The head net, rain pants and deet are in action this evening, as it appears I have entered mosquito territory and all 100 thousand of them wish to make me feel welcome. Between preparing for bear battle and fending off these little suckers, it’s been a busy evening. Megan’s mum was telling me some crazy stories about bears getting into people’s cars/houses/tents just because there was a packet of sunflower seeds or a stick of gum in there. Without UB around to play the paranoid role, it’s all up to me.
I’m still in good spirits despite the buzzing around my head net and the collection of bites on my arm, shoulder and foot. I’m having hot chocolate and a chunky Kit Kat for dinner tonight after taking Megan for lunch and eating a huge turkey sandwich before hitting the trail. We went to the post office to collect my tent, SPOT device and other gear but unfortunately it hadn’t arrived and wouldn’t be in until tomorrow morning. I decided instead of staying another night, I’d get the PO to forward the package to South Lake Tahoe, so don’t expect any location updates for at least another 10 days.
Megan dropped me at the ski lodge and I just made the shuttle heading up to Red’s Meadow. When I got there I bumped into Acid Glasses and a few other hikers milling around outside the general store. Two were JMT hikers and one of them was Australian. Not only was Leigh from Oz, she was from Wagga Wagga where I spent four years at university and working at Prime television. Coincidently my colleague Matt Olsen at Prime was her next door neighbour and she also knew his dad Kev who worked at the university. Small world!
Her hiking partner Mini is a sports psychologist and did a quick interview with me about females hiking the PCT. Once the doco is complete he’s promised to send me the YouTube link. I definitely had the heaviest pack out of everyone hitting the trail at Red’s Meadows. Acid Glasses cringed when he tried picking it up and a few others took turns to see how heavy it felt. One of my purple Frocs had fallen off my pack and luckily someone found it coming off the bus and returned it to me. The strap had come lose and after some deliberation I concluded the only way to fix it would be with a safety pin which Leigh was able to provide.
It was 5pm before I hit the trail but I only planned to go 4 miles to a campsite with a bear box. Unfortunately when I arrived there just under two hours later, the huge open space was occupied by just one camper van and for some reason I just didn’t feel comfortable staying there. Instead I carried on up the trail which followed the San Joaquin River. I stopped a couple of times at places that looked adequate for camping, but the mosquitos scared me off until I realised there was no escape, and it was time to face them head on.
I struggled seeing through my head net but have managed to bunker down in my bivvy sack and am looking through the mesh at the cloudy sky above. I’m not sure I’ll even see stars tonight. Tomorrow I want to make it 18 miles over Donohue Pass which climbs over 4,000 feet. I’m going to stop before mile 931 as apparently there have been multiple bear issues between there and Tuolumne Meadows. Goodnight from mosquito land!