About 7 non-PCT miles over Kearsarge Pass to the Onion Valley trailhead

It was cold last night. I stayed in my sleeping bag for about as long as I could stand it, just wanting to stay warm, and was still hiking by a little after 6:00. 

It was a beautiful morning. Bullfrog lake was still. The trail was peaceful. The climb got steep as we reached Kearsarge Pass, but it wasn’t bad. A piece of cake compared to yesterday. 

  

 
The other side of the pass was a different story. It was cruiser at first, then turned rocky and then snowy. I slowed down and hikers started flying past me, some of them not even using the trail, but cutting straight down the mountain. 

  

My knees are in bad shape. Sometimes I can’t straighten my left leg because it catches at the back. It’s frustrating. So, I limped along down the trail slowly, slipping my microspikes on to help me with the snow. 

About a mile from the trailhead, it occurred to me that I might get service, so I tried. Three bars and LTE! I placed a call to Hunter and he answered! Ah, such a sweet sound, his voice. We talked for about fifteen minutes about this and that. I told him I was safe. He said he hadn’t been worried at all and had kind of pushed the whole thing out of his head. So, I needn’t have worried over his worry. I can relax. We’re both growing. Our relationship is stronger than ever. It feels good. 

We hung up, and I kept hiking, more and more excited to get to town. Cashmere and I joined forces the rest of the way down, both going slowly, keeping company. 

When we reached the bottom, it was time to find a ride. It wasn’t so much that we were hitchhiking, but trying to get someone to take us to town. The trailhead is the end of the road. We walked around asking people at the campsites if they were planning to go to town. No. We walked around the parking lot. Everyone was about to head up for a hike. We would have to wait. 

There was a couple loading up an SUV and as they pulled away, I shouted to them and asked if they could take a few of us down to Independence. They would, they said, but they were fully loaded and heading to Argentina. We wished them luck and they pulled away. 

About ten minutes later, the couple drove up again. They said they could take about five people if we were willing to stand along the running boards and hold on to the top. I motioned for the people who had gotten to the trailhead before us to go on ahead. I was both relieved and jealous as they drove off. 

  

There we sat, wondering when our next opportunity would be, when another white SUV pulled up. A man and a woman got out and walked toward us. The woman asked if they sold ice up here. I wasn’t sure if she was joking, so I made a joke about the frozen lake five miles up the mountain. Then, the woman launched into a 30 minute pitch for the Jehovah’s Witnesses. We all sat there listening, caught so off guard. We took her pamphlets. 

Fifteen minutes into what now felt like a rant, a jeep, empty but for the driver, slowly rolled past us and down the hill toward town. Not one of us moved, frozen by the spectacle. This pissed me off. Believe whatever crazy thing you want, I sure as hell don’t pretend to have the answers, but don’t hold people captive to meet some quota and keep them from getting places they need to go. I was hungry and I was over it. 

I excused myself and went to the privy. When I came back, I talked to Renee off to the side about our need to actually get a ride. He asked the Jehova’s Witnesses if they could give us a ride to town. They said no. 

A white pickup truck had driven into the parking lot and was hovering off to the side, not stopping not going. I started to walk over to them and they started to drive toward me. I waved and the driver rolled down her window and said she’d be happy to take as many as would fit in the back. Seven of us piled in with our packs. 

  

Fifteen minutes later, we were dropped off in Independence. I picked up the box I had mailed to myself and walked to Subway for a sandwich. 

After the sandwich, a group of us started trying to catch a hitch the 40 miles to Bishop. I walked about half a mile before someone picked me up, a nice couple from outside of L.A. Thanks, Sam and Dan. Inside their spotless car, I was hyper-aware of how dirty I was. 

They dropped me at The Hostel California in Bishop, where I got a bunk for $20. 

I put some sheets on my bed, took a shower, and decided to go to dinner. Everyone I knew had disbursed, so I went alone, sad that this seems to be the case too often. I was feeling very tired and emotional, admittedly feeling sorry for myself now. 

I found a place to have some just-okay pizza and replied to some emails. Then I went to Kmart and bought a real bra, some real panties, a pair of shoes, a couple of dresses, some nail polish and some deodorant! I’m going to transform myself into a real girl! 

  
(Nu shooz)

I made the long walk back to the hostel in the dark and climbed into bed. Top bunk again. I’m not sure how I’m going to get down from here in the morning, but it’s cozy up here right now. 

Today’s hike was powered by thoughts of pizza.