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PCT - Carson Pass to Tuolumne Meadows
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Jeremy Pendrey
(Pendrey) - MLife

Locale: California
PCT - Carson Pass to Tuolumne Meadows on 07/30/2013 20:36:14 MDT Print View

Last week, Tony Wong and I filled in a section of the PCT that we hadn't hiked before. We started on 7/20 at Carson Pass and hiked South to Tuolumne Meadows, finishing on 7/27. We stashed resupply bear cans at Sonora Pass. Overall, we covered 131 miles in 8 days. We had Thundershowers on 4 of the 8 days and some hot, humid weather at the start. One day brought significant marble-size hail.

Here's a breakdown of the trip:

Day 0 (July 19): Tony and I drove to Sonora Pass and stashed bear cans and then drove to my Dad's house to drop off Tony's car.

Day 1: My dad dropped us off at Carson Pass at about 10:30 a.m. Temps were hot (90 degrees F) and humid. Thunder clouds threatened but retreated. We hiked 13 miles to Lily Pad Lake and enjoyed a relaxing evening, though it was a bit hot to sleep in the bivy and a bit buggy to be out of the bivy.

Day 2: My idiot gene kicked in and after a granola breakfast I left my titanium spork at the camp site. I would later learn to use tent stakes as chop sticks. Hiked 13 miles to Upper Kinney Lake, which we reached by 2:30. Wildflowers were going off today and throughout the trip. Over 90 degrees F again, but then thunder, lightning, and hail cooled us down and pinned us down and after two hours of getting pelted we called it a day and set up camp and of course it then cleared up.

Day 3: Hiked approx. 20 miles to a creek a couple of miles past Boulder Creek. Ended up just above the switchbacks above the Carson River valley. Seeing lots of PCT thru hikers coming through but can't help thinking they seem a bit like stragglers at the tail end of the circus. They got less and less each day. Hope they all make it. Saw a trail crew with three blonde girls and a swarthy scrawny dude supervising and working very little. At least that's what it seemed like. Camped trailside next to a young thru-hiker couple from France and Oregon. Wind, thunder, lightning, and light rain that night.

Day 4: Hiked approx. 20 miles again, this time by necessity. We reached Sonora Pass for our resupply, which was undisturbed by man or beast. Thankfully, my 20 oz tall boy of Dale's Pale Ale was where I left it. While having lunch and organizing gear in the parking lot I scored a plastic spoon from a Danish guy from Berkeley who had been day hiking after dropping his daughter off at camp in Yosemite. So long tent stake chopsticks. Hiked along a dry stretch of the crest for the next 10 miles. Dry, that is, except for the pouring rain. Reached the first creek in Kennedy Canyon and set up camp and out popped Patrick, a hiker heading to Whitney who we had run into that morning. Good evening conversation. It was Tony's birthday and he was more than happy with the views along the crest above the pass despite the rain and lack of water sources.

Day 5: 20 friggin miles again (well almost: 19 actually). I'm too old for this, but at least it was mostly downhill after lunch time. Had lunch at Dorothy Lake just inside the border of Yosemite. Washed up our clothes and ourselves and then headed down Jack Main Canyon. Met a Nobo PCT couple from Redondo Beach who had lost their maps. Tony gave them his. He never uses them anyway. Camped next to an English couple touring the U.S. who had just arrived at Wilmer Lake (the PCT maps say "Wilma" but the Yosemite signs say "Wilmer"). No other good campsites so they got to hang with us instead of solitude. Sorry, I wasn't heading uphill at 7 pm. Mosquito hell, but made for interesting fish jumping and bats swooping. Bailed early next morning to let the English enjoy our fine National Park and to get away from the skeeters.

Day 6: Hiked 14 miles to Benson Lake. The Benson Riviera! Why hadn't anyone told me about this? Why hadn't I paid attention to the books? We only went because a cutie brunette CCC trail crew worker told us about the "beach." Since when did trail crews become predominantly young women? In my hiked out state I would hardly believe it except that Tony took pictures. She looked great even covered in dust. No complaining here. And the Benson Riviera was awesome. Beautiful sand beach and tepid water. Would have been even better if we hadn't have gotten pinned down by another Thunderstorm before going over Seavey Pass. We got there 2 hours later than planned and didn't have time to swim, other than to clean up.

Day 7: Woke up with my osteoarthritic big toe stiff as a board and very swollen. I had kicked a tree root a couple days before and it was threatening to balloon and finally did. Aleve fixed it enough to hike but it made for a miserable morning, also because we were going uphill longer than I thought possible. Big uphill to Smedberg and then again up Benson Pass. Really enjoyed Matterhorn Canyon. After about 17 miles camped beside Return Creek in Virginia Canyon. Enjoyed my cup of tea watching a doe stroll through camp. She seemed way too at ease.

Day 8: Got up early and was out of camp by 6:30. Hiked 15 miles to Tuolumne by noon. Could feel the finish so booked it through Cold Canyon to Glen Aulin and then the home stretch. My dad was waiting in the parking lot. Enjoyed a bomber of Mammoth Brewing Devil's Postpile seasonal pale ale with lunch and then headed down the pass to retrieve our bear cans and head home.

All in all a great trip. Took my new MLD Exodus FS and really liked it. Separate review forthcoming after another trip coming up.

As always, Tony will post pictures. He only took 900 so maybe it will take him less time than it has taken him to post JMT pictures from 2 years ago (still not posted, but he claims to be working on it). As Tony slacks, less people recognize me on the trail, which really hurts where it counts (ego), so come on Tony, post those pics!

Cheers, and hope everyone is enjoying their summer in the Sierra or whatever their home range or range of choice is this summer. Tis the season.


Edited by Pendrey on 07/30/2013 22:51:17 MDT.

Jacob D
(JacobD) - F

Locale: North Bay
Re: PCT - Carson Pass to Tuolumne Meadows on 08/01/2013 09:22:37 MDT Print View

Hey Jeremy. Tony mentioned to me a while back that you guys were going to do this hike sometime in the summer. Sounds like a good workout. That's nice that you were able to make arrangements with your father, having a little bit of logistics help can go a long way towards making a trip feasible or not.

I'm looking forward to seeing Tony's photos.

- Jacob.

Jeremy Pendrey
(Pendrey) - MLife

Locale: California
Logistical support on 08/01/2013 09:38:56 MDT Print View


Absolutely right re logistical support. My dad has helped me on half a dozen trips over the last several years and his support has been critical to making the trips work. He is retired and has a camper on his truck so he sees these outings as getting a chance to participate in the adventure with me. He will usually camp near the put in and/or pick up spot and he is fine with me giving him a range of days when I will show up, though I work hard to be on the early side so that he isn't waiting around too long. Then we get long drives where we get to chat so that works nicely too. I am definitely fortunate to have his support. He always wants to know what's next.


Andrew F
(andrew.f) - F - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: PCT - Carson Pass to Tuolumne Meadows on 08/01/2013 09:46:53 MDT Print View

Very cool, I'm looking forward to the pics. Sounds like you guys covered some good miles. I've heard about how nice Benson is... need to make it out there some time.