The trail immediately began climbing the shale ridges between camp and Sonora Pass, 10 miles distant. These bare brown mountains are still contoured with large snow fields and the contrast of white snow and brown shale was quite striking in the early morning light.
On the Colorado Trail, the quality of my daily hike was determined largely by the weather- the trail was almost uniformly good, while the weather varied greatly. Here, the opposite is true. The weather is always good, but the trail changes with the geology. Where the mountains are granite, the trail is steep, rough and rocky. Where they are shale, the path is smooth and well-graded.
The ridge walk was shale, and although a big climb was required, it led to ever-expanding views: to the south and east, of the snowy granite ridges of the north Yosemite country; to the west, of the Mokelumne drainage; to the north, the mountains of the Carson River drainage up to Lake Tahoe, where I will be walking for the next 3 days.
The change in geology also brought a change in botany. Up to now, wild flowers have been modest. Today they were present in much greater variety and abundance: lupines of several kinds, gentians, phlox, Indian paintbrush, Mules Ears, many yellow composites, and in the damp areas, day lilies.
Picked up my resupply box at Sonora Pass from Sonora Pass Resupply, a company that receives mailed boxes then brings them up to the pass. They also ship back your bear canister, which is no longer required once out of Yosemite. The guy in the truck seemed a bit annoyed at having to get my box out of the truck, as if it were an imposition to render the service paid for. I suppose it gets a bit boring sitting around waiting for hikers to trickle through, but then you’d think one might be glad to have something to do and someone to talk to. Apparently not.
I was also disappointed in my hopes of having a cold soda there as well, a hope I had been nurturing and fantasizing over many miles of hot dusty trail. Apparently the Forest Service won’t let him sell anything from his truck, but if he was smart he would just give cold drinks away to promote his business. The hiker grapevine would soon spread the word and I’m sure he’d double his business. Instead, most hikers hitch the 9 miles to Northern Kennedy Meadows store and PO to resupply. Between the attitude and the lack of amenities, I wish I had too, even though it would have taken most of a day to get there and back.
North of Sonora Pass, along the East Fork of the Carson, I met with Woodpecker, hobbling slowly back to the pass. He had awoken with severe stiffness and inflammation in his joints and was able to walk only after ingesting large quantities of ibuprofen and is slowly making his way back to the road to seek medical attention. I feel bad to see him off the trail, he is a good guy and a good hiking companion. I hope he is alright.