Waking up from sleeping indoors was a bit strange but as it had gotten colder in the hut than it had been the evening before it still felt normal. Snakebite left almost as soon as he awoke but us and Calculus chilled out for some time, eating our breakfasts and talking.
In the night we did get some more rain and wind but as we opened the hut door in the morning we could see about 50% of clear skies and there wasn’t much wind at all. What a great start for the day!
We only had 7 miles to go until Walker’s Pass and as most of it was downhill we did it pretty fast. It was a bit chilly at first but once we got going we quickly warmed up and the sun started to shine more and more. Once we got fully out of the clouds we got our first views of the snowy peaks of the High Sierra – waiting for us during the upcoming week. We took some photos and continued downhill, enjoying the green surroundings as all the snow from the previous day had melted.
We finally reached the pass at around ten, wrote our names in the trail register and even found some trail magic behind the monument – an apple and an orange for each! It was pretty windy here so we dressed up a bit and then threw up the thumb to try and catch a ride to Lake Isabella. I read from Guthook that the hitch is supposedly a hard one so we settled in for a long wait. We also had some phone signal there so we tried to find a trail angel there but to no avail. Our plan was to get a ride to town, somehow do laundry and get a shower and then hitch a ride back to trail.
After just about 10 minutes a big Dodge truck stopped and picked us up – it was Jason who was driving to Lake Isabella for work. He owns multiple trailer home parks and so he spends a couple of days per week there to maintain them. He suggested we could do our laundry and stuff at his place and that he could then later drop us at the store for resupply. We were so grateful for this kindness and quickly agreed. We got to talking during the 24 mile drive and Jason was very friendly with us – we found out he’s part Dutch and rides a Harley. He also used to have pet rats and snakes, our kind of guy!
While we were sorting ourselves out he had some business to attend to but once he got back he suggested we could just spend the night there and that he’d drive us out to Walker Pass in the morning. We thought about it and also called Team Seattle, who were about a day behind us on trail – they said the forecast promised rain for the night but only good weather from the next day onwards so we decided to stay at Jason’s.
After Jason got back we went to Burger King to use the wifi for a couple of hours. And then we moved on for our resupply – we also decided to cook a vegan dinner for for Jason to say thank you. After the groceries we got back to the house and started cooking – we served an avocado-spinach-spring onion salad and vegan ratatuille plus some focaccia we had bought. Luckily Jason liked our vegetable-packed meal. We then sat around a bit before, exchanging contacts and stories. And then it was bed time – the bed was soooo soft and nice, our third time to sleep in a bed during our time on trail.
We all had cereal together for breakfast and also took a picture together with Jason. We realized that the trail will pass Mammoth later on in the Sierras and as Jason has a house there it might be possible to meet up again! Really hoping it’ll work out like that.
Sadly it was then time to move on – we loaded our (not as heavy as usual – just food for 2,5 days) packs in the truck and drove out to Walker’s Pass. The weather was perfect – just as the forecast had promised. Nevertheless it was sad to say good bye to Jason but we had to.
Our hiking day started with a 800m ascent but it was a great one – it wasn’t too hot yet and the gradient allowed us to hold a good pace. Once up on the ridge we took some photos of the amazing views and then hiked on. A bit before our lunchtime we met two hikers from the Czech Republic. Even though nice people we were a bit amazed by the weight they were carrying: they already had their mountaineering gear plus a fishing rod (that they hadn’t used once) and a week’s worth of food. They were therefore going to skip Kennedy Meadows, which is where most people gear up for the High Sierras. But, it’s not for us to say what they should do so we just pushed on until we found a nice lunchspot at a mountain pass.
The rest of the day was to be hard: 600m descent, 300m ascent, 300m descent and then another 500m ascent until the campsite we planned to stay at. It was now also the heat of the day and the going was pretty tough – especially the downhills that made my herls hurt a lot. After reaching the last water source of the day, which was before the final uphill, we filtered some water as The Flying Amanita cought up with us! We were so happy to see him and hear that his plantar fascitis is much better. We enjoyed a small break together and then started on the uphill together.
This uphill was way steeper than the previous ones had been but at least the sun was now getting lower in the sky so it wasn’t that hot anymore. After a gruelling climb we once again reached a mountain pass, found our tentsite and started to set the tent up just as Amanita cought up with us. He decided to have his dinner with us but then push on as he felt that it might be his record day. And so we had a nice meal & chat and we made some plans regarding Bishop and Mt Rainier.
Then, as usual, Kristians and I had a little movie night and then a good night’s sleep. I must also note here that when I went out to pee before bedtime the sky was the clearest ever and there were a billion stars!
We did almost 25 miles over 11 and a half hours and ascended over a 1000 meters. We woke up early knowing what we were in for: the plan was to get as close to Kennedy Meadows as possible, hopefully to the South Fork Kern River.
This was definitely a day to behold – besides the great weather we had amazing views and a good mood. Kristians described the day as if it was a conclusion to the desert section, showing all the facets of the nature we had gone through within the last 700 miles. We went through a pine forest, a barren desert section, areas covered in boulders, climbed hills and walked on flats, passed streams and could see snow-topped peaks in the distance. To mark the end of the desert was the Kern River – we hadn’t seen that much water since Deep Creek.
After a long day (but good spirits) we finally reached the river and found a nice camping spot under a big pine tree. As we were right by the river Kristians decided to go for a skinny dip!
We had our dinner outside of the tent for once and then made a fire out of pine cones as it was getting a bit chilly. But the cold was not enough to make us go into the tent – as a cherry on top we could admire the clear starry skies.
This day was definitely a good finish for this section – it feels like a whole new adventure is starting, even though it’s all still a part of the PCT. I guess that’s the beauty of a trail that lasts for half a year and crosses more than 4000 kilometers.