I have my first real blisters in years. One of them is the good type: blood spreading up between the soft space near my big toe. After eight days on trail, I’m not walking anywhere today. This is trip two of my hiking vacation.
Deciding to hike a bit of the PCT, and wanting to finally visit Huckleberry Lake, I slept in my car just off Highway 108.
Southbound from Sonora Pass is one of my favorite sections of the Crest Trail. It’s rare to be so high for so long on an alpine ridge. Add the fact that it’s volcanic, rather than granitic, and it’s a stretch of trail that has stuck strongly in my mind since 2006.
I camped that first night on the West Fork of the Walker River – a place that I figured would be lame because it’s in the forest and I’m snobbish towards the sub-alpine zone. Bedding down off the PCT, I found an old trail sign standing guard over tread that no one walks. Sitting alone, thinking, staring at my map, I thought of the long-ago routes like the one we walked the day before down Post Peak drainage. Tonight’s area had important names: Fremont Lake, Walker River, Emigrant Pass, Emigrant Wilderness. I’m a sucker for early frontier history. Joseph Walker and John Fremont are high up on my list of history’s cool guys. It turns out that the West Walker Route of the California Trail was first walked by the Clark-Skidmore Party in 1852. It wasn’t a good one.
The rest of the trip was marked by walking obscure trails – while technically speaking, not actually going cross country.
I looped down into Yosemite from Hoover Wilderness and then crossed into Emigrant via Bond Pass. I stopped to explore the Montezuma Mine – which I assume predates the 1930s declaration of Emigrant as a primitive area. Before the trip, I compared my four maps of the area and found trails that aren’t included on newer publications. I walked those. At one of the remotest lakes of my week, I was surprised to find two other guys. Pounding miles, I crossed once again into to Yosemite then missed an obscure junction. Foot sore, I ended up at Huckleberry for the night.
The area is pretty damn abused by commercial pack companies. My end of Huckleberry Lake was disappointing with it’s huge, dusty, shit-filled camp and braided stock trails.
Day three was another highlight – swimming between islands, a fun chat with a trail crew (they took my book, Water for Elephants, that I had finished that morning), another scarcely there historic route and the linking of the Emigrant Lakes all the way from the granite domes to the volcanic peaks at High Emigrant Lake.
Being alone for four days was wonderful. Time to read, think, reset, look at birds.
This week’s hiking was made more delicious by my effort with the dehydrator the week before. I should fire that up more often.
Yesterday was a bit of a misery hobble. Sore feet, a race to the car and crazy strong winds – I tried to enjoy it. The gusts were enough to blow me around. One pushed me off balance while I was traversing a steep slope. It was the closest I’ve come to “being blown off the mountain”.
We closed down the office, and invited some of our volunteers and all of the organizations in our building for a day hike north from I-80. I’m so glad that we did.
I had the opportunity to fly down to Kick Off this year and I took advantage of it. It freed me up to spend the night at Scout and Frodo’s, day-hike the southern 20 miles of the PCT and add on Sunday night in the campground after the event.
Of course, it was a wonderful time.
– My favorite thing about KO is the opportunity for us play community. I really like getting to chat the regulars year after year. Meeting the new hikers, if only briefly, is nice too. I met a whole lot of great people.
– I was witness of a helicopter doing a body recovery 😦
– KO is always really hectic and busy for me. This year was a little less so because the weather was bad, and I’d made a concerted effort to downsize the expectations on my time at the event.
I attended another wonderful hiker gathering last weekend. The size, format, venue and schedule of this ALDHA-W Gathering seemed just right. Not too big, not too small. Just a perfect weekend of slideshows and hanging out with really great people. You are some impressively strong, skilled and experienced hikers. Hot damn that’s a lot of walking. Thanks for being my friends.
After the Gathering, I spent the rest of the long weekend higher up in the hills. We lunched in Downieville, snacked in Sierra City, camped at Packer Lake (in a fall drizzle), and road tripped through the “lost Sierra”. Ambling around Truckee, Tahoe City, the lake, shopping for a SUP and exploring the Donner party’s history happened too.
I traveled to Oregon for my first ever PCT Days. I love hiker gatherings and this one ranked right up there with the best.
With the little time I had before returning to the airport, I rode bikes, ate at a food truck and went to the Portland Art Museum.