Pacific Crest Trail Journals

Tuolomne Meadows to Echo Lake

July 1 – July 6, 2010

From Tuolomne Meadows I hitched into Yosemite Valley to spend a day there hiking. I hung out with some local rock climbers the night I got in and then, because the walk-in campground was full, crept off into the bushes for a night of paranoid camping. I was up at the crack of dawn the next day and quickly threw my stuff together – both so I could get going and also so that I could stop worrying about encountering any rangers. It was amazing to see the difference in how many people were out and about in Yosemite Valley at 7:00 am that morning versus 7:00 pm the previous night. From the valley I dayhiked up to the top of Yosemite Falls and from there to the top of El Capitan. The ice axe and crampons that I was still carrying on the outside of my pack attracted quite a few stares from the dayhikers I passed on the trail. I was back down in the valley by mid-afternoon and immediately hit the food court for a burger and fries before walking to the outbound road to look for hitching opportunities.

It wasn’t long before I got a ride from a guy who had been trail running in Yosemite and was working his way out to Arizona to try and set a record for running the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim-to-rim; I later realized that my ride was ultra-distance running phenom Killian Jornet Burgada. On the way back to Tuolomne Meadows we saw a black bear just off the road. Despite being the first bear I had seen on the trip it was almost entirely anti-climactic given that ~15 bystanders were watching it as it grazed in a meadow, completely oblivious to us.

The next several days took me further down in elevation and kept me out of the snow for the most part. I passed the 1,000 mile mark just after crossing Dorothy Lake Pass, walked an amazing ridge walk along the Sierra crest leading up to Sonora Pass, lost the trail on a number of occasions (which is different than getting lost), overlapped with the other Graduate for a couple days, and passed the southern junction of the Pacific Crest Trail and the Tahoe Rim Trail. I had planned from the beginning to hike the Tahoe Rim Trail as a sidetrip from the PCT. I was close to being exactly on schedule when I arrived in Echo Lake so I knew I had plenty of time to leave the PCT and hike the TRT. The two trails overlap for about 50 miles on the western shore of Lake Tahoe; my plan was complete the overlapping section then split off at the northern junction and hike the Rim Trail clockwise.

I got into Echo Lake before the post office opened at 11:00 and bought a bag of chips and salsa to kill the time. 10 servings of chips and 14 servings of salsa later I had put a dent in my hunger, picked up my package, and set off towards Highway 50 to catch a ride into South Lake Tahoe for an afternoon in civilization.

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