Bishop to Mammoth Lakes
After a zero in bishop (which was filled with excessive food, Junk TV, sleeping, Finding Dory and some laundry) it was time to hit the trail again. Whitney and I ran a bunch of errands, most important for me was to get new tape for my ankle since i've been taping it ever day since I rolled it back after Kennedy Meadows ( you really cruise through huge rolls when you have to re tape it every morning, but the support it offers is critical). We took the bus from Bishop to Independence with a bunch of other hikers and got one last meal (gotta eat fresh so we got subway of course!), then onto hitching. It took about an hour or so before we got picked up but the group of 6 of us all hopped in the back of a lovely older mans truck and back up to the mountains we went. The rest of the chillers were supposed to hike out with us, but didn't make the bus... oh well.
We started hiking around 5ish and cruised up and over Kearsarge pass which was way easier than I thought ( coming down it was no fun and now my pack was full of food, but the zero must have healed everything). We camped about 7 miles in, where the side trail connects back with the PCT, and it was really warm that night, I didn't even zip my sleeping bag. The next week was pretty much one pass a day. One pass is about all your body can take, as each one is about a 3,000 ft climb, and they're mostly between 11,000 and 12,000 ft. Ups in the mornings and downs in the afternoon. After the first pass I was exhausted, and went for a swim during a long lunch break. The rest of the chillers caught up to us as we were packing up to head out - they're always nearby. The afternoon hiking was so pretty. Everything in the sierras is pretty. I still feel like i'm in a dream.
The next few days were pass filled, and it was mostly just Whitney and I on our own. It's nice having someone who has the same mileage goals as you on a daily basis, and we had packed out the same amount of food, with plans of resupplying the last few days at a hiker box at Muir Trail Ranch, then Vermillion Valley Resort. Whitney rolls with a super light pack and hikes fast, so I was pushing to keep up, not only physically but with my pack - cutting almost all luxuries (except my golf ball and baby oil). We've also been sharing some things to help out with the weight. He uses my stove, I use his water filter kind of thing. Teamwork makes the dreamwork or something like that. Anyways, more passes, more snow, more miles, the usual. Other highlights include some waist and many knee deep river crossings (we only had to link arms for 3 of them). I snapped my second trekking pole, so i've successfully busted both of them. No more poles for me. We had lunch at one of the most amazing spots yet on the trip (photos on instagram). Also, I discovered a playlist called "bounce house" that has gotten me up some serious climbs through burning muscular pain.
The bugs are also getting crazy. The past week has been pretty warm - leading to lots of snow melting, and lots of stagnant water, and lots of mosquitoes. Campsites have to be chosen a bit more carefully and I've definitely been spending more time in my tent once im in camp - no more cowboy camping for a bit. After 5 days, food was low, and we were banking on the hiker boxes at the Ranch. Upon arriving, the boxes had enough, but it was a little bleak and our mileage was going to have to jump up a bit to make it to town and still be hungry. We decided to skip VVR to save some money as well, although they have free beer there so now I owe Whitney a beer. Boys and their beer. Anywho, we climbed up from the ranch and my legs felt like lead, what a day. My calves were exhausted. I think the lack of calories and trying to push forward with 18 to 20 miles a day was really stressing my body, and I could feel myself becoming more and more cranky as I rationed out my food very strategically. Bars. Next time, I'm packing out all of the bars. Being stuck with nothing but meals is a sad feeling.
We pushed through a long 18 something mile day and camped earlier than intended because we found a nice bug free spot. As we set up camp and watched the sun set over the valley, Bear Bait ( a fellow hiker I've known since very very early on) rolled into our camp to say hi and that he was camped nearby. He happened to have some extra food to donate to our cause which lifted our spirits dramatically. Its hard to enjoy everything when your hangry. The next morning we were going to get up and crush 23 miles to leave 10 into town - and our food was going to get us there perfectly - time to push. We were on trail by 7 and I was cruising. Music is a little taste of heaven and dramatically lifts my spirits - unfortunately Whitney was having a rough time. I felt terrible, but we cruised as best we could on calorie deprived bodies, taking snack free breaks (there honestly isn't much that's more sad as a thru hiker than taking a break and knowing you cant eat). One last pass before town then it was all mellow and downhill. As we crossed a bridge, I saw someone in the distance.
I literally though I was loosing it - it looked like Chip's hat, and hair, and stuff, but the shorts were really short. As we walked a bit closer I saw the yellow tent and realized I wasn't loosing it at all. IT WAS CHIPS, and bigbird (his tent). For those of you who don't remember him, I hiked the first several hundred miles with chips. I had actually debating opening myself up to new trail names a few days prior, since guac without chips is just lame. Anyways, it was him, and my heart exploded. I ran over, gave him a massive hug then attempted to piece everything together. He gave Whitney and I some wine and explained himself. He had crushed up to Yosemite, climbed with friends for a week or so then hiked backwards the past few days, taking it easy and enjoying some of the things he hadn't had time to savor the first time. Did I mention I was in shock? The wine hit pretty fast, and we headed up the last climb of the section. Being drunk and hiking was great for the first few miles, then I was tired. My legs were tired. My mind was racing and I felt like I was on a cloud. After a month of being apart and having almost no communication, there he was.
One thing I didn't realize in the month he had been gone, was that I've gotten stronger, and faster, and lighter. Keeping up with the speed chillers changed the way I hiked, and now, it was showing. I put on some tunes and cruised up the pass, where we all re grouped at the top and ate lunch. That night we camped at a lake again with some magical views and being in Chip's tent was so nice. I had forgotten just how much space there was in there. We woke up the next morning to most of the old Tramily walking by - so crazy how the trail works. People you haven't seen in a few hundred miles just appear out of nowhere! A bunch of us hiked into Reds Meadows and stuffed our faces with burgers and milk shakes and decided to get a hotel in town since it was hailing at the time.
I'm currently in Mammoth Lakes with a bunch of other hikers, taking care of the massive list of things I need to get done (repairing my shoes so they can last another 200 miles was a huge priority - fingers crossed that they hold up). Towns are stressful, I always feel so frantic trying to get everything done in 24 hours - but im getting better at it. Also, I was supposed to get a dress but the post office and UPS can't seem to work in my favor so im stuck with the same tattered shorts and brown shirt for another 200 miles or so.
A few other things I want to just put out there again. If you have Spotify and good music, send me playlists! Also if you wanna send me a treat (letters, food and anything that's not heavy) please send the love. Getting support from friends and family is huge out here.