June 28: Today was going to be an interesting day for a couple of reasons (1) I would reach the official end of the sierras and (2) I would reach a section of trail closed from a nearby fire. At Tuolomne Meadows, we had all been talking about strategies to get around the fire closure.
In the morning, I broke camp at record speed, since I was surrounded by that particular breed of mosquitoes that don't come out at dusk, but who hang around morning, noon, and night. My mornong break spots were chosen not in the usual way- in a nice shady spot, but instead in bright, sunny, mosquito dissuading areas. I filtered water cursing the slowness of my Sawyer mini. I used my bandana as a swat rag.
I also conducted a little experient on the effectiveness of bug repellent. I am partial to the all natural herbal stuff. Stuff made with peppermint oil, lemongrass,eucalyptus, and Rosemary. I have found it to be very effective, sweet smelling, and you can spray it on your dinner if you want to switch things up a bit. Other people are straight Deet folks, declaring that nothing works better than Deet.
I had the unfortunate luck of losing my insect repellent somewhere in the sierras and finding only enormous spray cans in the Tuolomne Meadows store. But a section hiker going off trail gave me his small bottle of Ben's 100% Deet spray. And then I found my Natrapel spray in the wrong pocket of my pack. So, today, I sprayed the left side of my body with Deet and the right side with Natrapel. And I got chewed up on the left. Thumbs up to the all natural stuff!
But it doesn't end there- I ran into a bunch of hikers south bounding and one of them was complaining that she was getting eaten alive ever since she switched from Deet to the natural stuff. So I gave her the Ben's and the Mosquitos instantly stopped biting when she applied! So I'm declaring that we all have differently funky odors and Mosquitos will leave us alone only when we apply the repellent compatible with our unique body chemistry. So there.
Mid morning, the terrain changed dramatically and we climbed out of forested, lake dotted terrain into dry, rocky hills. Back to carrying three liters of water at a time! There were lots of loose rocks along narrow ridges, so my pace slowed considerably.
I stopped to join Skyline for lunch along with a couple out walking their small dog. Then, as we made our way down toward Sonoma Pass, the rocks got smaller and looser - full out scree walking- and the pace slowed even more. NOT what you want when you are covering those last few miles to a road!
Suddenly, my feet slipped out from under me, and I felt myself sliding forward, as if I were wearing roller skates. The trail was very narrow with a high steep drop on the downhill side, a high steep ascent on the uphill side. Seeing the huge drop off to my right, I threw myself to the left and backward, landing on my left side. Heart pounding, I got up and continued toward the road at the pace of your average 87 year old. Crying a little bit.
At the road, I ran into Stringer and Ghost, who I hadn't seen since Lone Pine. They were trying to get a hitch into Bridgeport and then from there, around the fire closure to South Lake Tahoe. They were having no luck hitching, so I said I'd add my female-ness to the mix to increase the chance of getting a ride. About 20 luckless minutes later, I plunked myself down and started devouring the rest of the pepperoni, cheese, and pop tarts in my food bag.
"Hey, Pink Lady, there's trail magic at the parking area about 1/4 mile down trail" Stringer told me.
"You with held trail magic info from me to get me to hitch with you?" I was aghast.
I picked up my pack and headed toward the trail magic, when Skyline emerged at the road (he has take a little nap after lunch). We headed in the direction of the parking area only to find that the trail Angels had packed up and gone home. But there was a food truck there, with a guy who ran an online resupply business. We snapped up some sodas and snickers and I tried to finagle a ride into Tahoe with Skyline and the trail angel he had arranged to pick him up.
As it turned out, she was unable to get to Sonoma Pass because Route 5 was shut down. But it also turned out that the closure had reopened and we would be able to walk the trail to Tahoe.
So we got a ride down the road to the northern bookend of the Sierras : Kennedy Meadows north. (You may remember that the southern border of the Sierras was Kennedy Meadows south!) This Kennedy Meadows was very different from its southern counterpart. And we were able to take a shower, do laundry, eat a hot meal, resupply and sleep in a bed in their dorm style accommodations. Things just sometimes work out so perfectly! Life is good.