Hitchin’ around the Sierras

Total PCT miles 790.2 – Bishop, Yosemite National Park, Lee Vining, California

This PCT journey continues to evoke small and beautiful connections between us and one-time strangers. We’ve been blessed with meeting some wonderful people in the last few days. People we wouldn’t have met if we’d kept going straight through as planned. This detour is opening us up to new people and is making some of the most lasting memories and best stories of the trail.

First off, we can’t thank Kristin and Russ enough for their generosity of letting us stay with them here in Mono City for the last day and half. They are fantastic hosts! Making delicious healthful dinners, paired with fine home brews. Fellow tele skiers, we’ve watched home movies that make me want to move out to Lee Vining for a winter of backcountry touring. And they share a love for hiking, backpacking and the Pacific Crest Trail. We are so glad we went to the Latte Da Coffee Cafe and that Kristin recognized us as thru-hikers. Kristin and Russ are friends we are so glad to have.

And we hope they keep taking the steps toward their vision of hosting more PCT hikers. Heck, they’ve already got the septic system. The yard. We hope we can help make it happen. So if there are any future PCT’ers out there reading this who need/want a trail angle to stay with near Tuolumne Meadows, let me know. I know good people.

Thank you to the Yosemite Forest Dynamics Plot crew, particularly the lead researchers Dr. Jim Lutz, Dr. Andrew Larson and Dr. Mark Swanson. Those 10,000 calorie dinners and place to crash helped us recover mentally and physically post-Wright Creek. We loved meeting your crew and wish for you to have accurate data and further scientific and popular recognition. Keep up the good work and see you again when we get back north.

To Annie, Barry and Oliver from Midland, Michigan. What a treat to have the second car of the day offer us a ride to Yosemite Valley. Our ride down to the Valley turned into a all morning tour with grandparents and grandson. They were in Yosemite as part of a month long road trip to explore the National Parks of the west-what a treat to get to do that with your grandparents! On our way down to the Valley there are turn offs for classic views of the park, understandably we’d stop for these turn offs. Where we’d snap pictures and take photos for the Schihls. Having visited the park as part of a Sierras field trip a few years prior I was happy that we could offer this family some interpretive information about the forests we were looking at. Despite the fact that they could have just left us at any of these turn outs the Schihl family let us hop back in their van each time. We were grateful to be riding with them as Annie was a very safe and smooth driver! Nor did they mind that we were rather dirty and smelly after several days without showers; having cultivated a distance hiker’s stench.

Eventually we got to the junction where the road turns one way for the Valley and the other for Glacier Point. Annie decided that we really should see the view from Glacier Point! What a special treat! They drove us to Glacier Point where we got to experience some of the classic views of Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, El Cap and Clouds Rest. When we realized we could hike down to the Valley-we felt we should get in at least some sort of hike-we had a tinge of guilt for parting ways with the Schihls. They are such nice people and we felt like we had adopted grandparents and a cousin. Should they come to the Pacific Northwest sometime, we’ll take them on a tour.

Our ride into the park was also very memorable. Terry and Skye from Oklahoma picked us up near the Mobile Station and dropped us off right in front of our friends’ camp in Hodgdon Meadows! Our conversation was engaging and ran the gauntlet of the network and support of the motorcycle riding community (similar to the PCT) to floating the Grand Canyon, to inquiry-based learning and helping children explore and understand the natural world. I feel that conversation was influential in distilling the path and direction I want to go after hiking the PCT. We wish them well in their teaching and curriculum development and hope they can get there family out on another adventure as awesome as floating the Grand Canyon.

And thank you to Jill and Jim who went two hours out of their way to drive us out to Tenya Lakes when they were heading down to the Valley for the weekend. They were so interested in our hike and shared stories with us of their niece and-now-nephew’s hike on the PCT.

When hitching you can stand for hours with your thumb out. Waiting, hoping, mentally coercing someone to pull over and offer you a ride. Our experience has been that the wait has been worth it, because the person offering the ride has always been the right person. The people who have stopped to offer us a lift have had fascinating stories, are kindred souls, or somehow are connected to home.

After gearing up in Bishop, hiking around Yosemite and enjoying some quiet logistics time near Lee Vining we have one more detour before returning to the trail. This morning we board an Eastern Sierra Transit Bus to the Reno airport and will then catch a shuttle to Quincy, CA. Three cheers to an awesome public transit system that can smoothly take us to Ben and the High Sierra Music Festival.

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