Tuolumne to Echo Lake

Tuolumne to Echo Lake

June 10, 2014

Start: Halfmile 0942.5
End: Halfmile 0975.5
Distance: 33.0 Mi
Cumulative: 1,047.0 Mi

Good day today. The first 15 out of Tuolumne were pretty easy, then the up and down started. Still, it wasn’t bad. Covered 33 miles, all told. If I squeeze in a few extra miles each of the next few days, I could get a half day into Echo Lake and get my package, which would allow me to leave on Sunday afternoon…hm, tempting.

June 11, 2014

Start: Halfmile 0975.5
End: Halfmile 1008.5
Distance: 33.0 Mi
Cumulative: 1,080.0 Mi

Not a bad view, eh? Another 33 miles today. Crushing. I’m tucked in a small nook just below an exposed ridge traverse. It’s crazy-windy, but there are no bugs. Looks like I’m putting my bag to the test again.

I’m shooting to make Noble Lake tomorrow, which is where my NWSA team spent 15 days doing rock work in the backcountry. A few dozen steps and some retaining walls. This is the work I’m most looking forward to seeing. I’ll traverse the bulk of our 31-mile, 6-day mobile logout tomorrow too. Hopefully I’ll recognize some of it. Thirty-six miles on the docket for tomorrow; it’ll be one of my toughest tests yet on the trail.

On a side note: saw two more bears today, which brings my total to five. Both adults, one a gorgeous blonde. So cool. I don’t think either of them ever saw me. Stealth, like a cougar.

June 12, 2014

Start: Halfmile 1008.5
End: Halfmile 1044.5
Distance: 36.0 Mi
Cumulative: 1,116.0 Mi

The wind was blasting all night long. I slept like a baby. Really putting this bag through the ringer, but it’s equal to the task. This morning was all icy snow chutes and biting, icy wind. It was a little brutal. Arrived at Sonora Pass and enjoyed the “Sonora Pass Cafe,” which is hosted by The Owl. It’s only “open” two or three days a year, and I was just lucky to be here at the right time. Had a soda, a cookie, and a piece of chocolate cake. What a surprise! Didn’t linger too long though, since I was expecting more snow on the north aspect of our next climb. It was already getting into the late morning, which would mean post holing for much of the descent. And I did. Downhills are hard on the knees, but post holing is hell on ’em. Again, brutal. And still with 25 miles or so to cover.

Got into camp around 9p, 15 hours after setting out this morning. It’s been one of my longer days. I’m planning to sleep in a little bit tomorrow and hopefully get some nice photos of our work. I’m literally cowboy camping in the very spot where we camped on our 15-day in 2011. Really cool to be in this familiar place tonight. So excited to see our work in the morning!

June 13, 2014

Start: Halfmile 1044.5
End: Halfmile 1080.5
Distance: 36.0 Mi
Cumulative: 1,152.0 Mi

36 miles in 12 hours flat. 830a-830p. Averaged 3 mi/hr, including all stops and breaks. Only took my pack off twice all day. Guess that crack really works. (Kidding!)

Above are three check steps I installed in 2011. They’re looking pretty bomber, along with all of the other work we installed here. Well, all but one piece. I installed a retaining wall that is already blowing out pretty severely. As gratifying as it is to see bomber work that I personally installed, it’s that demoralizing to see my work blowing out after just three seasons. I was crushed, but I think I always knew it wouldn’t last. Even as I was putting it in, part of me knew that the rocks weren’t big enough, that the batter should’ve been more pronouned, that I should’ve cut deeper into the side slope. I cheated, though I knew better. My heart sank when I saw it. Some lessons we have to learn the hard way. Fortunately, I got to Carson Pass with just a few short minutes of light left. All of our armored drain dips are bomber; they look fantastic. At least I got to end my day on a high note. I’ll be traversing more of our work in the coming few weeks. Hopefully no more hard lessons buried in those miles.

June 14, 2014

Start: Halfmile 1080.5
End: Halfmile 1094.5
Distance: 14.0 Mi
Cumulative: 1,166.0 Mi

Last night was calm but absolutely freezing. I was quite comfortable, though…again. My bag was drenched in frost when I woke up this morning. I packed it up anyways and hit the trail. Town days are like that, nothing else matters. I made Echo Lake just after 10a and laid my bag out to dry. Even as I did, a little voice in the back of my mind said: You’re gonna forget this. Don’t you dare forget it. I got my package, did some “chores,” bought a soda, then – before I was even in “hitch-mode” – someone offered a few of us a ride. Heck, yeah! I threw my gear in the trunk and got comfortable. Town, town, town! I’d been in town a few hours before Atlas saw me and asked if I’d forgotten my sleeping bag at Echo Lake. Of course I had. I just laughed. AGAIN?! They’re holding it for me behind the counter, so I’ll grab it on my way out tomorrow. It kinda throws a wrench in my plan to stealth camp tonight, though. Ah well, it’ll work out one way or another. I’m a creative problem-solver. (My resume says so.) Anyways, it’s all part of the experience.

Just finished updating my blog – I’m current! May not have public computers for a few hundred miles (or more), so it could be as many as 4-6 weeks before I’m able to update again. Not looking forward to that epic project. Don’t be worried when I don’t post. I’m fine, just living the dream some place in the NorCal wilderness.

Kelly Heath in t-minus one hour! Time for a shower? Maybe not one long enough to get the stank off!