MTR to mile 857.7, 1.5 miles (1.2 towards PCT/blue-blaze miles) then mile 857.7 to mile 840.5, 17.2 PCT miles, 18.7 miles total
PCT miles: 1599.9
Running total: 1735.6
We again woke up around 7am to the breakfast bell ringing. We layered up and headed over for our last warm, fresh feast before venturing back out into the wilderness.
Omg was breakfast delicious!! They served these little egg cups, fresh fruit, and this ridiculously delicious pastry that you better believe I stole the recipe for, after eating THREE servings!!! Oops!!!
While breakfast and dinner are served buffet style, lunch is a bagged lunch that everyone (guests and workers) prepare themselves. During the breakfast hours there is a table set up with of a variety of options to create the perfect midday feast: a decent selection of breads, lunch meats, cheese, veggies, condiments, peanut butter, jellies/jams, and snacks…so. many. snacks. Both days I created a delicious mustard sandwich on sourdough bread with lettuce and tomatoes, and pocketed both a salty snack and a sweet snack. Today I added a bonus orange to pack out! I had never packed out any fresh fruits or veggies before- look at me living on the wild side!
After eating breakfast and preparing our lunch, we went back to our room to pack. Even with a quick fake-nap, for once we managed to leave by the check-out time- I was out the door at ten o’clock on the dot!!
Once out of the room we filled our waters with their potable spring water and I sent my mom one last email to tell her that we were returning to the trail. (sidenote: there is no service in the entire area, but each paying guest is allowed up to 15 minutes/day on the satellite WiFi, but only to check email. Hikers are able to pay a fee for use, but again, just for email. )
Before leaving we weighed our packs- loaded with 1.5 liters of water, 4.5 days worth of food, AND the bear can, my pack weighed in at 34lbs and Matt’s weighed 38. This was the first time that they didn’t weigh exactly the same!! Cool fact: I last weighed my pack at Warner Springs on day 11- it weighed 34 lbs!!! (If I remember correctly, both of our base weights on Day 1 were 17lbs. I’m curious what our base weight is now, but not curious enough to remove the water, bear can, and hidden snacks from my pack…)
By the time we finished our last minute chores, it was around 10:50. The return to the PCT was fairly steep, but not as bad as the trail we had taken TO MTR.
We trekked through the John Muir Wilderness, and then just after noon we entered Kings Canyon National Park. The morning was quite pleasant with a gradual climb of about 580 feet in 5.3 miles.
Some men at MTR were surprised they hadn’t seen a snake yet…
We had two fairly steep climbs today, one where we gained 740 feet in 1.3 miles and the second where we gained 925feet in 1.6 miles. These climbs were separated by a another gradual 700 foot gain over 4 miles AND a river crossing…
Around 2:45, we came to Evolution Creek, which was our first wet crossing in the Sierra! Evolution Creek, like Bear Creek, is notorious for being a dangerous crossing due to its often deep water and its strong currents that have the potential to sweep hikers downstream and over some gnarly cascades. Had we arrived in June as originally planned (before the Sierra Snowmaggedon and Trailcation 2019), when the water is often reported as waist to chest deep, I would have been freaking out!! Water crossings are NOT my thang, and there is no way I’d survive a ride over a waterfall.
This year I saw reports of the creek being up to people’s belly buttons, which is hard to believe ’cause the water barely came up to my mid-shin!! I opted to cross in my camp shoes through the area that was more shallow but had a stronger current, while Matthew went barefoot through the deeper yet calmer water, getting wet to just above the knees. We were both pleased that we were able to dry off our feet and continue on with dry shoes- again, such a game changer!!
The views throughout the day were again incredible.
We hit Evolution Lake at the perfect time- the reflections were SO beautiful! But we were in a rush: our goal for the day was Wanda Lake, another 2.8 miles away, and we were again racing the sunset.
As we passed a group of people camping by the lake somebody greeted us with a, “hey!” At first I thought it was just a friendly camper, but after doing a double take I yelled back, “no fuckin way!!”
IT WAS GIGS!!! Just to recap, Gigs was part of another trail fam in the desert that hiked at a similar pace and in a similar style as our trail fam (zero days, hotels, etc.)- Matt and I ran into her while we were headed north in Washington, and then again when we were heading north in Oregon- both times with Gigs hiking SoBo. NOW, in the Sierra, Gigs was heading north while Matt and I were going SoBo. We had a very happy reunion, catching up on each other’s (mis)adventures and bonding over NOT quitting our thru-hikes despite having an overwhelming desire to before the Sierra.
With the sun quickly setting, we left Gigs with her Sierra trail fam and continued on.
It was dark by the time we made it to Wanda Lake at 7:40. We found a site, set up the tent, and ate dinner. Even though it was dark, it was absolutely stunning. Since it wasn’t too cold, which was shocking since we were camped at 11,444 feet, I set up my tripod and took a shot at night photography. I definitely need more practice.
Happiness is: seeing a familiar face. I love how small this trail is:)