**We just realized that the following post about our exit from the High Sierra was still in our drafts folder and was never posted. Here’s our blast from the past! Better late than never, right?**
June 8, 2017
Total miles: 6.4 miles
Start: 0.8 miles down Bullfrog Lake trail (off PCT mile 788.5)
End: Onion Valley Trailhead (off PCT mile 788.5)
Total elevation gain/loss: 1178.1/2612.2 ft
It’s town day! There’s always something a bit different when you’re heading into town. It hit me this morning even though I’m not actually that excited about going into town today. I think it’s the knowledge that you’ll be able to eat to your full later in the day now, so you can run closer to empty as you push toward town.Speaking of empty, that’s sort of how I was feeling this morning. I slept well, but was feeling tired this morning. My thighs and especially my calves protested as I followed the snow-covered slope up the path. I felt bad about slowing Sam and Tam down, but they were good sports about waiting for us.
We had about 1200 more feet to climb this morning before we were over Kearsarge. It started out gradually and then we needed to make our own way up a steep hill so that we could connect with the pass’s upper snow-free switchbacks. Sound familiar?
Coming down from the pass ended up being easier than I anticipated. Someone had left nice footprints transversing the steep slope and they were nice and hard still for our descent. Down, down, down we went. I honestly sort of hate these endless descents and fell behind the group a bit. They just wear out my knees and make me feel tired and/or bored. It didn’t help that my big toe started to hurt on the steeper parts of the descent. Not sure what that’s about, but hopefully nothing major.
It was a relief to hit the dirt switchbacks. I’d actually found climbing straight up the hill to be easier on my ankles, but it was tiring! Up the switchbacks we went until we were finally at the top of the pass. It was a windy one and we all took refuge behind some rocks while resting for a few moments.
I quickly started to wonder if we’d made a mistake. No one was coming or going… except the guy who’d come up to clean the bathrooms (which were amazingly clean and good smelling for pit toilets btw). I approached him and asked if he could give any hikers a ride down the hill. He had room for two! We offered the spots to Sam and Tam after we got their attention, but they insisted we take the spots.
The ride down the mountain is actually pretty long, but we had a good time discussing the trail and surrounding mountains with our ride (and cuddling his dog). Only a couple vehicles came up the road as we went down, so we were especially grateful for the ride!
Once down in Independence we started trying to hitch a ride to Bishop. Easier said than done since no one stopped. After awhile Sam and Tam showed up. They’d made it down the mountain with one of the vehicles that we’d seen going up! They were about to grab their own spot to hitch (to better everyone’s chances) when I did a little dance and finally caught a hitch. We squeezed the four of us in and enjoyed a ride with Celia, who runs the Winnedumah B&B in town. She was on her way to Bishop for shopping and was great to chat with.
After the 40 mile hitch we were finally in Bishop and checked into the Motel 6 (which gave us rooms even though it wasn’t even noon yet!). First order of business was lunch and then we set to work. Michael went to pick up our package at the Post Office while I worked on figuring out our next section.The news about the upcoming sections is not good. The water/snow report suggests that Bear Creek and Mono Creek are “impassable.” Evolution Creek sounds similarly huge — the most recent report is of a chin-high crossing for someone who is 5’9″. That’s over my head. Further north we read horror stories about solo hikers that nearly died in or after disastrous crossings. None of this inspires much confidence. But what to do?
We’re thinking that maybe we continue as far as Piute Pass and then exit out to Bishop again. But we’re still trying to get more info. I’m not sure if there is a good answer. It’s looking like my hope to hike a pure northbound PCT hike might not be doable this year. Accepting that fact and figuring out a solution is difficult.
Hopefully a good night of sleep will make things clearer in the morning.
Elizabeth: sore big toe (only in steep downhills).
Michael: knee pain.