Day 4: Thunder, Rain, Hail, Hypothermia?

PCT Miles 990 – 1005.9

Miles Hiked = 15.9

Last night I had set up camp in Mosquito Hell – when I awoke this morning it was still Mosquito Hell. When I broke camp and started hiking at 7:15 I was in all my mosquito protection gear – wind pants and shirt and mosquito netting over my head. I don’t know the name of this valley that I was hiking up but it was very pretty with green meadows alongside the creek.

The trail travelled through this valley for four to five miles. It was very wet and the trail was often muddy.

Just before I reached Dorothy Lake, which is at the upper end of this mosquito hell valley, I met a young female Yosemite Park Ranger who was out on patrol. We chatted for a few minutes and she checked my PCT long distance permit. I guess I passed her inspection because she let me continue.

Dorothy Lake was very pretty.

The pass just beyond Dorothy Lake is called Dorothy Pass and is the northern boundary of Yosemite National Park. There was still quite a bit of snow over the pass.

I took a snack break just beyond the pass and was still in full mosquito protection.

I little while later I passed the 1000 mile PCT marker – it is quite a milestone for all the thru-hikers that started at the Mexican Border (usually 2-3 months ago).

My hiking goal today was to get to one of the campsites between PCT mile a 1008 – 1010. This would leave me with a relatively easy hike the next morning to Sonora Pass on Highway 108 (Mile 1016.9) where I would catch the 10:30 shuttle to Kennedy Meadows North.

Kennedy Meadows North is a Resort and Pack Station. Since they are only about 10 miles west of where the PCT crosses Highway 108, they cater to hikers and offer group bunk rooms, showers and laundry. They also have a restaurant and store and will except hikers resupply boxes for a small fee.

Shortly after passing the 1000 mile marker, I started to hear thunder in the distance. I continued to hike on and passed the campsites at mile 1003 and 1004. I wasn’t too concerned about the thunder – it seemed like it was off a ways. At about mile 1005 it started to rain heavily and hail was also falling from the sky. I took cover under some trees hoping that this storm would blow through in a few minutes, but it didn’t. Since there was no where to camp, I decided to push on (in the rain and hail) to the next campsite. When I got there there was already one tent set up but I found a place for my tent. As I rushed to set up my little one-man tent, it continued to rain and hail. The hail was the size of large green peas. I was literally setting up my tent on a bed of hailstones. The rain and water soaked my tent before I could get my rainfly set up. I threw in my gear and crawled inside. Of course I was soaking wet. There were pools of water on the inside floor of my tent! I used my camp towel to sponge up the water as best I could so that I only had a damp tent floor. I was cold and shivering. I blew up my air mattress which I lay on top of my closed cell foam mattress. I put on my only dry clothes – my long underwear tops and bottoms, one pair of dry socks, my buff around my neck, my beanie and my down jacket. I crawled inside my down sleeping bag. The storm continued to rage with rain and hail pounding my tent. I continued to shiver. I knew I would be OK as long as I stayed dry inside my bag. I didn’t dare go outside to pee so I used my Gatoraid bottle. I had a few Fritos and a couple sips of Jackie D for my dinner. After about two hours of shivering I finally warmed up and fell asleep. It turned out to be my best nights sleep yet on the trail.

Thanks for reading.

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