It's been far too long since my last blog post, due to the off-the-grid nature of everywhere I've been since Tehachapi. Since then the biggest news is that I've trekked through the most feared section of the trail, section H of the Sierras. As of now I've hiked more than 1/3 of the way to Canada, and am in Mammoth Lakes, CA at mile 906.7. The conditions getting here have been extreme, with many dangerous mountain passes, and even more high river crossings. Because of these conditions, most people have "flipped" or "skipped" up to Oregon, planning to come back when the snow is gone. My crew has decided to push on, coining the phrase "Flips are for gymnasts, stay true to the thru", in reference to the attempt to have a continuous hike. This last section has been stunning, and well worth the extra effort as we traverse the famous John Muir Trail through the Sierras to Yosemite, where I'll be in a few days. The snow has slowed mileage down from 20+ miles to often under 10, requiring much more food than usual as we burn more calories. As we entered the Sierras there was much fear mongering about obstacles like Forrester and Mather Pass, Evolution and Bear Creek, all of which are now behind us. By far the biggest challenge so far has been Mather Pass, where steep snow faces and extremely sketchy rock scrambles made me wonder how crazy I am for essentially mountaineering without mountaineering equipment. At one point, I found myself stuck on a rock slope on my way to a traverse, standing on a few inches of a ledge. To get to the traverse required letting go and jumping down to all small outcrop. Thankfully, it seems the worst of the Sierras are behind me, leaving only river crossings to be concerned about. Some river crossings take careful planning, as they are often only crossable in the morning hours. Yesterday, the trail crossed a waterfall that was most certainly uncrossable. After consulting my map, I saw the trail crossed back about 600 feet up the cliff. To get to the trail, and to Mammoth, required a decent rock climb with pack on up the falls to the next trail crossing. The same falls had been ankle-deep and calm only hours before. These ever-changing conditions make any news about the trail ahead hard to be sure of, so Quake, Unload, and I have decided to see for ourselves. We leave Mammoth today and hope to be in Tuolumne Meadows by Thursday or Friday, where snowpack is 300% above normal.
Couldn't be happier,