of us wanted to take. As we crept lower down the slope, glissading was safer and a few of us did it. I forgot to tie up my skirt into pants and got hard, icy snow burns all up to my cheeks. OUCH! I’m still feeling that one! It was good we did the past in the morning because the snow with harder and easier to walk on.


PCT Section H Kings Canyon National Park Woods Creek footbridge

Woods Creek

For the entire rest of the day, I dilly dallied, oogling the sites and smells of the land. I hiked alone for most of the day, but picked up speed toward the end so I could camp below Pinchot Pass with the hikers I’d met last night. It was a long uphill, though. I think I need to do a better job eating in the second half of the day. My energy wanes, but as soon as I eat a bar or fruit I can fly up these mountains.

Our campsite is near a small, nameless lake. After setting up my gear, I went down to collect water and wash up. Washing my ice burns hurt so much- I hope they go away soon!

PCT Section H Kings Canyon National Park Pinchot Pass

Camping below Pinchot Pass


June 5th- ~20 miles, camping near Palisades Creek

PCT Section H Kings Canyon National Park Pinchot Pass

Approaching Pinchot Pass


PCT Section H Kings Canyon National Park Pinchot Pass grouse

Pinchot Pass and an adolescent grouse


We’re calling this Double Pass Thursday. We conquered Pinchot first and then Mather. Pinchot Pass was beautiful, but uneventful- a relatively easy climb up and over with little snow trouble. We met a ranger on the north side who took our names for permit checking. It was then on to Mather Pass.

PCT Section H Kings Canyon National Park Pinchot Pass

(L->R) Glitter, Moxi, Princess, and Mr. Sandals on Pinchot Pass


I almost fell into the river during one of the crossings. It’s good I didn’t because I hadn’t put my electronics into a ziplock first. Bad, lazy hiker…

PCT Section H Kings Canyon National Park creek crossing

Creek crossing

I finally met Mr. Cup, the Japanese hiker with a giant pack and a flag coming out the top. He doesn’t speak any English, but he’s quickly becoming one of my favorite hikers.

PCT Section H Kings Canyon National Park Mr. Cup Japanese Hiker

Mr. Cup, the Japanese hiker


I wonder if he’s ever lonely here in an English-dominated wilderness adventure. Even hikers who come out seeking solitude converse other hikers to get information on trail conditions. Also, town stops and hitchhiking would be harder for him. He has a great of humor, though. In his limited English and with some sign language, he’s already cracked a lot of jokes.

Climbing Mather was breath taking. All these high passes are just so other- worldly with their barren landscapes, snow fields, icy blue lakes, towering peaks and the vast sky above.

PCT Section H Kings Canyon National Park Mather Pass

Mather Pass

The north side of Mather was extremely dodgy. There was so much snow and it was all soft by the time we reached it in the afternoon. We postholed all the way down and it was pretty scary in some places. Besides the possibility of glissading hundreds of feet into rocks, a posthole can twist your ankle or knee. I almost lost my shoe three times and Fence postholed up to his chest in one place. Since the trail was completely covered in snow, we all just followed various footprints left by previous hikers. Unfortunately, the previous hikers hadn’t gone the right way to follow the trail. We lead ourselves to a steep rocky cliff, which towered above the trail. Everyone took different paths scrambling down the cliff towards the trail below. It took us about three hours to go only a couple miles over Mather Pass.


I descended into Palisades Lakes. Waterfalls came out of the cliffs from every direction and it’s impossible to recapture the beauty. Several of our group, including Princess, Sandals, Glitter and Moxi are staying at the Palisades for the night. I headed down towards Palisade Creek with Fence, Lingo, Sugar Pine, Estero and Acorn to camp with a campfire below the 10,000 foot line. You can check out Sugar Pine and Lingo’s blog at SimplyWanderful.com. It was a long day, but I’m glad we made it lower for a fire!

PCT Section H Kings Canyon National Park Palisade creek

Hiker with Sugar Pine and Lingo


June 6th- ~12 miles, camping below Muir Pass

PCT Section H Kings Canyon National Park sierra wildflowers



PCT Section H Kings Canyon National Park

I’m calling this day “Happy Little Trees… and Waterfalls and Flowers.” With only twelve miles to hike to the base camp below Muir Pass, I took my time all day checking out the wildflowers and waterfalls. I’ve never seen so many waterfalls in my life! For most of the day, the trail took me through the forest and alongside both Palisade Creek and Kings River. I stopped by Grouse Meadow overcome by its beauty and decided to take an extra long break there.

PCT Section H Kings Canyon National Park Grouse Meadow

Grouse meadow

I stripped down and jump in the river- so cold but so refreshing! No one saw me prancing around naked in the meadow because the trail was behind too many trees. I took the time to dig up some wild onions snacked on them. Yum!


PCT Section H Kings Canyon National Park sierra plant wild onion

Wild onion

PCT Section H Kings Canyon National Park sierra plants wildflowers

Wildflowers and the JMT

PCT Section H Kings Canyon National Park rock faces

It’s the Emerald King! #ReturnToOz


The end of the hike was all uphill switchbacks, but the campsite is beautiful. A lot of people have trickled into camp here because it’s the last spot before the pass. A couple of hikers went up the pass to camp in the hut at 12,000 feet. I hope it’s comfortable! French Toast and Alpine Start have caught up. Yay! Everyone wanted to try my foam roller after they saw me using it. I have convinced a few people to get one for themselves. Later in the evening, as everyone was counting out their food until their next to resupply. Joker started a food swap. I traded three bars for two Mrs. Fields cookies. I already ate one. 270 calories in one cookie!

PCT Section H Kings Canyon National Park sierra plants wildflowers


PCT Section H Kings Canyon National Park Muir Pass hiker trash

(L->R) Lingo, Alpine Start, French Toast, Estero, and Fence


June 7th- 20 miles, camping near Piute Creek

PCT Section H Kings Canyon National Park Muir Pass

Approaching Muir Pass

Muir Pass had two miles of snow before the pass and three miles after. With my burned legs, I absolutely wanted to avoid more postholing today. Unfortunately, the snow must’ve known I was coming and softened up early just for me. I was punching through snow and it was only 7am. For the most part, the snow was hard on the south side of the pass. I followed the tracks of a couple hikers who were 30 minutes ahead of me. That was a mistake. Their tracks lead me straight up the side of the mountian and as I looked back, I could see the trail on the other side of the canyon, clear of snow and easy. My stupid path was ten times more difficult than that trail.

PCT Section H Kings Canyon National Park Muir Pass

Muir Pass

Eventually, at the top of the canyon, I was able to boulder across to the trail and continue up the pass. A lot of other hikers were there, including a couple of my favorites, like French Toast and Alpine. I didn’t stay too long at Muir Hut because I was worried about the snow warming up on the north side.

PCT Section H Kings Canyon National Park Muir Pass Lake Wanda

Lake Wanda

I think it must’ve been a really warm day because that snow softened up quickly. Everyone postholed and slushed down the pass, sometimes we punched through straight into a stream. I hiked most of the way down with Mr. Cup. We had a good time teasing each other every time we postholed. He would yell at me, “Hai! Cohn-sen-TRATE!” He makes me laugh so much.


PCT Section H Kings Canyon National Park Muir Pass


PCT Section H Kings Canyon National Park Muir Pass trail food hummus lunch

A hummus wrap lunch below Muir Pass

PCT Section H Kings Canyon National Park Muir Pass

I pushed hard for the rest of the day so I could put in 20 miles. Everything was downhill, but my body hurt SO much. My hips hurt on one side from my pack. My shoulders hurt because my pack straps were sitting on them too much, as I was trying to lighten the pressure on my hips. My ankle hurts from so much uneven trail.

PCT Section H Kings Canyon National Park sierra plants wildflowers

PCT Section H Kings Canyon National Park South Fork San Joaquin River footbridge

So tired…

Alas, I made it to Piute Creek. Setting up camp and washing up was so nice tonight. This is the first night in a while when I wasn’t camping with other people. I found a perfect bathing spot on the side of the roaring creek where the water pooled gently between rocks. It also had a perfectly positioned tree root jutting out over the water which I could put my feet up on. I used my spare toothbrush to scrub my body and nails clean. It was COLD, but so refreshing. I had to climb out when my toes and fingers started turning blue.

PCT Section H Kings Canyon National Park Piute Creek

Bathtime at Piute Creek

Things went downhill after bathtime: ants crawling all over my stuff, my MSR dromlite bag got a tiny tear and leaked inside my tent, my repair goo was dried and clogged, and I tripped over my tent and knocked the whole thing down. I tried to make hot coco with my chocolate whey protein powder, but it was so gross I had to dump it out. It’s just been such a long and tiresome day. I’m excited to reach Vermillion Valley Ranch soon!

PCT Section H Kings Canyon National Park Piute Creek Camp

Camp at Piute Creek


June 8th- 26.8 miles, camping at Vermillion Valley Ranch 

PCT Section H Kings Canyon National Park sierra plants wildflowers mushroomsI started hiking at 5:30 am, determined to reach Vermillion Valley Ranch (VVR) that evening. As I past Muir Ranch and began the climb up to Seldon Pass, my knees started to hurt more than ever before on this trip. They must’ve know where they were and remembered how they felt the last time they were here. (When I came down Seldon in 2011 during my JMT hike, I had torn cartilage in both knees.) I gave my knees a pep talk and we made it through the switchbacks. It’s amazing how the mind can trigger pain and remove it, aside from whatever is actually going on with the body.


PCT Section H Kings Canyon National ParkI didn’t see another hiker until several hours later when I came upon Mr. Cup sitting peacefully next to a creek crossing. I love seeing him. He has such a great energy. I learned that he’s 62 years old, has two daughters and three granddaughters.

I arrived at Seldon Pass completely alone. It was a great feeling. I’d grown accustomed to hiking around other people and forgotten how much I actually like hiking alone. Arriving at the Pass gave me that feeling of solitude and peace that I had so often during my off-season hikes.


PCT Section H Kings Canyon National Park Seldon Pass Marie Lake Mr. Cup Japanese hiker

Seldon Pass with Mr. Cup

Mr. Cup arrived at the pass about fifteen minutes later. I congratulated him in our silly way and tried to chat with him, but he sh-ed me and said only, “Zen” as he gestured to the view before us. I understood perfectly what he meant and sat in silence enjoying the space around us. Before I left him, he joked about me bringing him a coke when he arrived at VVR the next day.

The hike to VVR was equally quiet, but the switchbacks all day up and down and up and down again wore me out. I was in a lot of pain as I hit the 18-mile mark- my ankle and shoulders hurt, my hips and knees ached- but the call of a hot shower was motivation enough. I put in my earbuds and pushed the pain to the back of my mind. Hiking like this, with your eyes glued to the dirt path before you, puts you into a kind of trance.

PCT Section H Kings Canyon National Park Bear Creek

Bear Creek

Since the water level in Edison Lake is so low, the evening ferry wasn’t running. I had to hike 8.2 miles around the lake to reach the Ranch. The alternate trail was steeper and buggy-er, even swampy in some places, than I expected. I switched out of my sneakers and into my sandals for the last 2 miles.


PCT Section H Kings Canyon National Park Bear Ridge Trail

A very wet Bear Ridge Trail

Vermillion offers hikers showers, laundry, free camping, a computer, a store, and a diner. While sitting in the diner that evening, a familiar face came up to surprise me. It was Beav, who I met on my Campo to Paradise Cafe hike in December. It was a great surprise! We got caught up and he told me that he had to get off the trail because he hurt his knee going over Muir Pass. We decided to hike together until he got off the trail for Mammoth.

I soaked my laundry in a bucket all night so it’d actually come out on the washer clean this time. After sitting around the fire with a few other hikers, I cowboy camped under the trees for the night.

PCT Section H Kings Canyon National Park Vermillion Valley Resort

Vermillion Valley Resort


June 9th- 13 miles, camping near Fish Creek

VVR gave me one of the best nights sleep I’ve had yet on this trip. I woke up at 5:45 to get my laundry done before everyone else got up, but the power isn’t turned on until 7am. I killed time by sorting out the contents of my resupply box. A few things got tossed into the hiker box. (A hiker box is a large box or can for hikers to toss unwanted, but still usable items, such as gear and food, for other hikers to use.) I threw in my extra Nido milk powder, some nuts and fruit. Pulling out all my goodies, I found a few with doodles from Art. That made my morning!

PCT Section H Kings Canyon National Park oatmeal resupply

Doodles on my oatmeal resupply

There was a big sign outside the store saying, “Dishwasher wanted in exchange for a meal!” Sold! I enjoyed a double breakfast of pancakes and a breakfast burrito before stepping back into the kitchen to wash all the dishes from the morning. It was fun and totally worth it!

PCT Section H Kings Canyon National Park Vermillion Valley Resort

Doing dishes at VVR

While I was still washing dishes, Beav came in to let me know that Mr. Cup had arrived. I quickly grabbed a cold Coke and ran out to meet him, bowing as I presented it. He loved it. I don’t think I’ve seen him smile that big before!

By that time my laundry was in the dryer. When I went to pull it out, I found that instead of just tossing my clean laundry on the table, the next hiker, an older man named Grey Wolf, had neatly folded all of my clothes. I was delighted! I love how so many hikers out here really look out for each and do the sweetest things for one another. You can read Grey Wolf’s blog at MyHikingLife.

After taking care of emails and buying a few items (like tortillas for my new favorite PB & jelly snack), Beav and i took a noon ferry across Lake Edison to rejoin the PCT.


PCT Section H Kings Canyon National Park Minaret Falls

Minaret Falls

PCT Section H Kings Canyon National Park Silver Pass


We hiked for what seemed like forever up and over Silver Pass that afternoon. Either VVR had made us soft or that mountain was really kicking our butts. We hiked until after dark, but the moon was brilliant and bright, perfect for night hiking.

PCT Section H Kings Canyon National Park Silver Pass

Silver Pass

PCT Section H Kings Canyon National Park Silver Pass

Silver Pass

We found an awesome campsite right next to the creek and Beav made a fire to keep away the mosquitoes. I’m getting kind of used to this fire-at-camp thing. Beav made ramen with spam for dinner, which sounded totally gross to me. Of course, I had to taste it and it was DELICIOUS! It was so good, I finished his dinner and then didn’t want any more of my own. I’m definitely going to be making some of that for myself in the future. Spam and ramen, who knew?!


PCT Section H Sierra National Forest John Muir Wilderness


June 10th- 18 miles, staying at Reds Meadows

PCT Section H Sierra National Forest John Muir Wilderness I awoke to a fire in the firepit this morning.   It made me want to stay in bed and just be cozy!   Beav was packed up and ready really fast because he’s excited to get into Mammoth.  I felt silly trying to pack up so he wasn’t waiting too long.   I have a habit of completely unpacking EVERYTHING at night and that means it takes me a while to pack up in the morning.   I think it must be a girl thing because I’ve heard other guy hikers complaining about their lady companions doing just that!

We had a two-mile climb to warm us up this morning.  For most of the day after that we had alternating small ups and long downs.  Every time we had the ups, however,  we didn’t hesitate to complain very loudly!


PCT Section H Sierra National Forest John Muir Wilderness Lake Virginia

Lake Virginia

PCT Section H Sierra National Forest John Muir Wilderness 900 miles

900 miles!

PCT Section H Sierra National Forest John Muir Wilderness Deer Creek

Deer Creek

I said goodbye to Beav at the Mammoth turn off and I headed on to Reds Meadows.   There are some very dark clouds and thunder, so I think I’ll stay here for the night!  I was so excited to see the store and diner were still open. I helped myself to a salad,  burger, and milkshake.   I’m able to use the Wi Fi here and some JMT hikers have invited me and another PCT hiker, Steve, to share their cabin for the night.  Yay!

PCT Section H Sierra National Forest John Muir Wilderness Reds Meadows Resort

Reds Meadows Resort


PCT Section H Sierra National Forest John Muir Wilderness Reds Meadows Resort

Mooching off JMT hikers with fellow PCT hiker Steve



Installment No. 11- Reds Meadows to Northern Kennedy Meadows

T-fox & Lorax’s Blog

Homework’s Blog

Vermillion Valley Resort

Reds Meadows Resort & Pack Station

PCT Section G Sequoia National Park Beck Meadow

*This is my first post using my smartphone. Please bear with me as I learn how to use this WordPress app!!


No. 9- Jawbone Canyon to Horseshoe Meadows, 2014

loading map - please wait...

Jawbone Canyon: 35.379533, -118.284903
Horseshoe Meadows: 36.448628, -118.168130
Walker Pass Campground: 35.664953, -118.040629
Joshua Tree Spring: 35.741244, -118.024567
Kennedy Meadows General Store: 36.019034, -118.123361
Whitney Portal Hostel & Store: 36.604458, -118.062522



May 24th, 2014- 7.5 miles, camping at Landers Tank Campground


PCT Section F Sequoia National Forest Piute Mountains

Back in March, I was kicked off the mountain near Jawbone Canyon Road by a snowstorm. Today, my good friend Carlos drove me all the way out to that same dirt road so I could jump back on the trail. For such a big hike ahead of me, I felt strangely relaxed for the drive. The car couldn’t make it all the way up Jawbone Canyon because the road was too sandy, so I had to walk about a mile to link up with the trail.

Once I was walking, I began to feel so lonely. The silence always takes a while for me to adjust to on the trail. I tried hard not to think about Art or Pepper back home. I miss them and worry about how they’ll do without me, but I have to trust they’ll be okay.



Since I haven’t really been excercising as much as I should’ve been for the last two months off trail, the hiking was a struggle. I was also carrying eight days worth of food for the 100 mile stretch up to Kennedy Meadows. I managed to hike at around 2.5 mph, which felt really good for Day 1! The trail took me through beautiful pine-covered, rocky mountains. I felt so tired by the end of the day, I was overjoyed to reach Landers Tank Campground. Numerous other hikers are camped here in this beautiful meadow. In fact, 15 other hikers signed the trail book. Fifteen! And that probably wasn’t all of the hikers that came through! After section hiking so many miles of Southern California and seeing almost NO ONE on the trail, it feels strange to be out here with so many other people.

PCT Section F Piute Mountains Landers Camp


The water source is a spring next to a large storage tank. I spent the evening rolling out my muscles with my little travel-sized foam roller. I felt like I had too much weight in my backpack and thought I could just eat as much peanut butter as possible to bring it down a bit. I tried eating the peanut butter by the spoonful, but I almost gagged. I only managed to get two spoonfuls down. Bleh!! I cleared my pallet with a Pad Thai dinner and a cup of tea before going to sleep.


PCT Section F Piute Mountains Landers Camp

Landers Camp


May 25th, 2014- 22 miles, camping at Bird Spring Pass


PCT Section F Piute Mountains

Ugh, what a hard day! It was easy flying down the mountain this morning. I met a solo hiker named Crusher (as in Wesley) while filling up water bottles, but he must’ve hiked fast because I didn’t see him again all day. I met a few hikers all traveling together:  Duchess, Owen, and Booey. I almost stepped on a little rattlesnake; it’s the first one I’ve seen on the PCT!

PCT Section F Piute Mountains rattlesnake

A little rattlesnake


PCT Section F Piute Mountains Lupin wildflowers

Lupin wildflowers

Arriving at Kelso Valley Road, I found an awesome note from Carlos attached to one of my cached water bottles. *Thanks, ‘Los!*  There was also some great trail magic offered by the husband of another PCT hiker. He gave me a blue Gatorade and a twinkie. I’m pretty sure I’ve never had Gatorade before in my life and I definitely haven’t had a twinkie since I was 11 years old. They were both delicious! He gave Booey a Subway sandwich!!!

PCT Section F Piute Mountains water cache

Love note from Carlos 🙂


PCT Section F Piute Mountains Kelso Valley Road Trail Magic

Kelso Valley Road Trail Magic


After refilling my water bottles, I was moving slow through the heat and the uphill, sandy trail. I loved being in the desert again; the wide open spaces, Joshua Trees, and barren mountains are beautiful. Unfortunately, I wasn’t doing well with the exertion and elevation. I was nauseous and crampy for the rest of the day until I stopped to set up camp.

PCT Section F Piute Mountains Kelso Valley Road

PCT Section F Piute Mountains horny toad

Find the horny toad!

I leapfrogged with Booey and Duchess throughout the day and camped at the Bird Spring Pass Cache with them and maybe 5 other PCT hikers, including a couple young solo hikers called Clint Westwood and Red Light. They’re all a lot of fun to be around and hope to maybe stick near them, but I’m not sure I can jump back on the trail after two months and keep up with them. Bird Spring Pass doesn’t usually have water, but some generous PCT family member donated 85 gallons of water and cached it here. Another lesson in gratitude presented by the PCT! ♡

PCT Section F Piute Mountains Bird Spring Pass

85 gallons at Bird Spring Pass


PCT Section F Piute Mountains Bird Spring Pass hiker trash

(L -> R) Clint Westwood, Owen, Duchess, Miss America, and Booey


PCT Section F Piute Mountains Bird Spring Pass cowboy camping

Cowboy camping at Bird Spring Pass



May 26th, 2014- 20 miles, camping at Walker Pass Campground

PCT Section F Sequoia National Forest Bird Spring Pass

Climbing out of Bird Spring Pass

PCT Section F Sequoia National Forest Bird Spring Pass


I got up early this morning after a windy night, determined to keep up with the herd. One by one, all the hikers climbed slowly out of Bird Spring Pass, and I fell further and further behind. The higher I climbed, the sicker I felt. I knew it was the altitude making me sick, so I just kept taking breaks and drinking water. Eventually, I stopped sitting on rocks and would just lay down completely in the dirt. I felt pretty miserable. The first 10.5 miles of the day were really lovely, winding up through a desert pine forest with views of distant snowy mountains.


The second half of the day was hot, exposed and sandy. Ugh, sand! I’m over you!

PCT Section F Sequoia National Forest


PCT Section F Sequoia National Forest wildflowers



PCT Section F Sequoia National Forest Walker Pass

Approaching Walker Pass

I reached the Walker Pass Campground late in the day, but still in time to receive some amazing trail magic. As I walked up to a decorative tent, a little wild child with red curls charged up to me with a Pepsi, a sparkly necklace of plastic beads, and a button saying “Bearbait gave me a drink at Walker Pass.” (The kid was Bearbait, of course.) This magic is hosted by PCT veterans Jackolope, Copper Tone, and Yogi (who wrote my guidebook). They must know how beat down hikers feel after this last stretch and how much they need a little pick – me – up to stay motivated! Copper Tone made me a root beer float and Yogi cooked everyone spaghetti.

PCT Section F Sequoia National Forest Walker Pass Copper Tone trail magic

Copper Tone and a root beer float, Walker Pass Campground

When I settled in to a beach chair with my soda, I asked the hiker next to me if he’d seen Duchess or Booey pass through. He gave me the rudest response, saying I should just check the trail log, then got up and walked away. I was shocked! I guess not everyone out here is friendly and high on endorphins. Of course, I’d already checked the log and seen they’re names before I entered the campground. I later found out from Clint Westwood that they’d hitched a ride into the nearby town, Lake Isabella. I think most of these thru-hikers have bonded tightly during all the trials and tribulations of Southern California, (which I did solo and during the winter months) and here I am, just jumping in, a stranger to the herd.

PCT Section F Sequoia National Forest Walker Pass Campground trail magic

Trail magic at Walker Pass Campground

I walked down the road from the trail magic to a spring and washed up my dusty feet, hands, and face. Down there, I met Lucky Strike, a smoker from Tennessee, and Sarge, a young, solo lady hiker- both were super friendly. We all did laundry there together. I hiked up my skirt like a sarong and washed my shirt and undergarments with dignity. They were kinda jealous of the skirt set-up.  The skirt is a new item for me. It’s a Macabi skirt, made from the same material as hiking pants, with deep pockets, and snaps to turn it from long to mid-length. I even figured out a way to tie it up and wear it as a miniskirt.

PCT Section F Sequoia National Forest Walker Pass Campground climate x-frame sleeping pad

Walker Pass Campground

Actually, the skirt seems to have given me my trail name already. Several people think I look like Lawrence of Arabia with my long skirt and bandana hat. So, they’re calling me Arabia now. I like the name.  A single coyote is yipping right now in the distance and I’m sleeping under the stars. I love it.



May 27th, 2014- 22 miles, camping on top of a ridge above Spanish Needle Creek

PCT Section F Sequoia National Forest Walker Pass

Take THAT Section F!! On to Section G!

PCT Section G Sequoia National Forest Walk Pass


The spaghetti dinner last night gave me so much energy this morning. I met a lot of hikers today, including Sarge and Lucky Strike from last night, Wolf from Denmark, a fun couple called Smiles and Uke-less, and an older fellow named Raven. I saw Crusher, too, who I met back at Landers Tank.

PCT Section G Sequoia National Forest trail food



The hike started with a great big climb out of Walker Pass. Once on a ridge above the small city of Indian Wells, I was able to check emails and voice mail. Turns out Art won’t be able to meet me in Lone Pine like we’d planned because of work. I texted my resupply angel back home, Jonathan who had driven me to the trail on my very first PCT section hike six months ago. He’s going to send my warmer REI sleeping bag to Lone Pine, so I’ll have it for the higher elevations.


PCT Section G Sequoia National Forest


PCT Section G Sequoia National Forest

For my students:


PCT Section G Sequoia National Forest trail food burrito

Homemade veggie burritos


Soon I descended again into the desert and the heat. Crusher said it was 103°. Ugh… No wonder I felt like melting! Most hikers waited out the heat of the day for 4-5 hours at the little oasis of Joshua Tree Spring. It’s famous for being tainted with uranium, but all the springs in the Sierras have uranium, too. Everyone drinks the water anyways, I just hope my children don’t come out with three eyes!

PCT Section G Sequoia National Forest scorpion

Big, dead scorpion

Despite the heat, I chose to continue forward. I didn’t drink as much as I should have because the water tasted weird and it made me nervous. I also lost my Zpacks beanie. I had stuck it between my hip and my backpack belt because my hips were hurting and it must’ve fallen out somewhere when I stopped to take off my pack.


PCT Section G Sequoia National Forest

PCT Section G Sequoia National Forest quarter way

A 1/4 of the way to Canada, near Joshua Tree Spring

I planned on camping at the base of a long climb near Spanish Needle Creek, but the campsite look dark and gave me the creeps. (Later, I talked to another hiker, Happy Feet, about it and he’d had the same feeling! He camped there anyways, but had dreamed that night of a mountain lion dropping a carcass outside his tent. He woke up to find his dirty socks in his face. Hahahahah!) Anyhow, I kept hiking on up the mountain hoping to find some descent camping.

PCT Section G Sequoia National Forest Spanish Needle Spring

Near Spanish Needle Spring


Raven passed me going the opposite direction with nothing but his headlamp and a water bottle. He said he’d lost his smartphone cable to charge his phone somewhere at the bottom of the canyon. He was determined to find it, even if he had to hike 4 miles down! I feel so bad for him. It reminds me of when my phone died at the end of Section E. Most hikers keep everything on their phones: pictures and videos, contact info, maps and data. Loosing that tool feels really crappy.

PCT Section G Sequoia National Forest Spanish Needle

I found great camping at the top of the ridge along with Sarge, Lucky Strike, and an older lady named Far Walker. It’s dark now and Crusher just showed up with Smiles and Uke-less, and another couple, Josh and Carla. Josh found my hat and carried it hoping to find it’s owner! I’m stoked!

PCT Section G Sequoia National Forest Spanish Needle

On ridge above Spanish Needle Creek (Sarge in the background)

I’m enjoying ramen noodles with home-dehydrated veggies for dinner. The stars are spectacular tonight and the air is warm, so I’m cowboy camping again.



May 28th, 2014- 20.5 miles, camping at Manter Creek

Last night my body hurt SO MUCH. My muscles keep cramping and ceasing up and it’s SO PAINFUL! My glutes and hips are working so hard during the day and then they just freak out when I’m lying around at night, stationary. Plus, I was sleeping on a slight slope and kept sliding downward. I need be picker about where I sleep.

PCT Section G Sequoia National Forest Spanish Needle


I awoke to a spectacular sunrise. Several additional hikers had shown up after I’d fallen asleep and had squeezed in to the few flat spots remaining. They must’ve done mist of their hiking in the dark last night to avoid the heat. Sarge Smiles, Uke-less, and Crusher had already left camp. I hiked less than a mile when I got 4G signal, so I uploaded three videos to Vimeo, but it took two hours! I killed time by eating, stretching and singing. Wolf passed by me, and Happy Feet set up nearby to do his morning yoga routine. I ended up playing leapfrog all day with Wolf and Happy Feet, both were great to talk to on breaks. Wolf is soft spoken and quite the thinker, while Happy Feet is vibrant and has a hysterical sense of humor.

PCT Section G Sequoia National Forest Fox Mill Spring

(L->R) Happy Feet from Oregon & Wolf from Denmark, Fox Mill Spring

Since the water is so low in most of the creeks, I’ve had to use the Sawyer syringe to such up the water and then squirting it into my bottles. Now my bottles have green and brown muck floating in them. Yuck. Yay, for filters!

PCT Section G Sequoia National Forest

Happy Feet and I hiked most of the 6.5 miles downhill to Manter Creek together, joking and laughing and complaining about how long the downhill was to camp. Since a past fire had burned all the trees and brush in the area, we could see the trail winding all the way down. We both agreed we’d rather not see how long the trail was ahead of us, it was almost torture. Happy Feet actually throws away all of his elevation charts that come with the maps because he just doesn’t want to know how much up and downhill he has to do!

PCT Section G Sequoia National Forest Wildflowers


The last turn in the trail presented an expansive view of the Rockhouse Basin which made it all worth it. The large flat basin with both Manter Creek and Southfork Kern River winding through it was surrounded by tall, rocky mountains.

PCT Section G Sequoia National Forest Manter Creek Rockhouse Basin

Manter Creek and the Rockhouse Basin

Happy Feet and I joked loudly while we set up our cups and Carla joined us to borrow some fuel. We were so loud we actually got “shh-ed” by Raven. I guess 8:30 is like hiker midnight!

PCT Section G Sequoia National Forest Manter Creek Rockhouse Basin

Camping near Manter Creek

We saw a huge jackrabbit go through our camp. He was the size of my dog! At first, I thought he was a deer or sheep!

Kennedy Meadows is only 9.5 miles away and I can’t wait for a shower, laundry, and some Ben and Jerry’s. I hope to use the internet while I’m there and check the weather and current snow conditions. Kennedy Meadows is usually where hikers wait out the snow and weather before heading into the Sierras.

I’m a bit ahead of schedule and since Art won’t be meeting me now, I may push on to Horseshoe Meadow so I can easily get a ride with the weekend campers on Sunday. We’ll see!



May 29th, 2014- 9.7 miles, camping at Kennedy Meadows General Store

I tried out peanut butter and jelly tortillas for breakfast this morning. Delicious! It’s my new favorite!

The hike from Manter Creek to Kennedy Meadows was gentle and scenic. I was so lost in the scenery I didn’t notice Raven say “Hi” as he rested by the trail until I was right next to him. Scarred the beegeebees out of me! I jumped and screamed. He felt bad, but was pretty funny.

PCT Section G Sequoia National Park Kennedy Meadows General Store

Kennedy Meadows General Store, Cheshire Cat on the deck

I was super excited to reach the store, but I felt shy, especially after my experience with the grumpy guy at Walker Pass who gave me the cold shoulder. I was happy to see some familiar faces and I gravitated toward them. I collected my resupply box, took a shower, and then tried to get organized for the next stretch. My brain was so fried, all I ended up doing was shifting things from one pile into another and then back again. Eventually, I got myself together and gave away food I didn’t need to Red Light and Happy Feet.

PCT Section G Sequoia National Park Kennedy Meadows General Store resupply

Resupply box!

Next, I ate a huge guacamole burger and that pint of Ben and Jerry’s I’d been dreaming of for ten miles. I had intended to hike out this afternoon, but Raven convinced me to stay and rest for the night.

Not long after, several of us piled into a car from Grumpy Bear Restaurant down the road and headed off for dinner. I met a few new hikers and got to know Red Light and Wolf a bit better over chicken and baked potatoes. It was nice to get out of the scene at Kennedy Meadows.

PCT Section G Sequoia National Park Kennedy Meadows

Heading to Grumpy Bear Restaurant

I’m now curled up in my sleeping bag under the stars. A few young hikers are nearby playing guitar, singing, and smoking weed. They brought twinkle lights to decorate their camp. I’m enjoying listening to them as I roll out my muscles. I just discovered my little roller fits inside my sleeping bag.

PCT Section G Sequoia National Park Kennedy Meadows camping

Camping at the Kennedy Meadows General Store



May 30th, 2014- 19.5 miles, camping near Cow Creek at mile 721.5

PCT Section G Sequoia National Park Kennedy Meadows

Leaving Kennedy Meadows

I left Kennedy Meadows early, before they began serving breakfast. I didn’t want to get sucked into staying longer, delicious and delightfully social as it would be. Having only been on the trail a few days, I didn’t feel like my body or nor spirit need that kind if indulgence yet.

The morning hike was cold with the trial winding along the valley floor. Not long into my hike, I came to a lovely footbridge straddling the Southfork Kern River. It was a beautiful site and I found excuses to hang out there for awhile. I charged my phone, ate a PB and jelly tortilla, and took pictures. A Canadian couple named Lorax and T – Fox chatted with me as they pasted. They’re the sweetest.

PCT Section G Sequoia National Park South Fork Kern River footbridge

South Fork Kern River footbridge

PCT Section G Sequoia National Park wildflowers lupin

The trail climbed and climbed out if the dry Southern Sierras. The scenery and vegetation changed suddenly as I slipped over the top of a pass and down into a huge grassy meadow with a stunning view of snow-dusted mountains. It was Beck Meadow and the trail wound around the hilly side of it, arriving several miles later at another crossing of the Southfork Kern River.

PCT Section G Sequoia National Park Beck Meadow

Beck Meadow

PCT Section G Sequoia National Park Olancha Peak

View towards Olancha Peak

PCT Section G Sequoia National Park South Fork Kern River footbridge

South Fork Kern River


Lorax and T – Fox were already there stripping down to wash and do laundry. We lounged for over an hour on the soft grass, enjoying the birds and views, but the wind kicked up and made it really chilly. That was the que to pack up and move on!

PCT Section G Sequoia National Forest South Fork Kern River birds

Residents of the Southfork Kern River bridge

PCT Section G Sequoia National Forest South Fork Kern River bridge


PCT Section G Sequoia National Forest South Fork Kern River bridge

Stonehenge of the Kern River… it’s builders remain a mystery today. 😉

Climbing out of the meadow took us 2,000 feet higher into the mountains. I was eyeballing how dry Cow Creek was all the way, hoping there would be water higher up. At one crossing with small, mucky puddles there were some huge animal bones. They must’ve belonged to some really big like a bear, a donkey, or a buck. I didn’t see any teeth marks on them- that would’ve been creepy!

PCT Section G Sequoia National Forest cow creek bones

Animal bones near Cow Creek

PCT Section G Sequoia National Forest cow creek


In the way up the mountain, I passed an older hiker named Pathfinder. He’s famous for updating the PCT Water Report all the time. *Thanks Pathfinder! * He assured me there was water up ahead.

PCT Section G Sequoia National Forest cow creek plants


I met up with Lorax and T – Fox again and we camped together for the night. I scrambled over boulders up and down the creek looking for a descent puddle to collect water from, alas, they were all small and yucky. I had to use my syringe again and it took me thirty minutes to collect enough water for dinner, breakfast and the next ten-mile waterless stretch. There’s algae floating in my bottles again.

PCT Section G Sequoia National Forest cow creek

Camping near Cow Creek



May 31st, 2014- 26 miles, camping at Horseshoe Meadow Campground

T – Fox and Lorax headed out early, but I slept in because I didn’t sleep much last night. My muscles kept cramping again and at one point, my lantern fell on me from the top of my tent. It woke me up and I thought I’d fallen asleep right on the trail. I panicked, thinking, “Where am I? I have to put up my tent! Oh, I’m IN my tent! What’s going on?!” It was pretty funny.

PCT Section G Sequoia National Forest beck meadow

View towards Beck Meadow

Anyway, it was a slow morning and I wasn’t on the trail until 7:30. The view of Beck Meadow was incredible that morning. It’s difficult to comprehend how massive these mountains are, even after I’ve climbed them. All day, I looked behind me to see how far I’ve come. I’m always amazed how far people can walk in just one day.

PCT Section G Sequoia National Forest


Leaving the view of Beck Meadow behind brought on a view of the Sierras ahead of me even more beautiful than the previous ones. I kept looking at them as I hiked, which meant I also kept tripping and stubbing my toes.

PCT Section G Sequoia National Forest


For the first time ever, I enjoyed my tuna with a couple of tortillas. I LOVE TORTILLAS. They’re delicious, hold your food together, and go with pretty much everything: tuna, PB & J, burritos, hummus. I don’t think I’ll ever hike without them again.

PCT Section G Sequoia National Forest trail food tuna lunch

Tuna wrap lunch on the trail

PCT Section G Sequoia National Forest


Around mid-day, I came across a hiker I hadn’t met before. He was a voracious talker and weirded me out by talking too much about poop. I moved on as quickly as I could. When I met up with T – Fox and Lorax later that day, they had a good laugh because they’d experienced this same hiker a couple of times before and wondered how I’d handle the situation.

PCT Section G Sequoia National Forest sierra snow plant

Snow Plant

Since I’d already covered so many miles by speed hiking, I figured a few more to Horseshoe Meadow wouldn’t hurt. I might even be able to get a ride down to Lone Pine that very night!

PCT Section G Sequoia National Forest snow


For the rest of the day,I whipped along the trail aiming for Trail Pass Junction. It was at that trail junction six months ago where I stepped onto the PCT for my first section hike after knee surgery. I didn’t expect to get so emotional when I got there, but I was teary – eyed thinking about my reasons for setting PCT hiking as a goal for and how far I’ve come since that first hike. I was unsure of myself, my skills and my body, I was frightened to be alone in the wilderness, and was so naive compared to what I know now.

With excellent physical therapy and training, my ol’ knees have carried me nearly 700 miles on the PCT alone and are about to carry me another 1,400 to Cascade Locks, Oregon. Taking life’s adversities and sufferings and finding a way to turn them into a great success or joy is what makes life so fulfilling. I haven’t faced every adversity in life the way I have this one, but I hope I do from now on.

PCT Section G Sequoia National Forest trail pass mulkey junction

Trail Pass Junction

I hiked 2.5 miles down to Horseshoe Meadow, not feeling any of the discomfort that comes with backpacking 26 miles in a day. As I approached the trail head, a couple asked me if I’d seen a missing hiker, 78 year old Paul Turner who was overdue to arrive. I racked my brain, but I’d only seen a few hikers between here and Kennedy Meadows and none met his description. I hope he’s okay.

PCT Section G Sequoia National Forest Horseshoe meadow Cottonwood Pass

Horseshoe Meadow, view toward Cottonwood Pass

Stumbling into the campground, I met Wisconsin hikers French Toast and Alpine Start getting ready to head back to the trail the next morning. They’re gentle souls and I hope to see them again. I also met the Dunlap family, who’s dad and two grown sons are hiking the PCT to Crater Lake, Oregon. Their names are Papa Bear, Polar Bear, and Grizzly Bear. They decided to hike together after each of them had brushes with death over the recent past. They’re goal on the trail is to celebrate life and being together. I think that’s awesome. You can check out their Facebook page called Trekkin-3D. Their Mama Bear, Melanie angels them along the way and offered me a ride to Lone Pine in the morning. Yay! The Bear family shared their campfire with French Toast, Alpine Start, and me tonight. It was hard to go back to my cold tent!


June 1st – 3rd, 2014- Whitney Portal Hostel

Mama Bear Melanie brought us hikers fresh apples and grapes for breakfast. Yum! She drove me down to town, chatting with me the whole way about her family and asking me about how I hike as a woman. I felt honored that she’d ask me for so much advice.

I checked into the Whitney Portal Hostel and picked up my resupply boxes which Jonathan had mailed to me. This hostel has great service and rooms. I enjoyed a shower and, after lounging for several hours while videos uploaded to Vimeo, I washed my clothes at the laundromat. I had to wear my rain gear since everything else was in the washer.

PCT Section H Lone Pine Whitney Portal Hostel

Whitney Portal Hostel, Lone Pine

I’ll stay here a couple nights to catch up on sleep and then jump back on the PCT via Onion Valley.

PCT Section H Lone Pine Alabama Hills Cafe

Breakfast with the owner of the Alabama Hills Cafe, Lone Pine

PCT Section H Lone Pine tacos mexican food truck

Best late night tacos in Lone Pine, on Willow Street



Installment No. 10- Lone Pine to Reds Meadows

Walker Pass Wiki Article

Kennedy Meadows Visitor FAQs

Water Quality in the Sierra Nevada Mountains

Whitney Portal Store & Hostel


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In June of 2012, my friend and roommate from grad school, Anna, and I hiked part of the John Muir Trail. It was a dream that’d been festering within me for about a year, since I had gotten into backpacking, and I was ecstatic when Anna suggested doing it. Her job would be to make the itinerary and carry the tent and our double wide sleeping bag; I’d make, assemble and carry all the food.

We started at Tuolumne Meadows because Anna had already hiked much of Yosemite Valley and also because it was supposed to be easier getting a permit there than in the Valley.


Days 1 & 2: Tuolumne Meadows to Upper Soda Springs


I don’t know that I’ve ever seen land more beautiful than what I saw on this trip. There is a reason the Sierras are called the Range of Light. It seemed that every time I turned a corner or stoped to look around, my breath was taken away from the sheer beauty of the land.

The year we hiked the JMT, a huge storm had blown down numerous trees. Trail workers were struggling to clear all the blown downs from the trails, but there were stil so many that we had to climb over or around. To simplify things, Anna and I decided to take the Pacific Crest/ High Sierra Trail branch instead of the JMT between Thousand Island Lake and Devil’s Postpile.

We had only one resupply planned for the entire trip, and that was at Muir Trail Ranch. With only one resupply and because I had overestimated how much were would eat, I was carrying a whole lotta food! I hadn’t anticipated we’d both loose our appetites on the trail, me because of the altitude and Anna because of the mosquitoes. (She had rather sit in the tent free of the little monsters and go hungry.) Since so much of our food wasn’t getting eaten, I gave it away to PCT hikers I met along the trail- they were all ravenous!


Days 3 & 4: Upper Soda Springs to Silver Pass Lake


I got my first blister on Day 1 going up Donahue Pass. Each day, I had new blisters and they were all getting bigger! Unfortanely, I hadn’t learned yet about toe sock liners and how to properly treat blisters. I was using a needle to pop them, moleskin to cushion them, and athletic tape to cover them. BUNK! They continued to swell and ooze until, before reachig Silver Pass, I met a couple of PCT hikers who must’ve taken pity on my sandalled feet.  They taught me the best and last method I’ve ever used:

Using a clean needle, thread your blister and leave about 0.25 inches of thread on either end of the blister. This wicks out all the fluid and allows the blister to drain. Leaving the thread in, cover the blister with athletic tape before putting on socks and shoes. Whenever possible, let the blister air out with the thread still in it. Take the thread out when the blister seems to stop oozing, but before it completely dries.

In addition to blisters, my knees had begun to hurt. It didnt seem too bad at the time, and everything else about hiking felt great, like my cardio and muscles, so I wasn’t really concerned about whether I’d be able to finish the trail or not.


Days 5 & 6: Silver Pass Lake to Muir Trail Ranch


It was around Silver Pass Lake when I realized I had some serious issues with my knees. Little did I know I had torn cartilage in both knees from a previous injury, exacerbated by patellar tracking issues. Every downhill step was excrutiating and I was falling far behind Anna. By the time we were decending Seldon Pass, which is 8 miles completely downhill, I could barely stay on my feet. My knees could no longer support me and as I came down the final gravelly switchbacks into Muir Trail Ranch, I alternatively fell on my ass, got up for a few steps, and repeated.

I was in tears by the time I got into the Ranch, but the residents were absolutely amazing. The 80 year-old matron of the ranch patted me on the back and said things like, “This, too, shall pass” and “A day has not been wasted if a memory has been made.” Later as I sat at the outdoor table whimpering and beating myself up over failing to do something as simple as walk, an older rancher went to his room and brought out a framed verse. It was Max Ehrman’s Desiderata and it was just lovely and uplifting to read at that moment.

After collecting our resupply bucket, Anna and I decided to hang out for a day or two to see if my knees improved or if we should bail out through Florence Lake. She spent the afternoon and next morning fishing in San Joaguin River while I lounged. I enjoying the discovery of toe socks (which I purchased from the Ranch) and soaked in the local hot spring.


Day 7: Escape from Muir Trail Ranch!


To be sure I didn’t injure myself further, I decided it was better to bail out then and there than to push on and potentially never be able to hike again. While hanging around the next morning, we met a couple of screenwriters from LA day hiking in from Florence Lake. They said they could give us a ride from the lake to a general store where maybe we could hitch hike into town. We packed up in record time and hiked out. Anna must’ve been carrying 50 lbs. on her back with all the food from our resupply box. I told her to leave it, but she insisted on taking it— probably because she felt sorry for me putting so much work into the food and then having to bail.

Once on the Florence Lake Ferry, we met a couple of fishermen, Steve and his son, Kyle, who said they could drop us off in Fresno the following day. So, instead of the screenwriters from LA, we camped with the fishermen at Portal Forbay Campground. It was a lovely spot and Anna and I tried to show our gratitude by making pumpkin pie for them (from our now excess dehydrated food).

The following morning, Steve drove us a couple hours down to Frenso Airport where we rented a car. We said a huge “Thank you!” and our goodbye’s to Steve and Kyle. Then we drove several hours back to Yosemite where my car was parked in Tuolumne Meadows. While I drove my car and Anna drove the rental, we went back to Fresno to return the rental, and then it was 4.5 hours back to Santa Barbara. We got in at 4:00 in the morning, but it WAS WORTH IT!

Installment No. 1 of My PCT Journey

On August 5th, seven weeks after knee surgery, I found myself at the summit of Mt. Whitney.  [applause, applause!]

I found myself on that summit for several reasons: the love of hiking, excellent medical care, determination and hard work. I was absolutely determined not to allow an injury to hinder my love of hiking. When I first injured my knees, I was heartbroken at the prospect of never hiking a long trail, or even day hiking, again in my life. Luckily, I had an excellent surgeon and physical therapist, who put me in right order in no time. Two years prior, I had to exit the John Muir Trail (JMT) after 90 miles because torn cartilage in both knees left me scooting down Selden Pass on my backside. In the year leading up to the JMT, I had fallen in love with the idea of long distance hiking, but hadn’t yet done a backpacking trip longer than 3 days. Every minute of planning for that trip and every day on the trail had been a joy, and leaving the trail early was crushing. I cried like a baby at Muir Trail Ranch as I faced the decision to leave early. It seems like a small thing, but it was one of the most disappointing moments of my life.

Post knee surgery dance!

Post surgery dance!

Fast-forward to June, 2013.  As I sat in the surgeon’s office, discussing the operation and recovery, I made the decision, then and there, I would hike the entire Pacific Crest Trail over the next year.  In my mind at the time, the PCT was the ultimate long distance trail; and, if I strove for it, maybe even succeeded, I felt I would have truly healed: body and heart.

It makes sense that my journey should start with the tallest peak in the contiguous United States, right? I chose to start with this particular section of the PCT and Mt. Whintey because I missed out on it when I didn’t finish the JMT. Plus, it’s one of the best places to do an August hike!





I’ve decided to section hike Southern California until the end of the school year, and then begin my thru-hike next Spring. If I go northbound, I’ll begin the thru-hike at Onion Valley and finally complete the remaining miles of the JMT; if southbound, I’ll end at Onion Valley. Either way, it kinda feels like coming full circle.

No. 1- Horseshoe Meadows to Onion Valley, 2013

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Onion Valley Trailhead: 36.771323, -118.340097
Horseshoe Meadows: 36.447730, -118.169289
Toilet: 36.567288, -118.335929



Day 1

The first trail steps of my PCT Journey began after a car shuttle. I left my car at Onion Valley Campground below Kearsarge Pass and was driven by my good friends, Jonathan and Brendan, to Horseshoe Meadow. We stopped in between for lunch at Lone Pine’s Mt. Whitney Restaurant. I think our server was having a bad day, but the Pasta Primavera was DELICIOUS!

Jonathan & Eve

Jonathan & Eve




As I disembarked from Horseshoe Meadow and the boys (it was adorable how much they fussed over me— thanks, guys!), my stomach was all a flutter with excitement and apprehension. What if my knees didn’t work? What if I was lonely and scared?  What if I was cold, PMSy, or my homemade food sucked? OH, WELL! I was out the gate and there was no point in worrying any more. I was going to take one step at a time and one night at a time, and each of my fears would just have to wait in line like everything else!

My plan took me up Trail Pass Trail a couple miles to join the PCT near mile 745.5. If arriving at Horseshoe Meadow made me feel like a 6 year-old at Disneyland’s gates, then stepping onto the PCT felt like climbing into a car on Space Mountain!


I intended to only hike about 3 miles and find a campspot near Poison Meadow Spring. Despite really taking my time climbing up Trail Pass Trail, I still felt like I was making excellent time, especially after I had reached the PCT and the trail had leveled off. I had found my stride and it felt great!  I took time to look around at the views, trees, rocks, & vegetation. I’ve always loved the drama of the rocks and trees in the Sierras. As the sun became low in the sky, I reached for my super cute, super cheap pink sunglasses only to find them missing already. I dropped my pack and scurried back along the trail at least 2/3 of a mile looking for the glasses, to no avail! Shuffling back to my dropped pack, I saw that the sun was ready to set and I still hadn’t found a place to camp. Bivy camping means pretty much anywhere could potentially be a camping spot— I could sleep directly on the trail if I had to, but it’s not the best. Nonetheless, a beautiful campsite appeared not too far up the trail.


Horseshoe Meadow

Horseshoe Meadow looking towards Trail Peak


I tossed out my sleeping pad, unrolled my Zpacks bivy sack, and changed into my pj’s. After getting every thing set-up for cooking dinner, I noticed, for the first time, how very quiet it was around me. As I had seen only a few hikers that afternoon, and they were all exiting the trail as I entered, I felt quite alone. I boiled some water and poured it into a freezer bag with dry quinoa and chicken soup. Dropping my water balloon of a dinner bag into a cozy, I crawled over the rocks to watch the sunset across the valley below.

First night's camp, near mile 748

First night’s camp, near mile 748


Lots of my gear was new for this trip, and I was still getting used to it. In an attempt to lighten my base weight, I treated myself to a Zpack’s Arcblast backpack, a Zpack’s bivy sack, a Therm-a-Rest Z-lite sleeping pad, and a little Trangia alcohol stove. I was also trying out a new FlexAir Ultralight Pillow, which I had read about on Lady on a Rock’s blog. (It’s a great blog, so check it out!)

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Please note the tree & rock drama.


Comfort being a top priority for me in the backcountry, I was excited to find a comfortable pillow that weighs less than an ounce. The pillow gets inflated with a plastic straw, and then some ingenious folds in the material trap the air inside once the straw is removed. After having tested the pillow at home with great success, I was frustrated to no end as my head kept slowing sinking to the cold ground throughout the night. I couldn’t figure out if I had screwed up the fabric folds in the pillow or if maybe it had something to do with the elevation, but there were no pillow parties to be had that night.

View from first night's campsite

View from first night’s campsite

The first night out in the wilderness is always the toughest, particularly when you’re alone. It had been over a year since I’d slept in the woods, and almost two years since I’d done my one and only other solo trip. The silence presses in on you, the unfamiliar feel of your sleep set-up and the climate against your face, and the inevitable boredom which your mind, just for entertainment’s sake, spins toward dark, scary thoughts. I found myself straining for the sound of cracking branches, indicating an approaching bear, lion, demented hiker, or aliens… I fancied I’d distract myself with star gazing, but my face was so cold I couldn’t be bothered to stick it out of my bag. I was beginning to feel like a failure.  “How can I handle a week out here, if I can’t get past one night?!”  As I couldn’t shut down my new super power of extra-dimensional senstive hearing, I dug out my Kindle and listened to Little Bee by Chris Cleave until I fell asleep.


Day 2

Waking up the next morning, I felt like a new person… a new person with a dead Kindle battery. Looking around my comfortable, now very safe-looking campsite, I felt silly for being so wound-up the night before. If every night was going to be like the first, I’d have a lot of Kindle charging to do during the day! Tossing that thought aside, I packed myself up and powered through the morning toward Cottonwood Pass and Chicken Spring Lake. As charming as the softly rolling and pine tree-carpeted mountains of the southern Sierras were, I was anxious to move into higher elevations, the more dramatic mountains, and the otherworldly scencery that comes with them.

Meadow near Cottonwood Pass

Meadow near Cottonwood Pass

View of Horseshoe Meadow from Cottonwood Pass

View of Horseshoe Meadow from Cottonwood Pass


While surveying the view of Horseshoe Meadow from the top of Cottoonwood Pass, I met at least 10 hikers and a dog. Seeing so many people, I again felt silly about the previous night’s mental drama. One of the hikers I met was fun lady named Suma Fong training for a hike in Peru, and it turns out she lives not far from my neighborhood in Southern California.  We exchanged info and I hope to hike with her soon!

Chicken Spring Lake

Chicken Spring Lake

Fantastic views from above Chicken Spring Lake

Fantastic views from above Chicken Spring Lake







My goal for Day 2 was to hike 12.5 miles to Rock Creek and camp there for the night. Along my way I continually leapfrogged with a family of 6 also aiming for Mt. Whitney. After passing Chicken Spring Lake, the next water source would be Rock Creek, so I carried several quarts of water for the day. For most of the day, the trail was quite warm, dry and dusty.

Dusty trail

Dusty trail

Teva's Zirra Sandals

Teva’s Zirra Sandals with Injinji Toe Socks












As the day went on, my feet started to hurt, so I thought I’d try some sandal hiking for the first time ever. It was pretty awesome, and I think I might be hooked!  Your feet do get exponentially dirtier hiking in sandals, but that just gives you an excuse to soak them at the creek. Just be extra mindful as you’re placing each step because a small slip can easily lead to a bloody toe.

Rocks stacked like library books

Rocks stacked like library books

2013-08-04 12.50.11

Still can’t get over I’m hiking the PCT!


The afternoon turned out to be a lovely hike down into the Rock Creek area. There were more trees, grass, meadows, and little brooks feeding into the larger Rock Creek. I reached the campground in the late afternoon, and as I passed the first, totally sweet looking campsite, I spotted a Hennessy Hammock swinging in the trees. (Side note: I LOVE hammock camping and get super excited when I meet anyone on the same page.) Turns out the hammock belonged to a friendly Orange County kid named David who was hiking with his friend Danny. They were such a couple of kindred spirits, I promised to return for dinner that evening.

Rock Creek

Rock Creek

Second night's campsite at Rock Creek

Second night’s campsite at Rock Creek












I was absolutely entranced with Rock Creek. The creek itself was a spakling brown and the soft trees and grass surrounding gave the area a comforting ambiance. There are several campsites along the trail here and a bearbox near the creek crossing. I pulled EVERYTHING out of my pack and spread it all out as if I were in my living room at home. Making myself feel even MORE at home, I walked down the creek, stripped down past my skivvies, and took a very coooold bath.

Zpacks bivy sack

Zpacks bivy sack


Now that I was as clean as I could get, I boiled water to rehydrate some chicken couscous with veggies and reorganized my pack. With my couscous still cooking inside a cozy, I made my way back up the trail toward David and Danny for a bit of a dinner party. They were such fun!  Danny was a vibrant soul with a neverending thirst to exchange information and stories. David was on the quiet and pensive side, but he and I definitely connected over the famous Shug’s Youtube hammock videos. (Check out one of Shug’s Whoooooo Buddy! Youtube videos here.) Since they had both just gotten back from summiting Mt. Whitney, they filled me in on all the details.  Such as, get up to Guitar Lake early because all the good spots will be taken quickly! We shared some Trader Joe’s gummy penguins and other simple delights while the night darkened around us. Being the gentlemen they were, they both escorted me down the dark trail and past the other campers.



Day 3

I slept in the next morning until 8am.  It seemed the sun was already high in the sky… must’ve been too much partying the night before. Speaking of the night, none of the demons from the previous evening visited me again, to my delight! I think it had much to do with the fact that other campers were mere yards away and I fell asleep to the bell-like sounds of Rock Creek.

Rock Creek crossing

Rock Creek crossing

Feeling behind schedule, I threw together my gear and, after nearly tottering into Rock Creek, pushed up the switchbacks that awaited me. As I reached the top of the switchbacks, I felt strong, I felt fast, I felt like Superwoman! … and then I felt hot. I reached over my pack to pull down my Sheila hat, but I was grasping at air.  For almost a minute I couldn’t really believe it wasn’t there. I kept reaching around from different directions (probably looked quite funny!), then took off the pack to check, and finally eyeballed the trail below. It was NO WHERE. I had left it back at Rock Creek, waaaaaay below the switchbacks I had just powered up. After having lost my uber cute pink sunglasses on Day 1, I wasn’t about to loose my Sheila hat, too. Down into the trail dirt went my backpack, and down to Rock Creek I charged. Huffing and puffing, not with exhaustion, but with indignation.

On the way down, I passed the family of 6 I had been leapfrogging the day before. Not a word more than “howdy-do” was exchanged, but they seemed to have an idea of the situation; and they parted like the Red Sea for me. There, hanging on a slender, very Charlie-Brown-Christmas-Tree looking sort of pine, was my hat. I snatched it up and, with a few indecent words, crossed Rock Creek for the third time. The family and I had a good laugh at my expense as I hustled back to my pack.  I told them, I’d probably see them over and over at the rate I was going.

Guyot Flat, PCT mile 763.5-ish

Guyot Flat, PCT mile 763.5-ish


View towards Crabtree Meadows, Mts. Hitchock, Russell, & Hale

View towards Crabtree Meadow, Mts. Hitchock, Russell, & Hale


It was a lovely day for hiking and the 8 miles went by quickly. Every corner I turned, every hill I topped was exciting. I kept humming “The Bear Went Over the Mountain…” over and over. It got old, but the views didn’t!

Lower Crabtree Meadow & Crabtree Creek

Lower Crabtree Meadow & Crabtree Creek


Stepping into lower Crabtree Meadow was a magical moment for me. It had the quintessential soft grass, green trees, mountain views, and babbling brook. The magic couldn’t even be broken by a very grumpy hiker who, according to his lady companions, hadn’t eaten enough that day.

I stopped at the meadow for lunch and device charging. Next time, I need to rig up my pack so I can just charge my gear while I walk. I’m using a Suntactics solar charger and love it!  It’s lightweight, right for the price, and hasn’t ever failed me.

Suntastics solar charger & Kindle

Suntastics solar charger & Kindle

My new favorite spot

My new favorite spot on planet Earth










At that point, I temporarily departed the PCT and stepped onto the JMT, the trail I was so heartbroken to leave two years prior. The JMT pretty much follows the PCT all the way from Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite to Crabtree Meadow, then breaks off and finishes at the summit of Whitney.

The "welcome" sign at Upper Crabtree Meadow

The “welcome” sign at Upper Crabtree Meadow

At Rock Creek Junction, there’s a famous box full of “wag bags” which you’re required to carry above that elevation for your… um… waste. I think most people fly through the junction, pick up their bag, and head on up. Seeing as I wanted to poke around Upper Crabtree Meadow, which was just across the creek from the junction, I was lucky enough to spot a peculiar sign to find in the wilderness: “Toilet.”

The outhouse was located at the end of the meadow on a raised platform and had just two walls. As you sat there, you looked straight out onto the meadow. It truly felt like a throne, and I had to laugh as I sat there.


Looking down on Lower Crabtree Meadow

Looking down on Lower Crabtree Meadow


All the way up to Guitar Lake, the trail follows Whitney Creek, which was just beautiful. Every time I happened upon a little beach or conventiently placed sitting rock next to the creek, I wanted to stop and absorb it all. I was careful not to dilly dally too much, as I remembered David and Danny’s advice about getting up to Guitar Lake early for a good campspot.  And an excellent campspot I did find!

Third night's campsite at Guitar Lake

Third night’s campsite at Guitar Lake


Dinner by the lake

Dinner by the lake


There must’ve been at least 30 campers at Guitar Lake that evening; and, yes, all the good spots were taken quickly! I had fun stacking rocks around my little home for the night. I knew there probably wouldn’t be any wind, but the inner Lincoln Log-lovin’ child in me couldn’t resist. Dinner that evening was ramen with chicken and veggies with a fabulous lakeside seat.

I chatted with a trio of Brits next door who were all very interesting and fun. One of them was a music critic from London, one of them had two knee replacements, and one of them helped me rig up my trekking pole to hold the bivy cord away from my face.

Bivy with trekking pole rigged up to hold the face window cord

Bivy with rigged up trekking pole


Day 4

I expected it to be a cold night because we were at an elevation of 11,552 feet. Turns out the rocks gave off a fair amount of warmth and cold air likes to sink to the bottom of valleys. It was quite chilly at 4:00 in the morning when I woke up. I peeked out of my nest and saw a train of twinkling lights making its way up the side of Mt. Whitney. Turns out many hikers had started hiking at 2 a.m. to catch the sunrise at the summit. I thought how noble and awesome they all were, and then snuggled deeper into my bag. An hour later I was up and packing. I set off for the climb in the dark with the trail to myself. The Brits were up, too, but took their time making tea.

As I reached the tarns just above Guitar Lake I was already feeling winded and my pack felt heavy. Further up, an older gentleman caught me by surprise when he called from off the trail, “Last water source!” That got us talking and, since I was going to be coming back down the same way, he convinced me to leave all my gear right there on the side of the trail. At first I wasn’t sure it was a good idea. What if someone stole something? What would I do without a sleeping bag or my stove? Upon further consideration, I came to the conclusion no one in their right mind would want to carry any more gear either up Whitney or down it, so my gear was sure to be safe! Learning to trust other hikers was a new lesson for me that day.

Early morning light on Guitar Lake

Early morning light on Guitar Lake


The first beams of sunlight hitting the tips of the mountains

The first beams of sunlight hitting the tips of the mountains


I felt kinda naked with only my lunch, water bottles, and camera/phone in my big backpack, but I also felt lighter! My new friend, Kellen, and I hiked all the way to the summit together. We had some good chats along the way about life back home (he’s an attorney from New Mexico, who does Shakespearean acting on the side) and pointing out cool views to each other.

Chilly morning!

Chilly morning!

Mt. Hitchock and reflection in it's lakes with Whitney's shadow

Mt. Hitchock and reflection in it’s lakes, with Whitney’s shadow








Mt. Whitney switchbacks

Mt. Whitney switchbacks


Small bivy campsite halfway up the switchbacks

Small bivy campsite halfway up the switchbacks

The switchbacks were really not so bad going up, plus the views were a great distraction from any physical discomfort. I do wonder, though, if there is possibly a rockier place in the universe that Mt. Whitney.

Halfway up the switchbacks, we came to a well known bivy campsite.  It gave me the shivers just looking at the sheer drop off one side of the site. I knew that if I ever camped there, I’d be the goose who got up in the night for a pee and tumbled off the side!






Rockiest place in the universe

Rockiest place in the universe


Passing Whitney Portal Trail Crest, it was just another 1.9 miles to the summit. The next portion of the trail was even rockier than the switchbacks, and scrambling over rocks with verticle drops to one side gave me a sense of mountaineering, rather than hiking.


Climbing an earthen wave

Climbing an earthen wave


There were many moments of lightheadedness as I adjusted to the altitude, but I felt good nonetheless. Kellen and I reached the top just before the Brits and shortly after the sunrise crowd had left. We’d also beaten the crowd coming up from Whitney Portal, so we pretty much had the summit to ourselves. I sat there and ate my hummus and crackers, taking pictures, and counted how many weeks it’d been since my knee surgery. I didn’t cry for joy or anything, but I did feel really good about myself. I tried calling my parents, but didn’t get any reception. One of the Brits did, though. It was surreal listening to him talk to Delta about changing his return flight to the UK.

Actually, the height is now 14,505 ft.

Actually, the height is now 14,505 ft.


Just as the Whitney Portal hiker pack started to trickle in, Kellen and I moved on out. He moved much faster than me down the mountain because my knees, which felt so great going up, were hurting on the way down- and what a long way down it was! I stopped at Guitar lake to eat lunch and soak my knees in the freezing cold water. In order to get my knees in the water, I had to actually SIT in the water. It was icy cold and I sat there for as long as I could stand it. As soon as a breeze kicked in, my whole body began shaking like my old Mazda on it’s last legs; I was outta there. Looking back, I think maybe I should’ve made a cup of hot tea to sip while soaking.

: D


Earlier that day, I had thought I’d hike further down and camp at Wallace Creek, but my knees were saying “No, too much down hill!”  I decided I’d aim for Upper Crabtree Meadow instead. It’d be nice to check out my friend, the outhouse, again, anyhow!

Upper Crabtree was overrun with a charming group of 12 year old Boy Scouts from Orange County and their dads. They were super friendly, and I couldn’t help but gawk at the amount of Mountainhouse and Backpacker’s Pantry meals they’d brought, not to mention the size of their stove. With all the gentlemen around, I had to be especially discreet about sponge bathing up the creek and changing into my pjs behind bushes. Kellen camped nearby and, with all the people that night, there was definitely a festive feeling in the air.

Boysouts playing stick ball...

Boy Scouts playing stick ball…

Dad scouts doing the dinner clean-up

Dad scouts doing the dinner clean-up.








Fourth night's campsite at Upper Crabtree Meadow

Fourth night’s campsite at Upper Crabtree Meadow



Day 5

It appeared to be true: the cold air definitely seemed to settle in the lower elevations because it was cold that night! I was up at  6 a.m. and sneaked out of camp before anyone else was awake. I wasn’t really sure where I might camp that evening, but my original goal had been Tyndall Creek below Forester Pass. I decided I’d just take it easy and see how my knees felt when I got there.

Kellen, the Shakespearean attorney from New Mexico

Kellen, the Shakespearean attorney from New Mexico

Two miles down the trail that morning, I stoped to change out of my pj’s and eat breakfast. As I dug through my pack, I had the feeling something was missing. Hat? Check. Spot GPS? Check. Bivy?Check. Kindle? … iPod? … solar charger? …  Having taken out my electronics bag that morning to pack up my bear canister, I had left the bag on top of the bearbox. Again went the backpack into the dirt, and again began the huffing and puffing of indignation, only this time, it was surlier. A mile into my electronics bag recovery mission, I passed Kellen on his way up the trail. He offered to wait for me and I told him not to bother, that I’d catch-up. And catch-up I did! It was amazing how fast I could move without a backpack. With a quick “Good Morning!” to the Scouts, I scooped up my bag and dashed back to my waiting pack. Kellen must’ve been taking his sweet time because he was only a bit further up the trail after I grabbed my pack (now with all gear accounted for).

Wallace and Wright Creeks were the next crossings and both were lovely spots.  Part of me regretted not being able to camp at Wallace Creek because it was so pretty.  As I hiked along, I suddenly found myself in the middle of what looked very much like the surface of Mars.  Turns out it was Bighorn Plateau and I had completely forgotten it was coming up!  It’s striking and austere beauty took away my breath, and I repeatedly stopped to gaze around. My photos can do it no justice because the camera just couldn’t capture the sense of immense space and of earth meeting sky.


Bighorn Plateau

Bighorn Plateau


Bighorn Plateau

Bighorn Plateau


Kellen moved on ahead and I was left to my own devices on the trail. Coming upon Tyndall Creek, I seriously considered staying there for the night because it was so nice, but it was only 2:00 and my legs were feeling good. As I had chosen to wear sandals this day, my feet were also feeling great. The sun was warm, the grass was soft- I could’ve just napped!  Kellen had mentioned that there really wasn’t a place to camp between Tyndall and the other side of Forester Pass. At 13,180 feet, Forester is the highest pass on the PCT. I did some math and figured out that if I chose to do Forester Pass that afternoon, I’d get home a day early, and that settled it!

Lunch by Tyndall Creek

Lunch by Tyndall Creek

Tyndall Creek

Tyndall Creek












The trail leading up to Forester Pass is a long, slow climb. It’s hard to believe you’re at such a high elevation because the ascent is so gradual. The only thing that gave me any indication of the altitude was my breathing. The afternoon trickled on and I felt like I wasn’t making much progress at all. The pass still appeared to loom far ahead.  Everytime I stopped for a break, I checked the map again. Even though Kellen had said there were no campsites between Tyndall and the other side of Forester, the map showed a small site right at the base of the pass’s switchbacks. I decided that if I couldn’t make it over Forester, I’d camp there for the night. That backup plan looked less and less like a backup and more like a reality as dark clouds pooled in the sky and I still felt so far from the pass.

Approaching Forester Pass

Approaching Forester Pass

Forester Pass

Forester Pass


Everyone I passed on the trail was heading down for the day. Reaching the last tarns before the switchbacks, I found the  little bivy site. It looked cold and exposed, and with the threat of rain on my tarpless shelter set-up, I wasn’t feeling good about it. I looked up at the switchbacks, towering straight above like a skyscraper.  There, halfway up, was a little red T-shirt I recognized. I yelled up to Kellen and asked if he thought I should stay put or heave on over. He said to go for it and he’d wait for me on the other side.

Swallowing a fruit leather and my fear of being struck by lightening, upward I charged. I was so determined to get over the pass before rain or thunder that I didn’t stop to take any pictures. Looking down was practically out of the question. It was a sheer drop to a very nasty end if I fell, and it made me dizzy peering over the side. The closer I got to the pass, the darker the clouds became. I kept wondering if my hair would get staticy and be shortly follow by Zeus aiming at me from above! As if the clouds knew I was nervous and wanted to see me get even jumpier, little snowflakes began to fall gently all around me.

The valley just past Forester Pass

Evolution Valley just past Forester Pass, Kings Canyon NP


Since, the weather had been predicted to be rain free, I hadn’t bothered to bring any waterproof gear. It seemed that if I wasn’t going to be electrocuted, I was still going to be chilled in my wet clothes and sleeping bag. I hustled over the pass to catch up with Kellen and could hardly believe the beauty of the valley on the other side. It looked like a prehistoric secret valley straight out of The Land Before Time. Again, it seemed as if the clouds were having a good go at me for their own entertainment because just as I reached Kellen, they began to break up. The snowflakes were still falling, but things were looking up for the evening!

I tailed after Kellen far enough down the valley to reach a collection of incredible campsites among some trees. Each site seemed to be cut into the hillside like Mesa Verde, and the beginnings of Bubbs Creek wrapped around them all.

Fifth night's campsite near PCT mile 783

Fifth night’s campsite near PCT mile 783

An older couple were camped just above the site I picked. Hearing my plan of camping below the Forester switchbacks, the wife exclaimed it was good that I hadn’t. She said it was called Forester Base Camp and that she’d stayed there once only to find herself sinking into the damp earth all night long. I’m so glad I didn’t choose to bivy camp there! I felt VERY safe and cozy with the site I had for the night. I cooked up another qunioa and chicken soup and Kellen shared some of his leftover Mountain House Beef Chilli Mac. Checking the map, I couldn’t believe I’d actually put in 20 miles that day, especially with just my sandals.  Without the electronics recovery mission, it would’ve only been 16 miles. Even though those 4 miles were done without a pack, I took pride in knowing it was the farthest I’d ever walked in a single day in my life. I fell asleep delighted at the thought of putting in more 20-miler days on the PCT and dreamed of having a burger in Lone Pine the following afternoon.



Day 6

Frosty morning!

Frosty morning!

It was another cold night and I hiked the next morning amazed at all the frost around me. For most of the morning, the trail followed Bubbs Creek down into Evolution Valley. Bubbs must’ve been some guy to get such a beautiful, prominent creek named after him!

After a few miles of hiking together, Kellen needed to turn off onto a different trail. We said our goodbyes and congratulated each other on our Whitney summit.  It was great having someone else for those moments of success and fear. And it’s those moments, which I know there will be more of, that make me hope to meet many more people like him on my PCT journey.

Bubbs Creek

Bubbs Creek


My own turn off from the PCT came up soon after Kellen departed. My exit trail would take me 7.1 miles over Kearsarge Pass and down into Onion Valley, where my car awaited me. They were surely some of the prettiest 7 miles I’d done on this trip. Or maybe they were just like all the other pretty spots I’d walked through, but these were extra special being, as they were, the final miles of the trip. The climb was difficult, but the lakes I passed were stunningly clear. I was tempted to relax for the afternoon by a couple of them, but the call of a Lone Pine burger was too strong! I made a mental note to come back to Bullfrog and Kearsarge Lakes for a little camping, exploring, and maybe fishing someday.

The pond below Bullfrog Lake

The pond below Bullfrog Lake

Crystal clear water!

Crystal clear water








Kearsarge Pinnacles and Kearsarge Lakes

Kearsarge Pinnacles and Kearsarge Lakes


Kearsarge Pass

Kearsarge Pass


The long steep climb over Kearsarge was nothing compared to going down the other side. This trip taught me my knees would carry me uphill as far as I wanted, but downhill needed to be approached with TLC. I was really aching as I neared Onion Valley. Just as I was about to exit the trail, I saw a young hiker wearing a T-shirt from a school I where teach, and I stopped him to see if he’d been a student there.  Indeed he had been!  It was incredible to chat with him about mutual acquintances there at the end of Kearsarge Pass! It’s amazing to me how we can step out of our comfortable civilized bubbles, and still find people to connect with.

Gilbert Lake and Kearsarge Pass

Gilbert Lake and Kearsarge Pass




Days 1-4; I traveled left to right on this chart

Days 1-4; I traveled left to right on this chart from Halfmile’s maps.


Days 5 & 6

Days 5 & 6



Installment No. 2 of My PCT Journey- Wrightwood to Eagles Roost

Halfmile’s maps

Suntactics Solar Chargers

Ultralight Designs FlexAir Pillow