Thursday, May 16, 2019
Ah backtracking. You’re the worst ❤ . At least I could make a day trip of this backtracking, unlike my two-day escapade returning to Ashland during PCT 2018. I packed up my food and other scented items, then set off through the low-hanging clouds and light rain towards Walker Pass. Three miles later I dropped beneath the clouds and received a lovely look at the countryside through cleansed air.
At the trailhead, I was surprised to encounter Kata! Because this was meeting #3. She told me that she had enjoyed looking after Hikertown but got cabin fever after awhile. As usual it was good to re-see someone and confirm that their hike is going well, though the next stop after Walker Pass is Kennedy Meadows, so everyone is worried by this point about the heavy snowpack in the Sierra Nevada.
After we parted the rain started up again, heavier this time, but I was quickly picked up by a construction worker in a chain of vehicles. He had to take a short detour to a work site, but I was in no rush. When dropped at the RV park, I collected my bag from the owner’s porch and rang the doorbell to thank her, but she wasn’t in. I sent her an email instead and walked to town for lunch, because if I had to return to town, I had might as well eat town food.
After leaving the restaurant I met two hikers who said that they had been trying to hitchhike back to the trail for an hour. So, the prophecy of hard hitchhiking fulfills itself. They were standing right in the middle of town, so I decided to walk closer to the outskirts and try there. I soon got a ride, but there was a catch, namely that the ride was only to the first in a series of small towns between Lake Isabella and Walker Pass. The driver had never heard of the PCT before, and when I told him how far I was walking, he interpreted ‘hiking’ as ‘hitchhiking’ and started telling me about his own hitchhiking adventures in his youth. He asked how much further Walker Pass was, but it was too far for me to try to cajole a ride out of him. The town where he dropped me off had a shop and a bowling alley. I want to bowl! I mean I haven’t bowled in fifteen years and was still throwing the ball between my legs on that last occasion, but there’s never a bad time to attempt again an activity that you were terrible at. I also imagine the bowling alley as a social mecca for this town, which is fun. I wasn’t going to bowl alone however, and soon caught another short ride by a couple running an errand who promised to return and pick me up if I was still there in an hour or so. But I caught a third ride! This driver drove me to Onyx, out of her way.
So there I was, in Onyx, fairly sure that no towns remained between Onyx and Walker Pass (please), when a highway patrol car pulled over. Inwardly I winced, assuming that I was going to be lectured – I was once lectured by a police officer for hitchhiking on a highway in Canada and I think he thought that I was a prostitute, because he kept asking me questions about my job – but to my surprise, the highway patrol officer offered me a ride. He was a nice guy who told me about his work history and how he had sought a job where his efforts reward more people than just the person paying his salary, which he meow has. At Walker Pass, he immediately picked up two more hikers to drive them back to Lake Isabella.
The climb back to Morris-Jenkins Saddle was nicer with fewer items in my pack, but so windy that I started worrying about falling trees and how my tent had fared. To arrive at my campsite and find no tent there would be ‘rather unpleasant’. The spot I had chosen was somehow still protected from the wind though, and other than one loosened stake the tent looked as I had left it.
The clouds have cleared and the view is nice, but the cold has driven me into my tent for the evening.