Jacob got up early on Friday morning and met me at Kennedy Meadows North before 10 am. He had looked at the weather forecast and knew there were storms in our future starting that afternoon so as soon as he got there, we went for a quick hike. Not knowing the area very well, we hiked up the PCT for a few miles and I got a preview of what was in store for me. We had a picnic lunch on some rocks and could see the clouds moving in so we headed back. It started raining as we reached the car so we took a drive down the mountain, looking for a dry place to hang out. We drove to Angel’s camp, which was supposed to be hot and sunny but it was neither so after stopping in the city of Sonora, we headed back up the mountain and found a campground to stay at. We had great timing that day because we ate dinner and set up camp before it rained that night.
On Saturday we hiked around all morning and into the afternoon while it was sunny.
In the afternoon there was a huge thunderstorm and we huddled in the tent reading stories for several hours. The thunder really scared Bishop and he was shaking with each loud crack. But the storm passed and we were able to cook dinner before it started to rain again.
I had been feeling like I was losing momentum on the trail after so many days off so Jacob and I parted company early Sunday morning so I could get some miles in. It was a beautiful day and I started by hiking through several miles of snow. However, this was the last of the large snow sections because in a few miles I dropped below 10,000 feet and won’t reach that elevation for the rest of the hike.
During the day I passed quite a few hikers and it felt good to be regaining my place in the pack. I also saw a lot of southbound thru hikers who bypassed the Sierras and were heading back to where they left off. I saw a few people I had not seen since the first week on the trail and it was good to reconnect with them.
It was also incredibly beautiful and sunny and warm all day.
In the next few days I met a lot of new people and hiked with several of them for a day or two. Some of these people also took time off when the weather was bad in the sierras but others started a week after I did and missed the storms. I even met a kid (21 year old) who lives three blocks from me in Berkeley!! He walks pass my house to go to Bart all the time. What a small world!
On June 9 I got to Echo Lakes resort by mid morning and who do I see as I come down the trail? Horizon!! It had been weeks since I’d left him and Merkel at our snowy campsite just north of Muir pass and it was a joyous reunion. He had just spent a few days in Truckee with his dad and was just getting back on the trail. As we hiked through Desolation Wilderness, it was great catching up with him and hearing all of his adventures from the past few weeks. We also watched the skies as thunderclouds rolled in; a rare storm was coming up from Mexico and was predicted to bring a lot of rain to our area in the next two days. Listening to his stories and sharing my own made the time fly and before we knew it, we had covered 25 miles and caught up with Merkel and her mom!
It was so fantastic to be with Merkel and Horizon again! We had walked a lot of miles together and shared many adventures and I had been missing them in the previous two weeks. It was also wonderful to meet Mama Merkel, whom I had heard much about. Jacob had given her a ride from our house to Yosemite and it was nice to complete the circle of connections.
The four of us sat on some rocks and had dinner while we chatted and caught up. As it was getting dark, it started to rain and Horizon and I quickly set up our tents and we all dived into our shelters. We continued our conversation through the rain, not being able to see each other, until it was long past hiker midnight (I.e. 9 pm).
Everything was wet in the morning but it wasn’t actively raining which was nice. We had a leisurely morning then set off toward Truckee.
We hiked about ten miles as the fog and clouds rolled in. When we reached Barker pass, Horizon looked at the weather radar and we realized we were practically surrounded by the storm and it was only a matter of time until we got rained on. But we had an out: Merkel’s dad was meeting them in Truckee and they had access to a friend’s house from that night through the weekend. Horizon convinced us that we should walk from Barker pass to the road, then hitch from there to Truckee where we could get hot food and be warm and dry. After having a dance party underneath the outhouse awning, we agreed and set off.
We hiked down the road for several miles then caught a ride with a couple in a minivan for the last bit to the main road. From there we split into two groups to hitch to Truckee. We both got rides pretty quickly and within an hour we were eating Mexican food at a restaurant then grocery shopping. It hadn’t rained yet and we gave Horizon a hard time for being a wuss but the next day we talked to several hikers who got drenched in the same area so we were happy with our decision.
In the afternoon we hung out at the house, took showers, ate popcorn, and relaxed. Papa Merkel arrived in the evening and the five of us talked, ate pizza and watched part of a movie. It was a super fun and unexpected nero.
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