Trail Junction with the Past: Mammoth to Lake Tahoe, Day 70 to 83

If you are hiking high up on a mountain trail, walking at a pace neither too slow nor too fast, and you can hear the breeze whistling through the leaves and needles of the tallest Sequioa trees, whilst you inhale the sweet fragrance of an unknown wildflower, then you might come upon a junction in the trail where the Past and Present meld into one.  You do not need to choose either trail.  You simply need to continue hiking and embrace what’s to come.  

Photo: Thousand Island Lakes mostly still frozen in early July.  I cowboy camped here at my ol’ childhood stomping grounds. 

Photo: climbing up over 11,066 foot high Donahue Pass on suncupped snow.  This was the last pass on the John Muir Trail and marked a major milestone for us. 

Greetings Friends,

Crossing the 1000 mile barrier brought a huge sense of accomplishment.   However, as glorious as a feat as it was by itself I did not expect it to be bolstered and accompanied by the gift of revisiting my past memories from previous trips along this lonely yet beautiful stretch.

Photo: Airplane Mode wearing Microspikes  that provide better traction in the snow.  

Photo: the best part of climbing up a pass is glissading down like Isko here.

Photo: when 2 trail families meet next to a swimming hole it’s cause for reunion and celebration.  We all swam in the ice cold Lyell River in elation that we made it to Tuolumne Meadows.

Photo: how to fit PCTers in a mini-van as we successfully hitched to Lee Vining’s famous Mobile gas station from Tuolomne.  Tuolomne was closed due to damage from all the snow.

Photo: when Happy Feet met Happy Feet.  A rare chance meeting of two thru-hikers with the same trail name.  (Fyi- Giggles is the most popular name on the trail this year.)
Along the John Muir Trail (JMT) stretch through Inyo, Sequioa, Kings Canyon and Yosemite National Park I was revisited by the memories of my early backpacking trips with my dad.  Throughout my childhood my dad would take me on weeklong trips all throughout this area developing my appreciation for nature.  I remembered campsites where bears threatened to steal our tree-hung food.  I remembered  when I layed awake in my sleeping bag watching the Perseid meteor showers against the Milky Way and saw hundreds of shooting stars in one summer night.  I remembered the time I led a  failed climb up Mt. Davis (next to Thousand Island Lakes) but came back the following summer to successfully climb it. 

Photo: enjoying a glimpse of the amazing Tuolumne River. 

Photo: me awe-struck by the start of Tuolumne Falls.

Photo: Happy Feet crossing on a long partially submerged log to get to the other side of the river.  

Photo: LLCool J staying above the waterlogged trail.

Later in my life after a long hiatus away from nature I returned to this area with my wife, Meg. Over the past two years Meg and I completed 210 mile John Muir Trail and the 165 mile Tahoe Rim Trail.  Both trails are part of the PCT and as I crossed through this familiar terrain I remembered overlooks where we stopped together to gaze in awe, and lunch spots we cherished that we did not want to ever leave. I  remembered the several charges we made together pulling every ounce of energy out of our bodies to reach a far flung campsite, resupply or end of the trail.  I remembered us beginning to brush upon the idea of hiking the PCT while on these trips.  

Photo: cutting snow steps into the side of  a snow bank to climb out of a precarious situation.  

Photo: Jack, Koala’s dad, joined us for a week.  He took off his shoes at every crossing but still managed to keep up with us.

Photo: Storyteller and Cannonball sharing a moment with us at Seavey Pass.

Photo: walking through beautiful water-logged meadows.

Photo: me celebrating mile 1000 south of Sonora Pass.  

Photo: climbing up from Sonora Pass. We hiked around this very steep snow field.  Several hikers had fallen and hurt themselves on this one so it was only wise for us to avoid it completely.

Photo: LLCool J’s parents joined us for 6 miles.  Doug enjoys the top of our ascent.  

Photo:  meeting James at a watering hole in the snow.  Its been funny running into James every few weeks since he does very long food carries without resupply and we do short carries with resupply.  

 My memories from the Past are accompanying me on my current PCT endeavor.  They add welcomed depth to my journey and remind me of just how lucky  I’ve been to be exposed to such a magical wonderful place as a kid and to continue to enjoy it with my wife.  Hiking the PCT today solidifies my bond and commitment  to nature into the future and beyond.  

Photo: walking along the Tahoe-Yosemite Trail was an unexpected, magnificently beautiful. 

Photo: Happy Feet walking down an icy snowfield.

Photo: it felt like Spring all over again south of Tahoe.

Next up, I begin the long, hot, dry 600 mile segment from Lake Tahoe to the Oregon border.   Although, I’ve hiked over two and a half months, and over 1,000 miles it’s been a long while since I started and I am not past the half way point.  I still have over 1,550 miles to go to finish!  Getting safely through the Sierras was important, but in order to position myself to get to Canada and finish the trail before this upcoming Autumn’s snow makes it impossible I’ll need to increase my mileage to 25 to 30 miles per day.  I know I can do it.  Wish me luck.

All the best,


Photo: Masu from Japan gave me a lucky ribbon that I tied to my backpack.

Photo: walking around The Nipple mountain south of Carson Pass.

Photo: an eery but beautiful setting near Carson Pass. 

Photo: crossing  a snowfield at the Elephant’s Back.


  • Managing my team despite conflicting personal interests has been challenging. 
  • Evaluating the changing threat and risk levels of the snow and water conditions has been challenging.
  • Mosquitos.  Enough said! 

Photo: national forest fire crews block us from continuing until safe as they cut down trees threatening the road to Red’s Meadow.

Photo: sending the next round of resupply packages to places north to get us to Oregon.  


  • Reached mile 1000!
  • Coached 8 hikers to safely  cross the hardest river crossing -Wide creek.  Watch this video of my crossing here:
  • I had to make some hard leadership decisions but I made the right choices that kept my team safe and morale high.
  • I’m feeling confident now about my ability to finish.

Photo:  our award winning team!

Daily Mileage:

Day 70 (July 8): Mammoth to Thousand Islands Lake; Start: 914.9 End: 922.9 Total: 8+4 road walk=12

Day 71: to Tuolomne Meadows, hitch to Lee Vining resupply; Start: 922.9 End: 942.5 Total: 19.6

Day 72: past Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp, Start: 942.5  End: 951.7 Total: 9.2

Day 73: over Benson Pass,  Start: 951.7  End: 970.6 Total: 18.9

Day 74: over Seavey Pass to Wide Creek crossing, Start: 970.6 End: 987.4 Total: 16.8

Day 75 (July 13): over Dorothy Lake Pass to Kennedy Creek, reached mile 1000! Start: 987.4 End: 1005.9 Total: 18.5

Day 76: to Sonora Pass, (nero) Start: 1005.9 End: 1016.9 Total: 11

Day 77: to East Fork Carson River, Start: 1016.9  End: 1022.3 Total:

Day 78: to Asa Lake, Start: 1022.3 End: 1041.3 Total: 19

Day 79: over Noble Lake Saddle, Start: 1041.3  End: 1061.6 Total: 20.3

Day 80: over Carson Pass to Dixon Canyon, Start: 1061.6 End: 1081.9 Total: 20.3

Day 81: to Echo Lake, hitch into South Lake Tahoe Start: 1081.9 End: 1092.3 Total: 10.3

Day 82&83: Zeros – no miles, just rest.

Photo: my wonderful wife and me on the John Muir Trail in 2016 on top of Donahue Pass.  Those were good memories that accompanied me on this journey as I hiked the same trail.   


3 thoughts on “Trail Junction with the Past: Mammoth to Lake Tahoe, Day 70 to 83

  1. Love your quote….past and present melt into one….you do not have to choose. Amazing photos, amazing journey, amazing you. Thank you for taking us with you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Theo just Ck in on your progress! Hope all is well! Heads up to you we are going to surprise Meg at airport ! So hope to here from you soon! One foot in front of the outher :):) love Mike and Jami

    Liked by 1 person

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