Today so much happened, but I’m not going to say that so much happened that I don’t know how to start, because chronologically would be a good way, but after this meta discussion, I thought what the heck, let’s embrace the post modern non chronological storytelling and cut to the end. It ends with me eating dried cranberries, drinking a glass of riesling, and listening to Explosions in the Skies from the speaker of my smartphone while taking a bath in a bathtub at in a hotel, but before we get to that again, let’s get back to the start.
Today the goal was to get across Forrester Pass and out of the Sierras through Kearsarge Pass. Me and the other hikers that I camped with all wanted to cross Forrester in the early morning, so we started hiking the four miles to the pass. I looked in disbelief at the small inscidiwhich was mostly snow free, but there were a handful of snow patches that you could either carefully walk on top of or around and then pick up the trail later. I walked a bit with Panda and we shortly lost the trail by following footprints in the snow but scrambled on some rocks back on the trail. Thanks GPS :-). Only cost us like ten minutes. After that the ascent was smooth sailing until a snow chute (a passage of steep snow blocking the trail). I had seen pictures of this on the internet and found it slightly intimidating. Luckily so many people had already crossed it that there were deep holes in the snow that you could use for footing. Only at the very part one had to make a slightly longer step, but it wasn’t bad. Shortly after we were at the top. The views on both sides were amazing and a nice start to the day. However, it also became apparent just how much snow there was on the north side of the pass. Some people chose to glissade down it, that is going down like on a slide. Other people chose to walk down along the actual trail me included. But first I put on some sunscreen even on the underside of my nose to combat the reflected rays from the snow. Then I took out my ice axe in case i needed to self-arrest (more on that later, probably) and put on my microspikes. The latter are kind of light cramp-ons. Walking across the snow was mostly easy going in the beginning and the microspikes added a lot of traction. However, as the sun was out and the snow already getting slushy, I soon started post-holing, which is when you break through the upper crust of the snow with one of your steps. Most of the time it was only shin deep post-holing but there were a couple of thigh high post holes. My feet were getting soaked from snow and water, but nothing to do about that. I hastened up and with quite some effort made it through the first long stretch of snow on to rock again. However there was still a lot of way down, which made me nervous, but when I made it around a corner it turned out to be mostly snow free. On the next plateau there was patches of snow, which didn’t pose as big of a problem. I mostly just walked around them, but that left me briefly losing the trail a handful of times and walking in the uneven terrain. Eventually The PCT descended enough to leave the last snow patch behind, but there was still a rather long stretch left today as I was aiming to exit the Sierras through Kearsarge pass to do a resupply and I had already used quite a bit of energy.
After a while my shoes got dry, I ascended quite a bit again, and I reached the junction to Kearsarge Pass, where I thus temporarily left the PCT. Shortly thereafter the trail went by a small lake, which was really nice with its welcoming calmness that starkly contrasted the austere raging waters, sharp rocks, and barrenness that followed Forrester Pass. I walked on an passed a couple of other lakes followed by an unexpected further ascent. I had thought that I had more or less made it all the way up when I got to the start of the Kearsarge Pass trail. That was quite wrong, but I eventually made it to the actual Kearsarge Pass and afterwards descended for what felt like an eternity until I finally, in quite sleepy state reached the trailhead, where I was aiming to get a hitch from to the town of Independence and from there a further hitch to the town of Bishop. Luckily I quickly got a hitch to Independence from a day hiker who had already picked up three other hikers and her dog. Three of us hikers were in the backseats along with my backpack as well as the dog, which calmly sat right in front of our knees behind the first row of seats. Our driver had been up at thebpas with her dog, which she enjoyed and often was. We talked about this and that until we reached the nearby Independence. Thank you so much for the hitch, Maria!
We now had to get to Bishop. Two of the other hikers were brothers and sisters and tried to hitch together. I therefore asked the remaining hiker, who was a woman that had actually camped the same place as me last night, if she would like to be my “ride bride”. A ride bride is the female in a man and a female trying to hitchhike together as the female hitchhikers more easily get rides. However, it did take us between a half and a whole hour to get a hitch, but I think that is expected on the 395, which is the primary road stretching all the way along the east side of the Sierras in some way from Reno to Las Vegas. This is not a place where many people know the PCT, nor that you likely are a PCT hiker and further ,they don’t know how long you are going.
So despite having a ride bride it took between a half and a whole hour to get a ride, which unexpectedly was from a truck carrying a wide load of some kind for Tesla. He was a friendly guy who unfortunately just had lost his son to drugs and was fighting to save his granddaughter from the same faith. He had also recently been married for the third time, or technically the second as the first marriage hadn’t properly been nullified and the second one there hadn’t been binding which was they wanted to rectify in Las Vegas. He really seemed like a good and caring person, but in my mind also had a couple of misguided and xenophobic notions. He thought that he and other truck drivers were driving around with too much poison and that the UN had a plan to eliminate ninety five percent of the worlds population to eliminate overpopulation. He was also afraid that immigrants were trying to force shariah law upon the US and take away their freedom (while saying freedom he gestured towards the open landscape surrounding the road). He also said that he couldn’t travel to other countries because he would get arrested for things that were normal here like holding hands.
I will refrain from stating our drivers name in case his company frowns upon him picking up hitchhikers, but just say that we were very thankful for the ride. Shortly after thwe got out of the truck forty miles later in Bishop, my fellow hiker looked at me to see what my reaction was to all this. I didn’t look back immediately as I was waiting for the truck to drive off. After that we talked a bit about the situation while walking to the hostel we both had planned to stay at. She was very liberal and offended by our drivers statements, but also saw that he was a good person at heart. We talked about how it was nice to see people from other parts of the society andshe hoped in some way to better understand who and why people voted for Trump. She said that her friends in some way was an echohamber to her own thoughts because we tend to surround ourselves with likeminded people. When we eventually reached the hostel it was fully booked so instead we went to two separate hotels. I had two quick burgers at McD on the way as I hadn’t eaten anything in like two hours. After a quick stop at the supermarket I got to where I started tis blog entry. What a day!