We allowed ourselves to sleep in a tad as the rest of the team wouldn’t be leaving till 11 – Crush, Funk, Cricket, Tom, Nellie, and Nick would all be departing for Yosemite today, but had to wait for SOBO and Guilligan who hadn’t made it to camp the night before. Around 8 we started to make a move and saying goodbye to everyone was tougher than expected, though we knew it wouldn’t be long till we met again on trail.
It didn’t take long for the trail to open up to stunning meadows. Open areas of deep green grass, meandering clear rivers and pine forested valley slopes greeted us around every corner. Deer were almost always in eye shot and marmots darted among the rocks. There was a clear change to the mountains; no longer towering snowy peaks, but rounded bare rock formations smoothed by glacial activities 20,000 years ago. The trail followed the river for miles on end before we crossed it via bridge and headed towards Toulume Meadows where the others would later be hitching from.
We crossed river after river and finally made it to TM where, after a mile alongside a road, we used the available camping facilities (picnic tables and bins) to have a “luxury” lunch. We then headed to Soda Springs – a fresh water spring of carbonated water whose walk provided horizon views of Cathedral Peak in Yosemite. We ogled at the spring for as long as we could bear the mosquitoes and made our way back to the PCT.
This next section was stunning following the Toulme River and cutting its way through several meadows more often than not via large swaths of smooth glacial rock. We descended further into the valley and now passed the river which quickly turned into the most powerful waterfall I have ever seen. The torrents of water cascaded down layer after layer of falls with a force that roared like the engine of a jet. We crossed its base via bridge and darted our way up the first incline of the day alongside one of its tributaries. After some time we came to an opening among the trees suitable for camp and set up with a fire to keep the mosquitoes at bay.