Sonora Pass is kind of in the middle of nowhere, and there aren’t any convenient resupply options. My hunger has gotten ridiculous on the trail, with one pound (450g) of peanut butter being classified as an afternoon snack, so three days of food was about all I could fit in my bear canister and I needed to get more. After twenty minutes of trying to hitch to North Kennedy Meadows Resort with no luck, a pickup truck stopped in front of me. “Get in the back!” Hawaii yelled at me with Beer Goddess in the backseat. I climbed into the back of the truck and we zoomed off. I realized I’d gotten into a car without knowing where we were going (Kennedy Meadows? Bridgeport?), but didn’t really care. If my friends were there we could figure something out wherever we ended up, which happened to be the Kennedy Meadows Resort.
We walked in and immediately bought large amounts of ice cream and peanut butter, excitedly telling anybody who’d listen that we crossed the 1000 mile (1600km) point that morning. The cashier told Hawaii in an obviously disgusted tone, “Um, here’s your dinner.” “This is my pre-dinner snack, I’ll be back later,” she told the cashier as she ran outside. They must not have seen that many hikers yet. It is early for PCT hikers. I’ve gotten towards the head of the pack since starting the Sierras and a lot of places are just starting to see larger numbers of hikers. In our case, the “large number” of thru hikers staying at the hostel at the resort was 8.
It was a learning experience for them about hikertrash. While eating ice cream on the porch a young girl walked by me and said, “Mommy, what’s that smell?” It’d been only four or five days since I’d showered, which is practically yesterday in hiker shower time. Beer Goddess, Hawaii, and I did laundry together and just wore towels around the resort in the meantime. We got a lot of stares, though I was mainly staring at the laundry runoff water that was a deep shade of black. We were so filthy, and the shower felt so amazing even if dead mosquitos kept falling out of my hair all night from Mosquito Hell.
I hung out with my hiker friends and ate thousands upon thousands of calories. Beer Goddess, Hawaii, and I got a bunk room all to ourselves. When the others saw the three of us together they hightailed it to the other room, probably because when Hawaii walked into the room and saw us she yelled, “SLUMBER PARTY WITH MY FAVORITE PEOPLE!” They went to go hang out at the bar but I stayed back to plan my resupplies because I was tired. Beer Goddess ended up riding on the shoulders of some local who said he was named Frank the Tank, and the pictures were pretty entertaining.
We had a leisurely breakfast the next morning at the restaurant before hanging out with an eyeless dog that was incredibly adorable and finally heading back to the trail. We were finally done with the Sierra Nevada! There was 26k feet (7900m) of elevation change over the next three days, which seemed like nothing, and I was able to do 21 miles (34km) by 7ish even with a 10:30am start. In comparison, the entire state of Oregon has about 65k feet (19,800m) of elevation change. The next morning I was really on a roll, with 10 miles (16km) by 10am.
However, when I got to that point at 10am I crossed a road and found a note ordering an immediate evacuation of the trail because of an out of control wildfire. CalTrans had blocked off the road leading up there, so we couldn’t hitch down. There wasn’t really anywhere to hitch to, and the CalTrans guy told us it was fine to keep hiking into the fire. “It’s only about ten miles from the trail,” he told us. Ten miles from the trail with strong winds and burning out of control is REALLY close! Hikers like Trail Bride had turned around after an hour because the smoke was getting too intense. We told him we weren’t going on into a closed section like that, and he asked us where our cars were….he really had no idea what the PCT was and what they were going to have to deal with when the people who started the section after it was closed got through to there.
The sheriff was called and eight of us crammed into his truck for the long, windy ride down to the middle of nowhere. It was a 200 mile hitch to bypass 40 miles of burning trail, and we split up into groups to better get rides. Me and this Canadian couple were able to get to Tahoe in four rides over five or six hours. The others hitched as a group of five over six hitches and a bus ride in eight and a half hours. Today I’m just taking a zero mile day in Tahoe, and will head back onto the trail tomorrow morning. The trail’s been closed from Sonora Pass, so lots of hikers are converging on Tahoe to continue. Every year there are multiple closures on the PCT, and you just have to hike what you can.