Day 104, 9/10, Falls Creek, M-990, 27mi

Today’s transition from the volcanic landscapes of Sonora Pass to the granite domes and walls of Yosemite National Park was sudden and dramatic.

This is the main building at the Kennedy Meadows Ranch. I slept upstairs and had breakfast at 6:00 with the ranch-hands.

All the horses at the ranch were eating their breakfast too.

The hitch back up to the trail was rough. A grand total of 3 cars went by in 45 minutes…and by that time there were four of us looking for a ride. Luckily, Mrs. Focus came to the rescue! She was heading back up to the Pass to set up camp and wait for her husband hiking through the next day.

Lots of snow on the peaks as we climbed toward Sonora Pass.

I was happy and surprised to run into Steve and Diane going Northbound today. We had originally met back in Tehachapi and then were hiking around each other through the northern half of Oregon. They are doing a flip-flop-flip. Since they are from Canada they really wanted to end their hike at the terminus so they headed back to the Sierras to finish that before going back up to Northern Washington to finish the last 60 miles to the border. They get high marks for all their transportation logistics planning!

There were a couple of significant snow patches today. Sonora Pass is known for its sketchy slopes in June /July even in a normal snow year.

The Butcher near the top of Sonora Pass.
The long sweeping switchbacks down volcanic scree toward Kennedy Creek.

Then a gentle climb up Dorothy Pass takes us to the incredible granite domes and alpine lakes of Yosemite.

Dorothy Lake.

The trail followed the broad Falls Creek valley most of the evening.

I found a perfect little tent site around 7:15pm near the creek just as the sun was setting.

2448 trail miles completed
202 miles to go

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Day 103, 9/9, Kennedy Meadows North, M-1017, 14mi

It was fairly cold this morning…probably upper 30’s when I got out of my tent at 6:00. It gradually warmed up into the 60’s and then got cooler as the trail climbed to ~10,500′.

Wildflowers and mountain creeks never get old…

…nor do wildflowers and selfies.

The clouds started building up by mid-day. This is my first view toward Yosemite (about 15 miles south).

Within five minutes after descending down to Sonora Pass who should pull up? Mrs. Focus and Molly the RV. She was kind enough to give me and a hiker from Slovakia a ride 10 miles down the mountain to the Kennedy Meadows North Pack Station (KMN). It was a white-knuckle descent down a narrow-windy mountain road in a big-heavy camper van.

KMN is one stop shopping for all your horseback adventures. Plus they have cabins, showers, laundry, a cafe and a general store. They offer hikers a package deal including a bed in a bunk room (I was the only one). After making a pint of ice cream disappear I sorted through my resupply box and got everything else organized. One of the reasons I send most of my resupplies ahead. are $6.69 Nutter Butters. I still give them plenty of money for things I don’t send (ice cream, soda, etc).
Look who I ran into…Gilligan & Mongoose !
I last saw them leaving the comfort of our plush hotel room in Cascade Locks, OR. I beat them to Canada by several days, but they picked up the trail again 200 miles further south than me in CA and then had to spend a long holiday weekend waiting for their bear canisters to arrive at the post office in Tahoe. We parted ways again (they headed back out in the late afternoon) but I should catch them in Tuolumne Meadows, 3 days from now.

There were a lot of “ranch” dogs wandering around the grounds. This one, named Lucy, seemed to take a liking to me.

The weather definitely seems to have entered a cycle of afternoon cloud build-up, thunder, and rain/hail if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time. Hopefully, this doesn’t make things too exciting as the trail gains higher elevations in the Sierras.

Day 102, 9/8, Boulder Creek, M-1031, 30mi

Another great sunrise to start the morning.

The peak on the left is called Nipple Top. Clear skies with a light smokey haze to start the day.

The trail climbed through desert cliffs reminiscent of Souther California.

Most of the morning the trail wound through these funky rock formations.

I’m sure this one has a name…but i don’t know what it is.

I’m still surprised and impressed by all the wild flowers hanging on into September.

By the afternoon the skies couldn’t decide whether to be threatening or clear.

These are two guys also hiking southbound…I’ve only seen two others since I got back on trail in NoCal.

I found a gorgeous campsite that had a few too many cow pies for my liking. Plus, the incessant clanging of cow bells would have driven me nuts. Lastly, not my preferred water sources in these areas. I hiked another 3 miles, crossed a barb wire fence (no more cows) and camped next to a creek 🙂

I’ve now passed 2400 trail miles and have less than 250 to go!