Day 52: From Bishop to Lone Pine

Day 52
June 9

One of the tourist destinations in Bishop is Schat’s bakery, where no one is allowed to take photographs of anything inside. It’s a huge place that is filled with every kind of pastry imaginable, and has a separate room devoted to breads. Bambi and I headed over there for breakfast and looked around. It was like being at Disney World at first- everything was big and new and shiny. But, my sick body didn’t actually want any of that. I ended up buying a multi-grain roll and a single packet of butter, along with a latte. I was planning on sitting inside, but Bambi wanted to eat outside in the sun. When I walked out, I found an Indian man, clearly in despair, seeking help from Bambi. “You’re going to be okay, man,” Bambi was telling him, calmly. He turned to me and began enlisting my sympathy. I couldn’t understand him very well and thought his reservation was being taken away and his sister was soon to be homeless. He had tears in his eyes and kept shouting out his pain, wanting us to do something about it. All we could do was tell him it was all going to be okay. I went back into the bakery and asked Delaware Dave if he could come outside and eat with us, as we needed his help with a situation. He agreed, saying that anything interesting is good. When Razor walked out, the Indian man immediately called him Chief, which I found amusing. Razor said something dismissive and demeaning in return. The presence of the others succeeded in getting the man to leave. I realized that he had a new audience each morning outside this bakery. Bambi informed me that his sister was going to be put into a nursing home, and that was why he was so upset. He had repeatedly called me “sissy”, which I didn’t find so nice, but Bambi said he actually meant “sister”. Whistler came and sat with us, which made me happy. I showed him my Mt. Whitney jumping photo and he stared at it just as incredulously as he had stared at the rice krispy treat! “You have the best expressions!”, I told him. He had a very laid-back, easy-going demeanor and I liked being around him. He reminded me of my brother. I asked him where he was from and if he had ever been to the White Mountains. “I can see you working in the huts up there,” I told him. He had actually already hiked the AT and knew just what I meant. Because he had to get back to school, he was on a tight deadline to finish the PCT by August 26, which I found extraordinary. He had already lost a precious few days by getting lost over Glen Pass, and hiking it backwards after he had hiked it northbound. Because this mistake had caused him to be low on food, he had to make the additional unplanned trip down Kearsarge Pass and into town. I knew I wouldn’t be seeing him again after today.
We headed back to the room to start packing. Bambi was heading back to the trail and I was heading to Lone Pine. I texted Muk Muk and asked what she was doing and she replied that she and UB were eating sundaes at 8:30 in the morning! She was looking forward to seeing me and said they were planning on taking me to the ice cream shop once I arrived!
Bambi showed me his photo at the starting monument. On our descent down Forrester, he was telling me how stiff and awkward he looked in that picture. “My hand was gripped into a claw.”
“And how do you look in pictures now?” I asked.
“Rugged and cool.”
It’s fascinating to see the change that visibly occurs in us after only about 10 days of hiking. Our entire demeanor changes as the things that control us in our other lives slip away from our bodies.
He asked me if my arms were so toned from doing yoga. I didn’t know how to answer that because it had been a long time since I had done any yoga! The only thing I was doing now was planting my hiking poles into the ground with each step. Bambi had just gotten 2 poles for himself and was practicing in the room. He had no idea how to use them and looked like a stiff geriatric man with canes!
I wanted to bring his leftover pole that he had found in the hiker box at Kennedy Meadows to UB, who had thrown his poles (as well as his cooking pot) over the mountain on a day that his past reared its head and overtook his self-control. When he told me the story at Kennedy Meadows, I told him that when that happens, he just needs to get calm and breathe and let it pass. And if he stills needs to throw something, he can throw some sticks or rocks. “Throwing the things you need down the mountain just hurts you more,” I said. (And the environment…).
“No!” he quickly shouted back. He said he didn’t need to get quiet.

Whistler was also ready to head back to the trail, but wanted to write some postcards first. I decided I might as well make use of the pool while I waited and again saw the family from last night.
Finally, we were all packed and ready to go. We walked to Main St. and stuck out our thumbs. Bambi turned into an extrovert and was doing all sorts of actions in hopes of getting someone to stop. No one did. After lots and lots of attempts, someone told us we would be better off trying to hitch down the road, closer to the interstate. So, we slung on our packs on another roasting hot day, and walked down the street. “Who wants a smoothie?” I asked as we passed the coffee shop. Bambi had told me that I need acidophilus and that the yogurt in a smoothie would be good for me when we came in yesterday, but after he read some information about flagyl, realized there was a high chance that I am now lactose intolerant and that yogurt would be bad for me! Great!
We walked down the shadeless street, wondering where would be a good place to try our luck. It seemed to go on forever! We finally stopped on a street corner only to be later told that we would have better luck up the road, across from the gas station. So, we moved on. There was a single tree in front of a municipal building that I wished was closer to the road. I put my pack down and joined the guys in sticking my thumb out. We were having no better luck down here! Why was it so impossible to get a ride around here? Bambi continued his antics of waving the cars down, kneeling down on the pavement, and holding his hands in prayer. “You know you want to give us a ride!”.
Finally, a van pulled up and asked us where we were headed. He said he was only going partway. Bambi decided to take him up on it. I got in the front seat and the guys sat on the floor in the back. We were driven about 10 miles down the highway, at which our driver needed to turn into a ranch to prepare for the rodeo coming into town. He asked us if we were going to be okay.
As the cars whizzed by at over 60 mph, we realized what a huge mistake it was to have accepted a partial ride. We were in an even worse place to try to hitch than when we first started trying! Bambi started doing russian splits at the oncoming traffic! No one cared. I texted Muk Muk and let her know that I was still far, far away from Lone Pine. Not only did I need to get this impossible 30 mile hitch from the middle of a highway, but I also had to find another 15 mile ride once we got dropped off in Independence!
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Luckily, the driver of a pick-up truck took pity on us and pulled over. We were so happy! He was holding a mason jar of water between his thighs and would pick it up ever so often to take a sip. I was envious of the refreshing-looking water! ‘Wagon Wheel’ came on the radio and I looked back at Whistler. “The AT song!”.
As we drove by the Sierra mountains, our driver talked about Fossil Falls and the petroglyphs you could find there, as well as the bighorn sheep that lived in the area. There were so many things I didn’t know about and so many things you could see if you weren’t constrained to one path with a very limited time frame in which to hike it! I wanted to come back here and have a chance to explore the area.
He dropped us off at the gas station in Independence. Whistler asked if he could get a hug. “Of course!”. I figured I better give one to Bambi, as well, even though it didn’t feel nearly as natural. Bambi asked for my number and I told him not to text me because I get charged if it’s not from another iphone! Then, I headed down the road to start the third part of my hitch.
Luckily, this was the easiest one of the three by far! A couple that I had made eye contact with as I was looking for desert last night and they were leaving a restaurant recognized me! “We saw you in Bishop!” they said. They were super nice and brought me right to the Dow Hotel, where Muk Muk and UB were staying. I checked into my room, happy to have my own space again, and immediately headed over to the lunch place with 10 minutes to spare before they closed! I texted Muk Muk after I placed my order. I got some refreshing lemonade with my burger and it came in a large glass mug that reminded me of our driver’s mason jar I had been envying! Happiness!
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Muk Muk said they were going to get pizza and wanted me to join them, but she and Lion King ended up coming in to meet me. The energy was centered around Lion King, who was complaining about hiking in the heat. He was doing small sections of the PCT and had hiked a southbound section to meet Muk Muk in Lone Pine. We headed back to the motel, where Muk Muk wanted to take a nap, and agreed to meet up later to get the ice cream sundaes, as promised! I gave her a big hug and ended up lifting her off the ground! She had gotten so tiny since the last time I had seen her!
I wanted to take a nap as well, but decided that I had better write postcards that I promised I would send. That took quite a bit of time! 5:00 arrived and there was a knock on my door. I opened it to find UB with Muk Muk and got a big hug! Then we headed over to get our sundaes.
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Mine ended up hurting my stomach more and more and I wasn’t able to even finish it, while UB got a second one (his third for the day!). I think the flagyl had made me lactose intolerant! I felt awful!
UB wanted pizza for dinner and said we could share one later in the evening, but I knew the cheese wouldn’t be good for me. It felt so sad to not be able to eat the foods that all of the other hikers were enjoying! UB headed back to their room on his own, leaving Muk Muk and I to our “girl talk”. After a couple of stories, we headed back ourselves. Muk Muk stopped it in at the outfitters to inquire about getting a ride back to the trail by way of Horseshoe Meadows. There was already a couple of people signed up for that ride, so she and UB were able to join in. There were no rides back to Onion Valley trailhead, where I needed to go, however.
We walked down the street and I saw 5-Star and Purple Haze in the window of a restaurant eating dinner! I knocked on the window pane and waved and they invited us in to say hi. They had not yet met Muk Muk, and were delighted with her exuberant personality and Australian accent, as all men were. I asked Purple Haze how many days it had taken for him to feel better after taking the flagyl and learned that he had taken the antibiotics for five days! What?! I told him that Bambi had said it was one dose, but Purple Haze said, “no, you need to take it twice a day for 5 days”! Before I had received the dose from Bambi, I was planning on asking a college friend who is a doctor if she could write me a prescription. After talking to Purple Haze, I knew I still needed to do this!
We returned to our rooms and agreed to meet up later for pizza. Muk Muk placed a delivery order and came down to my room to share it. She talked about a lot of guy stories on her journey so far and seemed to understand that they were happening to teach her a lesson, but she hadn’t yet figured out what exactly the lesson was. We had talked about these kinds of things at kick-off and she wondered how I knew so much about keeping boundaries. I told her that I was forced to learn those things on the AT! The same kinds of awful behaviors kept showing up! Because Muk Muk is so naturally open and friendly, a lot of people think they can get things from her. I encouraged her to keep thinking about the way she was being treated and perhaps change her behavior a bit to better protect herself so she wasn’t being taken advantage of. I was very dismayed to hear that Lion King had made her pay for his hotel room in Lone Pine! After we finished the pizza, I gave her my neon yellow fleece jacket, as I now had a black one that I felt much more comfortable with! The yellow color looked much better on her!
We wished each other a goodnight and agreed to meet for breakfast in the morning. All of this hitchhiking and moving from town to town was exhausting!


Day 51: Shifting over to Bishop

Day 51
June 8

Doug said that breakfast would be available at 8:30, which is late in the day by thru-hiker standards, but you do what you gotta do. We had gone to bed late and I didn’t sleep so well (as usual for the first night in town), so I didn’t mind lying around a bit longer. It turned out they were ready for us earlier than expected. I walked down to the breakfast room and found a table of thru-hikers already finishing their breakfast- Delaware Dave, Seeking, Razor, and a younger guy that I had never met. Bambi and I sat at the next table. Strider had heard that I was suffering from giardia and wanted to know if the bigger portions that they gave to thru-hikers would be okay on my stomach. I said yes and turned to Bambi and said, “We didn’t even get dinner last night.” My thumbs were still badly cracked and I was desperately in need of band-aids. I spent a good part of breakfast wondering if anyone would be able to spare some. I finally asked Delaware Dave after we had finished and he said that he would see what he could come up with. I took a shower and was actually able to enjoy it this time, rather than furiously scrub off as much dirt as I could before Bambi wanted to use it. We were both in a similar predicament of being stuck for post offices to open on Monday- his in Independence and mine in Lone Pine. The other group of guys was moving over to the bigger town of Bishop, 40 miles away, as it had a lot more to offer than the couple of restaurants in Lone Pine. I wondered if I should do the same.
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After I showered and packed up and decided that I would try to hitch to Bishop, I took my pack outside and saw Bambi sorting through a ton of food that he had received in his resupply boxes. “How did you get your boxes already?!”. He had walked over to the post office to see if there was any way he could get them, knocked on the door, and was given his packages! Now he was free to head back to the trail! Bambi’s sister-in-law had made him tins of chocolate confections. I had never seen anything like it before! How lucky! He offered me a couple of them as he continued to sort and thought about what he was going to do. The sun was baking already baking us. I wondered how anyone could stand to live in the desert!
He decided to hitch into Bishop with me after all. The other guys had had amazingly good luck getting a ride, so I was hopeful. We walked down to the gas station in the mid-morning heat and stuck out our thumbs. Car after car passed. This wasn’t so easy! Bambi was still holding his Christmas tins. We waited and waited and waited as the sun glared down and caused sweat to roll off our skin. Why wasn’t anyone stopping?
Finally, a beat-up car pulled over. The skinny young driver said that he would have to make room for us and opened his trunk to start shifting things around. Burnt cigarettes were pouring out of the pocket on the driver’s side door, and I didn’t know if this was a car I wanted to get in. The guy explained that he was just coming back from a music gig and that’s why his car was so packed. We all fit in and headed off to Bishop. The concert in the desert hills apparently wasn’t very successful, and the guy was running on no sleep. He could tell that we were suffering in the heat and needed help, though, so he decided to stop for us. He turned out to be really nice. He let us look through the Burning Man program for amusement and later told us about his experiences with DMT. His stories seemed to agree with a lot of things that I have learned from yoga, and when I asked what he thought about that, he agreed. I liked the guy more and more. He told us a little about the area and how LA had taken all the water from the area and sucked it dry. He said this one area used to be green with trees and now it was all brown grass.
As we turned into Bishop, he asked if it was okay if he dropped us off at the coffee shop. I told him we would buy him lunch or at least a coffee, but he said that his family owns the shop, so he was all set. I got a smoothie, a cookie, and a chocolate croissant and ate it in the cushy chairs in the air conditioned inside, while Bambi sat outside. We had to figure out what motel to stay at. The cheapest one was on the other end of town and felt way too far to walk to. I suggested we walk across the street to the Rodeway, where I knew the others were staying. We found Whistler (the young guy I didn’t know) using the computer in the lobby. Bambi offered him a rice crispy treat from his sister-in-law, and I found Whistler’s reaction priceless. He gazed at it in incredible amazement, wonder, and gratitude before putting it into his mouth. Bambi got us a room that turned out to be a couple of doors down from the others.
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I wanted to go to the outfitters to look for a couple of things, but I also felt very tired and wanted to take a nap! Bambi suggested we go to the outfitters first. I saw a lot of desert hats and started trying them on, even though I didn’t need to buy one then! I picked up another platypus container, as mine already had a leak in it, and looked around for a black fleece. They didn’t have any of those. I ended up buying a pair of dangling earrings and a bunch of postcards instead! On our way back, we checked out another outfitter that had used clothing. I found a hooded, pullover, small black fleece for $13!
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We returned to the room and both decided to take a nap. Bambi fell asleep, but I did not, as I wasn’t feeling comfortable in that space. We had talked about joining the others for Sushi later on. My stomach had not improved at all and Bambi asked me if I wanted another dose of flagyl. “Another one?”. He said that he had looked up the dosages and found that one dose was usually only about 30% effective. He was actually carrying four doses with him, so I agreed to take the second dose with dinner.
Razor was clearly in charge and loves to expound on his knowledge of various topics. I was having a tough time with him and tried to be polite and get through the meal. I was happy to finally get a sushi dinner after craving it for the past 8 months, though! The last time I had had sushi was years ago!
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Bambi told everyone my jackelope story, complete with my earnest demeanor as I told Doug what I was sure I had seen. I laughed so much listening to someone else tell the story- especially when they described what a jackelope is. I was still laughing about it when we left and Seeking thought it was great that I could be amused so easily!
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I wanted something chocolate for desert after dinner and walked down the street alone to see what I could find. I didn’t find anything, so I returned to the room. Bambi and I both decided to make use of the outdoor pool, staying on opposite sides. Now that the sun had gone down, it was too cold for me to go all the way in, so I just sat at the edge and watched a mother and daughter interact. After awhile, they included me in their conversation, which was nice.
I went back to the room and took a shower to warm up and texted Muk Muk to let her know where I was. It turned out that she and UB were unexpectedly in Lone Pine because UB had hurt his knee! She didn’t know if they would head back out tomorrow or if they would stay until Monday. I told her if they stayed tomorrow, we would be able to see each other! After a little communication and updating people from home, it was finally time to go to sleep!