The forest fire meant that the town of Mammoth where we stayed was under a water hick haze. That being said, the town was great! Mammoth is a popular skiing town and it is easy to see why. The town also had great public transport which is unusual for America. There was a free trolley service which got us around town, which made resupplying, getting to the post office and getting food nice and easy.
In this town we also sent our ice axes and micro spikes home as it looks like there isn’t any real snow up ahead. This saves us both about a kilo of weight off our backs. As a result we decided to start eating a more varied diet from what we had been eating before. In order to keep things light we’d been eating a diet of mostly mashed potatoes and ramen for dinner and tuna wraps for lunch. We’ve bought risotto, macaroni cheese and a chunky vegetable soup to eat on this stretch. We also got bagels with cream cheese which is a lot bulkier. Therefore getting all this into our bear canister was a challenge. However after the first night we know we’d made the right choice!
In Mammoth we also got to celebrate our first trail birthday which was for Blueberry. Blueberry is a New Yorker whom we met on our very first day. She was in the car with us as we drove to the border. Snackpack did a great job at leading the organising for this with Emily (now known as Baked as she likes cooking and because her body odour smells like cannabis). We ended up getting a big birthday cake, along with party snacks and booze to help her celebrate.
1.75 litres of gin later we woke up with a sore head and it was time to get back to trail. We took busses to the trail head and slept there before we started walking again the next day.
It was still pretty smokey in the valley and we were told it would stay that way for the next few weeks. It’s a bit weird as we keep hearing helicopters going overhead which makes us a bit unsettled.
One natural landmark we came across this section is America’s answer to the Devil’s Causeway (called the Devil’s Postpile). This looks very similar to photos we’ve seen but was cool to see in real life. We even were able to walk on top of the hexagonal formations.
The next section looked onto a very impressive mountain ridge. Our scenery is definitely getting more luscious as we descend in elevation and we are walking through more meadows and grassland again. In the afternoon we hit a beautiful spot overlooking Thousand Island Lake where our trail family regrouped.
We then hit the boundary of Yosemite park where again the scenery changed as we followed a glacial melt river into the park. On this section we saw lots of people who were on their first few days of the Jon Muir Trail. This trail follows a similar route to the PCT from Yosemite to Mount Whitney, with most people doing the trail north to south (opposite to us). We got lots of excited questions about what lay ahead for them, the snow and about the smoke situation. This reminded us of our first days of the trail where you are giddy with intrepidation after a lot of planning.
As we entered Yosemite we met our first ranger who checked our PCT permits and bear canister. We also started seeing day hikers who smelled delicious. It’s only when you are around clean people that you realise how dirty you are!
Once we got to the park we hitched down into the valley with a lovely park worker. The hitch took about an hour as you had to drive a really long way around as the walls are so steep. We spent the night in the backpackers campsite which was at the base of Half Dome.
Yosemite Park is much busier than anywhere we’ve been since San Diego so this was a bit overwhelming. The park even has 3 pools, a Starbucks and WiFi! We headed into the village for some food and even stumbled upon a PowerPoint presentation about the history of rock climbing in Yosemite valley. It really does feel like nature’s Disney World.
The next day we hired bikes and explored the valley. This was great as we weren’t in busses with hordes of people and could take things at our own pace. We cycled out to El Capitan which is a famous rock climbing wall and watched some brave individuals make it up the wall. It was hard to see climbers though as they were just tiny specks on the vast wall. It would have helped to have binoculars! We can also say we (started) climbing El Capitan!!
Whilst a short section, the scenery has been so varied and we feel like we’ve had such a variety of experiences. The detour into Yosemite valley has also been a great break and strangely feels like a holiday from our holiday.