PCT 2020 Days 9 & 10: Mile 893.6 – 903.3

The Trio of Stinking Barking Dogs

Beginning Elevation = 10,000

Ending Elevation = 8,950 (Off-PCT)

Elevation Range = 8,950 – 10,400

Weather: Sunny and beautiful?

Today, our ninth day being out in the wilderness, we would be hiking the final 10 miles (and 3-ish non-PCT miles) into town! We were pretty excited for it. This had been a glorious, but tough stretch for us and we were ready to give ourselves a little break in the action. But before that, we had some lovely scenery to walk through.

Here’s leaving camp in the morning. Someone had left some nice aviator-like shades, so I thought it quite appropriate to dun them for the morning sun rays whilst carrying them out (leave no trace). Calzone is modeling our nice horse-poop camp for all to see…

Right out of camp, we had a climb. Later in the day it might not have been so bad, but there’s something about leaving in the morning and going up that makes it extra tough. Quite stunning though.

Once up, we had a gentle cruise for a ways. As we neared our PCT exit trail, we started seeing more and more humans. Pulling our neck gaiters/bandanas up over our nose and mouths started to become routine as we passed folks. That, or stepping a bit of the trail for a break worked too.

I believe this next photo was taken just after leaving a water fill up near the Duck Lake outlet. I remember it because I was chatting with some folks who were on a sort of family tradition backpacking outing. One of the guys in the large group had gone annually as a kid with his dad and so at one point he re-introduced the idea taking along his own relatives every summer for a different section in the Sierra Nevada. I thought it was something like 30 years they’d been doing it now.

Town days make for fast-paced hiking. At least in my experience, this somehow always seems to hold true. Got to get to that food! I had been talking up Mammoth Pass (our exit from the Sierra) saying that I didn’t remember it being bad, and so when there were a few brutally steep uphill sections, I felt bad for the false information I’d given my friends. Nevertheless, we persevered, and crushing it, made it out just a little after 3:00pm. Our side trail took us right to the parking area for Horseshoe Lake of the Mammoth Lakes basin. From there, we took a nice little free trolley into town that dropped us off just down the road from our motel…

Our stay in Mammoth Lakes, California was our first eye-opening experience of the high demand and priceyness for hotels/motels in the Summer of 2020. Due to Covid restrictions, capacity was limited, and so we were happy to find anything really. The Motel 6, although quite a bit more expensive than typical, worked just fine to cram three hikers into!

We settled right into our old ways from last year resupplying in town: taking care of laundry, scrubbing so much dirt off ourselves to get clean, and then finding delicious hot food.

I’m not sure if this is the first time it got brought up or not, but a running joke among Calzone, Cheer, and I became the repeated quoting of a line from The Office. The character Kevin says, “My dogs are barking!” (spoiler alert) referring to his feet being sore after wearing Kleenex boxes for shoes at Jim and Pam’s wedding 🙂 In town, we created a shared photo album and named it The Barking Dogs and eventually this inspired the name of our team for this round of hiking… The Trio of Stinking Barking Dogs!

Here we are celebrating a successful 125 mile section of trail, something we felt like was a pretty awesome accomplishment…

Mammoth Lakes is a lovely town. And, it was quite the popular place to be during our stay due to so many folks thinking the same thing… spending time doing outdoorsy type stuff is a great way to spend time during Covid-19 times. We decided it was so nice that we’d take a zero. That, or we were exhausted and needed a bit of a mental recharge.

So… the next day, we found more places to eat tasty eats outdoors, got our resupply shopping done, and visited a outdoor sports shop to change out some gear. I think some items need to be replaced and we all needed some stove fuel.

Here’s a glimpse into what three hikers resupplying in a tiny motel room can look like…

I also took a stop into the local library! On my to-do list was to print the Yosemite National Park Wilderness Backpacking permit that I’d received. As sort of a last minute scheme, I applied a few days prior to starting our hike for the section of John Muir Trail that leaves the PCT in Tuolumne Meadows and leads to Yosemite Valley (Cathedral Lakes to Happy Isles/Little Yosemite Valley)! If it were to happen, it would be part of our next stretch of trail. The problem is that there are several steps to go through before the permit is actually approved and legitimate, and then, they say that it’s a must to have a printed copy in hand when hiking.

Well folks, I did my best in the time frame we had. I attended the virtual Ranger safety video and got a code to prove I’d been listening. I sent that code in to the Wilderness Center and paid the price for the permit, but then found out it would be a day or two to for processing before I could print it! So alas, I had a permit, but sort of didn’t. Since the next day we planned to hike out, we left it thinking we’d just see what happened and that maybe I’d get service and would receive the approved permit.

Here’s a photo walking back from dinner (and ice cream) that night…

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