JMT – Day 7 – From Onion valley campground to Flower Lake… Did I just get scammed?

Aug 1.

Woke up in the king-size motel bed around 6am. Enjoyed the WiFi, turned around and tried to sleep more. Could not make up my mind if I should stay another night in Bishop to make it a full zero miles day.

With the thought of hot coffee waiting in the motel reception, I finally got up and started packing the bear canister with 8 days food. It fit surprisingly well.
It will be enough food to make it the about 100 miles to Vermillion Valley resort with the potential to get food two days before from the famous hiker boxes at Muir Trail ranch. And I must admit – the hiker hunger has not started yet, having hiked only for 6 days so far. They say it takes 2-3 weeks until you get really hungry due to the calories you burn every day hiking.
I completed my backpack with 2 liters water with the expected heat while climbing Kearsage pass. With all gear, the full bear can and the water the pack didn’t feel as heavy as I was expecting. I think that was the moment that I decided to hit the trail today. Why hang out another day in Bishop? I am not really exhausted to need recovery, not really hungry (only had breakfast in town yesterday, had skipped lunch and dinner), and I had done laundry, showers twice… 😂

With the decision taken, I decided for the ESTA bus at 1.15pm to Independence.

I had a couple of hours to kill working on my blog, first in the motel reception with a very simple breakfast but acceptable coffee and wifi speed, later at Starbucks with better coffee and internet speed. 😂
Bought some last minute items at VONS and enjoyed the bus ride.

It got scary when I tried to get a hitch from Independence to the trail head at Onion Valley campground.

I was standing at the corner for maybe 10 minutes when a battered black Mercedes SUV stopped. Two middle aged occupants, a guy driving as well as a woman, both with sun glasses. I asked whether they could take me to the campground – he said yes he drives that way, she said they will need gas money though. I offered 10 bucks, they said hop in. When they started driving she wondered if they have enough gas to make it there. He asked how far it was. I should probably have left the car latest that moment. He had said he was going there, now he turned out he had never been there. They were obviously trying to make money. I would have been fine with paying for the ride… But it got more spooky…
As we drove up the mountain, we did some chitchat, I told them about the trail. He started to get weird when he said he had heard that there were chapels along the trail. We exchanged names. When they asked whether I hike all by myself, I started bending the facts by saying that my hiking buddies are actually waiting up for me at the trail head. I didn’t really feel safe anymore. I had my hiking poles with me, sitting alone on the backseat with my pack.
About half way up the mountain, the car started stuttering. He cursed, called out that he was running out of fuel and swerved to one side, trying to u-turn the car. I decided to try my luck better out there in the heat in nowhere instead of staying with these two rolling down the mountain in a car without gas. I insisted on getting out right here, offering the full ten bucks. That probably got them… I opened the door, quickly got out my gear and myself. Feeling more safe outside, I checked for the money. Of course I only had a 20 dollar bill. She claimed they have no money whatsoever, that’s why they needed the gas money in the first place. I gave them the 20, they took off. I was glad. The 20 bucks will be a teaching for me to be more careful into which car I get. I guess I just got scammed? I don’t know.
It was the first hitch I ever had where I didn’t feel safe.
I was out there in nowhere, but it was the Onion valley campground road, so I was expecting traffic.I had plenty of water. A couple of minutes later Matthew from the Sierra transit shuttle stopped his mini van and took me up the mountain.

That adrenaline from this hitchhiking experience actually kept me pushing up the pass later way faster than I could have imagined.
I think I arrived around 4pm at Flower Lake where I had intended to camp. I wanted to keep pushing up the mountain… But when saw the nice German couple I had met the day before at the same campground, I decided to call it a day and relax to forget that experience.We had a very nice conversation about everything – about hiking, travel, ways of living and even politics. I hope we will stay in touch.
An exciting day came to an end. I was looking forward to the peaceful trail tomorrow.

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