Day 65: A Wet Sunday

June 18, 2017: Hiked 3 miles over Mammoth Pass to get back to the trail and hiked PCT mikes 903.3 to 919.0 (18.8 total)

Woke up to a beautiful warm morning. The sky was turning pink with the sunrise. 

The tent was dry. No bears or coyotes had ate our food or us. We had bagels and cream cheese, donuts, and bananas for breakfast. Life was good. We started back up Mammoth Pass to take us back to the PCT. The morning was already warm and the snow melt was very noticeable in the days since we had been hiking. 

We quickly made it back to the trail and stated a long downhill climb. We passed over a million creeks, more evidence of all the snowmelt.  

We lucked out for awhile having a clear trail to walk on. And eventually the trail wound it’s way out of the trees and into a much more open canyon. 

Walking was easy with no snow and we were able to move much quicker than normal. 

We even started seeing some trail signs. 

Well it was a sign at one point. There was about 10 of these within a few hundred yards of each other. It would be nice if they could have used a few of those signs on the past couple hundred miles. We crossed over the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin River a couple times today.

It was moving pretty well and I’m glad there were bridges. 

We started climbing up our nice little trail. 

And took a break to overlook the Devil’s Postpile monument which is a naturally occurring formation of hexagonal columns of basalt. 

The formation is thought to have been formed 100,000 years ago from slowly cooling lava through a process called jointing. Glaciation excavated the formation and polished the top. That’s what my handy PCT app told me at least. I’m actually not a geologist.

After our break we hiked on until we came to Minaret Falls. A large amount of water from the falls was cascading down the rocks above and had created a giant, messy field of streams.  We crossed over a few of the streams on logs, but eventually came to a spot we would have to ford. Colton took his pack off and went across to see how deep it was. It covered his butt, even walking on his tiptoes and he had to hold onto a log that was partially submerged to steady himself since the current was so strong. He looked pretty cold when we got out. He came back to get his bag and offered to take mine in the next trip so I could just walk across, but I knew I could make it so I decided to take my own. We strapped our poles on top and cinched our packs as high on our backs as we could. Colton went first and I followed right behind. The water was up to my belly button and the bottom of my pack got a little wet but I made it. We dried out on the other side and kept going. 

After our fun creek crossing, we ended up following another creek uphill through a canyon. Walking was slow. Every 50 feet there would either be a snow berm we had to climb over, a huge downed tree, or a stream to cross. It was exhausting. 

We finally stopped for lunch at a nice creek with some shade to sit in and some sun to dry our shoes and socks out in.

As we were eating, some dark clouds started rolling in. I had cell service so I checked the weather again which didn’t call for rain, but they definitely looked like thunderstorm clouds.

When we took off after lunch the sky had darkened a lot. It was actually nice to have cloud cover for our uphill climb to cool things down. We ran into a group of five hikers doing an overnight trip. We got a good laugh seeing that their packs were probably just as big as ours with supplies for one night compared to our eight. 

We had some gorgeous views on our climb up the hill.

 And enjoyed a much greener landscape. 

All the sudden I felt a couple raindrops and we looked up just in time to see a massive wall of rain heading straight for us. We ran under the closest trees and threw our rain jackets and pack covers on. And then the rain turned to hail.

 And then it turned to massive hail. 

We crouched under the trees and watched the hail bounce off the snow and fly in every direction.

We waited out the storm for about 30 or so minutes and then quickly started hiking to warm up. But we walked right back into it. It wasn’t hailing as hard up the trail though so we kept hiking to keep warm. 

It petered out and the air warmed up with the humidity. The creeks and trail had instantly turned into a mudslide.

But the views with the clouds were incredible. 

We passed over lots more snow on the trail as we kept climbing. 

Then we started hearing thunder again and ran for cover. The rain and hail started again and we decided we should probably just find a place to camp for the night before we got stuck in a really exposed part of the trail. We wandered around the trees for a bit until we found a flat spot with a little cover that wasn’t soaking wet. The ground was really soft with water so we found a bunch of dry pine needles and duff to lay on top to add a layer of warmth. We got a break in the rain and set up our tent and peeled off our soaking wet clothes to warm up.  

The rain held off and the air warmed up a little again. We put dry clothes on and got in our tent to make dinner since it was already 7:00 and we were starving.

The clouds have started to give way to a little clear sky but we still get some occasional raindrops on our tent and can hear thunder in the distance. 

Between all the creek crossings and the rain it was definitely a wet day so we’re hoping for a dry night. I thought it was ironic that the past three times we have got back on the trail after going into town to resupply, we have been stormed on. Not sure what that means, but I’m ready to break that trend. 

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