Day 55: (7 miles) Chicken Spring Lake
Up right on time 5:30 am. Can’t seem to get past that time any more even when sleeping in a motel. So, up we go and make plans to eat breakfast at the Alabama’s Cafe, do laundry (while eating…right next to the cafe), resupply our food, buy lunch at Subway, and hitch a ride 22 miles to Horseshoe Meadow all by 2pm. We eat with a group of eager, hungry, and interesting hikers. Everyone is sharing their plans for the up coming week and the big question is, what about Mt. Whitney? We’ve decided to wait and see how I react when I return to altitude. If I’m having altitude illness issues then we will skip the climb and continue to Kearsage pass. Paul really wants to summit and I’ve told him he can go ahead if it I cant, but he wants to do it together. We will see. After all the town chores were complete we made a sign for Horseshoe Meadow and waited at the corner with our thumbs out. It’s Memorial Day weekend and the town is busy with tourist and traffic. This should be easy — Not! We wait for an hour and have a couple of nibbles and psych outs. (Nibbles are people that can give you a lift a few miles but not all the way, and psych outs are cars that pull over, or slow down, and speed off. This is the longest we have waited for a ride. Paul has started giving commentary as the cars head in our direction, ” this is the one, he’s looking, new car , air conditioning … awe come on dude we’re clean and I’ve got new clothes!” Right when we think we should be holding out money or breaking out some soul train dance moves, we get lucky. A car that passed us in the other direction returns. They ask if we are 2Moremiles? We respond yes and they tell us they follow our blog. Cool … fans… we think… never had any…but still cool. Paul jokingly asks them if they want our autograph. They laugh and say they will give us a ride…(they have just come from Horseshoe Meadow but are willing to make the long drive back up the mountain). Awesome. We are the luckiest people alive…or at least hiking the PCT. We add our two backpacks to theirs already in the back of the car. They tell us they are training for the John Muir Trail and leave in 29 days. I spy several large rocks in the back and ask them if they are using them for weight. No, they say. They just collect them…interesting. We talk about backpacking and update them on where we’ve been and how things have been going…that its impossible to write about everything that’s happened and everything we’ve seen and still eat and get some sleep before we have to hike the next day, so we try and pick a theme or the most memorable part(s). We converse non stop all the way to the parking lot. We talk about hiker names and while they don’t think they’ve “earned” thru hiker names, they do have trail names for each other (“WooHoo” and “Butterfingers”). They explained why and I think they fit. I’d place this as one of our favorite hitches so far.
And whom do we see as we get up to Horseshoe Meadow but none other than Banana Boat and a new hiker Trek. Lucky them, cause now they have a ride into town. We bid WooHoo and Butterfingers farewell and wish them happy trails on the JMT. Before we head out back to the trail I scarf half my subway sandwich while Paul eat his whole. While we eat we are asked by an elderly couple if we are hiking the PCT, yes we are…once we’re done eating. We ask how their hike was today, they reply that they have just come from Mule Days in Bishop and thought they’d stop and check out Horseshoe Meadow. They are familiar with the PCT and also tell us they helped build/design the Tahoe Rim Trail. We tell them we are familiar with that trail as we did it last summer in nine days…they are impressed. We talk about mountain bikers on trails and the problems created when you mix hiking trails and bikes, and we finally learned why the hell some steps on steep climbs are so awkwardly far apart… It’s part of a design to keep motorbikes and ATVs off trails. Ya learn something new everyday. We climb up to Cottonwood Pass and onto Chicken Lake and a little past it and camp.
Not bad for a Nero as we leisurely set up camp in a sandy granite bowl, all to ourselves, overlooking what we believe is Whitney Meadows (at least that’s what the trail sign that had pointed in that general direction said.). Okay. Fingers are frozen now. Time to go to bed.