June 25, 2015
Tentsite past Davis Lakes Junction (925.7) to Tentsite near Glen Aulin Sierra Camp (948.9)
23.2 PCT miles today
993.4 miles total
Today’s Elevation Gain/Loss: + 1,868 ft, – 3,406 ft
Today really took a turn for the better after lunch. The first half of the day was mostly comprised of my aching feet and an endless flow of fresh, excited JMT hikers. We went over one short pass this morning (short for us, much longer and seemingly painful for the JMTers), and then hiked through a flat meadow the whole rest of the way to Tuolumne Meadows. Most of the hikers we saw were in their first or second day of hiking and they still smelled of Herbal Essences and smiled and laughed like they were as happy and comfortable as could be. This was not the case with the JMT hikers that we saw around Forester or Glen passes. Those hikers were so unfriendly that we thought there was something wrong with the social skills of JMT hikers. Now we understand that they were just utterly and completely exhausted.
Around lunch things started to get more interesting, scenery-wise. We passed a couple rivers and some trail junctions, along with crowds of day hikers hauling fishing poles and sulking children, and then found ourselves right in the heart of Tuolumne Meadows. We stopped at the first trash cans we saw to get rid of our trash, and found ourselves in a friendly and interesting conversation with two JMT hikers, Erin and Jeremiah from Stockton. They are only at the beginning of their hike, but they have lots of time and from what we could tell, plenty of skill to complete the whole thing. There is really no way to fully explain to them how amazing their next 200 miles are going to be, but we’re excited that they’ll find out for themselves soon enough. With a final parting warning about the mosquitos on the other side of Donohue Pass (they are not nearly as bad in this area), we finished up our lunch and got on our way. It was finally time to part ways with the JMT, which would turn and head toward Yosemite, and continue north on our old friend, the PCT. I know it won’t be my last time on the John Muir Trail, so this isn’t a goodbye, just a see you later.
Our last 7 miles through the Tuolumne Meadows area were really something. We enjoyed views of Yosemite’s famous stone mountains, watched Tuolumne River swell and then crash down off a cliff in a photo-worthy waterfall, and even saw some bucks bathing in the river and three coyotes cross the trail in front of us.
We’re now camped up on a bluff just off what now feels like our own personal trail. We have a feeling that things are going to feel much more desolate now that we’re north of Yosemite and we’re off of the JMT. We are in fact dry-camping tonight, but only because it was more convenient and not because of bugs. Fortunately tonight feels worlds away from last night. Nice temps, privacy, and absolutely no mosquitos.
Backpacking Gear of the Week:
Darn Tough Mesh Running Socks
Any socks that are worth wearing on the PCT are going to be expensive. That’s why it makes more sense to by Darn Tough socks than any other brand. They say right on their website that if you manage to wear out a pair of their socks then they will replace them, no questions asked. If there is one way to wear out socks, it is to wear them for 2,600 miles on the PCT, washing them in rivers every day and exposing them to sand, dust, and sweat. Pickles and I each brought 3 pairs of these socks with us. We went with mesh – lighter even than their lightweight – and they have helped keep our feet cool and dry. We alternate two pairs for hiking and the third we use as our sleep socks. No holes yet, but there are a few thin spots. When they do get holes, we’ll just send them in and continue to get our money’s worth. It also helps that they are just comfortable, well-fitting, socks that come in a variety of colors and styles.
Backpacking Food of the Week:
What took us so long to think of this?! In a moment of serious craving for meat, Pickles had the great idea to buy some of those pre-packaged beef sticks that they usually sell at gas stations or the check-out line at the grocery store. You know the kind – Tillamook, Slim Jim – they come in all different brands and flavors, but they all cost around a dollar each, contain about 160 calories and 10 grams of fat, have almost 10 grams of protein, and weigh nearly nothing! Sorry vegetarians, but it doesn’t get any better than this.