July 2 – What Downhill?

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint.
Isaiah 40:31 (KJV)

Cascade Valley turn off at Fish Creek to Red’s Meadow Store
18.7 miles

This day was long miles with no pass to cross, and promised a long downhill into Red’s Meadow, at least that is what our team thought and desired.

So before I recap the day I wanted to talk a little about the necessary routine of each day traveling through the Sierras in snow conditions. It is exhausting both physically and mentally, largely due to the amount of required hours of hard hiking (usually from 6 am to 7 pm for us) to get safely over passes, cross streams, and finally get to a camp with some dry ground. The leisurely feet soaking in streams and relaxing snack and lunch breaks that I so embrace are all but non-existent. There is always that ever push to get to the next hurdle.

Back to the day, I loved the ascent up out of Tully Hole. It was cool, partially shaded, and had these cute little cascading brooks at every other switchback. The downhill we so looked forward to was just at the top. Sadly, we were met with snow mounds and route finding, more snow mounds and routing finding, more snow mounds, and route finding. Yep. It was, to say the least… very disheartening. As we reached lower elevations a few miles from Red’s Meadow…even more mounds and route finding. REALLY? Really.

In the snow, it is important not to step close to rock outcroppings and hidden logs. You see if the hiker steps too close, feet and legs can break through the soft snow. These pockets of air and rotten snow are potential traps with the possibility to injure severely a foot, ankle, or leg.

We enjoyed the sunset behind Mount Banner and Ritter while eating a late dinner, knowing that we had at least 4 miles to go. And we were committed. The trail was mostly snow free (yay) and we came in at a great clip.  Missing the last shuttle to Mammoth where our car waited, Dan quickly asked anyone we could find for a ride to the summit. A very nice Pacific Crest Trail Association trail maintenance volunteer generously volunteered the ride. Big thank you.

This section of this adventure is now ended. I am super thankful to my husband and son for sharing this historical trek. We became like a well-oiled machine. But mostly for always going along with my gallivanting, schemes, and plans with a positive attitude. I love them.

The stuff I left out
Didn’t want to drag down the sheer adventure of the Sierras, so I left out a few details. I got a bad chest cold that started after the first night out. As the trip progressed with the cold water crossings, swings of temperature, and big elevation gains and losses I got sicker and ended up with several infections.  After a visit to urgent care, I am heading home to heal with some very powerful medication. I hope to get back on the trail in a week or so.

Tully Hole

Boot skiing

Approaching Red's Meadow

Rainbow Burn area



  1. I still can’t believe you stuck it out with all the sickness you had through there. You brought back those disheartening memories heading into a snowy descent into Red’s. Snow at 8,000ft!? So frustrating! I remember that I slipped on a steep angle on that stretch and my body flailed so oddly that I managed to stab my wrist with my ice axe strapped to the back of my pack. As I laid on the ground, Sunshine was behind me and said, “That looked like it hurt.” Um, yeah!

    • Dan never really recovered from THAT fictitious downhill. We must have used the GPS a dozen times. Annnnd just think after that lovely section you headed into wide river land north of Tuolumne! The water level marks were very visual through this section when I hiked it in September. Daunting for a very tall person, much less those of us that on the more petite side.
      BTW: I have to confess that by this day Dan and Silly Chili had most of my gear in their packs and I don’t remember most of it. 🙁 If they wouldn’t have been there I would have been like the pioneers on the Oregon Trail, just leaving my gear randomly on the trail to loose pack weight!

  2. Barbara Tieskoetter

    What a trouper you are! Stay well and have fun on the Oregon segment. Looking forward to your posts.

  3. Your pictures are beautiful, as usual.So glad you are home safely and recovering. I look forward to rereading your blogs now that I am home. I saved them all. Be safe on the next adventure. Looking forward to hearing how you are doing. I will be praying for God’s protection for you.

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