PCT 1 - 8/15 - 8/23 Hitch #6 This Gnar Is Subject To Change
Submitted by tcarroll.corps on Fri, 09/09/2011 - 13:57
This Gnar is Subject to Change
After a long week of hauling crush, de-berming and de-rocking trails, and building everything from 3-day stone waterbars to log bridges, hitch #5 was drawing to a close and the team was dreaming of Phishing our way around San Francisco. Our plans for this break were to travel to the Bay area to attend the Outside Lands Music Festival in Golden Gate Park, specifically to see the band Phish. It is safe to say that we have a few Phanatics on our crew, and most of us had never been to San Francisco before. Understandably, we were quite stoked about our adventure in the city. We arrived in the Bay area on Thursday afternoon at the home of one of Tim’s through-hiking buddies Scott, also known as “Shroomer.” Shroomer is an expert on wild fungi, that is to say wild edible mushrooms, and he spent about 1,000 miles on the trail last summer with our beloved Tim. Shroomer’s hospitality made us feel like we were living in the lap of luxury. We were treated to ribs that had been slow cooked in a hickory wood smoker for 9 hours, some wine whose grapes had been grown on John Muir’s property, and all of the lattes we could drink every morning. Friday was devoted to live music as the team headed into the city. Phish certainly did not disappoint and after several months in the wilderness the sights and sounds of the big city were quite the contrast from the peaks of the high Sierras. Our trip to San Fran culminated on Saturday with a beach party that involved sea-kayaking in Great White Shark breeding grounds and grilling freshly purchased oysters. Between more gourmet foods than we could possibly eat, an epic day of live music, and lazy days on the beach we certainly wasted no time in piling-on excessive amounts of “soft”. At this point it was time to head back to the mountains and get back to work.
Upon arriving in Mammoth we learned that our hitch plans, which were to be packed in by a Forest Service pack team and base camp out of Virginia Lake, had been changed. Due to persistently slow melting snow, we were to hike ourselves and enough food for three days to Duk Creek and the packers and some volunteers would meet us there on Thursday. The team hiked-in on Monday and set up camp only to break camp almost immediately. On Tuesday we split into two teams for separate over-night log-out trips. Tim, Tony, Kristen, and I hiked 12 miles up to McGee Pass, while Carolyn, Nate, and Brendan hiked 10 miles up to Silver Pass. Each team spent the night at their respective passes and the following day logged our ways back to Purple Lake. The rendezvous at Purple was sweet, for it seems that in the backcountry, one night apart is too much. We spent that night at Purple Lake and hiked back to Duk Creek on Thursday to meet Jess and Clancy, our Forest Service Volunteers, and the horse packers with the rest of our food and gear. Friday started the second half of our hitch.
Our team has spent much of this season working with rock and building stone structures. Because of this experience, we felt that we were becoming quite adept at this sort of work. Working with Jess and Clancy, however, we were introduced to a new standard of stone construction. We spent the next 3 days above Virginia Lake learning how to build rock work to the standards of an Inyo National Forest trail crew. Jess and Clancy’s abilities with rock constantly amazed us and we learned more in three days with them than we had so far this season. On Monday Jess and Clancy hiked out and we spent the day de-rocking the berm of the trail from Virginia Lake back towards Purple Lake. By the time the mules showed up on Tuesday to pack us out, the team had built 6 of the best waterbars of our season, 4 fantastic check steps, and had hiked somewhere in excess of 70 miles. Needless to say we were quite exhausted.
On the agenda for this next time off is a casual stroll up the tallest mountain in the lower 48 states. Mt. Whitney here we come!