September 7, 2016
Bushcamp (mile 1006.9) to bushcamp (mile 1018.2)
Our total mile: 2376.9
We both slept well and were walking by 7 am. The brown hills surrounding us were golden. We walked past a family of deer as we made our way up to the ridge above.
We could see the trail zig zagging up the mountainside. There was an option to veer off of the old jeep road and walk more directly but steeply up to the ridge, but we chose the longer but more mellow route.
On the last switchback we ventured off the road and joined the hiker trail. The rocks were loose and the sand deep. It was much harder walking and we were glad we had chosen the route we had.
Once on the ridge we wound our way up and down more ridges, all providing incredible panoramic views of the beautiful landscape surrounding us.
We kept expecting to turn the corner and see Highway 108 but that was not the case. We climbed up to the top of a ridge and dropped into a bowl and then climbed up again.
The terrain was arid. We walked amongst dark brown rocks below towering dark brown mountains. There were a few bushes and flowers but all in all the hills felt desolate.
Finally we turned a corner and saw Highway 108 below. Here again we circled our way down. It felt like we were circling a drain – traversing across the hillside each time before dropping down 30 feet in elevation. No option to glissade this time of year.
We got to Sonora Pass just before noon, crossed the highway and walked 0.1 mile to the trailhead parking area looking for Joanna (Laurie’s godmother) and Daniel (Laurie’s cousin).
They arrived 15 minutes later.
We sat in the shade on a picnic table and enjoyed a delicious lunch that Joanna had prepared – chicken apple sausage, nectarines, bok choy, roasted potatoes and sandwiches. It felt like heaven, sitting in the shade surrounded by food and family.
We talked, sorted through our resupply boxes and drove partway down Highway 108 to charge our phones and get service so Daniel could send off a work email.
Around 4 pm we all put on our packs and walked 1.1 miles up the trail to a tentsite. Daniel and Andy led the way with Joanna and Laurie bringing up the rear. Lacey, Joanna’s dog, ran back and forth between us, trying to keep track of everyone.
We set up our tent and the 2 person tent that Joanna, Daniel and Lacey were going to share. Lacey is a 10 year old border collie who has never been backpacking. It was very cute watching her sniff everything and just sit and stare at the trees for long periods of time.
The 4 of us ate a Thai dinner sitting in the 2 person tent. It was cozy but doable – 4 adults and 1 dog in the REI Quarter Dome 2 person tent. Go REI for making awesome tents! And thank you Joanna for bringing us Thai food yet again!
We watched as the sun set and the sky darkened. Eventually it was dark enough to see the Milky Way, Saturn, Mars and many many stars. We all took turns on Daniel’s stargazing app to correctly identify constellations.
It felt very special to share this moment together. Living in a city it is rare to see this many stars. They were truly remarkable.
Around 8:45 we all started yawning and went to our respective tents. We had put on the flies anticipating a cold night but it never seemed to drop below 40 degrees.
Tonight we are grateful for clear night skies and family backpacking excursions.