Date: Friday, 15 September 2017
Start: Trailhead in Devil’s Postpile National Monument near Mile 908.5, 7569 ft
Finish: Camped by the trail at Mile 926.9, 10069 ft
Daily Miles: 18.4 PCT, plus 1.0 to get to the trailhead.
Total PCT Miles: 2247.6
Weather: Mild and mostly sunny
Breakfast: Two fruit Danishes and one donut
Dinner: Rehydrated lasagne with meat sauce.
Aches: Nothing significant
Highlight: Meeting up with a familiar face, Neil, from my running club back home, Terrigal Trotters. Via text message, we arranged to meet at Island Pass between 4:30pm and 5:00pm, and when I reached there at 4:45pm, there was Neil, stretched out in the sun by the trail. He had walked in from Tuolumne Meadows yesterday, camped about three miles from the Pass, and spent the day exploring the nearby mountains cross-country. He’ll be keeping me company for some of the next two days and I’m grateful he made the effort during his US vacation to meet up on the trail.
Lowlight: Much of the afternoon trail obviously had heavy horse use, and that had turned the surface into a soft sandy mixture of dusty dirt and horse manure; great for my sinuses. And where streams crossed the trail, there was often a bog created by the horses’ hooves.
Pictures: Click here
My exit plans from Mammoth Lakes went like clockwork. After scoffing three huge pastries from the bakery across the road for breakfast, I checked out of the motel at 7:40am and caught the town “trolley” at 7:45pm from the stop outside the motel up to the road that leads back to the trailhead. Then, I was lucky enough to quickly get two lifts in succession back to the trailhead from women who worked at various places on the mountain. I was hiking by 8:30am on a cool clear morning.
The trail was very pleasant, winding its way through the forest on soft pumice paths, with few hills of consequence, and I made good time. My plan was to meet my friend from Australia, Neil (see above), near the end of the day and during the morning I got a text message from him giving more precise details of where he would be, about 13 miles further on.
After the pleasant pumice area, the trail climbed up onto the side of a ridge on a trail that clearly got a lot of horse use, and was suffering accordingly (see above). I had had an option to take the John Muir Trail (JMT) which diverged from the PCT for about 14 miles, and regretted not taking it. I don’t know that it would have been any better, but suspect it is better cared for than the PCT in this area. Anyway, it didn’t really slow me down, and there were some excellent views from the balcony trail.
When the JMT and PCT rejoined later in the afternoon it was in a forest rock garden-like area and much nicer trail. It passed by the fantastic Thousand Islands Lake as it climbed gradually to Island Pass (10227 ft), easily the easiest pass for the last ten days. There I met Neil as scheduled and then we walked another three miles to where he was camped, arriving around 6:00pm, a very civilised hour for me. We had a good chat on the walk to the campsite and while eatjng dinner, but it got very cold after the sun set and we retired to our tents soon after 7:00pm.