Day 60 10.05.18
Making the most of a day in town I decide to explore the shops close to Bishop Hostel. The hostel has loaner bikes which hikers can use to go to the grocery store, but I decided to go on foot to explore the many sporting and outfitter (camping) stores. My sunnies died a traumatic death in the Grand Canyon; I’d replaced them with a cheap pair but was hopping to find a polorized pair before the snow. I had no such luck and before I knew it I was at the grocery store, giving up the perfect opportunity to ride a bike. [I still regret this a week later, it made me realise how much I miss riding]
Browns Town Campsite is just over a mile outside of town and lets hikers share sites bringing the cost down to $5 each. Opting to save money myself, Kyle, Speedy and Gandalf decide to meet there joining Bones. I walked most of the way there with my heavy pack and grocery bags in each hand when I heard:
“Ma’am, are you walking to the campground?”
I turn around and see a Police car on the other side of the road speaking to me through his little loud speaker. I nod yes.
“Ma’am, would you like a lift to the campground?” I nod yes again. The policeman turns around and pulls up next to me, opening the boot (trunk) for my pack and the passenger door for me to jump in. He takes me half a mile to the campground and then insists on driving me all the way up to our campsite. The boys stare as I hop out of the police car and as it drives away Bones comments “Maaaan, River got a lift from a State Trooper, that never happens to guys”.
Chilling out in the sun we share beers and learn of the snow conditions ahead from Bones who was in the second party to go through Forester Pass.
Noticing the leaky tap near our site I take advantage of the water to shave my legs and enjoy what resembled a bird bath. For the first time I feel like proper hiker trash.
I cook dinner trying to finish my seemingly endless “little gas can that could” so I could start the next leg fresh on the new gas can I’d been carrying since Tehachapi.
Day 61 11.05.18
I wake up at 6:30am to Gandalf packing up his tent. He’d sold and posted his old sleeping bag and was waiting for the new one to arrive. We hadn’t made the connection that he was sleeping without a sleeping bag, and froze all night as a result. If we’d realised we would have given him our fleece sleeping bag liners, but instead he moved back to the hostel with colder temperatures predicted the following night.
Bones also packed up and head off to meet with his party along the trail in Mammoth. The rest of our day was spent lazing in the sun and enjoying this whole rest business. At midday the wind picked up, forcing me to remove the fly on my tent to let the air cut through without damaging the tent. Unfortunately most other campers where offsite for the day, and all in large family tents which turned into parachutes until the poles eventually snapped. Some guys our age were camped across from us in a large 8 person tent. We opened their windows and removed the fly but were too late to save the poles. A thrifty hiker would still fix this, but they instead thanked us, threw out the damaged tent and got a hotel.
The wind continued to blast through the campsite, now dropping branches from trees. Looking up as we discuss moving our tents we watch a small branch fall and land on the picnic table beside us. Great idea! We then scramble to move as quickly as we can helping each other move pitched tents full of gear to a clear site. Angling our tents perfectly against the wind my fly went back on and we go to the campground store to buy tonnes of junk food anticipating a slumber party on a windy sleepless night.
Day 62 12.05.18
We survived the night without the need for snacks so Kyle and I celebrate with tonnes of junkfood while having a slumber party in the sun.
Procrastinating in every way possible I pack up my tent in my slowest attempt ever, dreading the wrestle with my pack and bear canister while trying to fit everything in. Once finished I buy a token for a 7min hot shower at the campground which I’m sure was only 5mins. Midway through washing my hair with the shampoo swiped from the hotel, the hot water shut off leaving me with a brain freeze as I rinsed my soapy head with water in my ear. This is exactly why I shave my legs at a tap.
Emma picks up Kyle, Speedy and myself to go back to Kennedy Meadows while Gandalf still waits for his new sleeping bag to arrive. After a 2.5hr drive Speedy and I arrive while Emma and Kyle continue to Lake Isabella to pick up on the trail where they left off at Walker Pass. They will catch up in 2.5days when the gang is reunited to enter the Sierras.
The Hiker box at Grumpy Bears has grown considerably so I pick up some items to eat during my few days here. I’m treated to unopened mountain house meals, coffee, turmeric powder, peanut butter, and gas to cook on, all donated after loving Mothers pack extra food into posted resupply boxes to hikers who don’t want heavy packs through the snow.
Day 63 13.05.18
I spent the morning meeting all the new faces of the hikers who have been two weeks behind us. I quickly get to know people, and then return to my tent for some much needed me time.
I use this time to think about the challenge ahead, and digest all the information passed on from hikers in Bishop. The Sierras are looming. I will need to seperate my feelings of cold, scared and uncomfortable to know if I can actually do this. Many people won’t go past these factors and flip flop (skip ahead to complete this section later) for a more enjoyable Sierra experience in the future. I’m not keen on trying to hitch all around California, and would rather hike straight through. I just need to be willing to suffer a little to complete it.
Lightening the mood I meet three Aussie girls Mountain Goat, Puff and Angel Baby and my heart melts with homesick pride as I hear their accents. Up until this point I’d only met one other Australian. Now I have three here who live an hour from me at home and we happen to have a mutual friend. What a small world. I spend the day enjoying slang such as breaky and old mate.
Day 64 14.05.18
I’m now starting to loose my mind while I wait to enter the Sierras I spent the morning drawing and playing UNO with hikers. I note how successful the game is with three of us from different countries all knowing the rules.
My package from the PCTA arrived with promo gear for my P3 ambassadorship to Promote, Protect and Preserve the PCT. Excited I show off my new PCT logo socks, pin and other goodies. I hand out items to others and chat more about P3 and why Leave No Trace is so important. I also finally meet Squish, who is a fellow P3 Hiker from Canada who I’d been chatting with since we both decided to hike the trail last year.
I take advantage of a shuttle to the general store to pick up an orange, Advil (painkillers), toothpaste but unfortunately find no sunnies. My cheap plastic pair will have to do until I found the next pair that fills the void.
Nerve pain has been radiating through my back and legs since the road trip, which often happens after a week of sitting in a car, I’m looking forward to stretching out on trail hopefully relieving the pain. Who knew resting made you sore.
Day 65 15.05.18
Sassy K announced a shakedown and quickly hikers volunteered their gear to be sifted through to see how essential their items are. Everyone else gathered around to watch and then secretly remove similar items from their own packs later. It’s a brave move getting a shakedown in front of everyone.
Kyle, Emma, and Gandalf all arrive throughout the day so we talk through our plans of leaving the next day and letting Ray and Four Eyes catch up as they get onto trail half a day behind us. Slowing we are catching back up with each other.
At night I overhear hikers talking about how at the start they tried their hardest to put their tent up properly, and now they celebrate if they bothered to do it properly. Others met someone in the camp just today with the same tent and finally worked out what certain velcro straps were for. They laughed at themselves and how far we’ve all come since day one.
I snuggle into my last warm night, anticipating my return to the trail tomorrow. We’re hitting the Sierras baby!!!
It seems that most people who flip past the Sierra with the idea of coming back later, don’t do it. There’s something about seeing that northern monument that just says over, done, finished. Even with all of the snow, the Sierra will still be big and majestic just not as beautiful and fun as it is in September. Good luck.
All the best with this challenge, Heather. Your honesty and courage inspires. Xo
Wishing you an incredible safe journey through those glorious mountains!!
You’ll soon figure out it ain’t that bad in the Sierras. They are amazing when covered in snow, go get that wonderful experience! 🙂