PCT Days 56 & 57 – June 8 & 9
PCT Day 56 – Thursday June 8
Mile 639.4 to Mile 652.1 Walker Pass
PCT Miles Hiked Today: 12.7
Feet Ascended Today: 1173
Feet Descended Today: 2370
Current Elevation: 2481
PCT Day 57 – Friday June 9
Zero Day in Lake Isabella
I awoke early this morning, as I was looking forward to hiking into town today. We had a beautiful sunrise. I packed quickly and was on the trail by 5:45 am.
About an hour after I started hiking I was startled to see a deer on the trail ahead of me. This is only my third deer sighting on the trail so far. It bounded away from me on the trail heading the other direction – I actually followed the deer tracks on the trail for quite a while.
I arrived at the next water source by 8:00 am – McIver’s Spring. The location included a cabin and lots of spots for tents. The cabin was dirty and had lots of trash from previous occupants. “I wouldn’t want to camp alone here at night,” said Sizzle. “That cabin is creepy!”
The trail followed a dirt road though a burn area, and then eventually, made it to Walker Pass Campground. Hikers can hitch into the neighboring towns of Lake Isabella or Ridgecrest from either the Walker Pass Campground or from where the PCT crosses Walker Pass itself, which is .7 miles further down the trail. Sea Biscuit and I walked into the campground together, as our hiking partners were ahead of us and nowhere to be seen.
A table was set up with trail magic and lots of hikers sat at a picnic table eating snacks and drinking water. I put down my pack and hustled to the bathroom, as I had to go rather urgently, and when I came back Sea Biscuit was gone. I had hoped to hitch the 30 miles into Lake Isabella with him. I guessed he’d continued on to Walker Pass so I grabbed my pack and hiked the .7 miles to the junction with Walker Pass. No one was there. Hm.
I stuck out my thumb and got a ride within 5 minutes from a photographer named Victor who was driving a camper van and was coming from the Sierras. We chatted amiably about my experiences hiking the PCT and after about 15 minutes spotted Sea Biscuit on the side of the road with his thumb out. Apparently his ride had only been able to take him part way in. We picked him up too – which made me happy. I’m always more comfortable when I hitch with other hikers.
Later I found out that no one had hiked to the Walker Pass Junction – everyone had hitch-hiked from the campground. Apparently Captain Underpants, Sunkist and Monarch had to wait TWO HOURS for a ride. So I felt pretty lucky to get a ride so quickly, even if it meant I ended up hiking the .7 miles to the junction twice (which is exactly what happened).
Once in town we headed first to a cafe for lunch, where I ordered a giant salad. Yay fresh veggies!! Then we checked into the Lake Isabella Motel. The lodging is one of those long rambling old motels right off a freeway exit with a giant blue neon “Lake Isabella Motel” sign at the top of the building. My first impression was that it was a run down old motel of questionable quality. But the place really grew on me. The rooms were clean and everything was in working order, despite the age of the facilities. It has a certain vintage charm. And the caretaker was super nice. She helped us with our laundry and even drove us on errands around town. Also it had a great swimming pool and wifi.
That evening, as we were sitting around a table on the patio and watching the almost-full-moon, I got some news that I knew was seriously going to impact the rest of my hike: my Advanced Snow Skills class was cancelled. I’ll discuss the impacts of this cancellation in my next blog post which examines the snow in the Sierras this year. But suffice it to say that this is very impactful to my hike.
The next day, we ran some errands and also went to the library to research possible options for avoiding the Sierras until later in the season.
After we were done with our research at the library, we ate dinner at a local bar and then headed back to the hotel. I found a hand-written note on my bed inviting me to a viewing of the Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring in Room 7.
Spider Mama, Tetris, Sizzle and Sea Biscuit are all giant Lord of the Rings nerds (as am I) and they were on a mission from god to find a way to view one of the LOTR films. They eventually bought a TV with a built-in VCR and found the movie on videocassette at the thrift store. I joined them for part of the film and it was glorious.