4:45 is too early when it comes – I pull my clothes in and laze until 5:15. I only have about 15 miles to make to Sonora Pass, and I’m not in a particular hurry. I want to get in and get out, yes, but that should totally be doable as long as I leave by 7. 6:30 rolls around, and I’m walking.
I pass a bunch of tents not a quarter mile in. I knew the folks ahead of me were nearby somewhere.
It’s all rolling and meadows and streams here; I watch Guthook closely for the last stream for 10 miles. I’m sitting at it when I meet Schweaty Balls and Bleu Cheese, chat with them while I’m cameling up for the next section. Then it’s onward and upward, towards the pass.
These mountains, as I approach, look so, so much to me like the San Juans of Colorado – I’m thrown back to another trail, another time, and my heart’s a bit tweaked in my chest. It’s a wistful morning, punctuated by a lot of huffing and puffing.
It’s just too pretty to handle, all up and down and over and– on-trail snow?
I hadn’t expected to run into much more, but sho nuff there’s a surprise glissade, on which I actually get some air time. Rad. It’s followed shortly by hikers hunched over their phones, which can mean only one thing – service! I join them for nearly an hour, after which I think I’m going to bust my ETA to Sonora. Still, it’s a nice enough day for it, and now I’ll have new shoes waiting on me in Tahoe.
This bit of trail has way more up than I expect from the profile, but the views, the views!
And then, after a dozen more snowfields and one last cheeky up, Sonora Pass!
There’s no service down here, but I get a ride further down to Kennedy Meadows North pretty quickly from Russ and Patty, who are out touring from Reno. They’re lovely to talk to, and all they want in return is a postcard when I make it to Canada. I plan to follow through on that for sure1.
Then it’s food and resupply and beers for the Wolfpack – I get ready to go, but I dally because I want to see them, at least, and this looks like a good place to get a hitch. I’m about to leave when they show and I start talking with them, give them their beers before I excuse myself.
Immediately I get a ride to the road from the campground hosts, which I’m hesitant to take because I think the hitch will be easier from here, but it’s offered, so I take it. Sifu is already trying to hitch, so I join him, already thinking about the six miles I’m going to make. That I will make.
An hour in, and after all the cars and the taunting and the shrugging as they go by, I think I’ve gone through all the stages of grief. Denial, Anger, Bargaining, the whole lot. I’m still going to stand here until it’s too dark to safely hitch, but I’m all over the place just thinking I could’ve made it if it weren’t for my hesitation at leaving. My wanting to see my friends. I pick at the scab in my nose and know that’s a horrible thing to think, but there it is. At least they got their beer.
An hour and a half in, and I swear I will never not pick up a hiker hitcher ever again. I know the pain now. Not that I’m often in hiker towns, but when I am… Good lord.
Two hours, and I call it. Fuuuuuck. I just got done with this diatribe with myself yesterday about how every mile counts, and I can’t even get back up the hill. I feel derailed and terrible and back in that “never gonna make it” rut.
I run into Sprinkles on my way back to the store – her friend Sam is here, and they have a campsite that’ll fit me. Well that’s convenient.
Sam’s studying to be an aesthetician, and she gives my hair a trim for practice. I’m super grateful – it was getting a wee bit crazy from all the growing. I settle into the idea of staying as she clips – three 25s get me into Tahoe on the 19th still, and I might have to stay until the 21st anyway, depending on packages. It’s going to be a challenge – particularly since I’m probably not going to get up the hill tomorrow as soon as I’d like – but maybe not impossible. Maybe. Worst case, I’ll get into Tahoe the morning of the 20th.
Then it’s setting up and a beer and snack-eating and chatting until our bellies and hearts are stuffed and it’s hiker 2am, when most of us reluctantly slink to bed.
Start: 1002.4 • End: 1016.9 • Day: 14.5
Notable Accomplishments: Reminded of home • Kennedy Meadows North, even if I couldn’t escape • Trail magic in the form of a haircut
 Post-finish sidenote: Manning Park did not have postage, but I did buy a postcard from Canada for them and it’s in the mail!