Miles Hiked: 21.7
PCT Mileage: 788.9
I slept for the first time in so long last night. It wasn’t the best sleep but it was sleep regardless. I woke up at 4:45 with no alarm feeling energized. I wrote one of my blog posts and reviewed the map before starting to pack up camp around 5am. My goal for the day was to make it to town! I didn’t want to go to town at all but I didn’t have enough food to continue on. To get to town I’d have to climb up and over Forester Pass, the highest point on the PCT, and then take a 7.5 mile side trail that climbs up and over Kersarge Pass and drops significant elevation down to the Onion Valley Trailhead. It would be a long day with a lot of climbing.
The miles leading up to Forester pass were really pretty. The trail went through a rocky green meadow with fantastic views of the surrounding mountains. I was stopping to take so many pictures today! As I approached the climb to Forester, Mimosa and Breaking bad caught up to me so I chatted with them for a bit. The climb up Forester wasn’t bad at all. I was expecting it to be really scary because that’s all I ever hear about the pass. Instead it was very easy with a wide trail bench and lots of switch backs that made me feel safe. At the top the view into the valley on the other side was stunning. There were several other hikers at the top including Tango, Booster Seat, Vulture, Tesla and I could see Gopher making his descent. I hung out at the top for about 20 minutes and got some pictures. The descent was slow going because there was some snow I had to be very careful and watch my footing on. I was glad when the snow ended and I was back on solid ground.
Once I was back on solid ground, I found myself flying through a gorgeous valley full of green meadows, a couple alpine lakes, and tall massive pine trees. The miles went by so fast and I was taking pictures every half a mile. I hike with Vulture and Gopher for a little bit during this section. Eventually the trail started to climb back up again and my pace slowed. I had to leave the trail at the bullfrog lake junction to go into Bishop. It was a 7.5 mile side trail from the PCT to the trailhead where I could get a hitch to town. I was really annoyed at doing all the extra miles but it turns out the side trail was totally worth it. Bullfrog lake was an incredible view. I stopped briefly to strip off all my clothes and jump in for a quick skinny dip. The water was freezing but so refreshing. Afterwards I hiked in my Hawaiian shirt for the rest of the day.
The side trail climbed up to the top of Kersarge Pass. It was pretty easy but the trail was all slippery gravel. It was around 1:30 pm when I was at the top of the pass and realized I might be able to make it down to the trailhead in time to go to the post office. From the top of the pass I could see about five different alpine lakes it was incredible. After a brief break, I started flying downhill. I passed so many hikers who were coming out of town with fully loaded packs after a day off trail. They all looked miserable from the difficult climb in the heat. The more I went downhill the more I thought about how much it’s going to suck to hike back up to Kersarge Pass and down to the trail tomorrow. On the way down I got cell service for the first time since Kennedy Meadows five days ago. I called my parents and talked to them most of the way down. It was incredible that my call with them didn’t drop until I was about 0.5 miles from the trailhead.
It was just after three when I made it down to the parking lot. The post office closes at 4pm so I didn’t have much time to catch a hitch. A nice couple who were in the middle of a fishing trip and needed to run to town for food ended up taking me. They hike quite a bit and even run a blog themselves. You can check it out at hikingtales.com. The drive down from the mountain trailhead was absolutely shocking. The road was curvy and dropped elevation really fast. I could see the desert floor where town was below. It was so dramatic to come out of the lush green Sierra and get dropped off in a desert town 10k feet lower than the top of Mt Whitney where I was yesterday and have it be in the 90s. I made it to the PO just in time to pick up my box at 3:40pm.
After I got my box, I headed across the street to the first food place I saw. It was a sub shop in a gas station. I bought myself a giant foot long veggie sub and put my electronics on the charger. I unpacked my box that Molly and Dan who gave me trail magic on the CDT sent me. They are moving to Japan and sent me all the backpacking food they had left! As I was doing this I was on the phone with my friend Julia from Telluride. I received a ton of drink mixes and tea bags, six mountain house backpacker meals, sardines, and some “that’s it” fruit bars. I was so stoked. I will definitely be eating great this next section. Since I still had some cous cous, dehydrated veggies, and protein shake mix leftover I didn’t have to purchase any more food for my resupply. It was nice to not worry about buying anything in town.
I saw Buffalo Roy at the gas station and he came to sit next to me as I was on the phone. When I got off I asked him if he was taking the bus to Bishop. I was going there to meet up with Fry and everyone else behind me whenever they made it to town. We went to walk out to the bus stop together and Booster Seat starts yelling at us from a car. A trail angel was driving her and another hiker to Bishop. She had room for both of us to join! I was thankful I could get dropped off exactly where we were trying to go. I gave the trail angel the money I would have paid for the bus.
In Bishop I ended up splitting a motel room with Fry, Booster, Buffalo Roy, and Feels. Everything was in walking distance which was nice. The first thing I did was start my laundry at the laundry mat. I opted to go back to the motel to shower and have some alone time while everyone else went to the brewery. I knew I wanted to get back out on trail early tomorrow and I needed to make sure I had all my stuff done so I don’t have to be up late. Pippin, Lumberjack and Pinch all made it to town together way later than I did. I ended up meeting up with them for dinner at 8pm. I had my first California Burrito and a Margarita. Both were pretty disappointing. Everyone else got the same thing and also thought the same too. We had a lot of fun at the restaurant but I was glad to be in bed at 10pm.