Last night it was ridiculously cold. Jan said her digital thermometer read 33°. Yikes! We have one more day of acclimation before we start our circuitous route to Mt. Whitney. This evening April, Steve and Trevor are to arrive. This morning we will do a short hike out of camp via “Trail Pass” towards Mulkey Creek to warm up the legs and test my body’s (in particular my head’s) response to activity at 10,000 ft and above. After that we plan on heading back down into Lone Pine for a $5 shower (it doesn’t hurt to start out fresh) at the Whitney Portal Store & Hostel , and some last minute emails and updates for our respective blogs. While at Horseshoe Meadows (one of the many Inyo National Forest campgrounds that sports 18 “walk-in” campsites at $6 a site via an Iron Ranger), we’ve been watching as the PCT hikers trickle in to do their resupplies, most not realizing how far out of the way Horseshoe Meadows is from “civilization”. It is 19 miles to town on a road that is sparsely traveled, which makes for a hard hitch and an even longer road walk. On our way back in from our morning hike we meet a young couple (NightCap and CottonBall) hiking the PCT. They ask if we are heading into town. We tell them we will be…after lunch, and invite them for lunch. They decline our offer, saying they will stay put in hopes of getting a ride sooner, but if they haven’t gotten a ride before we leave, they will gladly go down with us.
Back at our campsite we meet another PCT hiker, “Reject” (cause she has rejected every trail name that people have tried to pin on her). She is taking a sabbatical from her job as a U.S. Forest Service Fire Crew Chief (I hope I haven’t unintentionally demoted her). She got caught in the big snow storm that happened two weeks ago, and is now enrolled in Ned Tibbet’s PCT mountaineering class that is scheduled to meet at Chicken Spring Lake tomorrow. We talked a bit about how her hike has been going and things to be sure not to miss along the way. We compare “notes” on the terrain she has already covered, and her experiences to date. We share our mistakes, in hopes that at least someone can learn from them. She is having in the time of her life and it shows. This is the first time she has been “free” to do whatever she wants (within reason…being a responsible adult, with a job to get back to in September). We part ways and wish her good luck and safe travels…maybe we’ll see her tomorrow at Chicken Spring Lake. As we head into town, we do a “drive-by” the trail head to see if NightCap and CottonBall still need a ride. They are gone, and no other hikers are there, so we head back down the hill into town. This road was closed until recently due to some house size boulders blocking the road. It is without guard rails and is treacherous, but with awesome bird’s eye views of the valley and Hwy 395 below. Showered, shopped and connected, it’s time to head back up the hill. Who should we see trying to get a hitch back up to Horseshoe Meadows, but NightCap and CottonBall.
Back at our campsite were share some food, beers and stories, with any luck they’ll run into Jan (BeeKeeper) handing out “trail magic” further north.
Via our Delorme InReach SE, as there is no cell service up here, we are able to text April for their ETA. Per her reply they (April, Steve and Trevor) should arrive by 1030pm. Luckily we have only 8 miles planned for tomorrow, so a little sleeping in will be acceptable.