PCT Day 65, 66 & 67June 17, 18 & 19
Lone Pine to Ashland
On Saturday, we spent most of the day discussing where to hike next. A big group of 15-20 hikers at the hotel decided not to hike the Sierras and so we compared notes as we discussed where to go. We poured over blog posts of hikers who were ahead of us to get an idea of the trail conditions. Some hikers planned to travel up to Old Station or Chester and to hike north. This seemed to be option with the least amount of snow.
We eventually decided, however, to travel to Ashland, OR and to hike South. This seemed to be the simplest option, logistically. Ashford is a big town and easier to get to than some of the other towns on the trail. We heard that there was some snow around Mt. Ashland and Mt. Etna but we figured we’d give it a try. The idea is to hike south all the way to the Sierras and hopefully the snow will melt enough by then to hike through safely, going southbound. Then, when we get to Lone Pine, we’ll travel back up to Ashland again and then hike going northbound through Oregon and Washington.
Once we decided to hike to Ashland, the next step was figuring out how to get there. We decided to take the bus to Reno and from there rent a car. The bus did not run on the weekends, though, so it meant waiting around in Lone Pine for two entire days. We looked at some closer towns to rent a car, such as Bishop or Lancaster, but so many other hikers had come through before us that they were no longer renting out cars for one-way trips.
The only other way out of town seemed to be hitchhiking. Some hikers did not want to wait another day for the bus and ended up hitching to Reno. Sea Biscuit and Sizzle got a ride from another guest at the hotel who was checking out. We were on the other side of the lobby and heard him mention he was heading to Reno. Sea Biscuit ran all the way across the lobby and offered to pay him for a ride. Five minutes later they were on the road.
Some of our other friends weren’t so lucky. The got a ride from a Trail Angel who offered to give hikers rides to different towns up the trail. He didn’t have enough room in the cab of his truck so 5 hikers squeezed into the the back. They ended up getting pulled over by the highway patrol and they all got tickets. As hikers, we do frequently get rides in the back of pickup trucks from the trailhead to town. But, riding in the back of the truck on small county roads for a few miles is one thing – riding 5 hours on the highway to Reno is another. It didn’t seem very safe to me. I’m glad my friends are safe and the worst thing that happened to them was getting tickets.
Monarch and I spent Sunday relaxing at the hotel and working on our resupply. Monarch swam in the pool and I napped in the hotel room and worked on my blog. It was a rough day 🙂
Monday morning found us at the bus stop at 5:45 am. There were several other hikers in line as well, but thankfully there was room for everyone. The bus would not have had enough room if so many hikers hadn’t hitched the day before. The bus followed alongside the Sierras and had fabulous views of the Range of Light as we made our way though the towns of Bishop and Mammoth.
We arrived at the Reno Airport at noon and went straight to the rental car counter. Monarch and I had previously agreed to go in together with 3 other hikers (Big Sky, D Hiker and Francoise) for a car rental. Big Sky had made the reservation online in advance. However, they would not rent the car to him because he had made he reservation with a debit card and they only accepted credit cards. And they would not let me pay for the rental with my credit card or transfer the reservation over to me. So we had to make a new reservation.
This was frustrating on several levels. First, because if we wanted to get a good price via an online reservation, we had to wait for 2 hours after making the reservation online. We were already exhausted and the idea of waiting 2 extra hours in the airport was unbearable. So we made a new reservation directly at the rental counter and had to pay an extra $100. As a former web site manager, I found this especially galling as this could have all been avoided with a better web site design. If you can’t make a reservation with a debit card, then why would you accept one to make a reservation online? Blarg!
And, secondly, as I was the only one in the party with a credit card, it meant the reservation was under my name and I had to drive. We weren’t inclined to pay extra money to add an additional driver. I don’t really like driving if I can avoid it and was looking forward to napping or relaxing. Oh well. It was time to take one for the team.
On the bright side, we ended up with a gigantic black Ford Escalade. I felt like I was a driver for the mafia. This car had seat warmers AND seat coolers. I could literally cool my butt with a touch of a button. And it handled like a dream. I passed a car on a two-lane road and realized I was going over 100 miles an hour. I have never driven that fast before. Wow.
I had just downloaded a playlist of 70s music on Spotify and we rocked out to the hits of the 70s all the way to Ashland. We dropped off Big Sky, D Hiker and Francoise at a hotel in Ashland around 7:00 pm. We had initially planned to drop off the car and get a ride to Callahan’s to spend the night…. but then some friends invited us to watch Wonder Woman later that evening. I was torn. I was dead tired and we planned to hike tomorrow. But…. Wonder Woman!!! I’ve been looking forward to this movie for months!!! So we decided to return the car tomorrow and go watch Wonder Woman. It was a big car and the seats folded down in the back. We could probably sleep in the back of the car, we reasoned.
Wonder Woman was as awesome as we hoped it would be. But when the movie ended it was after 11:00 pm and I was so exhausted I could barely form a coherent sentence. Monarch and I tried to situate ourselves in the back of the car and I was really uncomfortable. It was hot so we cracked a window but then we couldn’t figure out how to make the car’s front console light turn off. We kept slamming the car doors and turning on and off the car but to no avail. We were parked on a residential street and I felt really conspicuous. A car pulled up right behind us and just sat there. “This car is creeping me out,” I said. “Let’s get out of here!”
By this point it was after midnight. Monarch found a campground a few miles out of town at Emigrant Lake Recreation Area and we headed in that direction. It was crowded with other campers but we eventually found a spot and tried to set up as quietly as possible. I was asleep before my head hit my inflatable pillow.