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PCT 2015 Day 61: Ranger Day

  • Start: 942.5
  • End: 957.3
  • Miles: 14.8
  • Camp: Spiller Creek

Late start today. Chug had left his phone on the YARTS bus last night, and had called the number on the bus stop which had said office hours are from 6:30am. So he called them at 7am and was told by an electronic voice they were dealing with another customer. This continued for the next hour and a half. Must have been a really irate customer. The first YARTS bus of the day turned up just after 8am and the driver said they never answer that number but if we waited until 10:15, the exact same bus that we were on last night would come by and we could check as it probably wouldn’t have been discovered unless someone else sat in the same seat after us (unlikely given most people got off at Tuolumne Meadows). So we sat. And waited. And ate breakfast multiple times. Thankfully the phone was on the bus when it turned up and we got going around 10:30.

We had a beautiful walk along the Tuolumne River, very popular with day hikers for obvious reasons. Glen Aulin and the Tuolumne Falls seemed to be the goal for most of the people we passed and after this point the trail was deserted. 

A young Ranger, Christopher Cuny, was leapfrogging with us most of the morning and met up again with us in the afternoon. He seems keen to talk with hikers, and had tips about campfires and tent sites. In return we told him about the PCT permit outside of Yosemite. He has been asked about summitting Whitney and not been able to provide accurate information (Whitney isn’t in Yosemite) so was grateful for the details. He also cleared up my confusion about rangers being able to identify PCT thru-hikers so easily. Apparently we are all fit and tanned and lightweight, with clearly efficient gear: bottles of water tied to our pack straps, easily accessible pockets in front, tiny packs with just the essentials. 

As we walked we talked about why we were on trail, and whether the reasons have changed since we set out. I think the reasons and the trail difficulties have both changed subtly, and perhaps the ultimate goal is becoming clearer. I think hiking over 900 miles teaches you something, even if it is just that you can hike 900 miles. It’s a topic I am sure I’ll return to many times whilst I’m out here, however long that may be.

As we passed by a wonderful meadow, we spotted Methinks, who I have not seen since mile 200 or so. He has had back trouble so took some time out in Mammoth and dropped back a bit, but seems to be doing fine now thankfully. It’s always nice to see people you thought you’d never see again. 

We built a campfire after the ranger had inspected our campsite and deemed the fire ring ok, which helped keep the mosquitoes away. It was so easy to light with just the dry twigs from the forest floor made me see just how dangerous it would be to make a fire outside of an established, Forest Service approved fire ring. We have already received reports of forest fires either closing the PCT or threatening to, and I can imagine there could be more. Even without irresponsible campers, lightning and natural causes will surely set some of this dry forest alight. Hopefully it won’t be too bad.

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