May 29, 2017
Total miles: 25 miles
Start: mile 639.4
End: mile 664.4
Total elevation gain/loss: 3541.7/4959 ft
We were up early and eager to get to the spring. The super long dry section was almost over! It was immediately clear that it would be another hot day. It was a warm night and I getting out of my sleeping bag (not that I was really in it) wasn’t as painful as usual.
The trail joined a dirt road for a bit that’s used by ATVs and dirt bikes. We saw a lot of them over the last day or so and it really affects the “wilderness” feel of this long stretch. The road led to a cabin and flowing spring! Water! We took some time to fill our bottles and do a little laundry — it’s been awhile since that’s been an option since we don’t wash our clothes with finite water sources.
Following the spring, we had a small climb and then a big descent into Walker Pass. The pass is often used as an exit point for hikers to head to Onyx, Lake Isabella, or Ridgecrest, but we still have enough food to push on to Kennedy Meadows and are eager to meet up with my parents and our snow gear. It seems like everyone else is going into town or coming from town — some with as many as 5 zeros waiting for the snow situation in the Sierras to settle down. We did stop for a break at the campground though. It was honestly a bit of a disappointment, namely because there were no trees and it was hot. There was picnic table with a little shade where a water cache had been left with a little food. It was a little weird that there was a water cache there because there is a spring nearby, but it was certainly more convenient. Michael had at it when he saw that there was bread in the hiker box! A real treat on the trail. We had planned to eat our lunch at the campground picnic tables, but ultimately decided that it was too early for lunch. So we headed up the next big climb instead. Once again we were saved from much of the heat by a breeze.
I found a good spot in the shade about halfway up to stop for lunch. Our break really helped to break up the climb and we were able to power the rest of the way up. Although we weren’t expecting to get any cell phone signal during this section, our climb afforded us a good view of the (semi-)populated valley below. It turns out we did have a touch of signal for a bit, so we ended up taking another break near the top of the climb to attend to more resupply and logistical details. I even re-downloaded the track of my audio book that didn’t work a couple days ago!
By the time we’d hit the top of the pass we each had already been reconnected with our bug entourage from yesterday (and a bit of this morning). Lucky us! I’m really regretting that we won’t receive our bug head nets until Kennedy Meadows. Especially considering that I ate another bug this afternoon and had to blow countless others out of my nose. So gross.The descent from the top of the (nameless) pass seemed to take forever. I’ve come to the conclusion that these endless descents are the part of the day that I find the most tiring. We had to push on several miles in order to hit our next water source — a small stream that crosses the trail. It’s so nice to be back in the land of water, even if the sources are 10 miles apart. While pumping water, we ran into the first hikers in hours. It was starting to feel like everyone exited at Walker Pass and no one got back on the trail! Of course we don’t recognize anyone now… maybe we’re moving into a new bubble?
There were no campsites listed on Guthooks for a couple miles after the water source, but we lucked out and found a good spot. We tend to have good luck finding camping spots where the trail hits a “corner” because those little valleys sometimes have flat enough spots for camping even if we’re walking along a hillside. This spot even had a great little side area for eating dinner away from the tent (apparently there are bears in this area).
Much of my thoughts today were spent on the Sierras. I’m excited to finally get out of the desert and into the mountains, but there is a lot of uncertainty as well. We’ve seen very few reports from people who had completed the upcoming section and everyone seems to have their own advice on what the optimal gear is to tackle the snow. With this being such a high snow year I have some concerns, but I also suspect that we’ll be fine if we take things slowly and bring lots of food. Nothing I can really do about it now, but figured I’d mention what has been consuming my thoughts.
Michael: sore right foot (maybe forming blister?)
**We are heading into the Sierras and don’t have good enough internet to upload additional posts at this time. We don’t expect to have sign for the next 9 days or so. More updates to come when we get to Bishop!