I decided I would take the bus to Red's Meadow instead of to Tuolumne Meadows and just hike there instead. But first I wanted to buy a warm layer.
I packed up my stuff very early before Steve was awake and left him a $10 bill for my share of the night's campground fee. Then I walked over to the Looney Bean for breakfast and to kill some time. I drank a way-too-strong coffee that made me feel sick all day. I asked the barista there if the town had a thrift shop and then I waited around for a few hours until I could go see if the thrift shop was open.
While I was there, Steve arrived and said hello. Someone in the coffee shop knew him and the two of them sat outside chatting for an hour or so.
Eventually I went down to the thrift shop to see if it was open. It was not. I still had two more hours to wait. I decided to go to Vons.
At Vons I bought some gourmet cheese, basil-infused olive oil, whole wheat crackers, bean soup, a baguette and some fruit. I took the bear can out of my pack, now freshly inscribed with giant teeth marks from a bear I never heard last night, and replaced all the Little Debbie peanut butter bars inside with my real food. I gave them all to a little boy visiting his grandparents. Thank goodness I would not have to eat that junk.
At long last it was 11 and the thrift store was open. Selection was limited but I did find a nylon turtleneck. I put it on and immediately felt its warmth.
I had to hitchhike to get to the bus to Red's Meadow. I got a ride easily. People were still skiing at Mammoth Mountain. The bus to Red's dropped me off at the store and cafe. On the way the high mountains looked cold and gray with dark clouds obviously precipitating all over them. Sprinkles were hitting the windshield of the bus. Snow patches lurked in the forest but disappeared as we descended.
At Red's I met three backpackers who told me tales over lunch of wallowing in the snow up to their thighs, route-finding in the snow, spending hours in whiteout blizzard conditions on Glenn Pass, troublesome creeks and 1 mile-an-hour hiking speeds. They had heard Donahue Pass was covered with snow from someone who had hiked southbound. This did not sound like anything I wanted to be involved in at all. I decided to go back to Mammoth and take the bus in the morning to Tuolumne Meadows. I could camp there in the backpackers' site and pick up my package on Monday.
I felt frustrated because I had hoped to come and make peace with the High Sierra like I had with the desert. I had had a terrible time last year. I had hoped I could conquer my fears and loneliness and come to enjoy the high mountain passes. Instead it seemed I would have to make peace with perhaps never completing these sections of the PCT. I would have to make peace with walking away.
So here I sit not sure what I will do after I pick up my package at the Tuolumne Meadows post office. I could perhaps hike a few miles into Section I, camp and then hike back out again. I could go down to Yosemite Valley and wander around as a tourist. The thing I don't want to do is go home. It already feels like I've lost my momentum as it is. If I go home, I won't return. I don't want to skip even further ahead. This bad weather is dumping snow everywhere. There is nowhere to go. There is no summer out here yet.
All I can do is wait.