PCT mile 1157.3, Miles: almost zero(just sort of wandered around a snowy garbage dump), 6-17-17
Next day 6-18-17, 10 miles. PCT mile 1167
We got a ride from the trailhead and stayed the night in a small motel in Bishop. Sarah had unintentionally screwed over a trail angel real good in the process. She had called for a ride from a man who lived in lone pine, 30 miles away. Less than a half an hour later, a white minivan pulled in. The window rolled down, and a familiar face told us to jump in. It was a man of 80 or so who we had crossed paths with outside Tehachipi. His trail name was Santa’s little helper. He had gotten off trail, he said, and was killing time giving rides. We assumed he had been hired on by the company Sarah had called. “Wow you got here quick!” I remarked. He may have been a little hard of hearing, as he did not respond. Sarah, Dave and I happily piled in. Unlike many people his age, Santas Little Helper was no slouch at the wheel. He drove fast. It reminded me of my leadfooted mother. I can recall getting into the car with her, ten years removed from the last trip on dirt roads, tearing into the gravel, tires floating above the washboards, feeling the suspension sink into the corners along with my stomach, desperately grasping at the useless strap handle above the door. This will probably be her driving style when she reaches that age, all the confidence of youth, minus the reflexes. “I like to stay as far away from the edge as I can” he said, veering over the double yellow line. “That edge makes me nervous.” I nodded in approval because I am a social coward. After swerving down the railless pass road, we turned onto the highway and cruised past the semis and lava rock formations. 30 miles east of a wintery mountain landscape walled off on all sides with towering snow filled peaks, and we were back in the high desert. The temperature was in the mid eighties. Sarah received a simple message on her cell: “I’m here. Where are you? ” It turns out, our chauffeur did not take up with a shuttle service part time. He had rented the van in Bishop and was giving people rides from the trailhead while he waited for the trail to melt. Sarah profusely apologized and offered to PayPal money to the abandoned trail angel, but he refused compensation. We would spend the next two days in Bishop, mulling over our next move. Between long sessions of internet research, plan formulation and grueling reappraisals; we ate a few nice meals and took in Wonder Woman at the local theatre. Dave had opted to skip ahead to Chester and go north. If we were going to skip, this seemed like a great place to me. NOAA showed 20 miles of snow after which the trail was bear all the way to Crater Lake. The second night, we stayed in a hiker hostel. Snitch, Baywatch and Jitterbug were there. They had just come out Bishop Pass after having completed 3 more passes and several river crossings. On one of the passes they had to come down a nearly vertical path on their stomachs, slowly kicking in steps and lowering themselves with their ice axes as they went. Snitch wanted to go right back in , but Baywatch was having second thoughts. Creamer and Afghan were at the hostel as well. Despite their close call, and Creamer’s sunburned eyes, they planned to go on. We were not the only ones in town vacillating. Everyone talked about their own trials in the Seirra, their concerns for future travel and their ever changing plans for the way ahead. One thing was certain, farther North, the passes were more treacherous and the already swollen creeks were rising and would not stop getting deeper and faster any time soon. I thought we had two options: go back in Bishop Pass to traverse Muir Pass and the already neck deep Evolution Creek or skip up to Chester and come back to the Seirra when conditions improved. For Sarah, it was not that easy. She whirled around every possible option talking in wide circles, briefly landing on a plan only to take off again to circle around in a stress filled conflicted flight patterns. We even went so far as to send our bear cans ahead at the post office, only to run back a few hours later in an attempt to retrieve them. After far too much consideration, in my opinion, we decided to take the bus to Truckee, via Reno. On the way up we re-met Byline, a hiker we had not seen since paradise cafe, 700 miles ago. He was headed for Lake Tahoe. We also met a European couple and a woman named Yenni. They were going back in at Truckee also. Sarah widdled down our accommodation plans from a hotel at Reno, to a campground in Truckee, to the ground of the trail itself. In town a very nice couple bought us a round of drinks at the pizza parlor. We walked to the Grocery store to pick up some food. A rough looking fellow with a Pomeranian walked into the Safeway with us and stopped to talk to us next to the soda machine. “Where are you all headed?”he inquired. I told him we were going to Canada. A wide grin came over his face. ” Oh I was hoping you would say something like that!” He exclaimed. “We don’t see a lot of homeless around here.” He said. I didn’t bother to correct him. At that moment a mad at the world broke down old man appeared. “That a service dog?” the curmudgeon asked/threatened. “I don’t know? I’d have to ask her.” The man replied , then ignored the old coot entirely. I was very impressed by this. “Good luck to you two” he said. “Thanks!” I replied. We got a ride from a generous young couple that were shopping. They dropped us off on what turned out to be the wrong side of the freeway, given the current conditions. We discovered this after walking half a mile though the snowy trees where gross people come to dump their trash. When we arrived at the point where the trail was supposed to go under the freeway, we found a river instead. We backtracked, crossed the freeway and began to climb through the trees to meet the trail. There was none. The trail was buried in snow and would be for some time. There was only a million tree wells and white as far as you could see. We used our iPhone GPS app to navigate and, as time was growing late, had to camp on the only dry thing we could find: a large flat boulder. As long as you have an airmat, this is actually a great place to camp. Also, since we were close to to town, there was 3G. Not bad. The following day we walked ten grueling snow filled miles. We had to use gps navigation constantly as we wove our way through snow filled forests full of five foot deep tree wells and blown down logs. Along the way we saw Peter Grub Hut, a two story structure built by the Seirra Club. This was the lone bright spot. Other than that the day was frustrating, and slow.