Day 58: (18 miles)
The next morning we got going as early as we could to take advantage of the snow pack having being re-frozen.
We doned our micro spikes and got a move on. We had some serious miles to do. It was nice walking on top of the snow rather than in it. When we stopped for a break and to stow our spikes (they worked great for river crossings with logs too), the couple from the night before caught up to us. They said they battled hypothermia through the night but did not think to start a fire…only sleeping bag and hot tea. They were stopping for a break as well, but we had to keep going. We got this “bright idea” to take the Bullfrog trail off the PCT/John Muir Trail, that meets up with the Kearsage Pass trail.
Although we were treated to beautiful sights it added an unnecessarily steep climb to meet up with the pass. When we reached the top of the pass, we wished we had carried extra food from the beginning, as we realized looking at the path down to Onion Valley Campground (which we could not see) that we would have to slog a full bear canister back up and over this 11760 ft pass. Argh!!
Down the trail we trod, kicking ourselves for not planning better or at least paying better attention to the elevation changes. As we descended toward the campground we were treated to more deer than we have seen our entire hike so far. They stood and stared at us, completely un-phased by our presence. As luck would have it, near the bottom we were passed by SloBro and MeToo. When we got to the parking lot, SloBro had a great idea. Let’s call the Courthouse Motel in Independence and see if they’ll pick us up, and we can stay there at least for the night. Good plan as it was 6:30pm and getting cold. SloBro had heard that the operators of the motel were very hiker friendly and if they had the time they would pick them up from the campground. With two bars of signal, the call was made. They’ll be there in 30 minutes, if we were okay with waiting that long…ah yes, how else were we going to get down the 13 mile single purpose steep paved road, walk?
30 minutes to the second the owner of the motel arrived. We loaded up and were in Independence with a beer in our hand and a hot shower in no time. Atlas, Bearclaw and a few other hikers we recognized were there too. We all shared horror stories of Forrester Pass, and mostly didn’t feel so dumb.