PCT mm 924.7 – Escape from Mammoth


Another impressive view of a snow laden mountain providing fresh drinking water.

Hurray!  I managed to leave Mammoth Lakes.  I enjoyed being there and needed the rest, but it feels so good to be back on the trail where I belong.  I also managed to knock out enough miles to be able to hit Tuolumne Meadows in the afternoon instead of evening.

I slept in because the buses don’t start until 9 am and the bed was quite comfy.  The mattress were soft, and they were fitted with nice sheets, a blanket, and a comforter.  We left the windows open and it felt quite nice while sleeping.  I was still the first one up at 7:30 and went up to the kitchen to eat my breakfast.  One of the managers had also gotten up and made some fresh coffee.  I heated up the potato wedges from dinner and ate them first.  Then toasted the bagel and ate it with butter.  Bagels are so much better when toasted.  Then the orange and banana, and finally the cinnamon bun.  As big of a breakfast as that was, I could have eaten more.  The manager was already starting to make pizza dough as I was finishing.

I packed up pretty quickly and was out of the hostel at 8:40.  The trolly did not start until 9 am but so did the bike bus, and that was the critical one to get to the adventure center.  The walk to the village took 15 minutes and the bus was already loading bikers by the time I got there.  They load bikers until the rack is full, then they hold the rest of the bikers for the next bus and then load the hikers who have to stand.  There were at least twenty hikers there so I was nervous there would not be enough standing space for all the hikers, but there was.  The ride took about fifteen minutes, and I immediately got in line for the Reds Meadow bus.  I was about eighth in line so I was happy I would get a seat this time.  Nearly all the other hikers had to go buy tickets which meant they were not PCT hikers.

The ride back out was much better this time, being able to sit for the long ride.  It also did not take as long because we did not have to stop at all the stops, either.  I think it was a bit after 10:00 when we finally got to Reds.  I went in to the store to buy a Starbucks frappachino and some coffee candy to have with my kale, chicken, and cranberry salad that I brought from Vons grocery.  There were some other PCT hikers there but I had only met one of them previously at VVR.  They were all envious of my salad.  I was able to find some coffees, drink mixes, and Ritz crackers in the hiker box.  I stashed them in my food bag and was finally off at about 11 am.  That’s about when I had figured I’d finally get back on the trail, so I guess everything was going well.

Heavily forested trail leaving Reds Meadow.

The trail out was pretty mellow with an easy grade.  A mile and a half up the trail was the Devil’s Postpile which is an odd formation of volcanic rock in tall hexagonal shafts that look like pencils and a pile of broken pencils below them.  I was able to see it well enough from the PCT and did not feel the need to take the side trail to hike above them.

The Devils Postpile consists of very odd hexagonal shaped columns of rock.

Most of the day was pretty mellow.  The mid afternoon the trail climbed up switchbacks on a mountain with sage on it and I was afraid we were going back into the desert.  It was just that one hill, and the temperature was cool all day anyway.  I was making good time to be able to cross the next pass before dark, so I pushed on.  By late afternoon I had gotten quite hungry since I ate my lunch early at Reds.  I didn’t fix an official lunch or dinner but I had an extra tuna packet of tuna salad that I wanted to try on a tortilla.  It was pretty good.  I might make that a staple at some point.  As the day went on, the trail got rockier and I slowed down a little.  Looking at where I was, I would get to the pass right at sunset.  I would probably have to hike a few miles past the pass to find a camping spot, so I was prepared to walk into the dark.

The trail winding higher in elevation.

I had gone light on water, so as I approached the pass, I had planned on picking up water at 1000 island lake, which is the one in the first picture.  The trail actually did not go too close to the lake and immediately started climbing again, so I did not get water from there.  It was also quite windy so I did not want to go down to the lake to camp.

Plenty of snow means plenty of water to be had.

I stopped at a small lake just before the pass to filter two liters so I could have one to camp and one to hike in the morning.  The water delay means I would miss sunset at the pass and I saw it from the lake instead.  What I did not realize was that while filtering water, I was essentially only two tenths of a mile from the pass.  This one had no climb to speak of.  And as luck would have it, I found a nice camping spot just a tenth beyond the pass that had decent protection from the wind, so I stopped there.  I had plenty of light to make camp, cook, and eat, but then the light faded as I was cleaning up.

I am just over 17 miles from Tuolumne Meadows now, so I should be able to make the store by 2 or 3 PM if I get up at 5 in the morning.  I think it’s about 75 miles to the next resupply from there, and I should be able to do that in three or four days.  I am carrying four days of food and hardly cracked into the first day yet, so I may not have to buy much of anything there at all.  That would be nice.  I’ll double check my notes when I get there tomorrow since I can’t afford to make any resupply mistakes out in the remote woods I am in right now.  One comfort is that there are so many hikers here, that if I did run out of food it should be pretty easy to bum some off the week-long hikers that are all over the place.


  1. Harriett Dame

    July 17, 2016 at 4:48 am

    That is such a gorgeous picture! I think I might have just wanted to stay there! What a beautiful country we live in.

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