mile 630.9 (Bird Spring Pass) – 651.3 (Walker Pass Campground)
Around 10:30 last night, I woke up sweating. Wide awake. I saw a blurry shooting star above me and started groping around for my glasses, finally finding them underneath my sleeping pad. Must be more careful.
I thought about packing up and starting the three mile climb ahead, but my feet were throbbing. I wondered, briefly, if I would be able to walk in the morning, but pushed that from my mind and closed my eyes.
By 5:00, I was hiking. Up and up along the sandbox path. At the top, I stopped for breakfast and a rest. Just as I started walking again, Salsa and Turbo Snail walked up behind me. I moved to let them through, but they weren’t going faster than me, so we walked together the rest of the day.
They are young and adorable, and they have the best meet-cute story I’ve ever heard. They met when they were, like, 13 years old on MySpace. Remember MySpace? They got to know each other through messenger and talking on the phone and they finally met IRL when they were 18. They’ve been together ever since and now they’re married. They tell the story much better than I do.
I move much faster when I’m with other people. I’ve been poking along the past few days on my own. But walking with other people, especially new people, there’s so much to talk about, which really keeps my mind off any heat or pain or interminable miles.
We got to Walker Pass around 3:00. From above, we could see day tents and tarps, so we began speculating about trail Angels and what might be waiting for us. “It’s probably just a guy selling vegetables on the side of the road,” said Salsa. I said, “I hope he’s selling watermelons! Or cantaloupe!” “Yeah,” said Salsa, “and cold Coronas.”
When we got to the tent, it was a trail angel, with cookies and beer and soda…and watermelon! So exciting!
We took our place with about 12 other hikers under a small tarp around a picnic table. I grabbed an apple and a soda and sat down.
Looking out over the mountains I saw a column of what looked like smoke. I asked them about it and they said that a fire had broken out about 30 minutes before. Uh-oh. As we say there, the cloud of smoke rose higher and started to spread across the sky.
We decided to hitch to the Weldon KOA. When we drove up, there was a group of hikers out front staring at the smoke cloud. Rumors were already flying about where the fire was and what this would mean.
We found out a little later that the fire had started at a campground about 28 trail miles north in the Chimney Peak Wilderness area northeast of Onyx, CA. The trail was later officially closed from Highway 78 to Kennedy Meadows- 50 miles of trail.
Salsa, Turbo Snail and I got a campsite for the night and ordered a pizza. Nothing we can do until we have more info tomorrow. At least we’re safe.
If you’d like to find info on the Chimney Peak Wilderness Fire, search #chimneyfire.