PCT Section 12 – Yosemite to South Lake Tahoe. World Cup wins and starry nights.

After our rest day in Yosemite valley we needed to get back to the trail (over an hour and a half by car)! This involved getting three hitches. Our first was a guy from Australia, the second was a couple who really wanted to do the Appalachian trail, and the third were three friends from middle school who had come to Yosemite on a reunion. This was probably our most entertaining hitch as we sang songs from the early 00s. To see us off they played Fergie’s ‘London Bridge’ as that was the most British thing they knew. This hitch was also amazing as they had driven in completely the wrong direction from where they were going for about 30 miles just to get us back to Tuolumne Meadows.

In the morning we set off but not before catching up with the World Cup results. We had to use quite a rudimentary approach but we were glad to see that England had made it into the knockout rounds.

From Tuolumne Meadows we headed down the trail a couple miles to soda springs. This is an area where the ground bubbles with carbonated water. The American Indians who lived here used to drink the water thinking it had medicinal value. We just thought it smelt like rotten egg. It’s also no longer potable due to human and animal contamination.

Next we hit the Sierra Club. This club was partially responsible for the creation of Yosemite National Park and at one time had John Muir as a member/founder. John Muir was an advocate for the outdoors, and much of what we’ve walked through in the Sierras followed the John Muir trail which was created in his honour.

This section also had its fair share of river crossings. Some of these were particularly ropey as we had to walk across high logs or balance on branches that were buckling under our weight. The rivers below often lead to huge waterfalls.

We also still have a number of passes to cross, though nothing like the two weeks prior. We hover around 9000 foot now hitting a maximum of 11000. Therefore snow is less of an issue and we are able to get a few more miles in every day. In this section we hit about 22 miles a day but feel this is slightly too much for us as we were hurting by the end. Jenny’s knee especially started to play up again which was a sign to slow down.

That being said, we’ve noticed how much stronger we are as we slow down less on the uphill than we used to. We even agree we like the uphill more as it hurts the legs less. Jenny has seen the biggest change in muscle mass, with legs any German lumberjack would be envious of. Joal has lost 18 kg so far, going from 97 to 79kg so is at his pre uni weight.

Alpine swimming has also been brilliant. As we are no longer surrounded by snow, some of the lakes have even been pleasant in temperature. This section we’ve spent most of our time with Kalub and our fellow Brits, Emily and Pete, who are also fans of swimming. The rest of our trail family did not visit Yosemite Valley so we are pushing longer miles to catch up with them.

There was one day which was very challenging though. About 3 days in our muscles were sore and we decided to stop at a camp site half way up a hill a little further than the rest of the group. When we got there we realised the water source we were going to use for dinner had run dry. There were just some pools of stagnant water left. We decided we would boil this thoroughly before making our noodles. Then as we were firing up our stove our lighter broke. Therefore dinner and the stagnant water were off the menu. Instead we had to eat next days lunch (wraps) and make it to the next water source which was 4 miles away early next morning. Whilst annoying we were able to make it out of this situation comfortably as we were both hydrated and had enough food to spare.

After 60 days on trail we have also made it to the 1000 mile marker. It feels amazing to have hit such a big milestone though is crazy we are not even half way! Pete and Emily packed out a can of beer to enjoy at this marker. Unfortunately the mosquitoes were terrible so we didn’t spend too long here.

Mosquitoes are sometimes really difficult to deal with as they get worse around sunset. It’s hard when you are exhausted and just want some dinner but you end up fighting off the blood sucking bugs. We end up wearing some of our rain gear to stop getting bitten. Still we’ve ended up with scabs where we’ve been bitten and then scratched during the night.

Half way through this section we hit Kennedy Meadows North. This was a pack station full of horses that allowed us to grab some snacks and dinners for the next few days. We got a ride with a family who had been in Yosemite a few days earlier. As they had needed to hitchhike when they were in Yosemite they wanted to pay it forward so seeing us on the side of the road they stopped.

We headed out of Kennedy Meadows on the 3rd of July and decided to pack some alcohol. Well, Kalub decided that $14 for 5 litres of boxed wine was too good to pass up, so this came with us as well. We spent the night sitting around a campfire playing American tunes and chatting away under a beautiful Milky Way filled sky. Song got some great photos of the night.

The next few days the scenery changed as we went over ridges. There were also loads of wildflowers in bloom in this section, framing the trail like a beautiful National Trust garden.

We also started to get trail magic as we were closer to towns. We had three people give us trail magic in this section including a couple in a camper who made us chilli and another who cooked us hot dogs. This was such a brilliant morale boost! It has been a mentally tough section being separated as a group and pushing longer days in order to catch up with the rest of our trail family. Finally we met Coppertone again for his unplanned trip back to the trail. It was so good to see him again: we absolutely love chilling out on camp chairs outside his caravan drinking root beer floats and catching up with other hikers.

It is now into Tahoe to get new shoes and say goodbye to Charlotte as she heads back to France for her studies.

7 thoughts on “PCT Section 12 – Yosemite to South Lake Tahoe. World Cup wins and starry nights.

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  1. Another great blog and a significant milestone reached. If my arithmetic is any good, 1000 miles in 60 days, bang on your schedule of 16 miles/day. Worth a beer any day. Those 3 hitches a little concerning, an Australian obviously a long way from home, a couple on the wrong trail and a group driving miles in the wrong direction. Good you know the way, North.

    Don’t push too much physically still a “few” miles to go. You’ll catch your trail family up soon enough. Listen to your body and keep eating plenty.

    60 days away it seems longer now that I’m a year older than when you left.

    I’ve been given a new large map of the trail so I can now plot your progress in much greater detail.

    Keep striding on.


  2. 1000 miles is such a milestone, you’ve done brilliantly, but as you say it’s not even half way – that’s just bonkers! The pictures look stunning again. The bit about Jenny’s leg muscles made me laugh!! Stay safe and I can’t wait for the next update xxx


  3. Another fantastic blog with superb photos. Congratulations on hitting the big 1,000 mark. You were both sorely missed at the big 50 celebration this weekend but we’re already thinking of the next celebration when you return. Take care xx.


  4. Hi Joal, well done guys reaching 1k miles (you’re both making it look easy). Lovely place Lake Tahoe, spent the day there; visited Heavenly resort & then managed to get nearly half way around the lake; we visited Granlibakken Hotel (where my brother once worked). We then stopped at a diner in Tahoe City & the sweet waitress explained that BIG snow was imminent & therefore we ought to cut short our planned circle of the lake & head back to our hotel in San Fran. Luckily we made it back in time. BR, Mark.


  5. The Real Poppa Smurf was so right we missed you very much last weekend. A1000 miles walked, absolutely incredible you two; 22 miles a day, hopefully Jenny’s knee is not so sore now. Beautiful photos, night sky and wall to wall twinkling stars, breath taking. The alpine swim looked so refreshing and deserved also the ‘root beer floats’!! Looking forward to the next blog, love xxxx


  6. Well done you guys, it just sounds amazing. Have been following your blog with interest and can’t believe you’re not half way yet!
    Have been meaning to write and now we’re back in WB have a bit of time. Weather is amazing as I’m sure everyone keeps telling you. Had drinks and supper with your mum and dad and Bailey yesterday.
    Back to Shanghai mid Aug for me and end July for M.
    May catch you at Christmas – if you’ve not faded away by then!


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