Well, there isn’t much to report on today. The good news is that UPS delivered a brand new sleeping pad! Woo hoo! We planned on hitching out of town late because of the crazy heat wave going on. Temperatures are over 100 degrees from noon to 9p this week. It’s bizarre that it’ll be 103 degrees on the valley floor tomorrow and still very hot comparatively at 11,000 feet where we are heading. With snow still on the ground! We read some people are skipping forward in the desert because of the heat. We figured we would hike late in the day to Chicken Spring which is only 6 miles. However, as we killed time in the hostel lounge playing cards my nerves started to kick in. I want to see the beauty and overcome the challenge of this next part, but the very real dangers were something I couldn’t shake. Wandering over to the bar, we thought playing some shuffle board may be a good mental distraction. It was momentarily, but in the end I decided I needed one more night to shake these nerves. We arranged a ride for 7a so we can hike till noon and then get to sleep really early and start at 4a tomorrow.
Daddie Gizmo and I were on the same page this morning. I didn’t sleep great and wasn’t in the mood to run around all morning and then hitch to town. When I mentioned staying one more night in town so that we could do everything leisurely, DG didn’t hesitate to agree. Great 😊 First thing, we solved the sleeping pad situation. We still couldn’t find the leak today after multiple tedious attempts including when DG submerged the pad in water today to check for air bubbles. Fortunately, we bought it at REI who overnight shipped us a new one that we will get here tomorrow. Phew! The gear shops here didn’t have any 25″ pads to replace the one we had. In the meantime, we will ship the broken one back for a refund. Good old REI. We really took our time walking up and down and then up and again through the three blocks of town that make up Lone Pine and checking out all the stores and price comparing items that we needed.
We had the whole day and were in no rush. It’s always nice to walk a little slower in town than we do on the trail. Lone Pine is a big hiking and climbing town because of it’s easy access to Mt Whitney. Many hikers use this part of the trail to climb Mt Whitney and then head back on trail, but we are focusing on the task at hand – Sierras. We know we are going to leave town tomorrow afternoon after getting our package, but given how freaking hot it is today we don’t think we are even going to start hiking until 5pm. It’s supposed to be even warmer tomorrow. We want to go about five miles which is approx 3k feet straight up with fresh heavy packs. We have 7 days of food which is honestly going to suck when we put our packs on tomorrow. It’s worth it though. Probably more food than we need but we need to have extra food now in case we need to turn back for a snow storm or creek we can’t cross because the water is too high. You also burn through a lot more calories staying warm in cooler temperature and are guaranteed to be hungrier. I ran into Dustin who was at the bar last night while I was walking to get a deck of cards. He said there is a group of 20 hikers at his hotel getting a ride to Ashland, Oregon tomorrow. Their plan is to go South from there and hit the Sierras with less snow. Lots of different plans going on with the insane amount of snow this year. Our motel neighbor said he and his group have a similar plan to ours. Head out into the wilderness and keep going until it feels too dangerous. We are still full speed ahead and hitting that snow tomorrow. We utilized the all you can eat salad bar at Pizza Factory for a late lunch at 3p. We played some cards, watched a terrible movie and curled up in the air conditioning to get a good nights sleep to get the rest we will need to climb that mountain tomorrow. 💜
PS – 6 years ago today is when Daddie Gizmo and I met ♥️‼️
The day got off to a less than ideal start before we even got out of the tent. Daddie Gizmo was able to catch the sunrise since he was awake and annoyed about his pad losing air all night. Mosquitos were swarming the tent first thing and we knew we were going to get bit while we packed up. In the rush to get ready I spilled half of our water for the morning. Starting the hike today by rationing a 1/2 liter each for a 3 mile stretch uphill when the sun is already out started the day off on the wrong foot.
Fortunately we survived and after getting properly hydrated began to feel better. The day was getting hot fast and we still had over ten miles to get to Horseshoe Meadow and hitch a ride to Lone Pine. There was a lot of elevation today in the sun and it was draining. When we finally made it to Horshshoe Meadow we were very impressed by the view – lush green meadow with a river running through and the tall snowy mountains in the background. We had to take our shoes off and cross the river.
When we got off the trail and to the road where we need to hitch from we saw three guys waiting for a ride. We became a little discouraged when they said they have been waiting for 4 hours already! Originally, before the sleeping pad issues we were just going to come into town, resupply and get out the same day. Now our plan is to stay this night, try to repair the sleeping pad or replace it and get back on trail tomorrow. It was about 2:30 so we weren’t in a huge rush but we definitely didn’t want to sit around waiting on a ride all afternoon. Thankfully, Daddie Gizmo found us a ride within 30 minutes and shortly after we arrived at the Timberline Motel. Today’s hiking was hard and we were exhausted so what else could we do but go grab a beer. We sat at the back bar of a local restaurant and chatted with a bunch of other hikers who had just completed the 6 day leg we are going to start from here. It includes passing the tallest point on the trail, starts the big snow and includes some big creek crossings. They gave positive feedback which gave us some confidence about the trail coming up. A few cocktails and pasta later we were sleeping in a real bed and hopeful of a good nights sleep.
PS- my camera turned on in my bag and killed the battery!!! All my photos from yesterday are inaccessible until we get our bounce box with the charger in Independence in a week. The scenery was SO BEAUTIFUL today so I’m really disappointed I can’t share it with everyone. I’ll post a lost photos update next week. I won’t be able to use my camera for the amazing scenery coming up…and I’m carrying the deadweight of my camera all next week 😦
Early start in prep for the Sierras soon to come today. We were packed up and out just before 6. 5:57 to be exact. Still not early enough but pretty early for these 2 sleepy heads. It had purpose for the hike today too as we had big elevation to climb, descend and climb again. The climb took us from 8200 up to 10,500 back to 8600 and up to our camp spot at 9800. We hit patches of snow at the top and I hit the ground once hard enough to knock the wind out of me. Funny thing though, I looked up at the view from our side of the mountain over the valley and into the big snow covered mountains we will be in just a few days from now and forgot all about the fact that I was sitting sideways on a slick block of ice. Throughout the day we could hear fighter jets from the nearby bases out in the desert buzzing around in the valleys between the mountains. Several came actually quite close to us. Then one came suddenly and directly overhead, maybe just a few hundred feet. You could see every detail as if you were standing next to it on the ground. Several more flew even closer and faster as we stood on the peak of the last ridge we would climb for the day. A few more decided to perform sharp banks, turns and rolls right overhead as we cheered and waived at the pilots. It was an amazing private air show for us and the other hikers out on the peaks today. Just like the huge windmills in the desert, the juxtaposition of man’s most sopphisticated machinery and Mother Nature were great compliments to each other today.
Today marks 3 months anniversary since we left Dallas to start this adventure and I couldn’t think of a better way to spend it than climbing a mountain and being able to see these spectacular vistas of snowy mountains, creeks, rivers and pine trees.
We came out on some spectacular views that reminded us why we had the crazy idea to climb 733 miles! We took advantage of a great spot and is where we are camped right now – on the edge of a mountain in the high desert with a 180 degree panorama of the snow peaked mountains.
We are positioned perfectly to enjoy the sunset as we lay in our sleeping bags and eat Oreos this evening. It would be complete perfection if it wasn’t for the SWARM of mosquitos around our tent. We already lost the battle with them earlier today and have welts and bites all over so as long as they hungrily stay on the other side of our mosquito netted tent all is good.😊
12 miles with a loaded, and I mean loaded pack today was a great test for my knee and it’s comeback. I hope things will continue this way forward and my confidence to use it more and more athletically vs tentatively grows.
Starting the day next to the Kern River reminded us of why we both worked so hard to get back here and reminded me of how amazing and supportive Figure 8 was while I struggled at times to find the right balance of rest and rehab.
We crossed beside beautiful green grass meadows that had lots of running streams coursing through them. We also trekked through our fair share of high desert sand and pine cover. The latter miles of the day were spent in big pines and hiking along side Cow Creek. We found an amazing site to camp just feet from the stream.
We had a minor crisis this morning when we realized that somehow, even with all the care we take of these and the fact we have only used them 1 night since we got off trail, Daddie Gizmo’s sleeping pad has a leak. It kept deflating overnight and needless to say, DG did not sleep well. We decided to pack up and head out and to investigate the pad for holes this afternoon. We were out by 9, which was 90 minutes later than our intended start time, but it felt GREAT to be back on trail. Yesterday DG told me welcome back home when we started. I knew this morning would be work. Our packs are heavier than ever with the inclusion of a 3lb bear can in Rob’s bag for our food, a set of crampons each and more food than we need (I was so hungry the few days before we got off trail that I am having food paranoia right now).
The tradeoff is we shouldn’t need to carry as much water anymore since we are about out of the desert. We had to redistribute the shared weight between us and I am now carrying the tent and stove so that DG can carry our enormous bear can. We met Jakerabbit and Blossom two miles out of our site when we stopped for water. We crisscrossed with them all day and stopped to chat along the way. The scenery was really nice as we increased in elevation and started to see the snowy mountains we are heading towards.
We stopped for coffee and a snack in an absolutely gorgeous meadow and took in our new view. I brought along tortillas and peanut butter that we munched on. We are leaving more of the desert behind and trading it for greener and wetter landscape. We passed by the Kern River and went a couple miles farther to camp by Cow Creek. We had the spot all to ourselves and spent thirty minutes trying to find the darn hole in the sleeping pad, but to no avail!!! Normally this would be inconvenient if it was warmer; however, now it is critical as we are about to be sleeping in much colder temperatures in the Sierras and NEED something to insulate between the cold ground and ourselves. DG was not at all happy about not having the insulation or the comfort of his pad tonight and we will try again to find the culprit tomorrow. We made instant mashed potatoes for dinner and then curled into the tent at 5:30 to read and try to sleep early. Not long after, a string of people started going by our camp area. Then some started to set up camp in the same area. In 700+ miles we had never camped with anyone we hadn’t planned to because we were so early in the season. Now we came back into yet another bubble and got firsthand experience what the camping can be like. By nights end there were a dozen or more tents, with one or two people each, up and down the creek from us. Different experience for sure. Everyone was in their tents by dark in typical hiker fashion. We left the fly off tonight since we know it’s only going to get colder and this may actually be the last time we can for a while. It was great to see the night lit up by the moon and the stars.
Thank you so much for the well wishes, thoughts and 4 Leaf Clover emojis while I rehabbed my torn meniscus. So far, so good. Of course, being off trail for three weeks means that we have to get our wind and hiking legs back to form. But the nervous part for me is that after soaks and showers, I’ve lost almost all of the hard earned and beloved calluses on my feet that were protecting me from blisters. The best part is seeing the happiness on Figure 8’s face and her loving smiles.
We made it back to California late Friday, a full day of traveling behind us. We were in good spirits and knew that we needed to get a lot of little things done Saturday before getting back on trail (pick up fuel for cooking, get our remaining food for the first stretch…). It took us 2 hours to sort through how we were going to alter our gear for the snow in the Sierras and put together our bounce box and another box of food that we will pick up down the trail in a couple of weeks, but we were finally ready to get back! Papa dropped us off at the trailhead mid-afternoon Sunday and we began the journey again. These next few days and 45 miles are kind of like the gateway to the Sierras…the change from high desert to Alpine Forest. We had already decided that we would only go 3-5 miles today as we were both still pretty tired from running all around all weekend and just wanted to camp by the river, get to sleep early and start fresh in the morning. When we came across the bridge we saw there was a flat area right by the roaring river where we could set up camp and have the white noise of the Kern River all night. It worked out great. Ate dinner, in the tent and asleep by 7. Feels good to be back.
I know we have been MIA for a bit, but rest assured we are still planning to return to the magnificent Pacific Crest Trail. We purchased our plane tickets back to California and have a game plan to start the Sierras. Including today, we have 4 days left of rest, relaxation and knee rehab before hopping on a cross country adventure this Friday. Papa Romero will drop us off at Kennedy Meadows this weekend and we will begin our journey through the scenery below. It will be intense and with the amount of snow ahead this turns into mountaineering vs hiking.
Of course we have been having a great time in Hunter and soaking up the opportunity to just enjoy the mountains, sunsets and quiet time. A couple moments from the last couple weeks…
Special shout out to my family in NY who really made this break from the trail stress free and easy by giving us a fully equipped (even a fireplace!) mountain house to use for as long as we needed. Being hiker trash on a budget, having a free place to stay made all the difference in the world and it doesn’t hurt that it’s in one of our favorite places EVER! Great to visit with the family while we were here. Thank you!!!