Mammoth to Sonora Pass; or, Up, Up, Up then Down, Down, Down!

I had to check the numbers: in spite of everyone saying (or expecting?) this section, Section I, to be easy comparative to the High Sierras we just exited (Section H), there is just as much elevation change, proportionally speaking!  Section H was 175 miles with 32,804 feet gain and 34,987 feet loss.  Section I, at only 76 miles, still had 14,320 feet in gain and 13,257 feet in loss!  The loss/gain is quite similar but I wasn’t going up to over 13,000 feet for the passes which definitely made the up and down more manageable.  What is noticeably different is the lack of other hikers.  Through the High Sierras, with the PCT and the John Muir Trail sharing most of the same trail, there were constantly other people.  Generally speaking, the PCTers are all heading North, the JMTers all heading South, plus a huge smattering of typical section hikers out for a few days or a week.  It was a bit intense, actually!  It’s nice to be back amongst my PCT hiker trash family and not care it someone sees me peeing off the trail!  The views were more enjoyable, to me at least, also.  Perhaps it’s just the hype everyone has for the High Sierras (which I get) but I really enjoyed this piece and am officially calling Section I my favourite to date!  It also reinforces my belief that Washington is going to blow my mind!

As mentioned in my last post, I was on a low daily mileage effort for Section I, which turned out to be surprisingly been more difficult than you may think!  I did my best, when I wasn’t outracing a storm, to soak up some lake time and have some stream baths, but I still had lots of time during the day.  I mean, I finished hiking real early (4ish) and if nobody was around, I was tempted to devour either all of my food…or my book!  I had to ration both, which was quite difficult.  

Especially difficult now that it’s finally happened:  hiker hunger.  I’m not really sure why it took so long but it is here for this section!  My theory of it taking so long was that I simply repressed the feelings through the stretch to VVR since I didn’t have ready access to food but now that I’m back in areas where one CAN hitch into towns and there is access, well, the stomach is making itself heard!!  I notice it in my energy levels, too. Mmmm…food…

I’ve also made the hard decision to skip Section J (Sonora Pass to Echo Lake).  It actually has nothing to do with this fire, which crews have gotten under control and contaibed, but with the fact it took 6 hours of driving for Adam to get from the airport, to Sonora Pass to get me, and out to South Lake Tahoe.  That’s just too much for him to do again with the pressure of a flight to catch.  I will restart the trail at Echo Lake, missing about 75 miles, and hopefully I can come back down and hike the section in the future.  It really is a beautiful area!

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