Thursday, June 30, 2016

Day 61 : Sonora Pass

11 miles today
1622 miles to go

I wake up by a rushing stream. It's not crashing from boulder to boulder, it's just a lot of volume rushing past. I pitched my tent in the dark last night without really having a good idea where I was. I picked a great site. Obiwan and BFG came and camped nearby. Today, however, is restaurant breakfast day. I pack up my stuff and saunter back to the Lodge. The Lodge is where everything good happens. It's where the store is, it's where the restaurant is, in fact it's also where I ship off my bear canister. No more need to carry it around. I fill it with other stuff I don't need. Like my microspikes, my maps of places past, my extra external battery that I haven't needed in one thousand miles, all gone! Yay! That weight is an unnecessary thing to have weighing me down. So off it goes, someday it'll end up at my house. 

Then breakfast. I walk into the dining room and meet two more Thru-hikers I haven't met before. They are sitting behind giant plates of food. That's what I want to do. I set my pack against the wall and lean on the table to move around to the back. Oops, it's not as sturdy as it looks, the table tips and the creamer tips and pours cream all over the side of the table I was going to sit at and the chair I was going to sit on. The server comes out and I apologize, she cleans it up and I take my seat. Data shows up and sits with me. We both order the Cowboy breakfast, two eggs, two bacon strips, two pancakes and I get a coffee too. Wow, this is how they do things where it's civilized. Sure is a lot easier than sitting on a rock in the dark eating granola out of the plastic top to my stove container. I could get used to this pretty easily. It's enough food that I feel full when I finish. So now I need to figure out how to get back to the trailhead. I know, perhaps loitering around the front of the lodge until someone offers to drive me will work. I bring my pack and set it on the deck in front. I ask the nice lady at the cash register in the store if I can get water from the sink. “Sure,” she says. I get my water and pack it into my pack. Now I'm ready. I stand there talking with some of the other Thru-hikers until I get a little chilled. It's still early and it's all shady here. There is sun in the parking lot though. 

I cross the parking lot and lean against the wood split rail fence . The sun feels so good. I warm up quickly. A border collie comes running up with a stick in its mouth. He deposit at my feet. “Sorry pal, I'm not bending over to get your stick, You get it.” He reached down and picked it up in his mouth and tried to put it in my hand. I took it. He stood stock still eyes watching my every movement, one front paw in the air. Leaning in, doggie style. Tense, alert, ready for whatever happens next. What happens next is that I toss the stick into the empty lot. He leaped like this was the best thing to ever happen to him and joyfully ran to get it. He then turned, came back and tried to put the stick in my hand again. I take it and toss it again, and again, and again. He's having way more fun than I am and he's doing all the work. “Ok, this is the last one.” I toss it and he acts like this it the first time I've ever thrown it. He's so full of joy. He comes back and tries to put the stick in my hand again, but I won't take it. He drops it at my feet and lies down, staring at me. “Come on, pick up the stick, throw it again, it'll be fun,” he says. Only he didn't say it in English. He kind of whines and yowls. He tries really hard to say it in a language I understand, but I play ignorant and pretend I don't know what he is saying. Some young girls come out after finishing their breakfast with their families and he goes and asks them. Soon they were all having a great time. 

Trail Slug comes driving up with Not Guilty and another thru-hiker in his car. He's the trail angel that gave me a ride down here last night. Not only does he provide rides, he's is a great traveling companion able to keep telling stories and keeping the conversation going. He is a generous and friendly guy. They get out and head into the restaurant for breakfast. “Be ready,” I tell myself, mentally going through my check list of things that need to get done before I go. Oh Yeah, buy and eat ice cream sandwich hasn't been completed yet. So I go into the store and get and ice cream sandwich and eat it while standing on the porch with the other hikers. Now everything is done, I'm ready. Eventually Trail Slug comes out and says, “If there are any of you who need a ride to the trailhead I'm going now.” I volunteered and so did two others. Back up to Sonora Pass in about twelve hours, now thats a quick turn around for me. He drops us off and I head down the trail. 

Down the trail to the trail magic that is. Owl, iPod, and Sonora Pass Resupply have the perfect trifecta of trail magic going on at the picnic area that the PCT passes by. I stop in for a brief stay, I think. There are already three or four other thru-hikers already here. The first thing that happens is that Owl hands me a welcome to Sonora Pass Internet Cafe cookie. It has whipped topping and a fresh cherry on top. I eat it quickly. Then I help myself to the bowl of fresh cherries, and the bowl grapes. Then Owl pulls out a giant ‘PCT 1000 Miles’ chocolate cake. We celebrate our passing the one thousand mile mark with a generous slice of chocolate cake. Internet Cafe? Yes, Owl has somehow setup his phone as a hotspot. I spent sometime posting a number of blog entries. Then my phone needed charging so I plugged into the free charging station offered by Sonora Pass Resupply. More Thru-hikers show up, soon there is a whole passel. Trail Slug shows up again with more Thru-hikers and shuttles other thru-hikers back to Kennedy Meadows. Some more are leaving some are trying to hitch to Bridgeport or Walker. It's a wild chaotic scene. iPod offers hotdogs, I accept, along with a bunch of others. He serves them with a large plate of chips, which I eat too. I dilly-dally around drink a can of coke, eat more grapes and cherries until around noon. My phone is mostly charged. It's time to go. I pack up say my thank you’s to all three trail angels, and head for the trail.

Up! It's a pass, and the trail goes up from it. The road passes over the pass, the trail comes down the ridge to the road then climbs back up the ridge and continues north. North, onward, the snows on Canada are coming, I must beat them to Canada. I climb, up, and up, and up. I come to a group of young people heading up the trail. They all have clean clothes on, they are walking slowly. “Where are you headed?” I ask the guy in back. He shrugs, “Where does this trail go?” He asks me. “Canada, do you mind if I pass y'all?” I don't think they'll make it to Canada. They might make it to the muddy section, or the big snow drift, maybe even the interesting rock formation, but Canada? I highly doubt it.

I on the other hand press on past and over all those features. I climb up, back into the land rock and snow. It's warm the snow is melting. It's muddy, slushy, slurpy. The trail oozes muck and mire. The streams use the trails as routes down the hill. If I had any illusions about keeping my feet try, they're gone now. I splash happily down the trail. It's warm enough that cool water on my feet actually feels pretty good. This sets the pattern for the day. Don't try to negotiate the fords, just splash right through. Up and across the snow and down the other side. I am hiking by myself. Down back into the forest on the far side of the hill. I am using my new Thru-hiker gait. Not all thru-hikers walk like this. It's what works for me. My right knee is perfectly content to walk like a caveman. No pain, no warnings, no complaints at all. Who'd a thunk?

I hike until fourish. My favorite stopping time. I estimate if I have enough food to make it all the way to Donner Summit. Probably not but it'll be close, I might be able to get a few things at the Echo Lake store. I try to plan out the next five days. But the best I can do is shoot for a twenty seven mile day tomorrow. I cook dinner and enjoy my early day. I hope to start early tomorrow so as to be able to end around the same time. I again am camping within earshot of happily rushing water. It's such a happy sound. I'm in bed and asleep before it's dark. 

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