JMT – Day 6 – From Flower lake to Onion valley campground and Bishop

Jul 31.

Anticipating breakfast in town, I got up quickly, packed my gear and left without breakfast towards Onion Valley campground.

On my way down, I met another acquaintance from my first JMT hike in 2016: Strider, the former owner of the Mt Williamson motel in Independence came walking up the trail with her dog Indy. I wasn’t 100 percent sure so I asked – and was rewarded with a hug. Strider kindly offered me a ride down to Independence if I should be waiting for a hitch when she returns from her morning walk.

I really start feeling at home with running into acquaintances again and again… 😊

Down at the campground, I met the German couple again from last night’s nice chat. We were discussing hitchhiking options when I was approached by other hikers. Some offered energy bars from their too big resupply which I happily accepted.

But it got even better: Other hikers gave me a complete resupply with 10+ mountain houses! Their hiking buddy was not able to join the hike!

So I was standing there holding a full box of resupply, still impressed about the kindness of the hikers.

The German couple was offered a ride down to Independence by a couple of older ladies with their Sprinter van – I was invited to join. I was really lucky today.

Down in Indepence, I got a coke at he gas station preparing for a longer wait for a hitch North to Bishop. I could not even finish my coke when a big 40ton truck stopped. Herman from Costa Rica gave me a ride to Bishop. Such a nice guy. We shared stories about travel, he told entertaining stories about his wild youth, later we talked politics. The 50 miles ride to Bishop was so entertaining… Thank you so much Herman!

So I really made it to Jack’s in Bishop before 10am! 😁

Next stop was Eastside Sports in Bishop. Highly recommendable outfitter! They had replaced my hiking pole tips when I came through during my PCT hike in 2018 just as a courtesy – and my tips were due for replacement again. I had a nice chat with the staff, paid my 7 USD for the new tips and left the poles with them for replacement.
I checked into a motel and reviewed the resupply that I had been given at the campground.

I noted one I still needed and went shopping to VONS.

Coming back with food and some beers, I shared beers with the motel neighbors.

Enjoyed the internet, did some blogging while snacking… And enjoyed a night in a bed.

Day 134 – From tentsite to Trout Lake, mile 2229

Sept 1.

The alarm went off as usual at 6.15am. As we had feared, the tentsite had had a lot of humidity from the vegetation surrounding us over night. So in the inside of my tent was wet from condensation that had also settled on my sleeping bag. And it was very cold – a wet cold.

Slow start, we were still chewing our breakfast at dawn when Spirit Kick walked by, not recognizing us in the red down jackets.

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Started walking with sleeping underwear and my hoodie as well as the down jacket and gloves on… But got warmer maybe 30min later. Caught up with Spirit Kick again a bit later and caught up on the latest. We hiked for a good part together chatting.

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Refilled some water and discussed the hitching options into Trout Lake. One road just 10 miles from our tentsite with very little traffic and a second road another 5 miles and 1500 feet altitude later with a bit more traffic and a potential shuttle into town.

We gave it 15min at the first road that we hit around 12pm – but with no cars at all, we moved on.

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Mount Adams – View from Trout Lake

At 2pm at the crossing, Tinkle was quickly lucky and stopped a ride. There was only space for two – Spirit Kick took the ride together with another hiker. Shortly later Tinkle got us the next car. Bill – a friendly older guy who has been living around Trout Lake for 50 years. Bill is a dog lover. As we passed through the neighborhood, he stopped from time to time. Dogs would run up recognizing his car – and he threw some goodies out for them.

Trout Lake is a small community. We went through our town duties quickly. Met up with Spirit Kick again, had some burgers, moved on to the grocery store that also held our resupply packages and new shoes for me. We had trouble finding the packages… we looked again and again. I found again a package addressed to another hiker Florian Eckert. I never met him, but had seen packages for him along the trail again and again.

When we looked one more time, we got our packages!

 

While there was free camping in the yard of the grocery store, we opted for the village campground – it had decent showers! After pitching our three tents, we went one by one to have the shower. Tinkle attracted some trail magic – coming back from the shower, we were greeted by water melon, hot dogs and more snacks.

Cleaned up and well fed, falling asleep at 9pm.

Day 123 – From Big Lake Youth Camp to tentsite, mile 2017

Aug 21.

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After we packed up our tents after breakfast we ran into the same ultra runner support crew from yesterday again. And they had not forgotten us hungry hikers either… They offered to share their breakfast leftovers – potatoes fried in coconut oil, bacon, apple slices. Hmmm!

Well fed we started hiking – excited about the 2000 miles marker waiting for us in just a couple of miles.

2000 miles at 9am. An important milestone. Disbelief. Relief. Happiness. Time and miles are flying by. Exactly 4 months on trail.

Tempus fugit.

We took several photos and continued hiking until the 10 mile break around 11am.

At mile 2008 at Koko Lake it was time for the lunch break at 1.45pm – also time for a nap.

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Tough Thruhiker Life

We continued on around 3pm until the next water break at Rockpile lake at mile 2012. With no water at the planned campsite on a ridge, we took some extra with us.

Continued to a campsite without water but nice views on Mt Jefferson, mile 2017.

 

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Day 122 – From tentsite to Big Lake Youth Camp, mile 1995

Aug 20.

It got more and more cold – had breakfast in tent. The trail had been smokey since days – the sky looked really hazy. We were on trail at 7am heading into more lava fields.

I loved the landscape, even though it was windy and difficult to walk. It reminded me in some regards of the Sierra – but most of it looked just alien, like from a different world.

We took a longer break with cellphone coverage at a lake – I had my coffee and booked a place in Cascade Locks, the gateway into Washington.

A highway crossing was coming – a chance for trail magic. But no luck. A bit disappointed, we took a break right next to the street and had some snacks. After a few minutes, a pickup stopped and two men got out. They wanted to know if the crossing trail was indeed the Pacific Crest Trail. We learned that they were father and a friend of a trail runner attempting an Oregon crossing on the PCT. After some chat, they offered  sodas and bars which we happily accepted. The trail provides… 🙂

At the end of the lava fields, I came to a crossing of the trail. With the trail so evenly splitting, it reminded me of one of my favorite poems by Robert Frost.

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Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both…
Robert Frost – The Road not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
We finally got out of the lava fields and headed towards our next resupply stop, the Big Lake Youth Camp short before mile 2000.

We arrived at 5.30pm at the youth camp. Surprisingly nobody from the camp was around – they were obviously on a break. But the PCT designated hut was populated with hikers. We helped ourselves to a shower, laundry, picked up our resupply boxes and ate some dinner from the hiker box.

Around 9pm we left cleaned up and with devices charged, walked a while to a designated camping area, mile 1995.

Day 120 – From Bobby Lake to Cliff Lake, mile 1942

Aug 18.

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Cold morning, so we got a bit later start at 7.15am. Bobby Lake offered spectacular views with the rising of the sun.

We saw signs from an ultra trail run (100km) and ran into a station shortly after. We chatted with the people there and got some trail magic… Got some snacks and moved on.

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I love banana

We took water at 7 miles in at Charlton lake but continued on without break. We needed to reduce our breaks to make more miles. We planned to filter in another two miles where cellphone reception was expected. We did some online ordering for gear replacement at Amazon and REI.

Today we ran into Pinecone, Medicine Man and Sharpshooter a couple of times.

Next stop at Stormy Lake at 2.15pm. Took a bath and thoroughly washed, had lunch and relaxed.

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Stormy Lake – Perfect for swimming

Just before leaving, Crumbs showed up. Some smalltalk, then we left.

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Arrived at a tentsite above Cliff Lake at 7.15pm. Pitched the tents, got dinner and slept before nightfall.

Day 113 – From tentsite to tentsite, mile 1765

Aug 11.

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Got up 5.15am, started hiking 6.15am. The smoke has its advantages – with the early sunlight, it creates beautiful photo opportunities.

We completed 10 miles by 10am, took a break to get new water.

Pushing on, we had 16.5 miles done before the lunch break at 1pm. In the afternoon finally a change in landscape! I had seen trees and trees and trees since weeks – Northern California and the South of Oregon had been very similar so far. I am excited to see first volcanic rocks – Oregon will offer much more of that.

Around 5pm, we crossed a highway and met two hiker offering some trail magic out of their rental car. They had decided to skip Oregon – and to make up for that, they were doing trail magic with sodas and snacks – much appreciated! 🙂

Camped at 6.45pm at mile 1765 with 26 miles done. Doing a good job with a planned daily 25+ miles.

Day 77 – From Tentsite via Hwy15 crossing to South Lake Tahoe, mile 1090

July 6.

Got on trail around 7.15am. Tinkle was suddenly pushing to make it to highway 15 and with that to South Lake Tahoe today instead of tomorrow… With just 18 miles left after yesterday’s push to 24 miles…

The morning was surprising with a cloud cover. A new sight… Some clouds even looked dark enough for rain.

We are not alone… Deer tracks on trail

Just after 4 miles, we made it to Carson pass and with that to our next trail magic.

Free sodas and fruit at Carson pass visitor info

Continuing on, the trail got steep downhill for the last 4-5 miles to the highway crossing. We were hit by a few drops of rain!

Right at the highway parking, we ran into the trail magic of CopperTone – a former through hiker who now lives in his expedition mobile as traveling trail angel. Thanks to CopperTone I experienced my first root beer float – vanilla ice cream and root beer – a perfect refreshment after the 18 miles on a warm day. Thank you! We got a ride into South Lake Tahoe from a nice lady whose son is currently hiking the PCT.

First stop was Basecamp pizza – as PCT hiker, you get a free pizza, pasta or salad there… Wow. Like three times magic on one day.

During the hike, Tinkle and I had agreed on another shakedown tomorrow morning… We are excited about increasing the daily mileage… Whatever it takes.

Two zero days in South Lake Tahoe. We will be back on trail with Cactass on Monday. 235 miles to the PCT midpoint.