June 28, 2015 (12th Re-Ration – Sonora Pass)
Tentsite before Dorothy Lakes Pass (992.1) to Sonora Pass (1018.4)
26.3 PCT miles today
1062.9 miles total
Today’s Elevation Gain/Loss: + 4,615 ft, – 3,326 ft
Today we completed a full marathon on the trail! 26.3 miles. It was our biggest mileage yet, and it felt great. We weren’t even planning on hiking more than 21 miles, but when we hit 10 miles by 10am, then found ourselves happily climbing our second pass of the day without hesitation, and then realized that we could make it all the way to Sonora Pass (our planned re-ration location) by 6pm, we decided to go for it. Another change of scenery gave us the necessary motivation throughout most of the day, but when we finally got reception for the first time this week and found out Mama Bear could meet us at the pass this evening and not just tomorrow morning, we were unstoppable.
Our day began in the mosquito-infested marshes of northern Yosemite. We hiked fast, as if to outrun the little bloodsuckers, and made it to Yosemite’s final show-stopper, Dorothy Lake, within a couple hours. We went up and over the nearby pass, where Yosemite officially begins and ends, with high hopes that, if nothing else, the mosquito problem might go away. It took a while, but eventually our wish was granted. By mile 15 we found ourselves climbing up and out of a valley, wide open forest sprawled out in front of us, with only strong, dry pine trees spread evenly throughout and hardy ground-cover filling the empty space. Eventually we climbed ourselves all the way past tree line and into a world that looked remarkably like a place we had seen before on treks in South America. Wildflowers colored the mountainside and our trail, a thin switchbacking line etched faintly into the dirt, could be seen crawling its way up to the top of the mountain. We were back in the world of snow patches, awesome vistas, and windy, insect-free expanses.
The day started out a little overcast, but by afternoon the clouds had gathered steam and a full-blown storm could be seen dumping sheets of rain in the distance. We layered up in our rain clothes and continued on, awaiting the inevitable deluge. Fortunately, the sights only got better as we hiked, and the rain stayed at bay for almost the entire day. It didn’t even start sprinkling until around 5:30, when we were on our final stretch and only had 20 minutes of hiking to go.
We got to the pass giddy with endorphins. The rain had made for a beautiful sky and we were feeling quite invincible after our long, successful day of hiking. Mama Bear showed up within 30 minutes of our arrival, and we have spent the evening eating food, catching up on the last week, and planning out the next few days. Today has been a day for the books, and we can only hope that the PCT can continue to impress and astonish as its done day after day.