Mile reached: 1016.9 (+18.7 + 2.0 bonus)
High: Running into “Baywatch” and spending the afternoon on the patio of the General Store.
Low: There was some sketchy snow on the descent into Sonora Pass.
I woke up and found the inside of my tent dripping wet from condensation. Somehow, I worked up the willpower to get going and was on the trail early. The morning was beautiful and began with several significant yet dry river crossings. After a few miles, I finally hit it, the 1,000 mile mark! In a way, it was hard to believe that I’d come that far.
The descent through the forest was pleasant, and I could see the mountains changing dramatically ahead. The familiar granite of the Sierra was giving way to what looked like volcanic rock. Once at the valley floor, the rather barren mountains ahead came into focus. Rather than find some clever pass to cross, the trail switchbacked up and traversed high ridges toward the north.
The elevation gain and ridge walk worked out rather conveniently for me, because the highest peak in the area (also a P2k), Leavitt Peak, was just barely off trail. So, I climbed up a steep yet soft snowfield, ditched my overnight gear, and scampered to the top, where I again felt the immenseness of the Sierra. Mountains beyond mountains in all directions!
After a leisurely break on the summit, I made my way down and continued across ridges and snowfields toward Sonora Pass. The final descent into Sonora Pass itself has a bit of a reputation on the trail for being difficult. The trail takes long switchbacks, but being north facing these slopes hold icy snow well into the summer, and one or two hikers fall and hurt themselves every year. However, since I had read up on Leavitt I had beta around a climbers route that descended directly to the pass. I took it and was pleased with my choice. There were only a few sections of steep snow and rock, but I was going with the terrain rather than across it.
As soon as I reached the pass, I heard “Zoom” call out. He was just passing through opting to skip going into town. Since he was getting off trail at Tahoe for a family reunion, he informed me that I would never see him again. Also, the hitch apparently would be hard. After exchanging goodbyes, I walked over to the highway and stuck my thumb out. The first vehicle to come by stopped and gave me a ride! Hah, what does “Zoom” know?
After a slightly worrying descent from the pass aided by the emergency break, I was dropped off at Kennedy Meadows North. Approaching the general store, I heard someone shout, “Hey, Chihuahua!” “Baywatch” was seated on the patio, whom I hadn’t seen for more than 400 miles.
“Ghost Wolf” and “Sugar Man” had also hitched down with “Baywatch”, so I spent the afternoon on the patio drinking beer and exchanging stories. Eventually, “Classic” joined us as well. There was debate over whose beard was bushiest, and somehow I lost?! With mixed emotions I also mailed home my ice axe and bear canister, which had become so familiar as a kickstand for my backpack and camp stool respectively. It also turned out that “Sugar Man” was highly susceptible to peer pressure, so we pushed him into cowboy camping with the rest of us that evening.