PCT days 69-77: Sierra City to Tuolumne Meadows

Trip Start Apr 07, 2010
Trip End Jan 19, 2012

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Flag of United States  , California
Saturday, September 18, 2010

A little late for this entry but we had no computer access for 2 weeks so here is what happened during our marathon walk between Sierra City and Yosemite National Park. Our plan was to cover 250+ miles in 8 1/2 days...an average of 30 mi/day...with 12 hours of daylight and increasing altitude, is this humanly possible? Read on...
Sierra City to Echo Lake
Day 69 (9/10/10): After the all-you-can-eat rib dinner last night, you can't beat the all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast for $4.25. Bill and Margaret, owner of the Red Moose Inn, opened their house to us and we can't thank them enough. They even give us a ride back to the trailhead and we are on the move by 11am. We manage to walk 23 miles that day in scorching heat. The first part of our mission is to cover 104 miles in 72 hours so we can reach the Echo Lake post office on Monday between 11am and 2pm (since it only opens 5 days a week for 3 hours each day). To make it, we have no choice than averaging 33 mi/day for the next two days, which translates into walking from 6:00am to 9:00pm.

Day 70: We cranked some miles today. We pass the 8,000 ft elevation mark for the first time since starting the PCT. We pass under the I-80 by noon, then Donner Pass by 2pm. We had heard quite a bit about the history of Donner Pass and built it up in our minds as this super remote and tragic place. Instead, it was a bit of an anti-climax when we actually got there because it was full of weekend hikers, cyclists and cars everywhere. We move on quickly and reaching the ridge is becomes the highlight of the day as we are rewarded by a gorgeous sunset. Despite logging 33 miles, our bodies are not suffering too much. We feel more limited by the short days; we are down to 13 hours of daylight now.

Day 71: We go around Lake Tahoe in the morning and pass the 9,000 ft mark for the first time since starting the PCT. We reach the Sierra at the end of the day. Now, the terrain is steeper and more rocky, but the views are incredible. We are entering the most beautiful part of the PCT. Ironically, it feels a bit like home.

Day 72: We logged a couple extra miles yesterday, so we only have 12 left to Echo Lake. We sleep in a little and get on the move at 7am. We soon catch up to "Machine" and "Steps," two other Sobos that have been ahead of us since Canada -- it's nice to finally put faces to names. We hike the last 10 miles together and arrive at the Post Office just after 11am. Unfortunately, our resupply box is nowhere to be found and the Echo Lake store is closed. Fortunately, Steps has his car waiting for him in the parking lot and he gives us a ride to the grocery store so we can buy food for the next leg. At the store, we fill up on corn dogs, pizza, and juice, then hit the streets to find a ride back to the trailhead. As we walk down the road, we strike up a conversation with the Sheriff and talk him into giving us a lift. Back on the trail, we cover another 9 miles and pitch the tent before dark for a change. A night at 9,000 ft...gettin' chilly!

Echo Lake to Tuolomne Meadows
Day 73 (9/14/10): We have an ambitious goal: 255 miles in 8.5 days. The reason: we are meeting Tina (Shirley's sister) in Tuolomne and it has to be on a weekend. We think it is doable, but our bodies are not too happy about this death march. We thought we could sustain this pace just be eating a lot, but no, the body needs rest too. I don't think we are built to work 14 or 15 hours a day repeatedly like this. Despite a lot of breaks and the altitude, we do 28 miles today and we pushed really hard. Can we handle this mileage for another 4 days?

Day 74: We feel drained today, as if we have bricks on our feet. The scenery is beautiful though, reminding of the backgrounds of western movies. We find trail magic along the way (cookies and power bars), which revives our spirits at least for a little bit. We see tons of cows along the way and we think "fillet mignon!" Yannick's feet are trashed and we start questioning our abilities. We are desperate for rest, but we committed to meet Tina on Saturday, so we push...almost to our physical limit. We complete the 28 miles at 8:30pm in the dark. Three more days of this...

Day 75: For some reason we are feeling "good" today. It is mostly downhill for the first 10 miles to Sonora Pass. After soaking our feet in a cold creek and eating a hearty lunch, we ascend to just under 11,000 ft. There is a forest fire nearby, so the air is hazy, but we love it every time we are high up on the ridge anyway. The views are amazing and we love every minute of it. We even get to cross snow patches! We reach another milestone: less than 1,000 miles left to reach the Mexican Border after covering 31 miles today.

Day 76: Yesterday the wind was really warm and dry, so now the skin on Shirley's legs are cracked and bleeding to the point that it's pretty painful. To protect her skin from further damage, she wears her pants all day despite the heat and having to do four steep hill climbs. Luckily, the first two are completed in the cooler morning hours, the third in partial shade during the hottest time of the day, and the final, steepest climb is in the evening. We finish our 28 miles for today and sleep at 9,600 ft.

Day 77: Today we get to meet Tina and her friend Karissa in Tuolumne!!! The terrain is great and our motivation is high, so we crank through the miles quickly. We get really excited when we spot Cathedral Peak in the distance. We also pass through Glen Aulin, a beautiful area with a waterfall, cascading water, and crystal clear pools that look very inviting. We see plenty of deer grazing in huge meadows and stop to watch them for a while. By 6:30pm, we make it to the Lembert Dome parking lot and spot Tina and Karissa in the distance just as they are finishing their dayhike -- great timing as we are all conveniently 1.5 hours early for our meeting time. We all get big hugs and Shirley is so happy she gets to see her sister after 5 months of being away from home. So nice to see her...and the feast she brought! Shirley's parents made ribs and fried rice and purchased tons of good food for us. We stuff ourselves silly as we sit in the dark, talking and catching up on goings-on at home.  

A note from Shirley: Happy birthday little Hailey and papa! Sorry we missed the party...the limbo game going on the background sounded like fun :)

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Selene on

Sweet! You guys look amazing. Like always, love the pics. Hope to see you guys soon =)

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