Just Breathe… a PCT Update

Leaving Kennedy Meadows, we were hit with a thunderstorm all night. Taking the opportunity to sleep in the morning after, we waited for a light drizzle and got back on the trail. Unfortunately, the drizzle did not last for long. Within a matter of minutes, bigger and bigger drops started to fall until it was yet again pouring rain. As you could imagine, this was a brilliant time to find out our rain gear was not, in fact, waterproof. For those of you from the east coast, California trees are not typical grand oaks. These few and far between pines offer skimpy canopies, but they were better than nothing. About eight miles in, we decided it wasn’t going to get better and set up camp to dry ourselves off. Of course, once we had everything set up, the rain stopped. 

Prepared for the worst, we were glad only to be a few days away from the next town. The morning after the rain provided incredible footage with evaporation covering the meadow and river we were overlooking. Once the fog lifted into the sky, we had clear days ahead of us. We got into Lone Pine and immediately bought new, waterproof, rain gear. A hidden gem, this town is famous for classic western films being set here. We stayed at the John Wayne hotel and ate at the John Wayne diner across the street. It felt like walking through Hollywood history. 

After a couple hours of no luck hitching a ride back to the trail, we split an expensive shuttle and started hiking late into the day. We only had a few more days until Bishop (the next town), but we added on an extra day to summit the highest peak in the lower 48 states, Mt. Whitney. Excited by the idea of a fun hike without all of our heavy bags, we woke up at 2AM and tried to summit in time for the sunrise. Eight miles up, we witnessed the sunrise from the side of the jagged mountain instead of the peak. Gorgeous as ever and feeling great, we reached the top by 7AM. This day happened to be the birthday of a special someone to me who had passed away. Plucking a beautiful flower too early, we threw it into the wind from the highest place continentally possible, and embarked on our journey back down. 

Heading further down the trail, the mountain passes (a pass is the best route over a ridge) were taking a toll on me and we believed it was due to the high altitude that we hadn’t escaped for a while. While Ryan handles every aspect of this hike like a champion, the ascents sometimes make my calves feel like they’re literally melting. As mentioned in my previous article, I found out taking it slowly makes it much more manageable, but the high altitude was making it harder to breathe, henceforth making me a lot slower. This put a damper on my mood, but we made it to Bishop and took an extra day of rest. Once we got back on the trail, I felt much better and luckily the passes were treating me much better too. Turning my lessons from Wim Hof Breathing into action (that previous blog: here ), I developed my own breathing system that seemed to help a lot as well.

Our next town being Mammoth Lakes which was six to eight days away (around 80 miles), we ran out of food at a perfect time. In between these two towns, off the trail, there lies another hidden gem called Vermillion Valley Resort (also referred to as VVR). This resort is about 30 miles from Mammoth and offers the basic necessities to resupply, as well as a restaurant, laundry, and showers. We spent a wonderful night there and headed out fully prepped for our next 30 miles. Getting there much quicker than planned, we hiked 12 miles the day we left and 18 the day after. Now in Mammoth Lakes where I’m updating you from, we were supposed to have left yesterday, but fires in Yosemite provided an excuse to stay an extra day. 

Yosemite being Ryan’s hands-down favorite place in the world, we are obviously taking an extra couple of days to explore. Hopefully, with our extra day out of the way, the smoke will have more time to settle and the views will come back out for our trip. 

Until next time! Thank you for reading.

Enjoy these photos: 

The fog lifting the morning after our rainy experience. 

Our sunrise view from the side of Mt. Whitney. 

Us at the summit of Mt. Whitney. 

Sunset leaving VVR.