June 22, 2015 (11th Re-Ration – Mammoth Lakes)
Lake Virginia (891.6) to Red’s Meadow – Mammoth Lakes (906.7)
15.1 PCT miles today
950.8 miles total
Today’s Elevation Gain/Loss: + 1,208 ft, – 3,732 ft
Originally today was just going to be another day of hiking. The plan was to hike an average of 21 miles each day from Onion Valley Trailhead, and that would get us in this evening to Red’s Meadow. Mama Bear was going to meet us here to bring us our next ration of food, and then we were going to hike 3 more days to Yosemite. But then we put in a couple more miles each day than expected, and started to wake up and get miles done extra early, and we realized that today could actually be a nero. We still had 15 miles to hike this morning to get into Red’s, but we started at 5:15am, and got them all done by 11. Mama Bear even hiked almost 3 miles up the trail to meet us and bring us treats (Gatorade and chocolate milk) and then hike down to the car with us. We were extra fortunate because today’s hike, with the exception of a couple little hills this morning, was almost all downhill and all on nice dirt and pine needle trail. There weren’t really the extraordinary views today that we were starting to get used to, but that was okay because it meant less distractions and faster hiking. We did walk past a number of pretty meadows and saw a few friendly deer, but mostly we just mentally prepared for our afternoon and evening in Mammoth Lakes. I don’t have the best track record when it comes to fun and relaxing neros, and I was determined to make this one different.
By the time we had eaten Subway and checked into our room at the Motel 6, we had re-hashed all of our coming week’s plans and come to the unanimous decision that tomorrow we would stay and take a full zero here in Mammoth. We had decided that we weren’t going to hike to Yosemite and take a zero there after all (too many people, too expensive, and Pickles and I plan on making a whole trip out of it someday), so that meant we had a couple extra days before getting to Tahoe. We are pretty tired after this last week of high passes in the Sierras, and we really like the town of Mammoth, so we figured tomorrow will be a good day to rest up, and then we can hike 9 straight days to Echo Lake.
Once that decision was made, our afternoon became pleasantly relaxed. Pickles and I got the essential chores out of the way – laundry, rationing, grocery shopping – but we finished up by about 6 and then indulged in a treat that we often talk about on the trail, but have never actually done – we ordered Domino’s Pizza and ate it in our room while watching TV.
As far as neros go, this one has been by far the most enjoyable. It certainly helps that we now have all of tomorrow to get stuff done, but I also think we’re just finally getting an off-trail routine that works well and helps us be efficient while staying relaxed. We can’t wait for our day in Mammoth tomorrow, and then we’ll start counting down the days to our 4th of July weekend in Tahoe.