Day 73: 6/20/14, PCT Mile 790

Miles hiked: 8.5 (only 0.9 on the PCT – rest on the Onion Valley Trail returning over Kearsarge Pass)
Camped at: campsite at 11,093 feet below Glen Pass, with Tortoise

6 hours of leisurely hiking today, many breaks, and great conversation – along with the beautiful Sierra scenery, it doesn’t get much better than this! I deliberately planned a Nero for today to get back to the trail, not knowing how long it might take to get to the trailhead. Turns out I shouldn’t have worried – getting back to the trail went incredibly smoothly. This morning I was glad to learn that Rev Blister had also decided to take the commuter bus from Bishop to Independence, as that gave me someone to hitch with along with company. We went to the coffee shop for breakfast before trudging out the mile to Kmart to catch the 7am bus, later being chagrined to learn that the bus stopped in front of Jack’s restaurant which is a block or 2 from the hostel. After an interesting mix of civil servants for the Independence courthouse and youth conservation corps folks boarded, we made our way to Independence, where a Subway and bathroom stop occurred before attempting to hitch to the trailhead. We were extremely lucky that the first car to pass us pulled over! 5 adults and 5 packs is a tight fit in a Prius but we made it happen. A nice older couple with their grown son was going out for the weekend, and having hiked the John Muir Trail (JMT) before immediately pulled over for us. We had an interesting discussion about ultra lightweight gear on the trip to the trailhead, as they were recent converts.

After devouring my lunch sandwich at 9:30am so I could throw away the trash, I started the long climb back up to Kearsarge Pass. What a delight to take as many pictures as I wanted with a working phone! I leapfrogged most of the way up with a nice trio from Las Vegas with their 3 dogs. I also met Tortoise, a JMT hiker going northbound (he’s hiked it multiple times) who wants to complete a triple crown before he’s 70! He was invaluable to quiz about possible campsites and the trail coming up. We’re camped together tonight and had a great conversation over dinner :).

The worst part about today was that my pack (and shoulders) were groaning under the weight of all the food. The ursack is being actively used, as some packaged snacks and smellies (ie toothpaste and lotion) just can’t fit yet in the bear can, oy. I don’t think my pack has ever looked so big and overflowing, and that’s saying something considering the long water carries we had in the desert.

I was in camp by 4:30, and Tortoise soon joined me. I was then thrilled to see Coach, who I camped with on Day 2! He’s recovering from a foot injury and his wife isn’t hiking right now due to herinjury, but it was so good to see him still out here. Lots of visiting happened, as Pockets and Dust Bunny soon showed up. After getting water from the babbling seasonal brook here, the gals proceeded up and over Glen Pass, so hopefully I’ll catch them in a few days or at VVR as I really like them both. Hopefully my 1 pass per day plan will work out well, though I’m certainly willing to begin pushing myself again if I’m not tired and daylight remains, not hard with the solstice being tomorrow ;). Writer is also somewhere ahead of me, doing shorter miles, so hopefully I’ll meet up with her, I just love chance meetings in the woods!

Thinking a lot about the lovely ladies of Trail Dames tonight as the 4th Summit opens. While I love hiking here on the PCT,I do wish I could transport myself back to the east coast this weekend – it was such a morale boost to see everyone last year and the Summit’s energy is always so positive and uplifting. Plus, the Summit rolling around always reminds me that it was just 3 years ago this month that I became serious about going out backpacking instead of it being something I just dreamed about. Thanks again Trail Dames and Stacy Boone of Step Outdoors for giving me the start in backpacking that I so desperately wanted! Love you ladies!!

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