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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

PCT - Day 58: 6/15/2018 - Donohue Pass, Ziplock and Sleeping Beauty

Trail miles: 17.6 from 916.0 - 933.6
Miles walked: 19.3

Last night, I decided to stop blogging. I switched my blog to “private”; and for a few hours yesterday it was so. I did this because my writing it’s unfiltered. It’s often an all too clear view into my thoughts, my weaknesses, and my fears. I worried that I would be judged by family, friends, or coworkers that may read it.


Then I got a message from a guy I’ve never met named Kevin. Oddly enough, I got this message on Facebook Messenger while writing in my tent last night. I’m paraphrasing, but his message basically asked “Hey what happened to the blog? I really enjoyed reading it.”

I didn’t realize that more that just a few friends and family were reading this, so I looked at the stats and saw that I am getting several hundred hits a day. I was surprised at the stats and touched by the message. I decided that the worst thing that may come from people reading the musings of a guy hiking the PCT with bipolar disorder is that people may judge me for being real. If that’s the case, so be it. My “real” may not be your “real”, but that’s why the world works. We all have different fears, perspectives, and experiences. Those lead to different decisions and different emotions. These are just my points of view, and my emotions. Anyway, thanks Kevin, and thanks to all the others out there reading and scrutinizing my waning sanity as I proceed northward on the Pacific Crest Trail.

I began my day after a poor night of sleep that was plagued with muscle cramps and sliding into the bottom of my tent repeatedly, thanks to a not so flat campsite.

The morning views across the valley were beautiful. I could see and hear a waterfall coming out of Shadow Lake.  I pressed on in solo hiking mode until I was caught doing my Jon Bon Jovi vocals impersonation by a southbound JMT hiker. She smiled and said “Hi” as I immediately ceased my singing of “Wanted dead or alive”.

I was trying to hike quickly in the morning since I had to go over Island Pass and Donohue Pass today.

I hiked up to Thousand Island Lake half expecting a lake filled with salad dressing. Instead, I found an aptly named spectacular lake. Little islands dotted the surface.

Thousand Island Lake

I hurried up Island Pass which was mostly snow free or at least snow-avoidable. On the ascent, I re-aggregated my ailing right ankle. It was not as bad as the day on Muir Pass, but close. After the anticlimactic top of Island Pass, I hobbled down a mile or so very slowly. I crossed a creek at the bottom of the descent, walked a couple hundred yards more to a sunny spot where I was hoping to avoid mosquitoes. I then sat down for a break. After two minutes, I had not yet been swarmed, so I decided to eat an early lunch there.

Forty five minutes later as I was wrapping up a long lunch, I heard a hiker approaching. It was Ziploc AND Sleeping Beauty!

Sleeping Beauty
I was not really surprised to see Ziploc since I knew she was behind me, but I was very surprised to see Sleeping Beauty. Back around Thousand Island Lake the JMT and PCT rejoined after being separated for approximately 14 miles. As fate would have it, Sleeping Beauty and Ziploc crossed paths ten minutes before seeing me. Now here we all were once again.

I invited them to sit with me and eat lunch. We did, and things weren’t even weird. I thought we all felt that it was sort of odd that we met randomly again considering we’d all left VVR a few days ago at three separate times. We had also all camped separately last night. We shared lunch with smiles and shared some stories from our solo days.

After lunch, we continued towards Donohue Pass, or so we thought. After descending more than I thought, I took a look at the map and discovered we were about .75 miles off trail on a different trail. We doubled back and found an obscure sign we’d missed earlier at a creek crossing, but after 1.5 bonus miles, we were back on the PCT again.

At 12:30 pm we began the climb up Donohue Pass where we leapfrogged with an older guy named Spook. The “trail”, if you could even call it that, was like an obstacle course where the challenge was to keep your feet dry. We must’ve crossed over a hundred streams or creeks in about four miles. When it wasn’t water, it was mud. Either way, we eventually clicked of a mile at a time, and found ourselves on the top of a very windy pass. I had achieved 100% dry feet, but my hiking mates not so much. I found a small spot shielded from the worst part of the wind and decided to sunbathe a bit while Sleeping Beauty tended to a blister on her foot. Ziploc joined me with her ninja look on full display.

Sunbathing Circus Act and  Ninja Ziplock

The hike down Donohue Pass was our entrance into Yosemite National Park. The descent was also easier than I thought it’d be. We mostly avoided snow and soon were standing at a surreal place named Lyell Fork. The water was crystal clear and glimmered in the sunlight.

We stopped for pictures but eventually began a long slog down a steep and challenging trail. We sarcastically wondering aloud if the trail builders were just doing weird shit with rocks just to fuck with us hikers.

After fording the Lyell Fork and having my foot dryness immediately drop from 100% dry to 0%, the terrain opened up and exposed a gorgeous meadow.

We camped in the forest at the meadow’s edge and had a “we have too much food and we are resupplying tomorrow” feast. It was great to share a day with my friends again. Sleeping Beauty will be done her JMT hike and heading home on Sunday. As for Ziploc, she’s on a tight schedule and needs to crush miles to get to Canada by mid-September. I don’t know if we’ll continue hiking together or not. I’m just happy for this one day with my two friends.

A funny sidebar conversation that came up today. While we were descending Donohue Pass, Sleeping Beauty told the story from history of people who resorted to cannibalism on similarly named Donner Pass way back in the day after getting trapped in a fierce snowstorm. This then led to us talking about the book “Alive”. Then jokingly, I mentioned that both Ziploc and Sleeping Beauty could probably survive for a week on one of my thighs. Ziploc then said “Your thigh would be too lean. I’d eat your ass since it’d have a better mixture of meat and fat for better flavor. But, I’d trim off your ass chafe first.” This received roaring laughter from both Sleeping Beauty and myself. I was laughing so hard that it stopped me in my tracks. It’s moments like this I really missed when rocking out my solo days.


  1. Thank you for resuming your blog. I have read each and every of your PCT blogs so far and very much enjoyed them. Your blog is different from the rest and that is what makes it so worthwhile to read. I appreciate your honesty. Please keep the blog going.

  2. I never comment on these blogs but I follow quite a few of them, I am going to comment on this one because I want you to know that I hope you keep going with the blogs because I enjoy reading them and following along on your journey. I don't know you and have really have no idea what it's like having Bipolar but from what I have read I think that you are too hard on yourself and you worry too much what others think of you, Maybe I am wrong... Anyway you seem like a cool guy from what I have read so far and i'd hike with you any day! Just remember your worst day on trail is better than my best day here in my office wishing I was in the woods! Keep your head up and crush those miles! I am rooting for you to make it to Canada! Good Luck!

  3. I thought you were just between wifi signals! I don't know how you have the energy for it, but I'm glad you're going to keep blogging; I'm all geared up for the PCT next year and am really enjoying your blog (pretty sure the PCT can't be amazing all the time; I think your ups and downs are fascinating to read). Looking at your progress on the map has got to feel good; awesome job so far!

  4. Hey Circus Act - my wife and I (Todd & Donna) hiked in or around your bubble from the border to BBC and left the trail because of an injury to my wife’s knee - we talked to you on several occasions and know or met Ziplock, Peanut Butter, Tapeworm, Opera, Chilly Bin, Hoosierdaddy, GQ, Missfit, Mark & Tammy, Harry & Fran and others that I’m sure you have met also. Just wanted to let you know that we follow your blog closely and really enjoy hearing about your journey. Keep it up!!! We are rooting for you to make it to the Northern Terminus. Say hi to Ziplock. We wish we were out there with you guys but following your blog is the next best thing.

  5. I also want to encourage you! My brother is hiking as well and I read as many blogs as I can, but yours is the one that I enjoy most, open and honest, it's not just the miles but also the feelings that come with them - and every now and then I laugh out loud because I enjoy your sense of humour! I hope I can follow your journey all the way no matter how far it takes you!

  6. The comments here are so encouraging. Every single one of these means a lot to me. Thank you all so much! ~ Circus Act