Day 82: Devils Mosquitopile
Sunday, June 10, 2018 9:13 pm
Location: Soda Springs Campground (911.0 miles)

Quoi and I got back on the trail today for our next stretch of hiking, which includes maildrops at Tuolumne Meadows and Kennedy Meadows North. Our next town is South Lake Tahoe, which we expect to reach in 12 days.

I woke up around 7, repacked my pack, and ate breakfast. In the process, I discovered that my knife was missing. I’m hoping that maybe I put it in my bounce box when I was in Bishop. Otherwise, I couldn’t think of when it might have gotten lost since the last time I know I used it.

Before leaving the Davison Street Guest House, I felt compelled to rearrange a set of colored glasses on the kitchen’s windowsill so that they were in proper rainbow order.

We took the bus into town to go to Breakfast Club for breakfast. Not surprisingly, the bus was packed with hikers. Breakfast at the very cow-themed restaurant was fantastic.

Just as I was looking forward to getting out of the desert, I’m looking forward to getting out of the Sierra. This has been a quite difficult (though beautiful and storied) section, but I’m about done with snow and ready for something different.

Dylan, Quoi, and I got on the bus back to Horseshoe Lake, saying goodbye to Flowers, who should hopefully be back on the trail tomorrow after picking up his food box from the Post Office. When we arrived at the trailhead, we saw a familiar sight: a hiker running down the hill to catch the bus, just as we were a few days ago.

We sat at the trailhead for a while; Dylan was starting to feel dizzy, and decided against hiking out with us, instead, planning to get on the next bus and return to the hostel. Hopefully, he’ll be feeling better tomorrow and can hike out with Flowers (and maybe even catch up with us).

Quoi and I got started shortly after noon, heading back up the trail, which had considerably less snow on it than when we were last here. The trek from the trailhead to the junction was largely not noteworthy. At the junction, we decided to take the trail we didn’t take on our way into town. Though we had heard from Flowers and Dyan there were numerous blow-downs to navigate around, I didn’t think it was that bad; it could have been that we were more easily able to follow the trail, and they were taking snow detours that led them to fallen trees.

Or, it could have been worse further down the trail; at a junction, we took a wrong turn thanks to a slightly misleading sign that eventually brought us to the PCT 0.6 miles up the trail from where we had intended to return to.

About a mile later, I took a snack break while I waited for Quoi to catch up. There was a great overlook to the west.

After passing through a burned area, about two miles later, we took another break; Quoi cooked her lunch, and I (feeling a bit tired) closed my eyes and took a very short catnap.

The main attraction for the day was the Devils Postpile, in the Devils Postpile National Monument, a large formation of columnar basalt formed from a cooling lava flow. The monument is accessible via an easy side trail from the PCT, which parallels the PCT for about a mile and a half, rejoining the PCT at a junction where the John Muir trail splits off. A loop trail allows access to the top of the pile, though we only visited the bottom, which provided a great view of the (largely) hexagonal columns. It also provided us access to a swarm of mosquitoes, which seemed to follow us for the rest of the day.

Devils Postpile
Devils Postpile

On our way out of the monument, we passed by a beautiful creek and meadow. While we were there, numerous fish in the creek jumped out of the water.

Middle Fork San Joaquin River
Middle Fork San Joaquin River

Once we got back on the PCT, we had a number of stream crossings, many of which were obstacle courses of sorts. It was possible to make dry crossings, if you were willing to make some sketchy maneuvering over rocks or fallen (and broken) trees. (Of course, there was also the added difficulty of swarming mosquitoes.) One of the crossings, I went across in my Crocs, rather than try and cross on a broken tree. (Quoi managed to make it over the creek via the tree, though.)

A relatively short day of hiking, we arrived at the Soda Springs Campground, a bit less than 8 trail miles (plus the 3 or so from Mammoth Lakes) from where we last were, around 6:30. A large campground, we were very happy to take advantage of the trash dumpster (with what little trash we’d generated so far, and from cooking dinner) and bear box. (There were also toilets, but the doors were locked.)

I cooked my dinner, and the mosquitoes surprisingly largely left me alone; they seemed to be somewhat preoccupied with swarming around my pack.

Tomorrow: about 15 miles to make it over Island Pass.