Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Day 54 - campsite at pct mile 784 to Lone Pine

Our camp spot from last night
Today was surprisingly easy.
After another record breaking cold night (don't worry, I do get some sleep at those nights), we got up and took our time again, waiting for the sun to warm us a bit.
My shoes were frozen. Not figuratively. But literally rock solid, cold as ice, frozen. That's what you get when you put wet shoes outside, in freezing temperatures. I postponed putting them on until the last minute, and even then, it was a pain. Yair had to wrestle with his, in order to get his foot inside. I recalled how it took me hours to thaw my shoes back on the AT, and wasn't looking forward to the cold feet day.
What I didn't take into account was how warm it is now, compared to the cold days I had back then on the AT. My shoes thawed within an hour, and I was happy again.
We had a short hike to the trail junction, where we were planning to hike away from the pct, and over Kearsarge Pass, out to resupply.
View towards Kearsarge Pinnacles, from the way up to the pass
After an easy 2.5 miles, we stopped for a short break, before starting our climb up. From the trail junction the climb became easy again, as we hiked along the Bullfrog trail and lakes. The views were very nice, and it was interesting to see how the southern cliffs of the valley were all covered in snow, while the northern ones were already clear. I was also happy to see that the climb up to the pass was on the northern cliffs.
After the trail joined the higher Kearsarge trail, the switchbacks began. Luckily, we only had 400 feet of climbing left, so it ended quite quickly. Two day hikers passed me while I was climbing up, and later Yair told me he softened the ground to ask them for a ride out of the campground, if we get stuck in there for too long.
Another view, from Kearsarge Pass
At the top we've met Papa Bear and his two sons, out hiking a big section of the pct, from what I understood. They were just back from their resupply, and into the trail.
Gilbert Lake, from the way down towards Onion Valley
Idan just went for it, heading down the long hike to the campground, and a hitch out, before Yair got to the top. He had a package waiting in Independence he had to pick, before going to Lone Pine.
I waited for Yair at the top, and we both hiker together the 5.5 remaining miles down, fantasizing about town food and showers.
At the bottom we waited near the exit from the campground, hoping to catch a ride down to Independence or maybe even directly to Lone Pine. But it was a bit late for outgoing cars, at around 15:00. Finally, a car came and dropped two hikers. They earned us the guy charges hikers for the trip, but we managed to get a decent price at $10 each, all the way to Lone Pine.
The ride was scary, especially the way down from the campground, where he barely used the brakes in all those twists and turns. But we got in alive. We found Idan at the hostel, and got a room with two bunk beds for us. I got to bunk. Yay.
In town, we went to eat Mexican (a huge portion, we barely moved afterwards), and Idan did the laundry (he ate earlier).
In the evening we went for pizza at the Pizza Factory. It was way too cheesy. I wouldn't recommend it.
Yair and Idan partying in our room