I didn’t sleep so well because we had agreed to go get breakfast in the morning and I didn’t want to sleep in too late. We both wanted to get a real egg breakfast, so we skipped Schat’s and found a little restaurant. While I used the restroom, Otherworld found a couple to chat with who were seated next to us. They were very interested in hearing about our journeys. I hoped they were interested enough to want to give me a ride back to Independence, but the timing wasn’t going to work out.
We decided to head next door for a smoothie afterward. Otherworld was disappointed that it wasn’t a “real one” like she makes herself every morning back home. That was one thing I knew I wanted to start doing when I got home! Otherworld, who had recently gotten engaged, was having trouble deciding if she actually wanted to hike to Canada or leave the trail when her fiancee came to visit in 10 days. She missed him a lot. I encouraged her to keep listening to how she felt and that either way would be okay. I knew that this was her chance to do it before she started a family, though. It was good to have someone to talk with about meaningful things.
She wanted to look for a town dress while she was here, so I went to a thrift store with her and then back to the outfitters while she tried on dresses. I forgot to look for a second camera battery while I was here last time, so I stopped in the camera shop, but they didn’t have what I needed.
When we got back to our room, all I could do was stare at the bed and wish I could go to sleep! I felt so tired! Otherworld checked the guidebook to see if she still had a chance to get to Tuolemne Meadows by the time Brian arrived. Then, she set to work rolling toilet paper. I decided to take a nap and ended up sleeping hard! It was the deepest sleep I had had in a long time! I guess my body was finally able to relax enough. I got up around 11 and packed up my gigantic, overflowing pack once again and then walked over to the lobby to say goodbye to Otherworld. She needed to stay in town to do chores.
I walked down the road just as I had done two days ago with Bambi and Whistler, stood across from the gas station and stuck out my thumb while I ate my apple. I was prepared for this to take awhile. After about 20 minutes or so, a man stopped. He didn’t know where Independence was, but I told him it was about 40 miles down this road. He agreed to take me. He was driving 9 hours to Southern California to visit his sister and wanted some company. He had been a hippie in the 60s and 70s and told me a lot of stories from his earlier days. He offered me some marijuana while we drove, which I declined. I wasn’t very comfortable with this guy, but figured I could reason with him if he tried anything.
Everything turned out fine and he dropped me off on the main street in Independence. I called a trail angel to see if he was available to drive me up the mountain, but he was working and said he could only take me after 5. I asked him where the road that lead up to the mountain was and decided to stand there and see if anyone was headed up that way. The first car that passed was a couple that lived in the neighborhood. The second car pulled over. The man got out and started grumbling. He was upset about the road being ripped up ahead and I assured him that it was only like that for a small stretch and was fine to drive on. He grumbled some more and told me that he was driving around, trying to sell his book. “Do you have any money to help me out?”. I told him I would give him $10 if he drove me up the mountain and he seemed happy. I asked him what he would be doing once he got up to the trail head and he said that he was going to camp there overnight. As we drove, he told me that he was a seer and that he was awakened to the truth by a test of fire when he was 44 years old. His skin was burning and he heard voices telling him to “put on the lotion, put on the lotion”. He was told that the religion he had been taught was all a lie and now he wants to travel and spread the truth. He handed me his book and told me to read through it as he continued telling me about his experiences. All I wanted to do was get back to the trailhead. I patiently read through the poorly written book and nodded in agreement at the things he said. I think he was expecting me to argue with him. He told me that he hadn’t had any companionship in a long time. As we drove up the curves of the mountain, he would stop the car and stare at the mountains. “Look! A dinosaur spine! Do you see it?”. He told me that he would also like to hike the PCT one day.
Finally, I arrived at the trailhead and got out of the car. It was a beautiful afternoon and I was finally going to climb back up Kearsarge! I took my pack out of his car and noticed that one of my snow baskets on my poles was already missing! I told him that it must have fallen off in his car, but he said it wasn’t there. A group of three women who had just come off the mountain told me that someone had dropped a snow basket on the trail and that I could take that one.
My driver commented on how big my pack was. “You look like an ant with 10 pounds on its back! Next time, you might want to carry a smaller backpack!” I asked if he could take a picture of me and wished him a nice night of camping.
Then, I started back up the mountain. I felt strong and happy and was so glad that it was a nice day!
It wasn’t long before I saw two thru-hikers coming down. I told them they would have no problem getting a ride, thinking the three women could take them into town. I continued to climb, noticing things I had already passed when I tried climbing this part in the storm. I found the snow basket the ladies had mentioned, but it soon fell off my pole, too. The wind picked up and blew my visor off, leaving me in a moment of panic. Luckily, I was able to chase it down and retrieve it before it blew off for good. I passed a young couple who were out for a couple of days and slowly worked my way up. The climb wasn’t as bad as I had been dreading on the way down, even with such a heavy pack.
I made it above treeline and kept my eyes on the pass, knowing I would be there shortly.
And then, I was there at the top!
I took a break and watched the marmots play around me before heading down the pass and into new territory. The terrain flattened out and was dotted with pretty pink flowers and square granite rocks. I stopped at one of them and ate a power bar, as my energy began to fade.
I walked on, stepping over a small stream and then walked along a ridgeline. A man headed my way asked me how far the water was. He had set his tent up further back in a stand of trees, a good distance away from the water. I walked on into the evening, and grew more and more tired. Eventually, I reached an intersection. One path lead to a lake with a bear box. I chose to stay on the PCT. The sun was setting and I just wanted to find a place to sleep. I walked across a meadow and headed up a hill to my right where there were large rocks and trees and found a flat space to lie down.
I munched on a bagel and another power bar and got into my sleeping bag. I was so tired that I didn’t even want to look at the stars. I was in a bad mood! This was going to be a tough stretch ahead!