Thursday, September 11, 2014

Day 156: South from Ebbetts Pass

Day 156, 9/11/14
1050 (Ebbetts Pass) to 1041 (Wolf Creek)
9 miles

Took a zero day yesterday with Steph to get ready for my third section since the stress fracture- going south from Ebbetts Pass back to Tuolumne Meadows (Yosemite).  Breezed through packing food and washing gear.  Then spent hours and hours on the latest blog posts.  Too many photos I can't decide which to post.  Struggling to find words to express the experience of the last section.  Then the day is gone and I have to push "publish" even though I could do better if I just had more time to edit.

I still get butterflies in my belly the night before I leave to get back on the trail.  Rougher terrain and the higher elevations are ahead.  And I associate Tuolumne Meadows with the pain of the stress fracture, since that's where I hobbled off the trail.  So, gear has been paired down further.  Giving up the umbrella and 2nd shoes (the trail runners).   They say you pack your fears (ie bring lots of clothes if your fear is the cold).  My pack has never been lighter but I can't tell if this is because I'm fearless, or because there is no material thing that I can use to ward off the remaining fears.

After being out here for a few hours, the pre-hike jitters are replaced with confidence.  I am in my element out on the PCT.  Pack resting reassuringly against my back.   If I do encounter adverse conditions, I know I will handle them.
 Entered the Carson- Iceberg Wilderness.  Cow pies on the trail and eroded banks around water sources.  Cattle country.  The cows have bells that jingle loudly.  Echoing up the valley like the sound of rain on a metal roof.  Homey.  This is not the dangerous inhospitable Sierras of my imagination.  Nothing I haven't dealt with before.
Cows with jingling bells.
Met one backpacker today, Jimmy D.  He grinned at me with recognition and said he'd been following my blog.  Wow I'm always surprised that there are people out there reading my blog.   Tongue-tied I considered asking him about his cuben pack which is the same kind my friend just told me she's looking at.  But I didn't really care about gear.  What I really I wanted to ask him how he has set up his life so he gets to do overnights here in this gorgeous spot- find out if there is a secret because I want this as my backyard.  But all I can think is that I can’t believe he read my blog, and I get all self-conscious.  Finally I blurted out a question about water.

He reported there was good flow at the spring above Asa Lake and added that the swimming there should be good and there was no one else there.  OMG he knows I like swimming!  Well duh I guess I do say that a lot here in the blog.

My feet sighed with relief at the cool water of Asa Lake.  The waters teeming with life.  Banks lined with the colors of fall.
Asa Lake.
The calls of coyotes rose from the valley as I descended to where I camped for the night.  Wolf Creek.  I passed by the established campsites near the trail and head uphill a ways along a meadow and into a sheltered grove.  Does wanting to be hidden make me less fearless?

The first night out is always a little rough, I reminded myself.  Especially the hour after the sun goes down when I can still hear scurrying sounds but can no longer see the chipmunk silhouettes.  Not quite tired enough to just collapse into sleep.  The grrrr of my rumbling stomach startles me and I instinctively reach for my headlamp to see what made the sound.  Finally I remembered that my hammock is a magic impenetrable fortress of safety and comfort where no harm can befall me.  Then I fell sound asleep.
Home sweet home.


  1. Hi Joan, it was pretty neat to see you on the trail. I was tongue-tyed too. You know how your mind wanders when hiking alone? Just before I met you, I was thinking about you and wondering what I would say to you if I saw you. Then I rounded a corner and there you were! All I could think was, wow, she looks just like a butterfly.
    I work for the Forest Service on the Humboldt Toyiabe Forest and the Carson Iceberg is on my district, so I like to explore it on my days off. As far as my Hyperlite pack, I love it! Compared to my work pack, it's weightless.
    When I saw you on the trail, I wish I had told you how much I love your blog. Your writings about the fears and challenges you have faced on your journey are so heartfelt. Your photos are beautiful, thank you for getting up for the sunrises. The posts about hammock camping inspired me to go that route too. I really like the LNT stuff, every hiker needs to think that way.
    Thank you so much for sharing your journey. I hope we meet again someday.

    1. Hi Jim, I'm so glad you commented here. How cool! I totally know what you mean about the mind-state you get when hiking alone for a long time, and then how startling to see someone. Happens to me a lot, but what a coincidence to see me in that moment.

      Sounds wonderful that you work for the FS and that this is your district. Such a beautiful area. Totally should have asked you in person about that- probably would have asked you endless questions.

      Delighted that you've enjoyed my blog- so very sweet to get that feedback. Sometimes I wonder if there is anyone out there reading it. If all the energy I put into it is worthwhile and if I'm making any sense and getting across the things that I think are most important. So it's really great to hear you totally get what I've been trying to convey.

      Hope to see you out there again someday. All the best, Joan/Hemlock

  2. Trail connections are the best. I met some great people on the Wonderland and look forward to sharing more info and adventures in the future.

    1. That's so true, Jan! Amazing all the wonderful people I've met on this journey.

  3. I've spent a lot of time doing projects for that forest and still have not seen that wilderness. Can't wait. So glad you are back on trail.

    1. You are going to love this place! I keep making notes for you but it's actually all so gorgeous. Except the cow poop...

  4. If you want this area as your back yard, I would seriously recommend you move to Truckee, CA. Now that I'm here, I know in my heart I will never ever leave. Truckee = Heaven for outdoorsy folks like us.