tiffany's pct journal

California Section H: Highway 120 (Tuolumne Meadows) to Crabtree Meadows (Mount Whitney) - Part VI.

Days: 104 - 105.
Dates: October 15 - 16.
Trail mileage: 1746.5 - 1710.6.
Distance: 35.9 miles.

Well, after a brief taste of the desert, I was back in the northern Sierra!

After a night sleeping in a real bed again, Josh and I grabbed a coffee (my town weakness is a good latte), then he drove us to Devil's Postpile, next to Red's Meadow. He wanted to check out the Devil's Postpile and Rainbow Falls, and when we got there, I realized many other people did too! There were many day hikers around. One couple stopped me to ask about my PCT trek when they saw my pack.

I decided to take a side trip to Devil's Postpile, which isn't actually on the trail, but is only a short ways away. It was definitely one of the weirdest geologic features I've ever seen. I'm not sure why, but Devil's Postpile is a great name for it. It made me a little uncomfortable looking at it.

Devil's Postpile
Definitely worth the small side trip

I got a message from Yahtzee around this time. Our paths had diverged at one point because she had to get off the trail briefly for an off-trail commitment, and she was about to head back to the trail. We realized we both wanted to finish the section in Northern California from Truckee to South Lake Tahoe that we had missed the first time around. She decided to change her plans last-minute to join me up in Northern California in Truckee instead of flying back into the top of the desert so we could hike that 70-mile section together. Yay, what great timing!

That first day was incredibly quiet. It was now the very end of the season, and there didn't seem to be any backpackers left, only day hikers near trailheads. I only saw one guy on the trail all day after leaving the day hiker bubble near Devil's Postpile.

view from the trail
A very quiet day

That evening, I reached Thousand Island Lake, which didn't have a thousand islands, but certainly had quite a few. It made me wish I had the time and flexibility to camp there, but it didn't matter much because there were signs closing most of that area to camping to protect it.

Thousand Island Lake
Some of the most still waters I'd seen

I camped at a really nice exposed site that night, and it was about as quiet as any time I had experienced on the trail. I felt confident I was the only human within a couple miles of my campsite.

view from the trail
It felt good to be back in the Sierra again

I woke up in the middle of the night sweaty and hot, and that was definitely the first time anything like that happened in the Sierra. I even had to take off my fleece and 2 pairs of socks. My water didn't even freeze. Unheard of.

I got to do my final pass in the Sierra, which is usually one of the first for SOBOs: Donohue Pass. It was really tough. The climb wasn't too bad, all things considered, but the descent was really steep.

view from Donahue Pass
From the top of Donahue Pass

It was also really cold, and collecting water was painful. But there was plenty of water everywhere, as long as it wasn't frozen into solid ice, and it was absolutely beautiful.

Beautiful, but freaking cold

I started seeing a lot of day hikers again a few miles out from Tuolumne Meadows. I stopped to chat with a nice couple headed in the other direction, who wanted to know more about my hike. I told them about my plans to keep hitching up north on Highway 395 to complete my second (and final) missed section, and they said they would be happy to offer me a ride out there if they saw me on their way out because they were staying along the 395 in Mammoth Lakes.

I was so happy I made the decision to head back up north to finish up this section. And now, it was time to see what I missed in Northern California.

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