PCT miles: 735.1 to 745.3 + 2ish miles on Trail Pass
In my dream I see my mother. We are in the kitchen and she is cooking and I am washing dishes but she’s talking to someone like I’m not there. “Colleen needs to go back to the trail,” she’s saying. “What is she going to do here?”
I wake up and my head doesn’t hurt and the sun is rising and I watch it from my tent as I pack my things. Today I am going to Lone Pine – the rest of my group is camping at Horseshoe Meadow to avoid paying for an extra night in town, but I don’t like rushing and I also know I have a lot of phone calls to make so I’ll be trying to hitch.
The hike is uneventful. In my head I bitch and moan about a short climb, but really it’s my head and not the trail. I am leapfrogging with a German hiker named Jon who plans to leave the trail in Lone Pine. I am trying to be positive and supportive of other peoples hiking choices – leaving for good, skipping, hitching, whatever. There can be some noisy hikers, online especially but even on trail, who seem to look down on what other people are doing. But I don’t know that I’ll be a perfect hiker, and I hope someone is kind to me about whatever choices I have to make.
We talk about his trip to LA that he’ll take after the trail and how he has a job to go back to. We hike on and come to Horseshoe Meadow, which is stunning, and I ask him to take a picture of me which he does. Then we get to the Trailhead. It’s mostly empty but a few cars. It’s Monday, not a popular day for dayhikers and campers. We come across two Asian hikers I’ve been bumping into who say they have been waiting four hours. Four hours!! I see a comment saying that if you walk a ways down the road, there is at&t service. So I start walking. Almost immediately a car heading to town says he can give me a ride – but I don’t have my pack. And why did he pass by the four hikers sitting at the road? There is one girl in the back with a backpack but he seems to think there isn’t room for both me and my pack. He offers to drive me until I have service, but I don’t like the idea of being away from my pack. We have an awkward exchange and he continued down the road.
Soon the road got steep and still no service. I hadn’t brought my pack or water. Boo. So I sit in the shade to gather myself when I hear a car coming and I stick out my thumb – I know this likely won’t be a hitch to town, but I’m hoping at least for a hitch back to my pack. Inside is a man name Mark who had gone mountain biking in the morning and was coming to see if any hikers needed rides. Did we ever! I jumped in and he took me back to my pack, Jon jumped in and the two Asian hikers were jumping in a hitch of their own. On the way down we picked up another hiker, too.
Mark told us about the history of Lone Pine and the dried up Owen’s Lake. It was a long, winding drive and a drop of over 5000 feet in elevation. Which also meant: Lone Pine is hot. 111 degrees. Luckily it’s a short strip of amenities. Unluckily much of the air conditioning in the stores is sub par.
Mark dropped us off and I went to the Whitney Portal Hostel. I’d just gotten my room key code when who do I bump into by Cadi and Hobo! They tell me about their bear encounter outside of Kennedy Meadows and that they have decided to leave the trail and complete it next year instead. I am sad they’re leaving but happy they’re making the right choice for them and a little jealous of the road trip they’ve planned around the area.
I put my stuff in the hostel room and shower. I get lunch and call my family and spend about four hours on the phone, and then it’s bedtime and my head hurts and I go to sleep.