The full title of this post should be “Onion Valley Campground or how a broken USB cable got me stuck in Independence and going to the toilet got me out of there“, but that’s too long for the system.
Anyway, I had been to and fro about staying another night in Bishop or hitting the trail today but now felt more for getting back, so things had to move quickly for that to work out. This might seem like a minor thing but fir some reason my battery pack that I use to recharge my phone and my headlamp hadn’t charged this night. I had been having some issues with a loose connection when, via an adapter using the battery pack with a USB cable, but thought that the problem was the adapter being a cheap one from eBay, but turned out that it was the USB cable itself. Bummer. After breakfast I went to get a new cable and started charging the battery pack, but that takes several hours and I had to be checked out before 11 am. Did laundry and went for a quick dip in the pool which was nice, but the urgency and number of other things I had to do detracted from the experience (the pool experience; I don’t enjoy laundry in particular). I convinced the receptionist at the hotel to let me keep charging the battery while I was shopping. I did the resupply and then spent some time outside the supermarket trying to make it all fit into my bear canister. I have never filed so meticulously as I more or less used every cubic inch. The pop tarts will be all crumbled by now based on the way they completely contour the ridfes of the bear canister, but that’s how it is. While trying to fill the bear canister outside the supermarket quite a few people came up and started talking to me. One guy had himself hiked a lot in the Sierras an md surprisingly had a brother who were a psychiatrist working in the same Danish town where I studied medicine. I didn’t know his brother though. He suggested to camp up high to avoid the mosquitoes. Another guy whi was also through hiking suggested that we had a shoot the bear canister when we were done with it because of the weight it added to our pack. He was somewhat frustrated over having to skip part of the the Sierras because he didn’t want to walk in the snow for an extended stretch that was currently covered in snow. Additionally an old man came up and asked if I had heard that Donald Trump had tweeted that CNN and Canada and not North Korea was the biggest threat to the US. I hadn’t but believed it. He also said that it was getting harder to live as a retiree as the cost of living had increased while the pension hadn’t.
To postpone leaving town to gain more battery, I had lunch at Denny’s. The staff was hard at work and friendly , but still the place was quite dirty with overflowing urinals and thrash in the booths where you sit and eat. I then got the battery pack from the hotel and it was probably 60% charged. Way better than not having it but I will have to ration my phone use for the next stretch.
Having everything ready I then went hitchhiking. The first place I thought of hitchhiking was directly in front of the police station, butI didn’t feel that was appropriate even though hitchhiking is legal here. I then went further south to the edge of town and stood there for some time in the baking sun (Bishop is at the desert floor), but after maybe an hour I got lucky. A white BMW cabriolet pulled over. At first I thought that didn’t relate to me, but then the woman driving the car waved me over. I thanked her a lot for giving me a ride and asked if there was room in the trunk for my pack and she said that I could simply throw it on the back seat. Having never driven in a cabriolet, I quite ignorantly asked if it wouldn’t blow away. If I should describe Marry, the kind woman who gave me a lift in two words it would be vibrant and joyful. She was half dutch half indonesian and as her five sons had now grown up she had recently quit her jobs as skiing instructor for children and DJ’ing at reggae skiing barbecue parties in Big Bear to work at a renowned spa resort near Yosemite as part time wedding planner and part time handling practical things. She was sleeping on a sheep skin in the back of her car until she found something better. She knew of the PCT and had done trail magic. I therefore told her the story about how much the cold coke I got under the Interstate had meant. I also told her the story about the bear encounter just because I thought it was a cool one. She said that she had once trown a piece of meat at the windscreen of her husband’s car only to find a bear eating it the next morning. That was also a nice story.
She dropped me off in The city of Independence and I thanked her again. I had really enjoyed meeting her and our conversation. I have actually come to like talking to and getting to know people from hitchhiking and in that way meeting people from completely different places in society and seeing things from their point of view.
I was at the intersection where I had previously hitched to Bishop. I meat a group of hikers there who were relaxing and having a beer. While it would be tempting to join in, I felt that that would be an extraordinarily bad idea as it was already four pm. Why the time of the day mattered so much was because I had to hitch up to the trail head meaning having to get a hitch from someone going hiking, which was quickly getting less and less probable as people instead were heading home. Only a few cars went up that road and none of them picked me up. Two other hikers cane slightly later and instead planned to camp at a nearby small campground as they had also had problems making it quickly out of Bishop. I was nearing six pm as I finally gave up and instead planned to find accommodation in Independence instead. In the unlikely scenario that I would get a ride, it would be to late to hike the 7.5 miles back over Kearsarge Pass as I had planned anyway. Only problem was that I really had to poop so I walked to the nearby campground to take care of that first. I saw the two hikers from before there. As I came out of the toilet the husband of a family that was camping nearby asked how many we where and where we were going and subsequently offered a ride. Top notch! He and his family were taking a weeks vacation right now but were from near Palm Springs, so he knew many of the places we had seen on the trail. As I was from Denmark, he asked me what a napkin is called in Danish to which I answered “serviet”, which didn’t surprise him as that apparently is what it is called across a broad range of languages. I thanked him a lot when he dropped us off. I unfortunately forgot his name, but would have thanked him here by name in the exceedingly unlikely scenario that he saw this. He brought a bunch of hikers down from the trail to Independence on his way back.
At the trail head, there was actually trail magic by a friendly man who had rented a spot on the campground next to the trail head for a couple of days. He had only colas left of his trail magic, but that was also very nice after all the standing and waiting for rides. He had “PCT” as part of his license plate. I decided to camp there as it would be getting rather late if I had to get over Kearsarge as previously mentioned.
I was glad that I had made it back even though my nero had turned into a zero.