7/26 Mammoth Lakes
We took a zero day. That means we didn’t do any miles on the trail. We hadn’t planned on taking a day off the trail, but between the burned cook pot and my cramping feet and calves we decided to go into town. We had a leisurely morning at Red’s Meadow. Ate breakfast with two JMT hikers, one from Germany and another that went by the trail name White Fox (we don’t have trail names yet). The German hiker was lamenting that in America we make all sorts of accommodations for camper vans and people wishing to visit the outdoors in their giant trucks but if you are a hiker and just want to pitch a tent you are looked down upon. He had a point. All the hikers were squished into a spot of dirt no more than 1,000 square feet and we were surrounded on all sides by trucks and RVs. I think it may have something to do with American towns wanting to cut down on vagrants or transients so there are laws about when and where you can pitch a tent. White Fox gave us some tips on rubbing your feet with olive oil to stave off blisters.
After packing up our gear, we headed up the hill to the Red’s Meadow main general store to pay for a real shower and pick up our re-supply box. The shower felt very odd. My skin was super tight and almost painful from the soap. I guess an odd outcome of not showering for 6 days.
Emma and Steve walked into Red’s around noon and soon after Dick and Manuela showed up. They must of camped at one of the upper lakes and didn’t push for a crazy 16 mile day like we did. They all looked a bit dusty from the downgrade into Red’s Meadow. Emma and Steve planned far ahead and actually had a room booked at Red’s Meadow. Steve was dreaming up the cheeseburger and milkshake they were going to eat at the cafe.
In addition to the general store with all kinds of goodies like chapstick and bandaids, there are hiker bins were people dump stuff that they can’t fit in their bear can. I fished out more Dr. Brommer’s soap, crystal light drink mix, and batteries for our tiny Sony camera. Kinda funny that there were the perfect batteries for free as I spent $14 bucks at CVS picking up extras. I repacked our bear cans (for some reason I have better spacial capacity planning abilities to shove everything in there) and hopped on the shuttle to head into Mammoth by around noon.
The shuttle dropped us off literally in the center of a summer festival. I think it was called brews and blues, complete with a B-52 cover band. The crowds, sounds, and smells were jarring to say the least. I felt super weird to be wandering around the festival with my pack on, in my gaiters, and hiking poles.
After making a couple phone calls to different gear shops to see who carried SnowPeak, we took another shuttle to Mammoth Mountaineering Shop to pick up a new cook pot. I also tested out new shoes. My calf pain has grown into full blown plantar fasciitis with sharp shooting pains through my heel when I stand up for the first time in the morning. YAY! Honestly, I don’t think any amount of training would of staved off an injury. Apparently I pronate A LOT and my feet are just wiggling around. The guy at the shop recommended a more supportive insert and to not switch out shoes mid way through the hike. He could see the anxiety on my face as I tried on different shoes and talked me out of switching and risking crazy blisters. We also picked up a kevlar bear bag to use after our second resupply in Muir Trail Ranch as we are worried about fitting 12 days of food in our bear cans, they are rated to hold 8 days of food :). We probably spent close to $200 at the gear shop; I really should tally up how much we’ve spent on gear for this trip, but it’s a vacation, right??
We took the shuttle back into town to find an early dinner. As we wandered around the square a woman came right on up to us and asked if we were hiking the PCT. She was a “trail angel” and wanted to make sure we had a place to sleep. It was super sweet of her. We found a brewery style place for beer and sliders settled in for a relaxed meal. Kevin pulled out all our maps to review the terrain ahead and the waitress commented that she’s climbed Mt. Whitney a couple times. She said she typically starts her hike at midnight, makes it to the summit by dawn and is off the mountain before any rangers can stop her to check for her non existent permit. She also recommended a couple side hikes to hot springs. Sounded amazing, maybe next time we do the JMT.
So now we are holed up in the Mammoth lodge in an extremely comfortable bed. We did our laundry in the sink and took another shower. When I dried myself off with the towel I was still able to wipe dirt of my legs. Amazing.