Leaving VVR, I was apprehensive and still plenty anxious about hiking the rest of the Sierra. I had to say goodbye to Claire, my dear friend from college that hiked with me for 5 weeks, which was tearful and sad. The environment and setting is always changing on trail, so people become the familiar bit, the consistency within the chaos of hiking over 2000 miles. It’s hard and sad when the familiar pieces float away, I always want to latch on and hold tight.
BUT! These miles were SO MUCH more enjoyable. We we split the 140 miles into 3 smaller sections, which means I could carry less food, making my pack a bit lighter and easier to manage. Additionally, we had relief from the elements more frequently…showers, hot food and laundry can make all the difference in refreshing attitudes and boosting morale.
We stopped in Mamoth Lakes, and then again in Yosemite Valley. I ate plenty of pastries, made some new friends, and stood in awe of Half Dome and El Cap in Yosemite. Breaking the section into manageable bites took a bit longer, but also kept it sustainable. I had time to rest and relax, and to process what was coming up.
We also hiked at a lower elevation, which means less snow and faster hiking. There were still plenty of times we lost the trail, and the climbs were still tough, but the majority of the trail was free of snow. I felt better physically and mentally, stronger, more capable. We found some of the most lovely campsites, swam in lakes with crystal clear water, and took the time to enjoy our surroundings. There are constant breathtaking views and impressive moments, and I’m so thankful these natural places have been preserved.
Some funny calamities include sinking up to my hip in a mud hole while crossing a meadow, and an accidental 50 yard, steep glisade coming down Sonora Pass (this was actually super sketchy, but it all worked out, just a few bruises and busted knuckles).
Lessons or affirmations from the trail includeee: when things go wrong, it’s a lot easier to laugh about it than get upset; I am in fact a capable human being/hiker, even if it doesn’t always feel that way.
I hit the 1000 mile mark just before getting to town, and mannnnn, it feels great! I’m pretty proud of myself for pushing through the Sierra in a high snow year, even though it chewed me up and spat me out. I just have 75 miles until Lake Tahoe which is the ceremonial end of the Sierra. I feel confident that I could hike the remaining 1600 miles.
That being said, I plan on skipping Northern California; I’ll be heading to Oregon from Lake Tahoe and hiking through to to Canada from there. There are a handful of reasons I’m doing this: I reallllly don’t want to hike Washington in the snow, I also don’t want to have to run through the rest of the trail to finish. I have about 2 months of decent weather, and 1600 miles to go…I would have to hike 30 mile days every day to finish on time. Sooo, I’m going to skip ahead, hike my favorite states, enjoy the hike and the scenery, and mayyyybe swing back to Nor Cal at the end (time, energy, and money permitting).
I’m sad to be leaving my hiking pals (I’ve been hiking with Dominik and Robin since day 4, mile 40). I’m quite fond of them, and truly don’t know if I would have made it through the Sierra without them. They rescued me on a daily basis, making stream crossings and mountain passes doable.
The “purest” in me (It’s a very small piece) feels slightly guilty about skipping such a large chunk, but does it really matter?? I don’t think so. I’m content with my experience so far and have SO, SO much left to see!
I’m excited about these next sections, excited to meet new people, and to visit with some friends and family in Oregon and Washington! (Get ready guyssss!!)