Thursday 21 June (0715-1000)
Distance: PCT miles: 0; non-PCT miles: 5
There was a little nervousness as we pitched the tent last night.
After leaving the PCT to join the Bullfrog Lake Trail (not Bulldog
Lake, as I keep calling it), we passed a sign which said that there
was no camping at the lake. Had we passed a similar sign at the other
end then we would have been happy, but no such sign appeared. Hoping
that the exclusion applied to the lake shore only (or otherwise that
there wasn't a ranger hiding behind a nearby boulder) we pitched the
tent on a dry pond bed slightly further up the valley.
Our pitch was just at the start of the ascent up the Kearsarge Pass.
This walk out for resupply isn't just an extra 15 miles, there's also
more than a modicum of up involved. It's not too bad on the way out
(just 1500') and as we made our way up the switch-backs, we were
trying to guess where the trail crossed the ridgeline. It was a head
popping up on the ridge that gave the location away, and when we got
up there we found four people, two of them still in their sleeping
bags having spent the night in the tiny flat area on the top.
The 2500' drop down the other side seemed never ending, the 3 miles
going on for about 8. Most people we passed were on a mission to get
back to the PCT, but one chap did stop for a proper chat when he heard
our accents. Turns out he lives about 15 miles away from us!
Had we known that there was trail magic, and lifts to town, right at
the trailhead, then we would have made the effort to get down there
last night. We had seriously considered doing that, but calculating
that we wouldn't get down there until approaching 9pm, we didn't think
there would be anyone heading to town at that time, and didn't know
there was a campground.
The trail angels were out on a walk when we got to their pitch (we'd
met them on our way), but no sooner had we sat down with a can of cold
pop than a chap called Backtrack volunteered his girlfriend to give us
a lift down to Independence. Yeah! How easy was that?
With our parcel collected (tip: call it a package not a parcel when
you go to collect, or there can be much confusion) and Subway
sandwiches eaten, we needed to get to Lone Pine and the next bus
wasn't for hours. There's not much in Independence other than a
convenience store at the petrol station, and a Subway, and we'd had a
recommendation that Lone Pine was a good place to go (it being a third
of the distance than the other option, Bishop).
In our second stroke of good fortune, we were just cramming the
contents of the parcel into our bear canisters, when a chap started
chatting to us (including the usual 'Australia or New Zealand?'
question). Mick thought he'd just sneak in the fact that we were
trying to get to town, and what do you know but this chap was heading
that way. Half an hour later we were drinking pop with PCTers Magellan
and (can't remember his name) in a bar across the street from where we
intended to spend the night.
A relaxed afternoon has been had. After a lot of pre-washing*, laundry
was done (Mick couldn't join me in the Laundromat - he has no spare
clothes and in the 40-degree heat declined to use his waterproofs),
shops were perused (I was after a mosi-proof shirt, but couldn't get
one) and we sat around a lot. A pre-dinner starter of a pint of
ice-cream each helped the calorie deficit (we're both rather skinny at
the moment and with our hip-belts being too big even at their smallest
limits, our heavy bags aren't as comfy as we would like) but I fear
that we're not going to be able to cram in enough food to make a
signficiant difference before we hit the trail again.
As to the town of Lone Pine, it seems that it was the base for the
filming of lots of cowboy films, so there are plaques and memorabilia
at every turn. We're all the way down at 4000' in town, on a plain
which is surrounded by mountains that look like artists impressions.
With the colour of the sky, the colour of the hills (light grey) and
the haziness of the air, they just don't look real! It's not been a
bad place to spend a day.
Now to try to hitch (or maybe 'yogi') a lift back to Independence,
with the hope of then catching someone heading up to the trailhead on
a Friday evening.
(* I gave the socks a pre-wash in 10 changes of water before I
adjudged them clean enough to go in the machine!)