Red’s Meadow – Tuolome – Sonora Pass

Ugh I’m updating from food coma bed at KM Resort at Sonora pass, bear with me I’ll have to fill in details and dates later, will be in S Lake Tahoe thur 21st

Day ? Sat July 9
Near Lyell Fork/ before footbridge to Glen Aulin CG

Pretty exhausted I slept hard and had a coffee in am. Gnarly camped with us. Had an EZ fast almost snowless (egad!) descent, pretty flat at the end to Tuolome. Han Solo and Gnarly waited for Rockfish at the real ling, shallow creek crossing and I went ahead anticipating a hole-digging diversion soon. But right away came upon Kristin and Vilay. Those late risers were just getting going at 8:30! We chatted and hiked fast which was fun. Nice folks! Real wet and muddy trail. Then I had to stop for my hole diggin and wait for the guys. Mosquito attack! Gaaaah!

We chilled at Tuolome for at least 3 hrs at the picnic tables. The store and post office opened the day before! Got my resupply package (excellent one, mom!) and organized my stuff while sucking down soda and other hikers extra food and drying socks and shoes.

Seamus, sweet Irish guy and dad of Honeybuzz who’s a few days ahead though I don’t think I know him, shows up with trail magic! Cases of coke and bud and a huge box of sweet rolls. Hmm sure I could eat some more… Aah calories I don’t have to carry.

We got going, and Gnarly hitched into Yosemite Valley, we skipped it- weekend. And the PCT is enough for now. Really.

The next few miles were touristy Yosemite stuff but we totally lapped it up like puppies! Soda Springs! Cool cabin where John Muir hung out and held Sierra club mtgs! Cool half dome-lookin Lambert? Rock! Us going slow taking pics… Lots of creek crossings, not dangerous at all but slow for Rockfish having to change out of boots. I’m so pleased with my descision to complete the life of my Patagonia hiking shoes in this wet as hell place. It was kinda good having my goretex boots from Independence to Mammoth but there was less crossings in those sections, but enough. Annoying and a waste of time changing shoes. Just go!

We finally got to Glen Aulin CG after a spectacular waterfall and waterlogged trail all of us grumpy, tired, and mosquito bitten. I really had not wanted to camp at this big CG but oh well.

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Day? Sun July 10
Glen Aulin CG to Miller LAke
Abt 11.6 mi

Han Solo has a sore throat and feels sick. Yesterday my throat gland was swollen indicating an immune fight. He and I slept until past 8:00. Wow. I was fully out. So needed it. I really hate alarm clocks and set times, esp backpacking. Luckily Rockfish camped below which let us sleep in. I didn’t like camping here at all – lots of people and Mosquitos. I had hoped we’d make it further. Bearbox is nice though as we all have extra food that doesn’t fit in our bear cannisters.
Several creek crossings today and I’m so glad to have my old shoes back to walk right through the creeks! It was a pain in the ass taking off boots and wearing my camp shoes to cross. Time waste. We got to Return creek starving for lunch And a couple on the other side gestured to go way up hill upstream though the Crossing didn’t look bad there… our dumb asses climbed all over up there wasting time and getting very frustrated with ourselves and each other. lesson: don’t take advice, follow your gut!! Finally came back to trail to cross and it was easy! There was another crossing a bit further I cross first alone then Han Solo came them Rockfish all pissed off with his boots and gators back on not sure why or whatever but I din’t like his tantrum. A guy we met with cricket, Hotrod, when we were almost to Red’s Meadow came by and chatted a long time as we ate which eased the tension. I just rested and enjoyed my lunch- cheese, avocado, tuna/mayo wrap w yummy pink lemonade! Long uphill thru snow an some getting lost/wayfinding. Scenic but annoying w wet feet!

Camped past Miller lake at a small flat snowless spot. I hope to sleep in and hike hard tomorrow- might have to go it alone.

Day?
Mon July 11

Breakfast in bed! Starbucks Via w nido milk and granola w dried cran, freeze dried banannaa and strawberries in warm milk,. Nice! Thanks for the goodstuff mom!

Tue July 12 (hmm my dates seem a bit off here…) Miller lake to Benson Lake trail

Unexpectedly exhausting day! A challenge.
Benson pass was a piece of cake, and we took a long relaxed lunch at top. I sewed part of my pack that’s been coming apart. Gorgeous descent to Smedberg lake where Cherry Picker passed us. Tons of creek crossings all day where we had to wait for Rockfish and hisboots.

After the lake it got hard. Trail makes his big “U” shape south that’s allsnow and hard to navigate with nearly sheer cliff drop- no cutting thru. Where the heck did theprevious hikers go thru? We found signs mostly burried in snow at the top withno footprints around! Towards the end of this steep uphill I did my first real self-arrest with my iceaxe! Nuts! I’m sure glad I didn’t mail it away at Tuolome.
Finally descending. Killer views of Benson lake with that .5 mi trail to “sandy beach” that we liked the sound of- but no time for that as we didn’t make many miles today.

And then… Sierra swamp! Gaaaaah!
It starts innocent enough with a double crossing, one on a high log (pic) and one about 60 feet of knee high water divided up beaver style with plenty of debris. Some spots had depth, some current. Mucky and mosquitos and those aren’t bear tracks are they? Ick. About 8 pm made camp just past all that water. Had a fire for skeeters and bearprevension – ate Mac n cheese. Several deer came thru camp and one dug up the spot Han Solo peed in the night. Mmm delicious salts.

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Day ?
Benson Lk trail (975.6)to Stubblefield Cyn Ck (985.2)

Slept in from late nite. Day began w 2.6 mi climb to Seavey pass, pretty! I felt food and fit. Then a good bit of snow up there but nothing like yesterday. Wet, muddy, muck descent w tons of SM creek crossings actually most of the trail was a creek! Lunch at the bottom and I was super hungry and enjoyed sausage, cheese, and whole grain tortillas. Hoping for a normal early end to the day. Out goal was to finish this bout of water crossings… Which we did… But.

Bear valley trail crossing was ok. a few SM branches were small so me and Han Solo crosses thru EZ w wet shoes, no biggie below the knee. Rockfish tried rock hopping and slipped falling and getting soaked, cursing and checking his video cam. A shame on such an EZ crossing ( beware end of day oopsies) so he’s all in a grumpis when we get to the real crossing, a low log walk. I put ony spikes to help grip, no problemo. H and I both went down stream to rescue him should he fall in the torrent. Ok. Then… The last crossing. Very slow deep
Water. Prob to my upper chest or neck. There’s a V shape of fallen logs to cross. Rockfish’s fear of water has him pretty debilitated at this point as it’s been a long rough evening for him. We just want to get thru this last one and camp there. Benefit of hindsight maybe he should have camped that side. It was a bit tricky but not a dangerous crossing at all long story short he fell in and we had to build a fire to warm and dry him and his gear. This took forever plus we had to pitch (H and I squeezed in a spot) and make dinner too. Finally abed at 10:30. Gonna be a slow am.

July 13
Finally left at 11. EZ climb up
macomb ridge. Descents are snowy. Muddy and wet all day. Big grey clouds often blocked sun. Uneventful uninspired day. Toward end of day all
Mushy wet H actually prayed in 3 languages for a dry flat spot!! We did find one before Grace Meadow. So much wet mud and streams everywhere! Made taco rice w veg taco “meat’ 8:18 cozy in tent listening to book on tape

July 14
Slept badly, cold, slightly downhill. Neck shoulders sore. Had coffee! Slow, wet, muddy, exhausting snow moguls for hours. Apparently I wasn’t eating enough for this kind of activity as I had to sit down awhile half a mike before our scheduled break at Bond pass trail where we waited for Rockfish an hour but no sign of him, he really shouldn’t lag so far behind. I felt nauseous and dying for sleep but managed to eat a Luna bar and filter water for a tasty drink. We decided to plod on a bit to Dorothy Lake pass to eat lunch and wait for R. Here the trail is very EZ to follow by the lake. All snow but lots of prints. Great view at the top where I cooked tortellini and ate a snickers too. Wow I need to EAT.

After 2 hrs C-train showed up and said Yankee and Rockfish were right behind, but it took quite a while. I suggested R make a head start in the am as it would make sense for us to catch up and keep him closer. He was cool with us heading out and those 3 heading out later. We got going and made tracks for them. H gave him his Erik the black pages. Snow dissipated a bit around Lk Harriet and then near the 1,000 mi mark (woo!) we took off our microspikes and flew down the trail faster than the speed of light! Managed to bang out 10 mi to Kennedy Cyn Ck, which was where I hoped to camp! Very cool, despite all the waiting plus H twisted his ankle a bit in a snow bank poor guy. Not too bad though.

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July 16
C-train came thru at 7:30, he said he left the others 4 or 5 mi back a couple hrs earlier. We hit the trail leisurely at 8. Left a note for R as agreed, but later discovered he didn’t get it having crossed the sm stream on a log somewhere else!

The pass called the Notch took forever. Up from camp BAM all snow. We had to kick some steps to get to the ones on the top switchback. There we saw pretty fresh bear tracks way fresher than footprints! Why the heck would a bear wanna go up the pass?!

Going and going thru rock gravel and snowfields around a bowl w views of cool volcanic rock and mini-caves near a pass to the other side which may or may not be the “notch”. Stopped for lunch before H died of hunger exhaustion. Still several hrs walking up there! Finally descent partly snowed over then buried and we hate the look of the glissade path we find here! Thin snow, rocks, steep as hell. Mmmm no thanks! We found another way down also kinda sketchy. But we got down to Sonora Pass, got a drink fm Steve, who’s doing some trail angeling as his wife section hikes. Saw Rattler, Speedbump, and some others. Got a ride pronto when Crasher and ? Hopped out of a Lexus suv from Bridgeport. This super sweet couple was headed on to Sonora and they gave us a lift to Kennedy Meadows Resort. Sweet! This is a great place with super cheap rooms (we got a room w 2 beds for $30) did laundry, showered, and ate lots in the restaurant. There’s a small store too where we resupplied.

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About wanderingdot

Thru-hiking the PCT 2011
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