PCT Day 75 – Inspiration Comes in Small Packages

Started: 07:45 @ MM 1,005.9 Kennedy Canyon Creek & Camp (Elevation 9,063ft)

Finished: 14:00 @ MM 1,017.1 Sonora Pass Trailhead (Elevation 9,618ft)

Miles: 11.2

Elevation Gain/Loss: +2,673/-2,118ft

Food: Oatmeal, Clif Bar, Tortilla w/PBJ and Goldfish, Trail Mix, Cheeseburger & Fries, Almond Joy, Coconut Ice Cream, Twinkies 

Health & Hygiene: 0 Blisters, Days since last shower 7, Days since laundry 8

I awoke with a sense of dread. I could already hear the intense buzzing beyond my bug net and the ordeal of trying to eat breakfast and pack away my home while being eaten alive was a truly miserable way to start the day. Furthermore, I was in fear of what lie between me and Sonora Pass. The climb and descent over a volcanic ridge was almost legendary amongst PCT hikers. Steep and exposed, the icy slopes were some of the most treacherous on trail. I was very nervous about the prospect of walking this section alone.

Waking up to buzzing!
I needed to reach the Sonora Pass trailhead before 4pm to collect my resupply from the nice people at Sonora Pass Resupply, so I made an extra special effort and managed to be up and gone before 8am. It was only 11 miles away but this could take all day if things were as bad as some reports suggested. Once again I was all alone but after a few miles my lonely hike suddenly became a team effort. The Professor showed up (I hadn’t seen him since way back in the desert), then Bacon suddenly appeared out of nowhere and then I caught up to a total game changer …. Mamma Lion and Boone!
I need to get up and over this lot!
Mamma Lion is a 39 year old single mum and Bonne is her absolutely incredible 9 year old son. At first I assumed that they were just section hiking but to my amazement they were thru-hiking and young Boone had walked every hard and challenging step that I had. I marveled not just at Boone’s achievement but more so at the incredible strength of character and tenacity of his mum. Not only did Mamma Lion need to feed, care for and motivate herself, she also had to do all these things for her son. All of my pathetic bleating and whining about a bit of snow and a few creek crossings suddenly seemed very trivial and self-indulgent. Comparing Boone’s accomplishments with my own, it would have been easy to feel a little inferior. However, the disparity served more as a reference to how incredible and amazing this young lad’s journey was. I was in awe of them both and there presence on the trail motivated me in ways that I had not expected.
Working up the steep snowy switchbacks!
Together, our newly formed team negotiated up the steep volcanic switchbacks. At the top we all rested before pressing on. The terrain had changed dramatically in just a few miles. Instead of the smooth granite rocks of Yosemite, we were now traversing an exposed alpine ridge. Soon enough we reached the dreaded descent. Just as promised the snow cover was significant but it also provided us with some of the best and fastest glissades of the entire trail. Suddenly hiking was fun again, we were all laughing and whooping as we slid our way down what we hoped would be the last major snow fields of the trail.
Traversing the exposed alpine ridge!
I reached Sonora Pass in good time and collected my resupply from Casey. He was providing a wonderful service to hikers, not only bringing resupply out to this very remote trailhead, but he also offered coffee, a place to charge electronics and he would buy my stupid bear thing and my SpiderMan shoes from me! Casey told me about the tiny pack station and resort at Kennedy Meadows North. They offered a hiker package … $35 for a bed, shower and laundry. I was sold and decided to make the unscheduled stop. I hadn’t showered or washed my clothes in week, things were getting decidedly funky!
Sonora Pass
Despite a dramatic improvement in my hitch-hiking technique, it took me almost an hour to score a ride. I was eventually picked up by a very kind lady called Kate in her car called Penelope. The ride was longer than I’d expected and entirely downhill along a very winding road. Kate was perhaps not as mechanically sympathetic as Penelope might have liked, nor as skilled a driver as I would have liked. Rather than changing into a lower gear, she simply rode the brakes the whole way down. By the time we reached Kennedy Meadows my nerves were almost as frazzled as poor Penelope’s brakes. I thanked Kate for the ride and the Gods for keeping me safe!
Best cheeseburger yet!
Kennedy Meadows North was absolutely amazing and one of my favorite stops on the trail. It was a real working pack station with cowboys and horses everywhere. The staff were super friendly and the facilities excellent. I luxuriated in a long hot shower, washed the funk out of my clothes and sat down to one of the best cheeseburgers yet. I shared a dorm with Mamma Lion, Boone and Gabriel. In the next room I found Stretch. I hadn’t seen Stretch since we Yogi’d a ride together at Cajon Pass. It was great to catch up with him and once again, by sharing tales of our struggles and hardships, I made peace with the trail and my journey. Suddenly quitting seemed a cowardly and cretinous thing to do. If 9 year old Boone could do this thing then so could I!

8 thoughts on “PCT Day 75 – Inspiration Comes in Small Packages

  1. Your blog is killing me! Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing… I hope you are enjoying yourself. =)
    What I love about your posts is seeing how your morale shifts when you come upon people to interact with. It’s really spoken to me. As you stated in your last entry, when there’s nobody to share these accomplishments with, they seem meaningless and …. Well anyway… I think I have something profound to say but it’s late and I can’t get my words out right… So just imagine my inspirational statements..something about thinking we can do things on our own & that we don’t need anyone… But when it really comes down to it… Life is better when there’s someone to share it with… Blah blah blah.
    =) Your blog is great.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Delighted that you got to spend time with Team Emerson! I was hunkered down with them behind the North Fork Ranger Station in high winds, and then was at Saufleys’ Hiker Heaven at the same time. And I saw them a lot in the PCT registers along the trail in the first 500 miles or so. Boone’s first words to me, peering out of his tent at me in the twilight, and with phenomenal eyesight seeing the dent in my nose where I had a carcinoma removed the day before i started the trail: “Say, is that a WART on your nose?” Loved it! And love their incredible fortitude in all kinds of crazy conditions. Hugs to you, Hollywood! –Two Bar

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Two Bar! Yes indeed they are an incredible team and a privilege to hike with. Thank you so much for the wonderful box you sent to Crater Lake. I eventually caught up with Butterfly and Co. to share the joy! Thank you again and I hope the real world is treating you well 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. So happy that your are still on the trail! You are so inspiring for me with your honesty and all your ups and downs. Hopefully it gets more easy for your know. I guess all you need to motivate yourself is the right company and people to share your adventure with.

    Liked by 1 person

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