170919 – Out of the High Sierras

Day:  149
Date:  Tuesday, 19 September 2017
Start:  Camped by the trail at Mile 985.5, 8358 ft
Finish: Camped by the trail at Mile 1006.8, 9511 ft
Daily Miles:  21.3 PCT 
Total PCT Miles:  2327.5
Weather:  Cool and mostly sunny
Accommodation:  Tent
     Breakfast:  Muesli
     Lunch:  Gorp
     Dinner:  Rehydrated chilli mac with beef
Aches:  Nothing new
Highlight:  Reaching the effective end of the High Sierras was a milestone.  There are high mountains to come, but the hiking terrain won’t be as challenging, nor the scenery as spectacular, further north.  I feel guiltily elated that I’m finished with the steep gnarly rocky trails, but they have exhausted me, probably because of overcommitments in terms of daily distances.  Yet, the High Sierras have definitely been the scenic highlight of the PCT so far, and I would encourage anybody to hike through them, just do it at a more relaxed pace. 
Lowlight:  None really.
Pictures:  Click here

Position:  Click here.
Map:  Click here for Google Map

I was hiking just before 7:00am on another clear morning which wasn’t quite as cold as yesterday, but still required sleeping with multiple layers of clothing.  The cold nights seem to make packing up take a little longer in the morning.  I sit up in my sleeping bag doing every bit of packing I can do without getting out until the inevitable time arrives to pack away the sleeping bag and get out of the tent.

In contrast to yesterday, the morning’s hiking was easy and pleasant.  Down past the beautiful Lake Wilma, then several hours hiking gradually uphill next to Falls Creek.  The trail alternated between forest and meadows, and had some boggy parts, but was mostly easy hiking in beautiful surroundings.  Almost without realising it, I had climbed to Dorothy Lake and Dorothy Lake Pass (9531 ft), the northern border of Yosemite National Park.  There was scudding low white cloud and a bitter cold wind at the pass, reminding me of the weather forecast for a cold system to arrive mid-week.

The pass signalled a gradual change in the geology and character of the mountains.  Although there was initially still some very rocky country and small perched lakes, the terrain soon became more weathered, the soil colour changed to brown, and the pine trees were of a different kind.  The grey/white rock dome-like mountains had gone and been replaced by bare smooth brown mountains of near equal height.  The trails also got easier, with less rocks to negotiate and easier grades.

I could have gone a little further today, but stopped at 6:00pm in a small copse of woods high on the side of a mountain with a bitterly cold breeze blowing.  If I had gone further, to reduce my distance to Sonora Pass tomorrow, I would have had to go above 10000 ft and camp in a very exposed location which was not appealing given the cold weather.  As it is, I have 10 miles to walk tomorrow to reach Sonora Pass from where I will hitchhike 11 miles west to Kennedy Meadows Resort where I have mailed myself supplies for the next leg and where I hope to arrive by lunchtime.  I should at least be able to get a bed in a dormitory there, if not a cabin to myself, and I believe they have a restaurant and a laundry as well.  It will be a welcome half day off.

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