Saturday, June 28, 2008

Unplanned

Check out the wardrobe choice of these goofs. They did not plan it and
were unaware that they had such mice clothes.

Erin didn't win, but she looked real nice.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Guess the Beauty Queen

The siblings at the evening reception. Erin did her talent tonight and
was WONDERFUL. We are so proud of her!!

Miss Santa Clara's Special Table

Rumor has it that the inspiration for Erin's table is Brian. Go
figure :)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Day 11 - Welcome to Yosemite!

Where after 18 miles of hiking, we won't feed you!

With the completion of Donahue Pass (the last JMT pass!!), we
officially entered Yosemite. Quite an exciting moment. Well sort of -
we still had 13 miles to go before getting to Tuolomne Meadows, where
we would start our travels down to Fresno.

We ate some apples and our favorite chips (Kettle honey mustard -
thanks Santosons!) on Donahue so we didn't have to stop on the way
down to eat. Several other thru hikers hung out up top too, cracking
jokes and scaring off marmots the whole time. Good times. Hiking down
the mountain, we hit Lyell Canyon and from there it was a pretty flat
and easy hike all the way out.

We were so looking forward to a burger after 18 miles, however, when
we walked into the grill at 5:05, we were abruptly told they were
closed. You have no idea what it's like to see clean people who
haven't hiked half a mile with big trays of hot French fries, and you
get nothing. We tried to shrug it off and went to the store and got
ourselves two ice cream bars. Not hamburgers, but they would do.

We decided if we were going to hitch down to Yosemite Valley, we
better get started. So we hit the road and before LandShark could even
finish his "to the valley" sign, a nice woman had pulled over. We had
a lovely drive down with Joanna, a Polish woman who has been living in
New York for 7 years. She just quit her corporate law job after
getting tired of working 20 hours a day, 7 days a week. Who can blame
her?! So she decided to visit the west coast and all the smokey
mountain views it offers. We hope she gets the job at a certain all
powerful company that powers this blog. :)

From there, we found that the last bus out of Yosemite was at 8 pm,
so I sat at the stop with our stuff and LandShark played hunter/
gatherer. After waiting in line at the deli for 5 minutes, he asked
the nice young man what would be the fastest thing to make given our
tight schedule. The answer was chili, so two bowls were ordered. In
the process of trying to fix two bowls of chili, apparently he was
distracted, so another girl asked how she could help. Steve told her
what he was waiting for, and then the manager called her to the back.
At this point, the manager came out and told Steve "no chili for you."
And now it was too late to order anything else. So as you can see from
this picture, two very dirty, hungry and sad thru-hikers boarded the
bus for Merced.

With a recommendation from our bus driver, we were dropped right at
the door of a Motel 6 with a Carl's Jr. that was still open at 11 pm
right next to it. We don't encourage this sort of late night, bad-for-
you-eating, but we're thru hikers, so we do what we want!!

In the morning we caught the train to Fresno, where we were greeted by
mama and papa Bolhorst. We are very excited to spend the next few days
with friends and family!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Day 10 - Reds Meadow to Island Pass

Because the first of the three buses we needed to take to get back to
the trail didn't start running until 9 am, we were able to have one
last breakfast with Tarzan and Zelda before saying goodbye (they are
spending two zeros in Mammoth while we are headed out to make it to
Fresno).

After we left town, we had a huge bus line to wait in because many
many tourists wanted to go down to see the Devil's Postpile National
Monument, and they have to take the same bus we do. After this and
stopping in the Mule House Cafe to satisfy our craving for chocolate
milkshakes, we didnt get on the trail until noon.

It was hot, we were full of milkshakes and it was slow moving. But we
eventually hit a good pace and were able to get our 16 miles that we
wanted done.

As you can tell from this sultry picture of Thousand Island Lake, the
smoke from the 800 fires in California is still affecting the air out
here.

And one last note, while we did camp just below Island Pass, this is
not one of "the" JMT passes. Don't ask me why. But we have just one
more to go -Donahue - which we will tackle in the morning.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Day 9 - Mammoth

Apparently Mammoth is a haven for my namesake - who knew? These big
suckers are all over the sidewalk, some smooshed and smeared - you
really have to watch where you walk.

It was colder than we expected for being at 8,500 feet last night. We
woke up early with thoughts of hot coffee, breakfast, and the first
bed in 8 nights. We were on the trail before 7 and hiked the 3 miles
to the Mule House Cafe in Reds Meadow. After a lovely breakfast with
the coffee we had dreamt of, we took a bus to the Mammoth ski lodge,
and then another bus to the village. On the bus ride we learned that
the Kennedy Meadows fire has blown smoke all the way up here -that's
over 200 trail miles! Apparently it has driven more animals up here
too, including caterpillars... just kidding :)

We are enjoying this little resort town and the good food it offers.
We had plans for Mexican with Tarzan and Zelda tonight and it was
quite good. The other night they were talking about a good place for
pie too and I thought it would be a good idea to have that for
dessert. It wasn't. Too much food and I am over stuffed!

Tomorrow we head out again, next stop - Tuolomne Meadows and from
there, Frrsno for Miss California! We can't wait!

Day 8 - Silver Pass

Silver was another easy pass with minimal snow compared to the others.
There was a bit of glissading on the north side - a steep, bumpy shoot
that made for a fun ride.

After descending for a while, we had another big climb with the
pictured lake as the reward - Virginia Lake. Shortly after this
picture was taken, I enjoyed another fall, this time while trying to
rock hop across a low point in the lake. No big injuries - just a sore
hand where I landed awkwardly and a bit wetter clothing than I had
planned on. Basically, I'm a clutz.

We hiked 20 miles, just 3 miles short of Reds Measow, trying to make
tomorrow as close to a zero as possible, since we're not taking a real
one. Another campfire helped with the mosquitos, but didn't last as
late, given the desire to escape them altogether by way of the tent,
and do a bit of reading before bed.

Day 7 - VVR and Beyond

After hiking down the Bear Ridge trail, crossing the dam, following
the shore to a trail and then to the road, we finally arrived at VVR,
where we enjoyed so much breakfast all the plates wouldn't fit on the
table. Because he is proud of his achievement, Steve wants me to
report what he actually ate - 3 pancakes, 3 eggs, 4 pieces of bacon,
hashbrowns, 3 pieces of toast, 1 biscuit with gravy, and 1/3 of my
breakfast burrito. This is why we call him the LandShark. Anyone care
to start the wager on the 5 pound pancake challenge coming up?

After $6 showers, $5 laundry and too much food, we said goodbye to T&Z
who were spending the night, and took the 4pm $20 ferry back to the
trail where we set out again.

As you can see, we encountered some river crossings, including this
waterfall (how often do you get to cross a waterfall?!?), and made it
about 2.5 miles from the next pass - Silver. Our campsite had a fire
pit, so we did something we haven't done enough of - had a campfire.
We partly wanted one just to try to keep the mosquitos away. We
enjoyed it so much, we didn't go to bed till after 10 - VERY late for
a thru hiker.

Day 6 - Selden Pass

After days of many hard passes, Selden was an easy one. At just 10,900
feet, there was not too much snow and because we weren't above tree
line, it was green and beautiful, with lots of lakes to enjoy on the
way up. This picture is from the top, looking north to where we were
going.

This was also our last pass before VVR, so we were excited at the
thought of food and showers.

While we planned to meet T&Z for camping, we didn't see the usual
bandana or note to indicate where they were, so we kept going, giving
us a 22 mile day. We ended up climbing the hill that was meant for the
morning, but we were happy to get it over with. It left only 7 miles
downhill in the morning for our long awaited visit to VVR.

Day 5 - Muir Pass and Evolution Creek

There is a saying I have repeated over and over on this trail - "John
Muir was a masochist." Today, John Muir kicked it up a notch.

The M in Muir Pass stands for the Most snow. Usually there are patches
we cross to get to the top, but for Muir, we were in snow for hours.
Tarzan & LandShark estimate we walked through six miles of snow. It
was a steady, but steep climb to the top and a steady and fairly
gradual climb down (aka, no glissading for Steve). The way up
included several false summit areas that were disheartening to say the
least.

Once off the snow we reconnected with T & Z for lunch. Zelda was so
grumpy about the snow, she ate a whole instant potato package
(usually, dinner for two!) to feel better.

Today's picture is of the river we crossed! Just not at this point :)
About .2 miles before this, the river was calm, wide and came up to
our mid-thighs. Since this is advertised as being one of the scariest
river crossings of the Sierras, we were lucky.

Today we did 18 miles, and it killed us :)

Day 4 - Mather Pass

Zelda had been freaking out for days about Mather and its treacherous
ways. Once we got to the south face, we all saw it: a wall of snow
where so many switchbacks should be. There were footsteps, but this
was a knee-shaker of a scary one. As Noll (a thruhiker from
Mississippi) put it, "it was dicey."

We donned our crampons (metal spikes we attach to the bottom of our
shoes to help grip the snow better), held on to our ice axes, and
ascended the icey stair. It was possibly the most physically
demanding half hour I had known till that point in life (until the
next day). Let me say here, that I've never been more worried for and
proud of Caterpillar than while we slogged up that sucker.

Obviously, we lived, and when coming down the other side we found a
chute where folks had glissaded. However, the snow waa still too hard
- Zelda tried it out and cut up her hand for the pleasure of being
first. I saw blood on the snow, yet again. Really, walking down was
pretty easy for me until we got lower than the snow and I slipped on a
rock and broke another pole.

For a while after that, I was in a funk because I use my poles in so
many ways and we still had days filled with snowy passes before I
could replace my month-old pole. Also, two poles would have been
handy as we descended the "golden staircase," a brutal set of steps
and switchbacks built into a granite mountain next to a waterfall. My
knees hated Black Diamond's shoddy construction that day.

After all that, we hiked about 10 more miles along Palisade creek and
the South fork of the King river to meet up with T & Z at a Mosquito
convention, where we made camp.

Today's picture is inexplicably dark, but adds a nice touch of
melodrama to the dicey wall of snow on Mather pass. You might be able
to make out the footprints coming up the mountain.

Day 3 - Pinchot Pass

Note - the wifi didn't work long at VVR. We are now in Mammoth and
will work on posting the rest today.

We left around 7 am from Twin Lakes to hit Pinchot Pass in the
morning, but still give the sun some time to soften up the snow. We
saw 5 deer eating along the trail as we got going, and tried to get
close enough to take pictures, but not so close as to make the bucks
want to hurt us.

Pinchot was a pretty typical pass - snow, footprints, rock climbing,
etc. It wore us out.

The next pass, Mather, is only 10 miles away and we didn't really want
to do two passes in one day, plus we had heard Mather was the scariest
and didn't want to deal with the soft, slippery snow, so we got to
camp around 3:30. As a result, LandShark and Tarzan enjoyed their free
time by playing "let's try to break the snow bridge over the creek
with rocks." Tarzan was victorious by breaking off the largest chunk
of ice into the stream.

This picture was taken about 5 minutes before we got to camp. There
are so many beautiful rivers, streams, waterfalls, and lakes.