Arriving in Yosemite Valley is a bit of a shock: There are soooooo many people there! We’re a bit overwhelmed, especially as finding a spot to camp turns out to be difficult. We’re so accustomed now to be able to pitch our tent anywhere we like (our pct-permit allowes us to do that along the pct) that having a lot of rules and prohibited things is weird… Thanks to a hint of some other pct-hikers we meet, we find a spot at last and immediately fall asleep.
Traffic jam on the way in! We’re not accustomed to that anymore…
For me, Yosemite Valley means relaxed days while enjoying the stunning scenery. It’s great to only go for walks (without backpack), bath in the rivers (the icy water in the Sierra made us quite tough), read and enjoy pizza!😉
Chrigi climbing El Capitan free solo😉
Chrigi decides to leave us and the pct at this point and do some hikes on his own during the week he has left in California. I’m sad to say good-bye and it feels weird to hike on without Chrigi… He’ll have many cool adventures coming on, though, so I’m also excited for him!
On our way back to the pct, we stop to see the Tuloumne sequoia groove. These ancient, huge trees that tower over us impress me very much!
During the hour that the road is open, no car stops for us. When two Swedish girls finally do, the road has already closed and we have to turn back. What now? Going all the way back to Yosemite Valley as the rangers tell us to do is out of the question as we wouldn’t make it back in time and we don’t have a place to sleep there anymore, having already outstayed our welcome. So we just hide in the forest, camping there without leaving a trace, of course…
When we try again to catch a ride, we are more lucky. A friendly couple takes us all the way back to Tuloumne meadows where we start walking again.
According to the guidebook Andy gave me for my last birthday, the upcoming section through Yosemite National Park is “the most demanding of the pct”, there are many dangerous river-crossing and steep slopes to traverse, making it “very difficult if not impossible to hike under snowpack”. That’s why I’m a bit anxious about the coming days..
After a few miles, we come to the first river-crossing. There is a bridge, which was apparentely flooded by the high water two weeks ago. What a great surprise it is then for us when we find the waterlevel lower and the bridge above it! The water must have been at least two meters higher!
Imagine that bridge overflown by water and you have to cross the river!
All the rivers we have to cross in the next few days are lower than they were, maximum waist-heigh. This is of course great news for us! We get other, despite of the warning in the guidebook unexpected challenges, though: There are a few very sketchy downhills (“the hill of doom reloaded” – Andy gets to his limits in these and lets out his frustration by hitting the snow with his trekking poles) and frustrating navigation and bushwacking through seemingly neverending mounds of snow in the forest (“the labyrinth of desperation reloaded” – “We’ve done twice the distance and ten times the altitude!” Vincent says tiredly when we camp that evening).
Snowcups – very annoying to walk over!
Postholing in the snow – it doesn’t help…
There are not only hard moments, though, but also good ones (although this section certainly is a tough one). We see many animals, especially deer (still no bears, though!) and the scenery is once again simply fantastic!
One of many awesome views!
In Dorothy lake pass, we should see a “dramatic change” of scenery, the guidebook announces. And indeed that’s the case: The High Sierra with it’s Granite mountains abruptely changes into mountains of volcanic rock which have a very different form and colour. I’m super impressed, as I have never seen such a brutal change! It makes me feel as if we’ve come to an end of something and at the same time a new beginning, a bit like when we approached Kennedy Meadows. It also looks like there is less snow now… This gives me new energy and motivation, even more when we reach mile 1’000!
Still a lot of snow, but the mountains look different…
Over the snowfree trail we advance faster and even the snowy parts are less sketchy than I feared. We safely make it to Sonora pass, the end of this tough section. For the first time in weeks, we get unexpected trailmagic there, and we meet old friends we haven’t seen since day one! We’re tired and a bit bruised, but otherwise happy and – most importantly – alive!😉